Volume 21, Number 36 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 16 - 22, 2009

Under Cover

Memorial woes
Construction at the World Trade Center is proceeding quickly, but that doesn’t mean everyone is communicating. The Port Authority, which owns the W.T.C., staged a photo-op Wednesday for the removal of the site’s signature ramp in order to expand the memorial construction area, but officials did not seem to be aware that the National September 11 Memorial & Museum was also planning to be there at the same time to celebrate the same thing. When the memorial folks appeared to be a no-show, one Port official quipped, “maybe they couldn’t get access to the site.”

That turned out to be close to the truth. Memorial president Joe Daniels and his staff were held up at the gate by security and arrived as some of the press was leaving.

Expensive flips
A developer’s delay cost the Battery Park City Authority nearly $93,000.

That’s how much money the authority paid to reconfigure the B.P.C. ballfields in 2006 because Milstein Properties was late in starting construction on the residential towers at Sites 23 and 24.

The towers will be adjacent to the ballfields, and parents were worried the baseball diamonds were too close to the construction, so the authority agreed to flip the diamonds, moving them farther from the work. Several years ago, the authority did just that — but then Milstein didn’t start the construction on time, said Jim Cavanaugh, president of the B.P.C.A.

To reduce the inconvenience to the Downtown Little League, the authority decided to flip the fields back to their original configuration for the 2006 season, then re-flip them later. The last two flips cost the authority the extra dough.

The B.P.C.A. board approved the extra money earlier this month, but not before Chairperson James Gill asked why the authority should have to pay for the switch at all, since it was Milstein’s delay.

“Milstein might very well take the position [that they are under] no obligation to the leagues,” Cavanaugh replied.

Trigo opening
A long-delayed Mediterranean restaurant called Trigo is finally opening this week at 268 W. Broadway. Once planned as a French bistro called Bistrobeca, co-owner Jeremy Casilli is now launching the restaurant with a mixture of Northern Italian, French and Spanish food in a sprawling space filled with stone, steel, brass and mirrors. Fri., Jan. 16 will be the restaurant’s first day, and customers can expect chef Michael Garrett to whip up specialties like octopus confit and boiled crab salad with pink grapefruit and celery.

Part of the reason the restaurant took so long to open is because it is on the ground floor of McSam Hotel Group’s new Hilton Garden Inn. Both the hotel and the restaurant were supposed to open at the end of 2006.

Maybe the arrival of Trigo can boost the Hilton’s occupancy. Joe Josue, who works at the front desk, told UnderCover that since the hotel opened Dec. 29, business has been steadily growing, but the occupancy is only at 18 percent.

Several Hilton higher-ups declined to comment or did not comment by press time.

Another Starbucks
Speaking of openings, there’s another one around the corner: UnderCover spotted a new Starbucks Coffee sign going up at Murray and Church Sts. this week.

Starbucks acquired the 1,500-square-foot space in December and plans to open it before the spring, said a spokesperson, who would not give her name. The space had sat vacant for some time before Starbucks moved in, she said.

The Starbucks is going several blocks north of the World Trade Center site in a neighborhood that certainly isn’t thirsting for caffeine. More than 10 other Starbucks already dot Lower Manhattan below Canal St.

Cubes on ice
So many Downtown construction projects are delayed that we can’t possibly list all of them, but here’s one that’s been on-again, off-again: Santiago Calatrava’s tower of staggered condo cubes at 80 South St. is now officially on hold.

Frank Sciame, C.E.O. of Sciame Development, told Downtown Express several months ago that he was moving ahead with plans for the tower. But this month John Randolph, Sciame’s executive vice president for real estate, said pretty much the opposite.

“We’ll see as the market improves,” Randolph said. “We’ll make decisions at that time [about] the best plan for development, which very well may be the Calatrava Tower…. All the options are open as the economy and markets improve.”

Presidential advisor
Barack Obama is relying on our own Sam Schwartz to help the traffic flow as smoothly as possible when he gets inaugurated on Tuesday. Schwartz, who writes our Transit Sam column every other week, is working with D-DOT, the District of Columbia Dept. of Transportation and was down in Washington this week helping finalize the plans.

Need not apply
The city’s fancy new wedding chapel at 141 Worth St. is right near the new place for couples to register their domestic partnerships, but even though Mayor Bloomberg supports legalizing same sex marriages, he is not letting gays use the chapel to commemorate their unions.




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