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Libeskind to Build Another Tower in Lower Manhattan

Daniel Libeskind has been busy lately, with a museum opening in Toronto, new residential projects around the world, and a Freedom Tower stubbornly moving nowhere in Lower Manhattan. And now he's got another — more easily built, one presumes — building coming to New York. The architect told us yesterday he has a commission to design a residential tower somewhere in Lower Manhattan — though he won't say much more than that until paperwork is filed Friday. Here's what he'll reveal: The commission is from a private client, and he hopes to make the building a landmark "by taking the notion of green out from the inside of the building." It won't be on Liberty Island, as we originally guessed, but Libeskind confirmed it's on a built "historic site, one of the iconic sites of New York City." And, he added, "I guarantee you'll see the Statue of Liberty from there." Hmm. You have any guesses? —Alec Appelbaum CORRECTION, July 13: A Skidmore, Owings & Merrill flack emails to remind us that the Freedom Tower currently being constructed isn't even Libeskind's design anymore; it's by SOM's David Childs. So maybe this new one will not only be more easily built, but will also stay Libeskind's!

Starchitect Showdown! Will Rockwell or Gehry Build the Better Playground?

It's never too early to start Manhattan tykes on high-end real-estate mania. The Parks Department has just announced that Frank Gehry will be designing a no doubt titanium-clad playground for Battery Park — which puts the L.A.-based starchitect in head-to-head competition with New York's own David Rockwell, the man behind countless restaurant and hotel interiors, some of Broadway's wittiest set designs, and a planned "imagination playground" on Burling Slip, a bit uptown on the East River. How do the two compare? See for yourself.

Outside the Grid Is a Senseless, Scary World

Clinton Hill: Of the two area buildings called "The Chocolate Factory," which one actually used to make chocolate? [Clinton Hill Blog] Greenpoint: How to keep dogs off your grass? Say it's intoxicated. [Newyorkshitty] Greenwood Heights: Neighbors are petitioning the Department of Buildings over unsafe conditions at 18-20 Jackson Place. [Gowanus Lounge] Long Island City: Throw out your trash in Court Square so you can try out the solar-powered garbage compressor. [LICNYC] Lower Manhattan: A gridless world proves confusing to an Upper East Sider. [The Upper East Side Scene] Soho: The Mulberry Street branch of the New York Public Library opens today. [Gothamist]

Bye, I

• MSNBC and CBS are taking Don Imus off the air for two weeks, prompting the Post headline "Don Ho" (you have to think about that one for a minute). Seems calling Al Sharpton "you people" didn't help things. [NYP] •It has begun: Downtown's Community Board 1 is absolutely outraged by JPMorgan Chase's plans to build a skyscraper cantilevering over a nearby park. Joining the pile-on are the unions miffed by Chase's demand for fat relocation incentives. [MetroNY] • Ex–New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey is suing his estranged wife Dina Matos, ostensibly not to stop her from promoting a tell-all but to make her stop dragging their 5-year-old daughter to the readings. He also accuses Matos of, yup, homophobia. [NYP] • East Hamptonites are divided in the wake of an over-the-top immigration raid. Armed agents in bulletproof vests pushed through the doors, SWAT style, in search for the homeowner's estranged husband. [NYT] • And will a Brooklyn Law student be booted after appearing in a Playboy TV video nude and playing with judge's gavels? Probably not, but come bar-exam time, the Committee on Character and Fitness will have some research to do. [NYDN]

Chase Wants In

The logistics of the ground-zero revival effort are enough to make one's head implode, but that's not stopping JPMorgan Chase from getting into the game. The bank has expressed interest in the Deutsche Bank site, a piece of real estate that's about to open up with the final dismantling of the grim, toxic colossus. Early plans call for a 50-story tower of comparable dimensions. Whatever Chase builds there is probably bound to be more eye-pleasing than the current black obelisk; the question here, like everywhere else around the ground zero, is whether anything is going to be built at all. For one thing, Chase wants a big, fat incentive package to move its employees south from midtown. For another, to fit in a trading floor, the building will need to "cantilever" (thanks, Times; we'd probably say "partly hang") over a little park. And that means community boards may be getting involved. Unlike the dome over the transit hub and other semi-scuttled flights of fancy, this one is a deal-breaker: No cantilevering, no trading floor; no trading floor, no dice. Without taking sides, we'll just say this: Chase execs better pray there are no memorials planned for that park. Chase Is Said to Plan Tower Near 9/11 Site [NYT]

Will the Knitting Factory Unravel in Two Years?

Astoria: So are anti-gay comments actually homophobic or just a Borat-like hoax? [Astorians] Dumbo: The Beacon and J condo gets a resounding mediocre rating from architecturally demanding residents. [Brownstoner] Greenpoint: A Huron Street property is no friend of Magic Johnson's new Green Street development. Time to go to court. [Curbed] Kips Bay: Strong anti-U.N. sentiment is fueling local pols’ opposition to a new office tower at Robert Moses Park on 42nd Street. [NYS] Lower Manhattan: Governor’s Island expands its access to the public this summer … but do most NYCers even know where it is or what’s on it? [NewYorkology] Tribeca: Now that its building has just been sold, will famed music venue the Knitting Factory meet a CBGB-like demise when its lease expires in two years? [The Real Deal]

Still Acting Up, Twenty Years Later

Twenty years ago this week, ACT UP, the AIDS-activist movement, held its first protest, shocking lower Manhattan's buttoned-down lunchtime crowd when hundreds of gay protesters stormed the streets demanding lifesaving AIDS drugs; seventeen were arrested when they lay down "dead" in the street at the corner of Broadway and Wall Street, stopping traffic. ("Homosexuals arrested at AIDS drug protest," read the Times photo caption.) Today, ACT UP was back, this time rallying for the group's bigger-than-AIDS demand for universal health care, and about two dozen protesters were arrested when they stopped traffic on Broadway, alongside the famous statue of a bull.

At William Beaver House, Brand Early, Brand Often

Astoria: Did a Bauhaus-era South Beach hotel fly through the air, Oz-like, and land on 21st Street? How else to explain the new Astoria Windsor apartment building? [Curbed via Queens Crap] Boerum Hill: Perhaps where an air conditioner used to cool is now a shrine to the Virgin Mary and, uh, Barbie. Is the Bethlehem Barbie Dreamstable somewhere nearby? [Lost City] Governor's Island: So NASCAR didn't work on Staten Island. What about Indy racing here? [NYS] Kensington: The jilted neighborhood is conspicuously absent from Brooklyn Record's breakdown. What gives? (Blog fight!) [Kensington Blog] Lower Manhattan: At the construction site for André Balazs's super-hyped Beaver House condos (studio: $870,000), even the construction crane is part of the branding. [Curbed] Soho: Madonna and her cleavage will be overlooking Houston & Crosby on behalf of H&M for a while. [Copyranter]

How Bad Is Your Post Office?

Brooklyn Heights: Did Tim Robbins move in? There was a spotting on Henry Street. [Brooklyn Heights Blog] Harlem: If your kids don't say "I Want!" to you enough, take them to the new toy store on 120th and Lex. [Harlem Fur] Kensington: After a YouTube clip of a Harvey Fierstein–voiced crazy going, well, postal at the notoriously dysfunctional P.O., some other dissatisfied customers chimed in. [Gowanus Lounge] Lower Manhattan: In a process akin to finally removing a tumor eating at New York City's soul, demolition of the 9/11-contaminated Deutsche Bank building finally begins. [Downtown Express] Prospect Heights: A dozen residents could lose their apartments to make way for one family's need for a five-bedroom house. [The Brooklyn Paper] Williamsburg: (Well, the Williamsburg Bridge, that is.) Fresh off this gushing Village Voice profile, street artist Deuce 7 drops a new stunner. [Razor Apple]

Fake-Poor Kids Derided in Williamsburg

Bedford-Stuyvesant: There are no outstanding violations, so why hasn't there been any work at 377 Franklin Avenue for the past three months? [Brownstoner] Chelsea: Communist Party headquarters on 23rd Street rent out space to (gasp!) a real-estate agency, proving even pinkos can’t resist the potential lucre of the housing bubble. [Blog Chelsea] Lower Manhattan: Those huge light projections you'll see tonight are actually an antiwar protest. BYO candle. [1010 WINS via Gothamist] Prospect Park: So where exactly can you pick up a free wi-fi signal? [Daily Slope] Williamsburg: How quickly the trust-funded hipsters turn on each other when the Times reveals that one-quarter of their parents bought their apartments for them. [Gawker]

There's Nothing Temporary About Twenty Years

Brooklyn Heights: At St. Francis College last night, they were hootin' down plans to finance Brooklyn Bridge Park with luxury condos, restaurants, and office space on the 70-acre site. [MetroNY] Harlem: You and poochie can make new friends this Saturday when you help move a big pile of wood chips at the soon-to-be-rehabbed St. Nicholas Park dog run. [Friends of St. Nicholas Park Blog via Harlem Fur] Lower Manhattan: Plans for Santiago Calatrava's much-hyped tower of "stackable" condo cubes for 80 South Street are reportedly "still alive." [City Realty via Curbed] Midtown East: For whatever reason, the Rite Aid in Grand Central is selling cereal for $1.79 a box. Even the kind that usually costs $6. Run, before the Cap'n Crunch is gone!. [This is What We Do Now] Prospect Heights: Those "temporary" parking lots planned for Atlantic Yards already aren't very popular. Could they actually last up to twenty years? [Brooklyn Speaks] Soho: In a refreshing change of paint, uh, pace, the latest street-art defacing comes not from the hardworking Splasher, but from … Katsu! [Gothamist via Razor Apple]

South Street Seaport: Some Fresh Food With Your Towers?

The old Fulton Fish Market never caused such a stink. Word leaked last week that the new owner of South Street Seaport, General Growth Properties, wanted to create a tower and open space over what's now the morose "festival marketplace" of Pier 17 — and last night, area residents attempted to slap down the idea. "People in this room are terrified at the idea of towers," declared Jeffrey Schneider, head of the 117 Beekman Street condo association. General Growth's architect, Gregg Pasquarelli, whose firm SHoP worked on the city's plan to build pavilions and parkland on nearby East Side piers, promised that squeezing the mall's square footage into a tower was just one of "25 plans" he's mustering for the new owner. Neighbors want playgrounds and schools; Pasquarelli mentioned the possibility of an outdoor market. Indeed, civic types have proposed New Amsterdam Public, which would be a year-round healthy-food cornucopia. Locally grown kumquats near historic vessels sounds lovely, but General Growth rep Michael McNoughton tells us he expects "several more months" of public talks before his firm proposes a plan. Talks, indeed. As a 119 Beekman resident said: "If you think we're difficult, wait until you deal with Brooklyn Heights." —Alec Appelbaum

Brits Beat Us to 9/11 Memorial

Believe it or not, you'll actually be able to visit a 9/11 memorial in lower Manhattan this summer. But, naturally, it's not ours, of course (don't be silly). The British Memorial Garden at Hanover Square is nearly finished; it's just awaiting a planting ceremony — complete with 65 singing Welsh children — scheduled for March 1 (a mere 22 months after construction began). Tonight, the "Anglo-American community" will gather at Cipriani 42nd Street to toast the near-completion. So how'd it get done so quickly? Garden president Camilla Hellman diplomatically praises the U.S. Embassy in London and the city's Parks Department, which helped find the sloping site. We credit stiff upper lips. "We never tried to list all the victims' names," says Hellman. Instead, a fence line and finials represent the 67 British 9/11 victims, stone from the Isles reflects heritage, and the garden explores the entirety of Atlantic-alliance history. “I thought about families going to ground zero as a harrowing experience, and wanted them to come to Hanover Square and understand New York a bit better," says Hellman. One way to understand New York: Visitors to the Garden will be able to look uphill at that recently opened beacon of freedom towering over it, William Beaver House. —Alec Appelbaum

Battery Park City Is a Health Nut's Paradise

For years, Manhattanites viewed Battery Park City as being so inconvenient, so sleepy, so far west — you even have to cross the West Side Highway to get there — that it might as well be in New Jersey. Many grumbled about the lack of services and stores. But slowly people have discovered this downtown neighborhood's appeal: enviable parks, great schools, harbor views, and an admirable cache of ecofriendly apartments — old and new, and of all sizes — featuring paint and carpets that don't give off sickening fumes as well as "filtered" air and water systems. That makes it a haven for health freaks — which is ironic considering that Battery Park City is built on landfill. But families love it these days, as do Wall Street types — hence the glut of one-bedrooms on the market there — who want to be able to walk to work but feel as far away from it as possible when they need the psychological distance. After the jump, some of this weekend's interesting Battery Park City open houses. — S. Jhoanna Robledo

We're As Confused By the M&M Thing As You Are

Chelsea: Biker bar Red Rock West — a loud, white-trash holdout in overprecious art zone — seized for nonpayment of taxes. [Eater via BlogChelsea] Dumbo: Everything you wanted to know -- and much more -- about the refurb of the Jane's Carousel, a nabe icon. [Dumbo NYC] Greenwich Village:White powder once again found near nose of towering British supermodel on Houston Street. [Copyranter] Jamaica:City officials want to rezone parts of the Queens neighborhood to attract investment; locals say it's too crowded already. [Queens Tribune via Queens Crap] Lower East Side: Libation, among first joints to bring yuppies and Eurotrash to Ludlow Street, to close amid $5.5 mil asking price for building. [Curbed] Lower Manhattan: It's like Stonehenge, sort of: A 50-foot-tall, floating, lime green M&M Statue of Liberty aligned with real statue this morning. [Gothamist] Park Slope: "You hate me, you really hate me!" Atlantic Yards starchitect Frank Gehry inverts Sally Field schtick in volley with a protester. [Atlantic Yards Report]

Fancy New Seaport Playground Not Actually So New

You'd be forgiven for thinking the new, David Rockwell-designed playground coming to South Street Seaport is the greatest, newest, most fabulous, innovative thing ever — in the last two days, it merited two major articles in the Times, plus a column posted to the Times website last night. And it does sound interesting: With $2 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, Rockwell — the nice guy and design wizard who concocted Nobu, Rosa Mexicano, and the sets for Hairspray — plans to fill the Burling Slip playground with things kids can lift and fill rather than just swing, slide, and see-saw. But the idea, while innovative, isn't actually new. In 1997, the nonprofit Design Trust for Public Space commissioned and installed similar interactive-play equipment at community gardens in Astoria, East New York, and Fordham/Bedford. The stuff didn’t age well, says Design Trust program director Stephanie Elson. “Designers weren’t coming with city maintenance and guidelines,” she explains. “One of the lessons was that a formal partnership with the Parks Department is really important.” And that's what Rockwell's plan has got. It's also got researcher Roger Hart, who advised the Design Trust, too. So why all the coverage now? Says one design specialist: “It’s amazing what $2 million can do in this city.” —Alec Appelbaum