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Thread: Battery Maritime Building - by Walker & Morris

  1. #1

    Default Battery Maritime Building - by Walker & Morris

    The landmark Battery Maritime Building has been undergoing a $36 million exterior restoration by the NY Economic Development Corporation.
    It was built in 1909 and docked ferries to 39th St in Brooklyn, but that service shut down in 1938. It has had various uses since then, mainly for ferry service to Governors Island. The EDc has issued RFPs for development of the building.

    Copper roof replaced

    View from Whitehall St.

    Layers of paint removed reveals detail of ironwork.

    Closeup of herringbone pattern ceiling tile.

  2. #2


    The herringbone pattern is used here to form a nice Guastavino, or Catalan, vault, a very unique and wonderful building system.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2003
    The Catskills


    WiredNY offers quite an education! The generosity of knowledge and perspectives shared here have given me a far keener appreciation for this amazing City. I'm one of those folks unafraid to look up and around (Go ahead, call me a tourist -- I dare you), yet I have often looked right past many riches until this forum began to train my eye and mind. Thank you to the dedicated posters who make this site so remarkable.

    I might not post much, but I am still a student in many ways, even at my age.

  4. #4


    Thanks stockton, for a photo subject idea. Raphael Guastavino immigrated to the US in the late 19th century. There are many examples of his work in NYC. One is Grand Central Terminal, but that's not what I'm thinking about.

    Meantime, I also took some photos of the Whitehall Ferry Terminal. Progress is very slow, since they can only work on one slip at a time. Peter Minuet Plaza is also being reconstructed, and some of the sidewalk curbs along State St are in.

  5. #5
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Manhattan - South Village


    It's coming along nicely, thanks for the update. Definitely looking forward for the completion of these projects - it's a mess down there.

  6. #6


    City eyes Battery landmark for gourmet market on the water

    By Ronda Kaysen

    Foodies with a penchant for the perfect buffalo mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil might soon find their own version of Mecca at the edge of Lower Manhattan.

    The mostly forsaken Battery Maritime Building is near the end of a $60 million façade restoration and the city hopes to transform New York’s only Beaux Arts ferry building into a fine food marketplace that will rival the likes of Pike Place Market in Seattle and the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco.

    ‘There’s no lack of people in the city interested in food and wine,” Kate Ascher, executive vice president of infrastructure for the city’s Economic Development Corporation, said at a Community Board 1 meeting on Monday.

    Next month the E.D.C., which steered the five-year renovation, will issue a Request for Proposals for companies interested in transforming the 140,000 sq. ft. structure into a “temple to food,” said Ascher. The 32,000 sq. ft. Grand Hall with sweeping 30-ft. high ceilings and large, cast iron columns would emerge as an indoor marketplace selling fine foods, wines and produce. The third and fourth floors of the four-story structure could be dedicated to a restaurant or a culinary institution — the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York is looking for a satellite facility in the city, said Ascher.

    “I love the idea of keeping that building in the public realm because it is a fabulous building,” C.B. 1 assistant district manager Judy Duffy said in a telephone interview. Duffy toured the building with E.D.C. before they began the renovation. “I love what they’re thinking, but the city is going to have to kick in some bucks to make it happen.”

    The city has already kicked in about $60 million to renovate the façade, restoring and replicating the historic windows, doors and light fixtures and rehabilitating the piles. The city also restored the original colors to the 1908 landmark building, reviving the exterior of the once derelict structure. “There are few great buildings on the waterfront and this is one of the greats,” said Ascher. Ferries to Governors Island leave from the building in the summer.

    A revived Maritime building will not go the way of the nearby South Street Seaport Marketplace, a mall heavily geared toward the tourist market boasting national chains and roll away booths selling cheap jewelry and New York license plate gag gifts. “I really don’t see this as another Seaport,” Ascher said, adding that the city has “learned lessons” from the failings of that market. A Maritime building “has to be run with an iron fist so it has a real feel.”

    But local residents are not so sure. Despite its alluring waterfront location, the Maritime building is largely isolated from the rest of the city. Set on the waterfront’s edge, and adjacent only to the Whitehall Ferry Terminal, it is cut off from pedestrian access by the mouth of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Although near Battery Park City, a large residential neighborhood, it is still a haul from any residential enclave.

    “I see a problem,” said board member Joe Lerner. “The residential population isn’t at a critical mass right now.” Sheila Rossi, another board member, suggested that without shuttle bus service, residents would not trek to an far flung market.

    The city has long-term plans for the East River waterfront that include easing access to the Maritime building by moving the tunnel entrance 350 feet away from the building and creating a 3/4-acre plaza in front. The design will be funded with $7 million from the East River waterfront project, but no funding for the construction is in place.

    A Maritime building marketplace could serve as a destination in a revitalized waterfront neighborhood, once the South Ferry subway renovation is complete, the East River waterfront finishes its $150 million makeover and General Growth, the company that controls the Seaport Marketplace and several Fish Market buildings in the area moves forward with its plans for the area. But if the Maritime building opens long before anything else, and the area is still largely cut off from development and public access, the shops that open there could flounder.

    “Like everything else it’s location, location, location,” said Duffy. “But along with location, there’s a thing called timing. The market possibly could fail before it has a chance to get started.”

    E.D.C. is toying with the idea of building a temporary bridge over the F.D.R. to ease access until the area is redesigned. At the moment, “there’s nobody who naturally goes” to the Maritime building said Ascher. “But if it really is a destination—and unique—people can get there.”

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    Downtown Express | 487 Greenwich St., Suite 6A | New York, NY 10013

  7. #7


    Not a chance. You cannot really walk to that site, nor is there any parking nearby (except for the super-pricey garage at One New York Plaza), and the nearest large residences are several blocks away. The City should just sell the building and let a private developer find some appropriate use for this beautiful building. Otherwise it will end up like Pier A, boarded up for the last thirty years while the City dawdles.

  8. #8
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    On the other hand with the rebuilding of the subway station at Whitehall / Staten Island Ferry and the proximity to the Ferry it could be a viable spot.

    Many of the local shoppers who use Pike Place Market in Seattle and the Ferry Building in San Francisco arrive via public transportation. And the tourists flock to it.

    Another good argument for a light rail encircling the perimeter of Manhattan. But, alas, I think that is a missed opportunity.

  9. #9
    The Dude Abides
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    NYC - Financial District


    I think this has a decent chance of working out. When I visited San Francisco in the summer, I stayed in a hotel right across from the Ferry Building. It was such a lively place, especially on the weekends. I'd say the majority of people there were locals, and they clearly had to either walk a good distance (considering the area right around it is the financial district) or take a trolley. It too seemed hopelessly isolated at one point, surrounded by derelict piers and cut off from the city by a major waterfront roadway. I would love to see something like that occur here.

  10. #10
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    in Limbo


    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1
    Another good argument for a light rail encircling the perimeter of Manhattan. But, alas, I think that is a missed opportunity.
    Not quite. I see it happening in the distant future just not at the present time. Right now, the MTA and city is preoccupied with transit strikes, 7 extension, Second Ave. subway, new Penn Station, Fulton St. station, etc. Once all these are taken cared of, this idea will get their attention.

  11. #11
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    in Limbo


    Description: The space in front of the Battery Maritime Building is one of two critical gateways to the new East River esplanade. The proposed plan calls for moving the Battery Tunnel entrance 350 feet to the northeast, clearing the way for a new plaza in front of the BMB.

  12. #12
    Banned Member
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    Dec 2002
    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    That would be an incredible improvement and any plaza that lets you sit and enjoy this building is worthwhile. Of course, the boulevard and plaza makethe earlier proposals to create a food court within more logical. Without the plaza, it seems doomed to fail.

  13. #13


    Unless the city moves the portal and creates the plaza, they will have a tough time getting any private developer to invest the millions needed to renovate the interior.

  14. #14


    New York Times
    March 7, 2006

    Landmark Ferry Building May Become Food Market


    City planners envision dozens of food market stalls, as well as wine and coffee bars, inside the cavernous Battery Maritime Building.

    A detail of the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan.

    The little-used Battery Maritime Building, a freshly renovated and richly riveted Beaux-Arts landmark in Lower Manhattan that still serves as the gateway to Governors Island, would become a culinary temple in a redevelopment plan offered yesterday by the Bloomberg administration.

    Dozens of market stalls might fill the grand public hall where commuters in the early 20th century waited, under the fierce gaze of grotesque dolphins perched atop 30-foot-tall columns, to cross the harbor to 39th Street in South Brooklyn. A wine or coffee bar might be placed at one end, a demonstration kitchen at the other. Diners could sit out on a monumental loggia overlooking South Street and Battery Park.

    "What New York is really missing is a great market hall in a historic building," said Kate Ascher, the executive vice president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which is looking for a developer to undertake the project. She added that the hall should have a "very public use" because a lot of public money has gone into it.

    The corporation's request for proposals, issued yesterday, may be its first such document to use words like "artisanal cheese," "hand-crafted wines," "humanely raised grass-fed meats" and "foodies."

    City officials have been trying for 23 years to figure out what to do with the Battery Maritime Building on the East River. (That is almost as long as it served the 39th Street ferryboats.) Until 2001, when a $58 million exterior renovation began, the structure sat like an ornate green ghost next to the Whitehall Ferry Terminal, from which the Staten Island ferries sail.

    To a pedestrian, the Battery Maritime Building still feels difficult to approach and it is somewhat isolated, on the far side of the Battery Park underpass ramp.

    The corporation said that developers were free to propose their own ideas but that it would favor conversion of the four-story building into a center where food is sold, served, cooked, consumed and prepared and where food classes are taught. Ferries will continue to use the building's three berths, with service to Governors Island from Slip No. 7.

    "The stars are aligned for this in fact to be possible and to arrive, fully formed, on the half shell," said Clark Wolf, a food and restaurant consultant based in New York, who is not connected with the project. Mr. Wolf cited the success of the Grand Central Market, where commuters shop on their way home; "destination food villages" like Chelsea Market; and the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco, which also occupies a once-neglected landmark.

    "The good news," he said, "is that it's really hard to have too much food."

    Too much food is certainly not a problem in Lower Manhattan.

    "We don't have a large market," said Julie Menin, the chairwoman of Community Board 1. "We have very few grocery stores. It has been one of the No. 1 complaints of residents in terms of the quality of life."

    For that reason, she said, the community is "very much in favor of a food use" at the Battery Maritime Building, though it would also like to see some kind of cultural tenant there, too. And she said neighbors did not want an "overly tourist driven" attraction like the South Street Seaport.

    The Battery Maritime Building opened in 1909 as the Municipal Ferry Terminal. South Brooklyn service succumbed in 1938 to competition from bridges and the subway. The 60-by-150-foot waiting room became a storage area. In 1988, the Dance Theater Workshop and Creative Time were named as cultural tenants of the building, as part of a larger project called South Ferry Plaza, which was scuttled in 1991.

    In 2001, the development corporation began renovating the exterior. Jan Hird Pokorny Associates were the architects and Tishman Construction Corporation was the construction manager. The $36 million budget grew after close inspection revealed much greater deterioration. The riveted cast-iron facade was taken apart into 11,600 pieces and put together again. "It was quite a puzzle," said Judith S. Bernard, an assistant vice president of the corporation.

    One corner of the structure had settled two inches. To repair the columns framing the loggia, an open-air gallery, the entire roof had to be supported by temporary shoring towers. Searching for an analogy, Charles Silverman, the project director for Tishman, said, "I took your femur out of your leg and left you standing at the same time."

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  15. #15


    I agree with Zip. They need to fix the plaza first. The building is totally cut off. Nor should that take 10 years. The NYS DOT extended the mouth of the other end of the BPU in just months.

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