Until the megamall arrives, it’s all about the essentials.
Century 21 aside, lower Manhattan is not a great shopping neighborhood. It is, however, an ideal location for the city’s (nay, the world’s) most multitasking Duane Reade (1) (40 Wall St., nr. Nassau St.; 212-742-8454). The five-month-old store is open 24 hours and packed with a small town’s worth of services: a hair salon, a manicure station, a shoeshine, a flower kiosk, a jewelry counter, and a sushi bar. Other newcomers filling neighborhood niches: old-school stationer Midtown Comics (3) (64 Fulton St., nr. Gold St.; 212-302-8192); high-end frame fashioner Artsee Eyewear (4) (220 Murray St., nr. West St.; 212-227-2400); and florist–gift shop Bloom (5) (255 Murray St., nr. Greenwich St.; 646-414-6269; opens 1/9). For wardrobe fixes, T.J. Maxx (6) (14 Wall St., nr. Nassau St.; 212-587-8459) expanded here last month, as did menswear labels My.Suit (7) (30 Broad St., nr. Exchange Pl.; 646-556-7430) and JoS. A. Bank (8) (111 Broadway, nr. Cedar St.; 212-227-3684). But the biggest development is yet to come in 2013: Brookfield Properties’ (9) $250 million World Financial Center retail hub is envisioned as the downtown answer to the Shops at Columbus Circle, with 40 shops, six restaurants, and subway access (200 Vesey St., nr. West St.; no phone yet).
Everywhere you look, a new park has popped up.
The year’s most obvious lower-Manhattan news is the reconstruction of the World Trade Center (1) site and the inauguration of Memorial Plaza, which will eventually be joined by 1 World Trade Center, four additional towers, and the Santiago Calatrava–designed World Trade Center Transportation Hub. For the locals, however, the action is in Battery Park, where an entire acre has been set aside for the Urban Farm (2), composed of 80 plots of farmers’-market-bound organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers, tended by kids from local public schools. Frank Gehry has settled in here, as well, but not to design another blockbuster building. His Battery Playspace (3) (Battery Park, State St.), is set to replace the current, outdated playground in early 2013. In the meantime, parents and kids can begin to switch up their recreational scenery at Imagination Playground (4) (2 Fulton St., nr. South St.), a futuristic kiddie zone designed by David Rockwell; Teardrop Park South (5) (Vesey St. at River Terr.), the Michael van Valkenburgh–designed offshoot of the original Teardrop, featuring high-tech mirrors that bounce sunlight into its shady areas; and along the Fulton Street Corridor (6) (at Pearl St.), where Pearl Street Playground’s new sandbox and plaza will join the recently cleaned-up Titanic Park (at Water Street). Just north of the South Ferry terminal is the revamped and relandscaped Peter Minuit Plaza (9 Battery Park, nr. White Hall Terminal) (7), home to a picnic-ready pavilion designed by Dutch architect Ben van Berkel. The first section of the planned two-mile East River Esplanade (8) (South St. bet. Maiden Ln. and Wall St.) opened this summer, and its Pier 15, with a boating dock, café, and upper-deck lawn, will be up and running soon. (In 2013, the East River Esplanade and Hudson River Park will be connected via the Battery Garden Bikeway.) There’s also the redevelopment effort along Liberty Street, which has led to the renovation of Louise Nevelson Plaza (9) (William St., Liberty St., and Maiden Ln.), first built in 1977 and now showing off its namesake feminist sculptor’s works again.
Mental and Physical)
New schools for the kids, new gyms for the parents.
As lower Manhattan has become a gravitational center for young families, the schools have kept up with the playgrounds (see above) in number and design. Battery Park City School, P.S./I.S. 276 (1) (55 Battery Pl., nr. First Pl.) is one of the first schools designed and built under the city’s Green Schools Guide. The partially solar-powered elementary school features an outdoor science classroom and unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty. Also new to the area is the Spruce Street School (2) (12 Spruce St., nr. Park Row), an elementary school occupying the brick base of Eight Spruce Street, the tallest residential building in America, with an undulating façade designed by the neighborhood’s busiest architect, Frank Gehry.* For more grown-up mental pursuits, there’s the new 10,000-foot Battery Park City Library (3) (175 North End Ave., at Murray St.), Manhattan’s first LEED-certified library, and Hive at 55 (4) (55 Broad St., nr. Beaver St.), a new work space for freelancers and start-ups created under Mayor Bloomberg’s MediaNYC 2020 program. And in the fitness realm, there’s a SoulCycle (5) (103 Warren St., nr. Greenwich St.) spinning studio, where Chelsea Clinton allegedly got into wedding shape last year, and arriving soon, a new Battery Park City campus of Asphalt Green (6) (212 North End Ave., nr. Murray St.). The extension of the popular Upper East Side facility promises 52,000 square feet of fitness equipment and classrooms.
No need to transfer.
How to handle all this new traffic? In addition to the World Trade Center station, the Fulton Street Transit Center (1) (Fulton St. at Broadway) will eventually connect twelve subway lines and the path train in one megafacility. A new entrance to the A/C/2/3 lines opened in August on William Street, with another scheduled for 2012, and by 2014, the whole $1.4 billion project should be complete. And, should you need to get across the river, the five-month-old East River Ferry network stops every twenty minutes at Pier 11 (2) (Gouverneur Ln. at South St.), one of seven stops along the route.
*This story has been updated to correctly identify the Frank Gehry-designed residential building as Eight Spruce Street, not Beekman Tower.