Volume 20 Issue 12 | August. 3 - 9, 2007

Swig takes drink from cup of human kindness

Many a developer has pledged to be a good neighbor to Downtown residents, but on Tuesday Kent Swig of Swig Equities put his pocketbook behind his promises, shelling out $1.3 million for the Burling Slip playground.

The money will help endow the playground, which is scheduled open at the eastern-most end of John St. in late 2008. The park needs an endowment fund to maintain its unique design, which includes moveable blocks and buckets and a team of paid workers to help facilitate the fun. Architect David Rockwell, a Downtown resident, donated his services to design the nautically themed “free play” park.

In addition to funding the playground, Swig has offered up 3,400 square feet of space in the company’s office tower at 90 Broad St. A local non-profit will be able to rent the space for five years for $12 per square foot — far below market rate. Community Board 1 is currently accepting applications for the space and will select three finalist organizations this fall. Swig will then pick the final tenant.

Although Swig Equities controls numerous properties in the Financial District, Tuesday’s neighborly gestures came about after the board expressed concerns over Swig’s ongoing projects on Broad St. The company sought, and eventually won, community approval to de-landmark the back wing of 25 Broad St. — a move that allowed Swig to transfer 12 stories worth of air rights to a new tower at 45 Broad.

Community preservationists were concerned that the approval might set a bad precedent, while local residents were concerned about the height of the new tower. In addition to promising to restore the rest of 25 Broad to its original glory, Swig told board members that he was open to suggestions on how else he might contribute to the district.

Julie Menin, C.B. 1’s chairperson, pointed Swig in the direction of Burling Slip.

“I’m thrilled because this will allow us to have only the second playground on the east side of our district,” Menin told the Downtown Express Wednesday.

As for the non-profit space, Menin said she hoped that Swig would be the first of many developers to open their doors to local organizations and “give space back to the community.”

In addition to the desire to give back, Swig said in a press release Tuesday that he was endowing the playground in memory of his twin brother, Robert, who died in 2000.

— Skye H. McFarlane

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