Volume 16 • Issue 49 | April 30 - May 6, 2004



B.P.C.A. studying 800-foot tower on its last commercial site

By Josh Rogers

The Battery Park City Authority is studying the environmental effects of building an 800-foot office tower to keep Goldman Sachs in New York City at the World Financial Center.

The 2.3-million-square-foot tower would be on the parking lot on West, Murray and Vesey Sts. The authority’s board on April 21 approved a draft environmental impact statement for the lot, known as Site 26. It is the last commercial development site in Battery Park City and over the years it has been used as a potential lure to keep various important institutions Downtown, such as the New York Stock Exchange.

Letitia Remauro, a spokesperson for the authority, said the building would not be bigger than the World Financial Center’s American Express building across the street.

The lengthy E.I.S. document specifically mentions Goldman Sachs as a potential tenant. Under the Goldman scenario, a large trading floor would be built with the offices at an estimated total cost of $1.28 billion. Under the all-office scenario, the building would still be 800 feet, but it could be constructed at a slightly more modest cost of $1.02 billion.

Although a proposed building of one third the size a few blocks away in Tribeca has triggered strong neighborhood opposition, the initial reaction of some neighborhood leaders was mostly positive.

Jeff Galloway and Tom Goodkind, two members of Community Board 1 who live nearby in Gateway Plaza, both said a tall building near other tall offices would not be a problem, particularly if it brought badly- needed retail to the neighborhood.

“You’ll never see me oppose a tall building in my neighborhood,” Goodkind said. “Contextually it seems to be what Battery Park City is all about.”

He said the main thing is building large sidewalks around the building to keep an open feeling in the neighborhood and having more retail on the street.

Galloway said he wanted to take a close look at the document’s shadow studies to see how the new building would affect places like the Battery Park City ballfields and the P.S../I.S. 89 schoolyard.

The proposed building would cause shadows on the fields particularly in the spring at the beginning of baseball season and in the fall during soccer season. The fields are closed from Thanksgiving to April, a period of time when there would be significant shadows. The E.I.S. also states that there are times, particularly in the summer, when shadows are welcome.

Galloway, who had just returned home from Little League practice, agreed that shadows are sometimes welcome because the sun can be an obstacle. “During certain times of the day the sun is in exactly the wrong place to play baseball,” said Galloway.

He and his fellow C.B. 1 members are expected to discuss the plan at a meeting ….

“Having Goldman Sachs in the World Financial Center is a good thing,” he said. “Having more workers to support better retail is a good thing.”

The investment bank is based at 85 Broad St., but has other offices in other Lower Manhattan and is reportedly looking to consolidate its operations. The bank is also building an office tower in Jersey City.

The Site 26 building would be completed in 2009, according to the environmental statement. It would have an underground employee parking lot. The draft E.I.S. does not include a study of an underground tour bus garage, which would require a slurry wall. The environmental study for the World Trade Center includes Site 26 as a possible bus garage location, although Galloway said he had heard that location seemed less and less likely.

Remauro said the authority didn’t include a bus garage in its study since the idea was already being studied by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. Tim Carey, authority president and C.E.O., Kevin Rampe, Lower Manhattan Development Corp. president, and many neighborhood residents have said they would oppose a bus garage at Site 26 if it would mean buses lining up in Battery Park City to enter.

Josh@DowntownExpress.com


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