Volume 22, Number 14 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Aug. 14 - 20, 2009

Under Cover

Fiterman coming down
The long-awaited work to take down Fiterman Hall has been going on for a few weeks now. So far it’s been largely invisible from the street, but soon passersby will begin noticing pieces of the damaged Borough of Manhattan Community College building just north of the World Trade Center site coming down, said Benn Lewis, vice president of Airtek Environmental Corp., the project’s consultant.

“This week there might be something visible from below,” Lewis told UnderCover.

Mural competition
Downtowners who complain about the unsightliness of the World Trade Center construction now have the chance to do something about it. The Port Authority and the city are holding a design competition for a mural that will cover the Church St. fence between Liberty and Vesey Sts.

The high-visibility mural has to be bold and colorful and should optimistically reflect “the vibrancy of the thriving Downtown commercial and residential neighborhood,” the guidelines state. Perhaps because it would be hard to show any optimism right now about the site’s future, the guidelines add that the mural should “not address the future construction or development of the site.” Renderings blanketing other parts of the site still show office towers that likely won’t be built anytime soon because of the bad economy and the impasse between the Port and developer Larry Silverstein.

The mural application, available at nyc.gov/urbanart, is due Oct. 1. The mural will go up on the vinyl mesh panels along Church St. in December and will stay up at least until November 2010.

Gerson reprimanded
Even supporters of City Councilmember Alan Gerson have been known to complain about his long-windedness.

Usually, his listeners can do little more than wait until he finishes, but Gerson found himself with a much less receptive audience last Thursday at a hearing about his inability to get on the ballot for reelection.

Referee Leslie Lowenstein, who heard the case, grew impatient when Gerson repeatedly embroidered answers to what should have been direct, yes-or-no questions.

“Mr. Gerson, we went through this the other day,” Lowenstein said as Gerson testified for the second time. “I want you to answer the question. There is no need for embellishment. This is not a speech-making forum. This is nothing of that sort. This is a proceeding under law. Respond to the questions and that’s the end of it.”

“Yes, sir,” Gerson replied, but he found it hard to break himself of the habit of long responses, and soon found himself in hot water again. “Sorry, your Honor, it is a hazard of my trade,” Gerson said when Lowenstein stopped him again.

Lowenstein was not pleased and continued to remind Gerson to keep it brief throughout the rest of his testimony.

Fertile crowd
A fundraiser for the Fertile Grounds Project, an educational nonprofit, brought 200 people to the Soho apartment of Aaron Rosenstein last Thursday night, where they danced into the wee hours of the morning and raised about $25,000.

The money will cover full scholarships for 20 teenagers to attend a two-week creative arts summer camp, said Avram Turkel, who sits on the organization’s advisory board. Turkel is a candidate for Democratic district leader running against Paul Newell.

Turkel got involved in Fertile Grounds through Rosenstein, his friend since second grade, and went to Stuyvesant High School with the organization’s co-founder, Becky Raik.

“We’re all looking for an avenue to help out,” Turkel said. It sounds like the party’s cocktails and cannolis didn’t hurt either.

Market returns
The New Amsterdam Market is returning to South Street Seaport with a lineup of four dates this fall.

Robert LaValva, founder of the market, planned the dates to coincide with major city events. The market’s opening day will be Sun., Sept. 13 in celebration of Harbor Day, part of the Henry Hudson quadricentennial. Farmers and purveyors will line up along South St. between Beekman St. and Peck Slip, selling fresh produce, local meats and dairy products and more. The market is scheduled to return on three additional Sundays: Oct. 25, Nov. 22 and Dec. 20.

The New Amsterdam Market previously held two popular one-day market events in the Seaport. This market is separate from the twice-a-week Fulton Stall Market that Seaport owner General Growth Properties opened in May, which has been struggling to stay afloat. That market cut out its Friday hours last month and is now down to just Saturdays.

LaValva said it was too early to write off the Fulton Stall Market, since even the gargantuan Union Square Greenmarket took years to get off the ground.

Cosmopolitan Hotel
The new designs for the Cosmopolitan Hotel addition look a lot like the old designs, which could be why the Landmarks Preservation Commission did not hold a hearing on the plans that was scheduled for Tuesday.

Back in June, architect Matthew Gottsegen showed the commission his plan for a new six-story building next to the Cosmopolitan at Reade St. and W. Broadway — replacing the squat Mary Ann’s restaurant building that’s there now — and the commissioners called the design “bland.”

New designs sitting just outside the commission’s hearing room Tuesday showed few changes: The new building is still orange brick with a glassy storefront and a barely articulated corner. The biggest change is that the brick now goes all the way up to the top floor, replacing the gray painted aluminum that wrapped the so-called “attic” floor in the earlier design. The glass storefront also has more pronouced columns, coated in what looks like ribbed glass.

Gottsegen made some changes to the Cosmopolitan building as well, now proposing to get rid of the hunter green awnings that went up over the storefronts a few years ago.


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