Volume 17, Number 41 | March 4 - 11, 2005

The landmark 55 Wall St. ballroom will be the venue for the concert series.

Top-line concerts at 55 Wall St.

By Ronda Kaysen

Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys and four other big-name musicians will perform at Cipriani Wall Street over the next eight months as part of a concert series benefiting Wall Street Rising, a non-profit organization founded to revitalize Lower Manhattan after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Developer Giuseppe Cipriani and jeweler de Grisogono are organizing the series, which begins on March 15 at 55 Wall St. with a four-course meal and a performance by Rod Stewart.

A series subscription for a 10-person table will cost between $100,000 and $125,000, with proceeds benefiting Wall Street Rising and perhaps another Downtown event such as the Robert De Niro-steered Tribeca Film Festival, says Cipriani.

The series is intended to give a boost to Lower Manhattan’s nightlife, still suffering from the aftermath of Sept. 11.

“The neighborhood is not back 100 percent yet,” Cipriani told Downtown Express. “We need to bring atmosphere to the area again.”

And that is where Wall Street Rising comes in. The organization learned about the benefit a month ago and is already making plans to use the proceeds towards a concert series of its own – one with a more modest ticket price.

The proceeds from the benefit “will allow us to then turn around and bring our own concert series to Downtown residents and workers,” said Julie Menin, founder and president of Wall Street Rising.

Wall Street Rising’s concert series is planned for the second week in November. Tickets will either be free or cost $10. “All of our programs have always been free from the get-go,” said Menin. “That’s something that I’ve felt very strongly about. We want to bring community events to the area again.” She also hopes to include a discount for local restaurants during her series.

“A lot of people fail to realize the severity of what’s happening there,” she said, speaking of the businesses that continue to suffer in the wake of 9/11.

The Wall Street Concert Series is Cipriani’s second Downtown series. In 1998, he launched another all-star lineup series at Cipriani Wall Street, which was not a benefit. Rod Stewart is the only performer to return for the second series. “We have the same caliber of performers,” Cipriani said. “We have even a better lineup this time.”

Cipriani returned to 55 Wall last year and re-opened last November – to the tune of a Sean “P. Diddy” Combs birthday bash — after Regent Wall Street closed in January 2004. Developer Steve Witkoff, owner of the famed Woolworth building, bought the former New York Mercantile Exchange and City National Bank in March 2004 and leased the ballroom to Cipriani, who was unceremoniously ousted from the same space in 1999 when Stanley Kimmel and Richard Butera developed the hotel there.

Cipriani sees his concert series as a way to support the neighborhood he loves – and will soon inhabit. He plans to move into one of the Calvin Tsao-designed residential condos on the upper floors, once construction is complete in October.

“To me Downtown is the nicest part of New York City,” Cipriani said. “That’s where New York City began. [Bringing it back] is a vital thing for the city to do.”

The building will have 106 condos— a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments. In addition to the ballroom, 55 Wall St. will also include a private club with a restaurant, library, and T.V. rooms that will serve the residences.

The March 15 Rod Stewart concert kickoff will be followed by Sheryl Crow (April 26), Lionel Richie (May 25), Alicia Keys (June 23), Marc Anthony (September 15), Stevie Wonder (an unspecified date in October), and a “surprise performance” in November.

For a series subscription, contact Norma Augenblick at 212-499-0599 or e-mail her at Naugenblick@cipriani.com.


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