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September 2007
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Archive for September, 2007

Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York Opens

jane jacobs future new yorkOn September 25, the Municipal Art Society’s exciting new exhibition Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York opened in Urban Center Galleries. Sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, this innovative show reevaluates the legacy and values of renowned New York activist Jane Jacobs through the lens of the city of today and tomorrow using images, text and multimedia. It is the centerpiece of a major MAS campaign aiming to energize a new generation of New Yorkers to observe and recognize the best of their city and become citizen activists advocating for positive change. Continue Reading>>

Foye, ESDC Downstate Chairman, Favors ‘Sprinkling’ Moynihan Station Air Rights to Neighborhood

According to an article [Moynihan Air Rights Rain Down] by Matthew Schuerman in the New York Observer, the Empire State Development Corporation favors “sprinkling” the 4.5 million square feet of development rights around the Madison Square Garden superblock to neighboring properties, many of which are controlled by Vornado Realty Trust, a partner in the station development.
“It will mean less disruption to commuters, fewer financial risks, and it will tie the development around Moynihan Station to the demands of the market,” Patrick Foye, ESDC’s downstate chairman, said at a luncheon today before the New York Building Congress.
Foye said that both the dispersed version and a concentrated one with two office towers on the MSG block, would be put forth in planning documents that will be released by the end of this year. This is the third date shared in the last three months. Earlier the New York Times cited a July date and the New York Observer cited Foye expecting a September or October date. Though the ESDC and the developers, Vornado Realty Trust and The Related Companies, seem interested in the plan to transfer rights to neighboring properties, Schuerman notes it is not clear whether the city approves and will assist in the necessary revision of the area’s zoning. Additional Coverage: The New York Post covers the story in an article [Tower Play at Farley Station] by Tom Topousis. It closes with an interesting historical addition to the current events:
A $900 million plan to convert the post-office building into a new rail station, hotel and retail complex was blocked late last year when Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would not use his vote on the Public Authorities Control Board to give it final approval.

A Civic Activist Boot Camp: Working Within and Without the System – SOLD OUT

jane jacobs future new yorkTuesday, October 16, 7:00 p.m., at the Municipal Art Society, 457 Madison Ave. Jane Jacobs was not beholden to any strategy for making change happen. And today, the complexity of the city and its needs are such that activists also employ a diversity of approaches. While some embrace the protest and resistance models that Jacobs used to oppose the Lower Manhattan Expressway, others focus on effecting social, cultural and political change while working within existing structures. Continue Reading>>

Stanton Street Synagogue, A Place that Matters

One of the few remaining tenement synagogues in the Lower East Side, the compact Stanton Street shul (Yiddish for synagogue), at 180 Stanton Street, was built in 1913 by a hometown society in Brzezan in southeast Galicia, in modern-day Ukraine. It was almost closed in 2000 but the sale of the building and the demise of the shul was stopped by members of the congregation. Now, a homegrown effort is underway to restore the building and renew the congregation, and an open welcome is extended to all to visit the synagogue. Continue Reading>>

Garden Cafeteria, A Place That Matters

The former Garden Cafeteria, at 165 East Broadway (corner of Rutgers), now Wing Shoon Restaurant. The Garden Cafeteria, one of the storied places on the Lower East Side, earned some of its flair from proximity to The Forvertz/ (Jewish Daily) Forward newspaper. The Forward’s writers and poets — Isaac Bashevis Singer for one — regularly held court at the Garden. But it was also the eatery of choice for many circles aside from the Jewish intelligentsia. Continue Reading>>

Moynihan Station Developers Invest Substantially in Lobbying

According to an article [Push Is Growing for U.S. Funding of Penn Station Redo] by Eliot Brown in the New York Sun, Moynihan Station developers Vornado Realty Trust and the Related Companies invested $700,000 into advocacy efforts in the first half of 2007. The article notes:
The developers involved in remaking Pennsylvania Station are pouring money into an effort to elicit federal funding for the development, retaining the services of six Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firms for the project, records show. In the first half of 2007, developers Vornado Realty Trust and the Related Companies put about $710,000 into the advocacy efforts, according to federal lobbying filings, an amount that comes on top of more than $15,000 in campaign contributions to key legislators that could affect the funding. The efforts underscore the important role of federal funding for the project, as both the state, which is administering the development, and the developers are eager to see the expected multibillion-dollar costs offset by another party.
The article also cites the political contributions made by the CEO of Vornado, Steven Roth, and the CEO of Related, Stephen Ross to elected officials including Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York.

Tribute in Light: The Sixth Anniversary

Commemorating the sixth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Tribute in Light – two great beams of light – shone again on 9/11 this year from Lower Manhattan and filled the night sky. The Tribute in Light honors those who were lost on September 11, as well as those who worked so hard to get our city through its greatest trial. The idea for the lights was independently conceived by several artists and designers, who were brought together under the auspices of the Municipal Art Society and Creative Time. The Tribute in Light is now produced annually by the MAS on the September 11th anniversary. It was designed by John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian Laverdiere, Paul Myoda and lighting designer Paul Marantz. Tribute in Light is made possible by a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. (LMDC is funded through Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development).

Two 9/11 Memorials, Places that Matter

In remembrance, our places that matter of the week are two September 11th memorials: “Postcards” in St. George, Staten Island, nominated by Laura Jean Watters, and the “Tribute in Light” in Lower Manhattan. “Postcards” is the name of architect Masayuki Sono’s memorial tribute to Staten Islanders lost in the attacks. Sono gave his two outsized postcards “origami-like inward folds (as if to keep a personal message private).” On the sculpture’s inner walls, small granite “commemorative stamps” facing the harbor bear the names of those who died. Continue Reading>>

State Urges Merrill Lynch to Stay Downtown

Following the mid-August report that Merrill Lynch was exploring a move to the site of the Hotel Pennsylvania, the New York Sun reports [How N.Y. State Woos Merrill On Downtown by Elliot Brown] that New York State is urging the firm to stay downtown.
As financial giant Merrill Lynch considers moving its headquarters to Midtown from Lower Manhattan, pressure is increasing from city and state officials lobbying the bank against relocating. “I can say we’re going to work like hell to see that Merrill Lynch stays in Lower Manhattan, where it belongs,” the president of New York’s Empire State Development Corporation, Avi Schick, said yesterday.
The article notes that Merrill Lynch’s lease in the World Financial Center expires in 2013, and the firm is looking at three locations: the site of Vornado Realty Trust’s Hotel Pennsylvania, just east of Pennsylvania Station; one of the new World Trade Center towers, developed by Silverstein Properties; and its existing building, owned by Brookfield Properties.

The Real Deal Reports on Hudson Yards and West Side Development

west side mapIn an article [Major Players Gobble Up Hudson Yards Sites] by Lauren Elkies in the Real Deal, the development plans of the massive area to the west of the Farley Post Office are surveyed.
Development of the Hudson Yards area is still in its infancy, but big builders have been amassing large swaths of land on the far West Side with plans to infuse the area with major residential and commercial projects. This month, The Real Deal set out to take a detailed look at what many see as the area of Manhattan poised for the greatest amount of development going forward, with a block-by-block chart and map of projects planned for the neighborhood as well as recent property sales.
The article features a useful chart and map [PDF link] that captures the many projects planned. [Image: Detail of map [PDF] from the Real Deal.]

New Media, New Politics? Jane Jacobs and an Activist Press – SOLD OUT

Tuesday, October 9, 7:00 p.m., at Housing Works Used Book Cafe, 126 Crosby St. (at Houston St.) SOLD OUT but a number of walk-ups will be admitted. Jane Jacobs and other activists were canny media strategists, and they worked both mainstream and alternative outlets to spread their messages, affect public perception and try to create both community and change. Today, blogging and other virtual forms of journalism are being used to greater and lesser effect by activists, developers and others trying to shape the debate over the city’s future. Continue Reading>>

Gothamist Reports on Original Penn Station Eagles

Penn Station EaglesGothamist contributor Toby von Meistersinger (and flickr photographer Triborough?) has posted a short item on the sculptural eagles (see one being removed in the mid 1960s in the header above) from the original Penn Station. The piece [Keep an Eagle Eye Out for Penn Station Eagles] reports on where the existing eagles can be found. [Detail of photo of a Penn Station Eagle at the Cooper Union by Triborough on flickr.]