Is there a projected start/completion date set? Thanks for the read Zippy, very good news.
Plans Presented for Transforming a “No-Man’s Land”
by Etta Sanders
A state-of-the-art automated bus garage, a park arching over the Battery Tunnel and a new bridge across West Street are the centerpieces of a long awaited plan aimed to transform the eight-acre area around the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.
The goal of the plan, called the Greenwich Street South Design Study, is to remove barriers created by the tunnel and garage, to ease access from Battery Park City to subway lines, and to address the problem of the hundreds of idling commuter buses that currently line the streets.
“This area is what many of us believe to be a no man’s land. It’s not easily passable by vehicles and it’s certainly not easily passable by foot, “ said Stephan Pryor, a vice president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, in an April 12 presentation to Community Board 1.
Battery Park City resident and CB1 member Bill Love agreed. To reach his office on Rector Street, he said, he dashes across several lanes of cars emerging from the tunnel and then cuts through the parking garage. “That garage is a big barrier. I used to hold my breath going through there to Edgar Street. It’s gloomy,” he said, adding that crossing in front of the tunnel is also a challenge. “It’s a bit scary because you can’t see what’s coming. You have to be ready to start running at any moment.”
To make that crossing easier, the plans would create a park and pedestrian passageway by decking over the top of the tunnel between Morris and Edgar Streets. Those streets would be extended to West Street. Some, or all, of the 2,000-car garage would be removed and a new bridge would be erected across West Street from Third Place to Edgar Street.
Catherine McVay Hughes, a CB1 member, said she supported improvements to the area, but questioned how the parking spaces would be replaced. “This is a very depressed area so I’m really glad you’re doing something, but I’m concerned about where these cars are going to go,” she said, adding that she parks her car there. “Every time I find a good spot it seems to be eliminated.”
New parking areas for 1,200 to 1,500 cars are being looked at in other areas Downtown, said John Fontillas, of H3Hardy, the architectural firm that created the study. Only 600 cars use the garage daily, according to Madelyn Wils, who attended the meeting in her role as Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) board member.
The board reacted most favorably to the plans to get buses off the streets. The proposed multi-level automated bus storage facility would be located just north of Battery Place and could house between 150 and 200 commuter buses, as well as some weekend spillover of tour buses at the World Trade Center site.
“The bus depot has been a top priority for this board for years and years,” said Joe Morrone.
The facility would use technology similar to a robotic car garage in Hoboken, N.J., but it would be the first time that the technology would be tried for buses, according to Michael Samuelian, director of Lower Manhattan special projects at the Department of City Planning.
Financing for the bus garage, including payments to the MTA to acquire the property, would come from an LMDC contribution of up $125 million out of the remaining community development block grants (CDBG) funds controlled the agency.
The park and street revisions would be paid for by the sale of development rights to five sites near the tunnel that would be created for new residential buildings. Those sites could eventually result in at least 2.5 million square feet of new residences.
The plans, Pryor told the board, are at a conceptual stage and it is possible that some parts could be implemented and other parts dropped. “You’re at the right point to affect the designs,” he said.
Is there a projected start/completion date set? Thanks for the read Zippy, very good news.
This is a proposal to the community board (which cannot act on it, only make recommendations). If adopted, it will go through normal review procedures, and I think there would be modifications. Nothing would start anyway until this project is completed.
I'm sure the much needed bus garage and street openings will remain. I think there will be arguments about the car garage, but I wouldn't mind if it went away completely.
There is a presentation on the LMDC website in powerpoint and HTML. Powerpoint is 66 megs (good luck with a dial-up). If you want to download certain images:
13, 14, (21 22), (23 24), 25, 28, 29, 30, 33, 35, (40 41)
38 - cool vintage photo
An automated bus garage?? Who came up with this idea?
The greenway across the BBT entrance looks great and would certainly be an improvement over the existing depressing area.
This would be a better use of money than the current DOT 9A work on the Promenade.
I like everything about this one. A very ambitious plan.
(Though, I am a bit biased - the garage is what we see from our apartment)
This is a really superb plan.
@asg - I like your 2nd picture Nice view !
I haven't been down to that Garage lately.
Is it just me or does the Garage look quite different than it did a few years ago? Did they renovate it or something in the last few years?
Yes, they removed most of the aged orange brick and replaced it with powder blue aluminum siding. I didn't think they could make it worse looking, but they did. You have to hand it to the MTA.Originally Posted by macreator
A few signs of life as businesses struggle south of the W.T.C.
By Ronda Kaysen
In any other neighborhood, the familiar green banner that appeared on a vacant shop window last week wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. But at the corner of Washington and Carlisle Sts., word of a new Starbucks setting up shop is something to talk about.
“That’s kind of an obscure location,” said nearby resident Andy Jurinko. “I’m trying to think who in the hell is going to go there… it’s kind of a dead zone.”
The corner in question is two blocks south of the World Trade Center site. Overshadowed by the bustle of Broadway and cut off from residential Battery Park City by West St. (otherwise known as the West Side Highway), the area gets little foot traffic and few visitors. While much of Lower Manhattan has rebounded in the four and half years since 9/11, the blocks immediately south of the Trade Center site, an area now known as Greenwich Street South, have languished, dubbed a “no man’s land” by Lower Manhattan Development Corp. president Stefan Pryor.
But in the past few months a change has started to take hold. Several new eateries have ventured into the area and insist business is not as bleak as it once was. This no man’s land is making a comeback, they say.
The ground floor of a 27-story residential tower at 90 Washington St. is now home to the latest Merchants incarnation: Merchants NY café, an airy restaurant with a small wood-burning stove and sweeping windows. Merchants NY Café opened this fall and is the company’s third establishment Downtown — SouthWest NY is in the World Financial Center and Pound & Pence, an English-style pub, opened in 2004 on Liberty St. in the heart of the Financial District.
If you talk to general manager Ali Webster, you’d never suspect her restaurant sits three blocks south of the empty Trade Center site and in eyeshot of 130 Liberty St., a 40-story shrouded building that was so badly contaminated and damaged on 9/11 that it will soon be demolished.
“We’re getting progressively more busy,” she said, sitting in the restaurant on Martin Luther King Day afternoon. The neighborhood “feels like it’s thriving,” although during the half hour Downtown Express sat with Webster, only one customer ventured inside and few pedestrians passed by. Business in the area, she thinks, is 75 percent of what it was before the attack. The cafe caters mainly to tourists and residents, with the 400 apartments in the building above often calling in for delivery.
This summer, Merchants will transform the sidewalk into a 140-seat outdoor café. “Everybody loves to be outside,” gushed Webster.
A block east on Greenwich St., every table on the ground floor of George’s Restaurant was full on the holiday afternoon. On a business day, the upstairs dining room of this Greek diner is full at lunchtime, said William Koulmentas, who is taking over the business from his father, George. The restaurant had been a neighborhood mainstay since 1980. But in Sept. 2002 the city demolished the two-story structure after a crack was discovered in the foundation. It took Koulmentas and his father three years to rebuild. They re-opened the diner on Sept. 11, 2005.
Despite the crowd, business is 60 percent of what it once was “if that,” said Koulmentas. The neighborhood “is struggling,” he said, and fellow shopkeepers are worried. “I hear complaints that it’s just not there yet. It’s a lot tougher than it was.”
Koulmentas blames the lagging redevelopment process for the neighborhood’s slow recovery. “They’ve been lagging on it for how long?” he said. “For the love of God, get it done.”
L.M.D.C., the agency steering the redevelopment, characterizes Greenwich Street South as desolate and advocates a $125 million revitalization project to deck over the entrance to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, create park space, build a commuter bus garage and create a safe east-west walkway in an area dominated and obstructed by the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, a parking garage and West St. The project is not fully funded, but there is $80 million of 9/11-related money set aside for it.
The neighborhood is also struggling through a major change in demographics. In the ’80s, a predominantly corporate crowd frequented George’s and other Greenwich Street South eateries, but thousands of office jobs vanished in the Trade Center disaster and a spate of residential conversions ate up many other office buildings. Now, instead of hungry office workers looking for a quick bite, Trade Center-bound tourists and new residents prowl the streets looking for a leisurely Sunday brunch.
To meet the changing demands, the new George’s boasts a rotating brunch menu with items not usually associated with a Greek diner. Customers can order apple pancakes and croissant French toast and one of the cooks began making his grandmother’s guacamole recipe. “I’m taking a different approach,” said Koulmentas, round faced and broad shouldered like his father. “My father was old school.”
Café Bravo opened across the street around the same time as George’s. A traditional deli, the nondescript eatery extends halfway down the block and includes a pizzeria and gyro shop. The neighborhood “has turned around quite a lot,” said manager Peter Asan. “It’s developing little by little, everything is getting better.”
The old timers, however, do not share the same optimism. They describe a neighborhood still deeply troubled by the disaster.
“We’re hanging on now, but it’s about the same” as it was shortly after the disaster, said Henry Martuscello, whose father Joseph owns Caracello Ristorante on Greenwich St. Martuscello is not fazed by the influx of new restaurants on the block. “They pop up here and there all the time.”
Giovanni Natalucci, who has owned Giovanni’s on Washington St. for 34 years, doubts his restaurant will still be here when the neighborhood finally rebounds. “The holidays were good, but now we’re falling into the hole again,” he said, standing behind his bar.
The 71-year-old restaurateur plans to retire soon and his landlord has no intentions of transferring the lease to a new owner. “I want to retire tomorrow,” he said. With business stagnant at 50 percent of what it was before Sept. 11, Natalucci sees no point in hanging on much longer. “At a certain age you don’t want to start again.”
With an $180,000 business grant, Natalucci sunk nearly $60,000 into restoring his restaurant after 9/11. He worries the looming reconstruction projects will take a toll on his building and the neighborhood. Like many of the shopkeepers in the area, Natalucci claims his was the first restaurant to reopen after the disaster. (George Koulmentas also says his was the first, as does Webster, who claims SouthWest NY reopened first in Battery Park City.)
Natalucci expects it will take a decade for the neighborhood to rebound. In the meantime, businesses in his neighborhood will continue to struggle. Many closed up after 9/11 and moved elsewhere, a decision he said was a smart one. His advice for the newcomers: “Let them go out to another place… business here is not profitable.”
Downtown Express is published by
Community Media LLC.
Downtown Express | 487 Greenwich St., Suite 6A | New York, NY 10013
B.P.C.A. looks to expand east
By Josh Rogers
On the day the Battery Park City Authority designated its last two development sites, its chairperson told Downtown Express the agency wants to take over the financially-stalled Greenwich Street South project to add parks and better walkways just to the east.
Jim Gill, the authority’s chairperson, said the agency has air rights to sell, bonding authority and the wherewithal to make the plan happen. The project in Lower Manhattan’s southwest corner includes building a platform over the entrance to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, adding park space, building five residential buildings, an east-west walkway and parking garage for commuter buses. The area is hard for pedestrians to navigate because of the tunnel, Route 9A and a large parking garage.
“We could get as much as we need for the platform, the infrastructure and the park,” Gill said in a telephone interview Wednesday. He said he had not talked to any of the agencies and officials that would have to agree to the deal yet, but he planned to begin making the rounds.
Gov. George Pataki, who controls the B.P.C.A., last year set aside $80 million toward the project — $40 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and $40 million from federal 9/11 transportation funds. The money was to help pay for the bus garage, which was estimated to cost $125 million. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority owns several of the devlopment sites and they would have to agree to sell the sites to someone before the plan could proceed.
Madelyn Wils, a director of the L.M.D.C., said the Battery Park City Authority was a “logical” group to do Greenwich Street South and the idea was discussed briefly a few years ago.
“I’m a fan of the idea of bridging over the highway [tunnel entrance] and making Battery Park City and the Financial District accessible,” Wils said. She said the bus garage was desperately needed with 350 commuter buses expected to come Downtown every day.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg first suggested the Greenwich St. idea at the end of 2002 in a speech outlining his vision for Lower Manhattan and the city would have to agree with Gill before the plan could proceed.
“They have to be a full partner on this,” Wils said.
A Bloomberg spokesperson did not return a call for comment.
“It’s a big vision but it is something that could be done,” Wils said.
Downtown Express is published by
Community Media LLC.
The City and State have really done a fantastic job moving forward on this plan since it was proposed three or four years ago. The change to the area is dramatic, rivaling that of the WTC Site.
Photos?Originally Posted by BPC