Volume 17, Number 45 | April 1 — 7, 2005

Under Cover

Wils bombshell?
The word is out: Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields is planning not to reappoint Madelyn Wils back to Community Board 1 this June.

C.B. 1 vice chairperson Richard Kennedy is asking board members to sign a letter to Fields asking her to reappoint Wils, according to a board member who saw the letter. A Downtown source said Fields has been looking for a way to get rid of Wils for a year.

Wils is in the middle of a two-year term as chairperson and also serves on the boards of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, Hudson River Park Trust and the Downtown Alliance. According to the second source, Wils definitely will be off C.B. 1 in June. But Wils has many powerful friends and much can happen before then. Fields has been treating community board term information as if it were akin to matters of national security and has refused to provide public information about C.B.1 for weeks.

Affordable B.P.C.
City Comptroller Bill Thompson is planning to release a plan to redirect surplus Battery Park City revenue back to affordable housing as was originally intended, a Thompson source told UnderCover. Since 1989, Thompson and his predecessors as well as past and present mayors and governors have agreed to use the money generated in B.P.C. for the city’s general revenue. The Battery Park City Authority now turns over $100 million a year to the city, and wonks estimate that the money is enough to build 15,000 apartments with below-market rents. Thompson, unlike Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Pataki, is a Democrat so housing advocates have been stepping up their pressure on him in recent months because they see him as the one most likely to change. Details of the plan have not been finalized, but it is likely to be released in a few weeks, said the source.

Cirque du Brookfield
Cirque du Soleil, the acrobatic Canadian circus, once again has its eye on Downtown. The Montreal-based troupe, which used to perform in Battery Park City when there was more vacant land, is entertaining the notion of a permanent home in a new 200,000 sq. foot addition at the foot of the World Financial Center, the online Slatin Report first reported. The new retail space might also include a — gasp! — Nordstrom for those high-end department store-depraved Downtowners.

Brookfield, which owns the W.F.C. and is exploring the project with the Related Cos., isn’t stringing up any tightrope yet. “It’s very much in the pie-in-the-sky phase, there are a million steps between here and there,” Melissa Coley, a spokesperson for the real estate giant, told UnderCover.

This isn’t the first time Cirque du Soleil has teased Downtowners with fantasies of the acrobatic wonders somersaulting through the neighborhood. A year ago, the Related Cos. tried to swing a plan to plant a Soleil trapeze at the South Street Seaport. General Growth Properties, the new Seaport owners, nixed the idea.

Focus group Ratner
Thinking about relocating to a 75-story Frank Gehry-designed tower across the street from NYU Downtown hospital? If you are, Bruce Ratner is looking for you. Reps for the developer have been circulating an e-mail to prospective buyers asking them to share their wildest apartment dreams with a focus group for the project. Not just anyone will do, however. According to an e-mail obtained by Curbed.com, Bruce wants luxury-livers or the luxury-curious who are “architecture lovers,” “luxury brand users” and “Manhattan-philes.” For those of us who are befoddled by the term “Manhattan-phile,” Bruce’s minions have described it for us: “people who would never consider living anywhere other than Manhattan.” This came as news to us. UnderCover hadn’t realized that there was actually anyplace other than Manhattan. Thanks for letting us know!

Bringing up baby
Alexandra Luca Koster, the latest addition to the Koster family, joined the world on Monday March 21 at 4:36 p.m., weighing in at a healthy 7 1/2 pounds. Little Alexandra will soon be ready to prance about her Hudson Sq. neighborhood with her big brother, Max, papa, Dr. Harry and mom, Kate.
get it anyway they can. They’re desperate.”

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