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


Even 250 feet is too tall at Site 5C

Let’s count the reasons why development of the vacant lot behind P.S. 234, know as Site 5C, should be used to benefit the public. First, it is city-owned land. Second, as one Community Board 1 member, Rick Landman, has pointed out, the city forced people off of the land over 40 years ago to implement an urban renewal plan that it never fulfilled. Third, the city’s handpicked developer for Site 5C, Scott Resnick, is well on his way to getting $200 million in tax-free Liberty Bonds that were intended to help rebuild Lower Manhattan into a better place after 9/11.

Resnick’s building at about 360 feet is too tall for the residential neighborhood in Tribeca and will cast too many shadows in the nearby park spaces in Battery Park City and Tribeca. In its April resolution, Community Board 1 called for a 25-story building, which would be about 250-feet high. We think that would still be too tall.

The City Council will have the power to reject the Site 5C when it comes before them shortly. Borough President C. Virginia Fields also has an advisory role under the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. We urge our local councilmember, Alan Gerson, and Borough President Fields to do everything in their power to convince the council to vote against this plan unless the size is reduced to something significantly less than 250 feet.

Under the expired Washington Street Urban Renewal Plan restrictions, Resnick agreed to build a 135-foot building with an 18,000 square foot community recreation center. By dawdling for decades, the city is now pushing a building over twice the size with not one more square foot of rec space. Resnick can’t claim post-9/11 economic woes in a hot Tribeca market, particularly now since he will have the benefit of tax-free bonds to build luxury rental apartments.

As we have said before, we think a building perhaps as high as 175 feet could be acceptable provided that the city and Resnick agree to increase the size of the rec center to 40,000 square feet, the city commits to building a K-8 school in Lower Manhattan quickly, and the city agrees to drastically reduce the size of the proposed residential building across the street at Site 5B.

There is already too little school space Downtown and with all of the development underway the problem will get worse even if the plans for Sites 5B and 5C stall. The city must not make the same type of urban planning mistakes it made condemning the 5B and 5C land almost half a century ago by allowing the new site plans to go forward without a plan to take care of the school, recreation and open space needs of Lower Manhattan.

Welcome film fans

It is not often you can write a coherent sentence mentioning Robert De Niro and the Olsen twins, but this year’s Tribeca Film Festival provides just such an opportunity. De Niro of course is one of the founders of the fest, which opens for its third year May 1 and goes until May 9, and the Olsens are just two of the stars in the festival’s 150 feature movies. But it’s not just about stars – or movies for that matter. There are indies galore, shorts, panels, the spectacular family street fair on Greenwich St. May 8, free screenings on Pier 25, all of which you can read about in our special preview supplement beginning on page 21.

For those visitors picking up our paper for the first time, we encourage you to explore what Lower Manhattan has to offer. Yes, pay your respects at the World Trade Center site if you like, but also take a walk along the Hudson River, visit some of our parks, head east to the Seaport, experience Chinatown, check out Wall and Broad Sts. where George Washington was first sworn in as president, see if you can see the plaque at the Brooklyn Bridge marking the site of the first White House if you will, where George and Martha lived at One Cherry St., visit a Tribeca gallery, go to a museum, eat in our restaurants.

Who knows, you might even meet Mary Kate, Ashley or Bobby. And as we like to say Downtown, we hope y’all come back and see us again soon.

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