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Lower Manhattan

  1. developing
    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
  2. developing
    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
  3. vu.
    Battery Park City Is a Health Nut’s ParadiseFor 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
  4. neighborhood watch
    We’re As Confused By the M&M Thing As You AreChelsea: 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]
  5. developing
    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