Volume 17 • Issue 13 | August 13 - 19, 2004



Downtown Local

Downtown Express photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio

Flag returned to sender
Postal and city officials celebrated the recent reopening of the Church Street Station Post Office across from the World Trade Center site at a ceremony Thursday. The post office’s American flag, which was discovered in the W.T.C. debris was returned to the mail center at the ceremony. With the reopening of Church Street office, postal officials closed the Bowling Green Post Office further Downtown. Above (L-r), speaking at the ceremony wereLorenzo Richardson, Church Street Station manager, John Potter, Postmaster General and C.E.O. of the U.S. Postal Service, Nicholas Scoppetta, the city’s fire commissioner, and David Solomon, vice president of postal operations for the New York City.


Planning change
Vishaan Chakrabarti is leaving as the director of the Manhattan Office of the Department of City Planning where his work over the past two years has involved the World Trade Center site and the revitalization of Lower Manhattan.

Chakrabarti will return at the end of September to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the architectural firm where he worked prior to City Planning. He will become the firm’s director of urban design.

Skidmore, whose office is on Wall St., is the architect chosen by Larry Silverstein, owner of the World Trade Center site, for the Freedom Tower and 7 World Trade Center across the street.
Chakrabarti was briefly a member of Community Board 1 where he served just before he joined the Department of City Planning in a high-profile post.

As director of the department’s Manhattan office, he also supervised development of the far-reaching plan for the Hudson Yards, the city’s 50-block project designed to transform the West Side between 29th and 43rd Sts. over the next 20 years. The plan, currently undergoing the city review procedure, involves the proposed New York Sports and Convention Center stadium and the expansion of the Javits Convention Center.

In an internal memo to City Planning staff, Chairperson Amanda Burden said, “Among [Chakrabarti’s] many accomplishments, he has coordinated numerous Lower Manhattan projects, supervised the Hudson Yards project (bringing it through certification), developed the West Chelsea/High Line proposal, which we expect to certify shortly, and coordinated the review of major land use applications throughout Manhattan with world famous designers.”


Waterway dispute settled
The city and New York Waterway have agreed to settle a dispute over landing fees at Pier 11 near Wall St. following the World Trade Center attack. Under the agreement reached last week, the ferry company will pay the city $800,000 over three years to settle the claim for Pier 11 fees for the period from Sept. 2001 to Dec. 2003.

“The city is pleased to have this opportunity to resolve the matter amicably and to avoid protracted litigation,” said Richard J. Costa, assistant corporation counsel, in a prepared statement. A spokesperson for New York Waterway said the company was also pleased at the development.

The city had originally sought more than $1 million from the company for fees and for physical damage to the pier during the time that Waterway service was replacing the PATH train service knocked out by the attack. But New York Waterway responded with a series of counterclaims. The agreement settles all the landing-fee claims and counterclaims, and also commits the city to cooperating with the company in seeking recovery from Waterway’s insurance carrier for damage to Pier 11. But the city reserves the right to collect for pier damage from Waterway if the insurance company does not pay.

Waterway is also facing a federal and Port Authority investigation begun in April of last year over whether the ferry company overbilled the federal government for emergency service that began shortly after the World Trade Center attack.

A statement by the company on the investigation says, “NY Waterway has complied with all the government’s requests for information and is confident that the government review will show no wrongdoing whatsoever on the part of NY Waterway. Indeed, since this investigation began in April 2003, NY Waterway has been awarded, through a competitive public bidding process, three new routes. It is highly unlikely that three government agencies would have taken such actions were there any credible evidence of wrongdoing.”


Correction
In our article on Tribeca real estate projects in the Aug. 6 - Aug. 12 issue, one of the maps we published incorrectly marked the four-block area that a zoning change is proposed. The zoning would allow for bulkier buildings as tall as 210 feet and is bounded by Watts, Washington, Hubert and West Sts. Zoning for the block north of Watts St. between Washington and West Sts. would not be changed under the proposal.



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