Volume 17 • Issue 22 | October 22 - 28, 2004



Downtown Local

Downtown Express photo by Jennifer Bodrow

About 5,000 cyclists gathered at the Seaport before pedaling off to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s 20th annual MS Bike Tour on Sunday, Oct. 17. Participants left at 7:30 a.m. and biked for 30, 60, or 100 miles. Organizers said the tour raised about $1.5 million to fight the disease.

Ratner on Gehry
Developer Bruce Ratner said he expects to release renderings of Frank Gehry’s tower design for NYU Downtown Hospital’s parking lot site by the end of the year and he hopes the building will be seen as comparable to Lower Manhattan’s landmark Woolworth Building.

Community Board 1 and nearby residents at Southbridge Towers and on Nassau St. have raised objections to the building’s 700-foot height and the lack of proposed community space in the building. The building between Beekman and Spruce Sts. will have apartments as well as facilities for the hospital and Pace University.

Ratner described Gehry’s proposal as spectacular and beautiful. “The issue is design, not height,” Ratner told Downtown Express at a fundraising gala for the hospital Wednesday.

He said the building will not be reminiscent of Gehry’s most famous design, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, but will be similar to an idea Gehry had for the New York Times’ headquarters Ratner is developing at Times Square (Renzo Piano was ultimately selected as the Times building’s architect.) Ratner said the Downtown tower will curve in and out and he gestured in the shape of a woman to illustrate his point.

Hospital officials say their existing building will get a facelift to match the Gehry design and there will also be green space added as part of the project.


Zoo in City Hall?
“Animals, Buildings, Cars and People,” an exhibit featuring 14 sculptures by Julian Opie, will open in City Hall Park on Thursday, October 28.

The sculptures are from nine different series made between 1997 and the present. They will be scattered throughout the park – on the lawns, sidewalks and steps of the Tweed Courthouse – through October 14, 2005.

Opie’s work ranges from a group of painted wooden animals called “Sheep Cow Deer Dog Chicken Cat Goat,” to two life-size, three dimensional sculptures of cars called, “Imagine you are driving a red Volkswagen” and “Imagine you are driving a white Honda.”

This will be the first major solo show for Opie in the United States. His work has been featured in various settings all over the world since 1983, including the London-Heathrow Airport and galleries in such places as Berlin, Germany; Milan, Italy and Prague, Czech Republic.

The show is presented by the Public Art Fund and is sponsored by Forest City Ratner Companies.


W.T.C. retail
A new study of the retail potential of the World Trade Center site recommends building permanent places for stores before all of the offices are developed, according to two directors of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.

The two directors, Carl Weisbrod, president of the Downtown Alliance, and Madelyn Wils, chairperson of Community Board 1, both hailed the report by the Urban Land Institute.

Weisbrod said the report, expected to be released in the coming weeks, indicates that there is high interest among large chains to move to the site and the permanent retail sites would quicken the pace of office development at the site. He said the retail component of the W.T.C. plans has been lagging the most and he hoped the report would trigger more action.

There has been some discussion of building interim retail spaces until the market is ready for more office development, but Wils and Weisbrod said it would be better to build over the permanent store spots.


Dining Downtown
Gourmands and chowhounds can take advantage of $20.04 three-course prix fixe dinners during Downtown for Dinner 2004 from Nov. 1-7. Presented by Alliance for Downtown New York, over fifty restaurants from French bistros to Thai specialty houses will offer the special deal. Notable restaurants include Battery Gardens, Bayard’s, Caracello Ristorante, Giovanni’s Atrium and Quartino. The cost of the meal excludes beverages, tax and gratuities, and reservations are strongly recommended. For a full list of restaurants, visit www.DowntownNY.com.


C.B. 1 meetings
The upcoming week’s schedule of Community Board 1 committee meetings is below. Unless otherwise noted, all committee meetings are held at the board office located at 49 Chambers St., Room 709.

On Tues., Oct. 26, the Youth Committee will meet at 6 p.m. for a progress report on the youth fair; an update on Site 5C; and an update on the new East Side K-8 school.

On Wed., Oct. 27, the Waterfront Committee will meet at 6 p.m. to prepare a response to the proposed East River waterfront plan.

On Thurs., Oct. 28, the Arts and Entertainment Taskforce will meet at 6 p.m. The agenda has not been determined.



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