Wait ‘til next century
Call it a typo or call it a Freudian slip, but the Port Authority’s new Web site (WTCprogress.com) lists the year 2104 as the completion date for several World Trade Center projects.
The date, 96 years off, is part of an online Q-and-A with Port executive director Chris Ward, posted earlier this month. Ward fielded many questions about the construction timetable — “What is taking so long?” asked Terrance Horn from Broad Channel, N.Y. — and most of Ward’s responses echo his previous public statements.
But UnderCover did a double take at the response to Evan, from Washington, D.C., who wanted to know when the rebuilding would finish. Ward responded that he expects the Freedom tower, PATH hub, memorial and other Port projects to “all be completed between 2011 and 2104.”
Even Lower Manhattan’s resident cynics aren’t quite as pessimistic as that.
We’re hearing city leaders are fighting over the mixed signals they’re sending over General Growth Properties’ plans to redevelop the Seaport.
“There is inter-office tension there,” said Bruce Ehrmann, co-chairperson of Community Board 1’s Landmarks Committee.
Ehrmann said he heard the Department of City Planning, particularly director Amanda Burden, is displeased with the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s strongly negative comments. Dep. Mayor Bob Lieber also likes the plan but the L.P.C. (with the exception of chairperson Bob Tierney) told architects to go back to the drawing board last week.
City Planning declined to comment.
Lisi de Bourbon, spokesperson for the L.P.C., wrote in an e-mail to Downtown Express, “It’s standard practice for the commission to communicate with other city agencies about a particular project, and this proposal is no exception.”
Ehrmann also said SHoP Architects is already hard at work redesigning Pier 17, based on the L.P.C.’s comments. A vote, he said, could take until the middle of next year.
Targeting the Seaport
Speaking of General Growth Properties, its stock began to rebound early this week, doubling Monday and rising 36 percent on Tuesday to close at a still modest $1.36.
Bloomberg News (certainly not connected to Mayor Bloomberg’s Landmarks Commission) reported the stock jump was because hedge fund manager William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital bought a 20 percent interest in the firm’s stock, much of it at the bargain basement price of 51 cents or less. Pershing’s three funds have defied the Dow’s doldrums, picking up value in this quarter and over the last nine months.
G.G.P., which owes billions, is expected to get an extension on the $900 million it must pony up Monday.
Pershing also controls 9.5 percent of Target discount stores, which had been talking with Ackman about a complex land deal to up Target’s value, according to Bloomberg. Could a deal to bring Target to the Seaport be too far behind?
That last part is just UnderCover speculation, but if it were to happen, it would be interesting to see the likely battle between residents desperate to see the classier bargain store come to Manhattan versus those who detest big box retailers.
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler will be in a better position to advocate for Lower Manhattan since he was elected to the House’s Democratic Steering and Policy Committee last week.
New York State’s 26-member Democratic delegation unanimously picked Nadler as its representative to one of Congress’s most influential committees. Chaired by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the committee nominates House Democrats to committees and sets the party’s legislative agenda.
Nadler has two items at the top of his agenda, spokesperson Ilan Kayatsky said. First is to increase mass transit funding for all of New York State, and second is to secure 9/11 health funding for the city. Nadler has not decided whether or how to reintroduce the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which floundered earlier this year, Kayatsky said.
Barack Obama’s New York campaign spokesperson told Downtown Express a month ago that Obama supports the 9/11 bill, and Pelosi backs its passage as well.
Before Nadler was selected for the committee, Rep. Gregory Meeks, of Queens held the position. Rep. Eliot Engle, of the Bronx and Westchester, nominated Nadler.
Dan Squadron doesn’t get sworn in as State Senator until next year, but he has already been quite busy organizing issue events nearly every day — while being careful to include fellow elected leaders and not step on any toes.
On Friday, Squadron was in the Village with colleague-to-be, State Senator Tom Duane, and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, protesting the M.T.A.’s plan to cancel the M8 crosstown bus to close its budget gap.
Squadron took a page out of mentor Chuck Schumer’s playbook Sunday, scheduling a press conference on the typically quiet news day to object to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s plans to abandon the Financial District in 2010. Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Community Board 1 Chairperson Julie Menin and Squadron said the feds will pay more to leave 20 Exchange Pl. while further eroding confidence in Wall St. President-elect Obama’s pick to be Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, is still working only three blocks away at the Fed for a few weeks so maybe the Downtown quartet will have some pull on this one. (For Geithner, it’ll be easier than saving G.M., but we digress.)
And in a Monday event Squadron did not organize, he helped feed the homeless for an early Thanksgiving meal at the New York City Rescue Mission along with many notables including Miss America, Kirsten Haglund, Kathie Lee Gifford, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Councilmember Alan Gerson and another Squadron mentor, U.S. Rep. Anthony Wiener.
Sam’s our man
Traffic guru Sam Schwartz begins a regular column with Downtown Express this week. “Transit Sam the Answer Man” will run every other week and Schwartz will also contribute periodic op-ed pieces. Schwartz, a k a Gridlock Sam, used to be the city’s deputy commissioner of transportation and lives and works Downtown. He is anxious to answer your questions about subways, cars, and bikes — yes you may have noticed Schwartz pedaling around the neighborhood. You can check out his first column on page 6 and email your questions to email@example.com.