Volume 21, Number 44 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | March 13 - 19, 2009
Sand beach to the Seaport
Lower Manhattan residents who don’t want to go to Governors Island to go to the beach this summer will now have an option even closer to home: South Street Seaport.
Two weeks after Tom Fox, founder of New York Water Taxi, announced his plan to build a beach and performance venue on Governors Island this summer, he unveiled his plan for a similar public space on the north side of Pier 17. Fox’s 2,000-person beach will replace Spiegeltent, the summer concert series and variety show that usually.
The Pier 17 beach, open to the public for free starting Memorial Day weekend, will include a bar and cafe, along with Ping Pong, skee ball and a 9-hole mini-golf course with a nautical theme. Players who do well in skee ball will win tickets they can trade in for Water Taxi T-shirts and hats.
At night, the 18,000-square-foot venue will host DJs with a cover charge. The beach will stay open until 1 a.m. on weeknights and 3 a.m. on weekends, through the middle of September. Beachgoers won’t be able to swim in the East River.
Fox got a good reception when he presented the plan to Community Board 1’s Seaport/Civic Center Committee Tuesday night, though some people worried about noise and safety. Fox assured them that he would hire security and keep the pulsing bass to a minimum. Since he won’t have live music, his events should be quieter than Spiegeltent was, he said.
Janell Vaughan, who manages the South Street Seaport for General Growth Properties, said G.G.P. picked Fox’s beach for Pier 17 because it is family oriented and would appeal to local residents. Community board members appeared to agree, saying the beach sounded like an improvement over Spiegeltent.
After a discussion Tuesday night, C.B. 1’s Seaport Committee granted advisory approval to the liquor license Fox requested for the beach.
“I like the beach idea,” said Paul Hovitz, a member of the committee.
Fox, who bought Circle Line Downtown last month, plans to expand his ferry service in New York Harbor this summer, including a shuttle that will link the Seaport with Brooklyn Heights and Governors Island. Fox hasn’t settled on a ticket price yet, but he may offer a $10 all-night pass allowing people to travel between events happening at the beaches.
— Julie Shapiro