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Volume 20, Number 31 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 14 - 20, 2007

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Under Cover

Design delay
The “very elaborate facade” of the Frank Gehry-designed Beekman St. school is causing construction delays, said Bob Harvey, acting executive director for the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center.

“There are constructability issues associated with the facade,” Harvey told C.B. 1 this week. “They claim to not be backing out of the deal,” he said of developer Ratner, who hopes to build a condo tower next to the school. “They’re resolving these issues, presumably.”

Gehry is known for complex, unusual designs that are expensive to build. Dep. Mayor Dan Doctoroff told Downtown Express earlier this year that the costs of Gehry’s original design for the World Trade Center arts center scared the city into asking the architect to go back to the drafting board. Ratner has never released renderings of the Beekman St. building.

Harvey promised to keep the board informed, especially if it looks like the school won’t be ready for its scheduled opening in fall 2009.

Protecting the homeland
If New York City is ever in danger of losing homeland security funding, Catherine McVay Hughes, the W.T.C. Committee chairperson, promised the community board’s help to Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler.

“If you want C.B. 1 to go down to Washington, we would be delighted to lobby on your behalf,” a smiling Hughes told Skyler at the W.T.C. meeting.

The funding cut would be an “extraordinary act of negligence on the president’s part,” Skyler said, but he assured C.B. 1 that the new emergency notification system is not dependent on those funds.

Checking his list
Speaking of emergency notification, the list of e-mail addresses and phone numbers that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver collected after the Deutsche Bank fire will not be incorporated directly into the Notify N.Y.C. pilot program. Rather, the speaker is reaching out to everyone on his list, urging them to sign up for the city program.

“I really don’t understand what the problem is,” Silver told UnderCover. “But we’re not going to stand in the way of getting it done.”

Grand Jury
And speaking of the Aug. 18 deadly fire at 130 Liberty St., District Attorney Robert Morgenthau plans to convene a grand jury soon to seek indictments in the case, a source briefed on the investigation told UnderCover. The source did not say who will be the jury’s target or targets. Prosecutors have been looking closely at the private contractors as well as government officials responsible for either the building’s fire plan or for hiring John Galt Corp., a firm with alleged mob ties.

Related playing ball
Don’t think Related Companies is just sitting back waiting for the Hudson River Park Trust to award them the Cirque du Soleil contract on Pier 40. The mega-developer that built a few Battery Park City buildings has just announced a partnership with Tiki Ventures — the brain child of ex-New York Giant and current NBC analyst Tiki Barber — to build affordable housing all over the country starting with Barber’s home state Virginia and North Carolina.

There are no specific plans yet for New York City, but Mayor Mike Bloomberg joined the press release to praise Related and Barber and say the $150-million venture will help the city meet its goal of preserving or building 165,000 units.

Hudson Park conspiracy theorists perhaps will note that Bloomberg has 50 percent control of the Trust, that one of Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s appointees is Trust chairperson Diana Taylor, Bloomberg’s romantic partner, and that the Trust’s vice chairperson is Dan Doctoroff, Bloomberg’s deputy mayor who has worked with Stephen Ross, Related’s chairperson. The only other mayor on the release is Newark’s Cory Booker, whose deputy is Stefan Pryor, former president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which kicked in $70 million and change to the park. A little cozy, maybe, or maybe we’re just letting our imagination run wild as we wait for some hard info from the Trust.

Is the Doctor in?
With two Doctoroff mentions, we should also say that the dollar-a-year deputy mayor announced last week he was leaving at the end of the year. John Gallagher, a spokesperson for the mayor and Doctoroff, said it is not known yet whether Doctoroff will retain his seats on the boards of the Hudson River Park Trust, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corp. Doctoroff will talk it over with his replacement and Mayor Bloomberg, once the deputy mayor’s position is filled, Gallagher said.

Batter swing
Geoff Lee, Chinatown parking gadfly, responded to Robert Weber’s letter to the editor last week criticizing Lee’s letter criticizing Weber’s Downtown Express Talking Point (time to take out your scorecards, ladies and gentlemen). Weber, who works for Asian Americans for Equality, thinks congestion pricing will benefit Chinatown, while Lee thinks the real problems are illegal placard parking by government workers, and the police closure of Park Row.

Weber said in his letter that AAFE agrees with Lee on the other two issues and he has spoken out on both. Lee’s response: “It’s good for them to step up to the plate. Let’s see them hit the ball.”





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