Volume 22, Number 20 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | September 25 - October 1, 2009

From our archives

“Borders finds ‘A nice corner”

By Josh Rogers

Downtown Express,

Sept. 10 - 23, 1996

On Sept. 3, the Borders franchise opened its first New York City store at 5 World Trade Center on Vesey and Church Sts. Sporting four levels and 37, 000 square feet, it became one of the biggest bookstores in the city. Church St. in front of the Trade Center was the busiest pedestrian sidewalk in Lower Manhattan. The store saw large crowds even during typical non-peak hours during the first few days. Art Piccolo, chairperson of the Bowling Green Association, said, “Hey Midtown, eat your heart out. Lower Manhattan is the center of the universe.”

Chief executive officer of Borders Group Bob DiRomualdo was considering opening more locations in the city at press time, but didn’t expect them to come for years.

Rizzoli Bookstore, which already had a home in the World Financial Center, welcomed the new addition of Borders. Lou Reed, Michael Moore, and Rita Coolidge were all scheduled to stop by the store for readings and performances, but the store had not set up a space large enough to cater to the special events crowds.

A few years after 9/11, Borders returned to Lower Manhattan to a new location at Wall St. and Broadway.

“Independence Plaza tenants fighting hefty rent increases”

By Josh Rogers

Downtown Express,

Sept. 10 - 23, 1996

Tenants of Independence Plaza North fought a proposal to increase their rent about 50 percent to cover capital improvements to the buildings. The percentage varied since many residents of the Mitchell Lama co-op were on different rent tracks. The private owners of Duane Street Associates asked for roughly $41.49 additional rent per room per month in two successive years.

The comptroller of the complex, Ron Dawley, said the average one bedroom cost $611 per month and would increase to $901.44 a month. The co-op was full of diverse residents, housing everyone from those who needed assistance with their base rent to Councilmember Kathryn Freed.

The owners were ready to go to the city armed with an engineer’s report and a balance sheet to show that the repairs were necessary. The tenants hired a lawyer, and at press time they too were looking for an engineer and an accountant.

Almost $5 million of the $12.5 million proposed capital improvements was needed to comply with Local Law 10, which requires owners to upgrade the safety of the exterior and protect against falling bricks. The owners also wanted to replace the windows, elevators, and deck. A smaller rent increase would have delayed those repairs for at least five years.

“If you ignore improvements, the building becomes deteriorated. The building is 22 years old,” said Dawley.

Two years earlier, tenants and owners negotiated a $6 per room increase when the owners asked for $11.

Prepared by Helaina N. Hovitz





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