Volume 23, Number 5 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | June 11 - 17, 2010
Downtown Express photo by John Bayles
Suzi Yu from Forest City Ratner discussed the two new plazas connected to the Beekman Tower at Tuesday’s C.B. 1 committee meeting.
Committee hears three presentations, security concerns abound
BY John Bayles
At Community Board 1’s South Street Seaport Committee meeting on Tuesday, the board members flew through five resolutions approving sidewalk permits for the summer season for various restaurants. Then they sunk their teeth into three separate presentations on the agenda: the Fulton Street Construction project, a presentation on DeLury Park and the plazas at Beekman Tower.
The common thread for all projects seemed to be security. As for Beekman Tower, residents of the 903 market-rate, luxury units are expected to move in next year. Suzi Yu from Forest City Ratner, the tower’s developer, was at the meeting to discuss the two plazas that will serve as public open space for both the tenants and the community.
Chair of the committee John Fratta called Beekman “the monster,” referring to its size relative to surrounding buildings. But he said he loved the design of the plazas. Then he noted that the security presence the committee had originally asked for did not seem to be incorporated into the design and was not mentioned by Yu.
“Back then, in the beginning of the process,” said Fratta on Wednesday, “they said they were going to have cameras and security personnel.”
At Tuesday’s meeting Yu said the cameras were still going to be there, but the security would be in the building and not in the plazas themselves. This was not what the committee had in mind.
“The cameras help after the crime is committed and we’re looking to prevent the crimes from being committed,” said Fratta.
The main concern, in the committee’s opinion, is that the plazas, as designed, have ample space for muggers to hide should they choose.
The committee voted unanimously to ask Forest City Ratner for “rovers” to be in the plazas on a 24/7 basis.
“We may be creating another avenue for miscreants to do what they do,” said Fratta. “[Rovers] are the perfect solution and can be a mitigating presence.”
On Wednesday Forest City Ratner responded to the committee’s concerns.
“We are going to have a 24 hour door man, and a 24 hour concierge – the plazas are going to be well lit and we will have whatever appropriate security is necessary,” said Joyce Baumgarten, spokesperson for Forest City. “Forest City has made a major investment in this property and throughout the whole process we have listened to concerns of the community and we will continue to do so.”
Also presenting at the meeting was Lawrence Mauro, Lower Manhattan program manager for the Parks Department. Specifically Mauro was there to discuss the soon to be opened Delury Square Park at Fulton and Gold Streets and security again was the main topic of discussion. In lieu of recent scuffles between locals and Murry Bergtram students, and with the impending closing of their preferred hang out, the nearby Burger King, committee members feared the park would become their new hang-out spot.
“We’re going to keep pressure on the 1st precinct and the park security guards,” said Fratta.
Fratta lives in the Southbridge Towers that are adjacent to the new park. He mentioned that the towers received $750,000 for increased security, of which the entire sum is specifically slated for security cameras, which will be directed at the park.
The New York City Department of Design and Construction also presented to the committee on the Phase Three of the Fulton Street reconstruction project. It is beginning immediately and is expected to end in the Fall of 2012. DDC representatives told the committee it is a “large area” but will pose “as significant an impact on the community as phases one and two.”
The project scope is to include streetscape renovations and new traffic signs, trees, and plantings at an estimated cost of $10.2 million.
Again, it was security that the committee chose to focus on, in particular keeping the community safe from rats.
Fratta praised the DDC for the project, saying all phases have been going smoothly, “except for the rats.”
“Our community is inundated with rats,” said Fratta. “It’s because of the amount of construction projects we have going on all at the same time. When you walk around the streets at 8 o’clock at night, the rats very brazenly run right out in front you. I know [the DDC] is baiting, but whatever they’re doing just isn’t working.”
DDC representatives said they are aware of the issue, but said unfortunately they cannot bait on the streets because of dogs, cats and even small children.