View Full Version : New Fulton Street Transit Center
New Jack City
May 26th, 2004, 08:12 PM
New Fulton Street Transit Center
P1230415_6_7_tonemapped (http://www.flickr.com/photos/52836039@N02/6015474085/) by michael.2999.pics (http://www.flickr.com/people/52836039@N02/), on Flickr
It's kind of hard to pass an opinion on it just yet...
A Shimmering Facet for Lower Manhattan
Planned Fulton Street transit center. A scene from Broadway and Fulton Street.
By DAVID W. DUNLAP
Published: May 26, 2004
Add another transparent polymorph to downtown's future landscape. If blueprints can be believed, office towers, apartment houses, commuter rail terminals - and now, even a subway station - will shimmer luminously as they taper and soar.
Astride a tangled labyrinth linking four stations on the A, C, J, M, Z, 2, 3, 4 and 5 lines, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposes a tapering, conical, 110-foot-tall steel-and-glass dome that would emerge from within a 50-foot-high glass-box pavilion at Broadway and Fulton Street. This translucent and transparent structure would, in effect, harvest daylight and send it as far as possible underground, opening new vistas and brightening what is now a dank warren of platforms and passageways.
The design of the $750 million Fulton Street Transit Center, to be completed in 2007, will be unveiled today at the Center for Architecture in Greenwich Village. A public hearing on the draft environmental impact statement is scheduled for June 8. The architect is Grimshaw, a firm founded by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, working with Arup, James Carpenter Design Associates, Daniel Frankfurt, Lee Harris Pomeroy Associates and M.T.A. staff members.
Under their plan, a new 350-foot-long concourse beneath Dey Street would link the Fulton Street stations to the PATH trains and the E, the R and W and the 1 and 9 subways at the future World Trade Center transportation hub that is being designed by Santiago Calatrava. Two platforms would be rehabilitated and an east-west mezzanine would be renovated and simplified.
But the signature of the new transit center will be the dome, with its 50-foot-diameter oculus skylight and its crisscross framework of curved, diagonal facets. Apart from elevated lines and control houses, like those at Bowling Green and 72nd Street, it would be one of the few distinctive aboveground structures in the 100-year-old subway system.
And it is intended to be a landmark for pedestrians, far easier to find among the crooked streets of Lower Manhattan than the current entrances to the Fulton Street platforms, many of which are tucked into other buildings.
"I'm really a little breathless about it," Peter S. Kalikow, the chairman of the M.T.A., said yesterday after he was shown the models. "It's perfectly juxtaposed to what's going on at the World Trade Center. It makes what was a mess into something beautiful."
The oculus may remind some viewers of the Pantheon. The convex taper may recall the form of ancient sikhara spires in Indian architecture or Norman Foster's new Swiss Re headquarters in London, better known as the gherkin.
New Yorkers, never shy about nicknaming unusual architecture (the Tombs, the Church of the Holy Zebra, the Lipstick Building) may find it hard to resist thinking of this structure as a jeweled egg to Mr. Calatrava's birdlike terminal.
From within, the center's design is intended to help wayfinding. For instance, St. Paul's Chapel will be visible from the mezzanine level, greeting arriving riders from seven subway lines. "St. Paul's is a major orientation point," said William Wheeler, the director of special project development and planning at the M.T.A. "When you come in and see the church, there's no mistaking it."
But the pavilion will not be entirely see-through. There will be small stores on both Broadway and Fulton Street. "The community has said that retail and some modest commercial activity that restores street life is important," Mr. Wheeler said.
Construction will require the acquisition of every building on the east side of Broadway between John and Fulton Streets. The nine-story, 115-year-old Corbin Building will be preserved and incorporated into the center. Travelers will be able to enter the center through restored arches in the base of the Corbin Building and pass by the inverted arches that form its foundations, which will be exposed to view.
Other properties along Broadway, including a former Childs Restaurant and the 102-year-old Girard Building, will be razed. The state also plans to acquire a two-story building at 189 Broadway, occupied by the World of Golf store, to create a street-level entrance to the Dey Street concourse, which may have moving walkways.
The new transit center will be an amenity for tenants in the former American Telephone and Telegraph building at 195 Broadway, which Mr. Kalikow owns. He said he had reviewed the matter with the State Ethics Commission, had not participated in daily meetings on the project and had not discussed it with Mysore L. Nagaraja, the president of the M.T.A. Capital Construction Company.
"We bought this building because it sits on the hub of all that transportation," Mr. Kalikow said, likening it to another H. J. Kalikow & Company building, 101 Park Avenue, near Grand Central Terminal. "I didn't buy this building in 1983 and say, 'Just think - in 21 years, I'm going to be chairman of the M.T.A. and there's going to be a great station.' "
Gene Russianoff, the staff attorney of the New York Public Interest Research Group Straphangers Campaign, said he was convinced that Mr. Kalikow had kept an appropriate distance. "The idea had more than one author, and the project is a meritorious one," Mr. Russianoff said. "He's right: he's a smart man for buying a building at a transit hub."
About the current state of the stations, Mr. Russianoff said, "It's misery for riders - clogged entrances, confused passageways, congested platforms and a crazy quilt of connections." He said the Straphangers Campaign strongly supported the new project.
Mr. Nagaraja is to introduce the project today at 4 p.m. in the Center for Architecture, at 536 La Guardia Place, between Bleecker and West Third Streets. The event is open to the public. Models, computer animations and drawings will be on view at the center through mid-July, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
"What's obviously most exciting is the transparency," said Fredric M. Bell, executive director of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects, which runs the Center for Architecture. But so is the retail frontage, he said. "Broadway and Fulton is too important an intersection to have just a glass facade."
This is a computer-generated architectural rendering of the proposed Lower Manhattan transportation hub, released in New York Wednesday May 25, 2004. The pavillion at Broadway and Fulton St. would feature a 110-foot tall steel and glass dome as part of the design of the Fulton Street Transit Center.
Travelers follow the ramps at the Fulton Street subway station, atop which a new glass-and-steel transit center is to be completed in 2007.
May 28th, 2004, 01:26 AM
May 28th, 2004, 03:16 AM
Wow, looks amazing! Good modern project!
May 28th, 2004, 03:19 AM
I got this in an e-mail from my friend. Very cool.
June 2nd, 2004, 11:26 PM
May 28, 2004
Fulton subway design receives praise from many
By Josh Rogers
What architect Andrew Whalley of Grimshaw calls “The View,” how the Fulton Transit Center would look from St. Paul’s Chapel.
A model showing the center’s interior, which is on display at the Center Architecture at 536 LaGuardia Place.
About 20 small businesses, ranging from fast food chains, jewelry and clothing stores, would have to leave to make room for the center, in addition to some offices above the retail.
“It’s going to be bad,” said Mohammed Elfeky, 38, who owns Manhattan Muffin on John St. He said he bought the business in 2002 from the previous owner. He said his ovens and dumb waiter are worth about $300,000 and he will not be able to move them to a new location. “It’s hard to find a place.”
Elfeky, who supports his wife with his business, said he takes the M train every day to work and said people quickly learn their way around the station. “It’s okay,” he said. “People know it.”
The project’s draft environmental impact statement, which was recently released, says that relocating retail businesses will not be difficult because of the retail vacancy rates near the site.
Wheeler said businesses and building owners will be compensated under the eminent domain laws.
Under the preferred option, the five buildings along Broadway between Fulton and John Sts. would be acquired — 192, 194-6, 198, 200 and 202 Broadway. The historic Corbin Building at 192 Broadway, which also has retail spaces on John St., would be acquired and preserved, and the others would be demolished. There would be entrances through the Corbin’s arches into the center. The other options under consideration would preserve the Corbin, but not connect it to the center.
Elfeky said he has not received any official notice about having to move but when he does he wants enough money to set up a new store near the current Manhattan Muffin, where customers have been eating freshly-baked goods for 14 years. He said his current lease runs until 2011.
“I don’t mind if they cover me for everything,” he said “If they negotiate, we’ll sit. We’ll talk.”
Elfeky did receive notice of the public meeting to discuss the environmental statement on June 8 at 4:30 p.m. at 2 Broadway and he plans to attend.
One man who manages a clothing store that would have to vacate, however, was impressed when a Downtown Express reporter showed him a picture of the new center.
“I love the design, but I don’t love to move from here,” said the manager.
Wheeler said the first phase of the construction will be at the east end of the site near the 2,3 lines and will not require any property acquisitions.
The M.T.A. hopes to have the Broadway buildings by the middle or end of 2005 when construction is expected to begin there.
Andrew Whalley, an architect with Grimshaw, said the center will be prominently visible from all sides, unlike the hidden subway entrances now. He said the best look at the building will be from St. Paul’s Chapel, catty-corner to the subway hub. “‘The View’ is from St. Paul’s looking back,” he said.
He said he did not design the building to fit architecturally with Santiago Calatrava’s proposed design for the $2 billion W.T.C. PATH-subway station a block away, but the Fulton Center will provide an easy connection to that hub. M.T.A. officials said they would consider using the MetroCard to allow free subway transfers between Fulton and the Calatrava stations, but no decision has been made.
In addition to Grimshaw, Arup, James Carpenter Design Associates, Daniel Frankfurt and Lee Pomeroy Associates worked on the Fulton design.
Wheeler said that there is little chance the project will suffer from cost overruns or have to be scaled back. “We’re very confident with the cost estimate and being able to stay within the 750 million,” he said.
Wheeler said on a typical weekday, about 300,000 riders enter, exit or transfer at Fulton, making it one of the largest centers in the subway system.
In response to a question about installing a system to let riders know which will be the next train leaving Fulton going to Midtown so riders can go to that platform, the M.T.A.’s Mysore Nagaaraja said it will take about two years to install a train locator system with a better public address system for the numbered trains and a minimum of six years to put in the same system for the lettered ones.
Copyright 2004 Community Media LLC.
June 2nd, 2004, 11:31 PM
wow, that one looks damn cool :eek:
June 3rd, 2004, 12:17 AM
June 3rd, 2004, 09:43 AM
What do you mean, cool? It's a ripoff of that ugly sex-toy like 'scraper in London, SwissRe. It's already out of style. Back to the drawing board, I say.
7 World Trade
June 13th, 2004, 09:06 PM
i agree with crunch. way too much glass. looks like another amateur libeskind creation. they should give this thing a more historical feel and add some masonry to it. and if they really want a dome, build it right for pete's sake.
New Jack City
June 21st, 2004, 09:45 PM
Some renderings from the MTA's website:
Some movies over there too:
June 29th, 2005, 03:09 PM
New York Times
June 29, 2005
M.T.A. Scales Back Lower Manhattan Transit Complex, Citing Cost
By SEWELL CHAN
The original design for the transportation hub in Lower Manhattan, shown in an architectural rendering, left, had a glass and steel dome that was 110 feet high. The dome is considerably shorter in the new proposal, though exact dimensions have not been set.
When the design of the Fulton Street Transit Center was unveiled in May 2004, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority called it one of its most architecturally significant undertakings in generations.
The proposed subway complex, capped by a conical steel-and-glass dome emerging from a boxlike pavilion on the southeast corner of Broadway and Fulton Street, was to be a Grand Central Terminal for Lower Manhattan, unifying five haphazardly linked subway lines and providing an underground connection to the World Trade Center transportation hub being designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava.
"It will be the pre-eminent New York City transit facility of our time, a civic structure of the highest architectural quality," the chief architect at New York City Transit, Porie Saikia-Eapen, said at a public forum in January.
Now, because of budget considerations, the ambitious design has been scaled back, the authority announced on Monday. The dome, designed to transmit light to the subterranean platforms, is now far less prominent. A proposed link between the Cortlandt Street station on the R and W lines and the World Trade Center terminus on the E has been scuttled. A concourse under Dey Street, connecting the trade center site to the west with the subway depot to the east, will be narrower than initially planned.
The changes, if not enormous, still constitute one more setback for the broader post-Sept. 11 vision of downtown rebirth, an effort that has been beset by numerous delays and miscalculations.
The authority insists that it will still realize the project's major goals: clearer transfers between the A, C, E, J, M, R, W and Z and Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 lines; a link between those subway lines and the trade center site; better access for disabled riders; and a major street-level entrance to a critical transit hub that is used for 275,000 passenger entries, exits and transfers each day.
The most noticeable revision to the original design is in the crystalline dome, with an opening for light at its peak. The dome is now considerably shorter and smaller, although its exact dimensions have not been decided.
"What we tried to do was preserve the goal of capturing daylight and sending it down to the lowest levels of the transit system, and at the same time come up with efficiencies that would allow us to save cost," said William M. Wheeler Jr., the authority's planning director.
The projected budget had grown from $750 million to $825 million. The project is being financed almost exclusively from the $4.5 billion in grants allocated for downtown rebuilding. Even with the design changes, the new projected cost is $785 million, and the authority still has to find money to cover any costs over the original budget.
The project itself is at least one year behind schedule. Completion of the final design, initially set for last October, has been pushed ahead to next May, although construction on two elements - new southern entrances to the Nos. 4 and 5 lines at Cortlandt Street and Maiden Lane, and rehabilitation of the Fulton Street station on the Nos. 2 and 3 - started in January.
The project is supposed to be built by December 2008. Today, the authority's board is scheduled to approve a $128 million contract with Slattery Skanska, a unit of the Swedish construction firm Skanska, to build the concourse under Dey Street.
Some people involved in the project spoke of the new design in positive terms yesterday.
"It will be different," said James Carpenter, a designer who is known for his use of light and whose firm is working on the dome. "But I think it will be equally engaging and activating for the space." A principal at the lead architectural firm, Grimshaw, did not respond to a request for comment.
The executive director of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Fredric M. Bell, said he liked the smaller dome. "If anything, I thought the proportion was better," he said. "The earlier manifestation of the project was totally dominated by the dome."
Mr. Wheeler, the authority's planning director, said the decision to eliminate the new passageway between the Cortlandt Street station and the World Trade Center station was a difficult one. The project's aim had been to connect as many of the subway lines in the area as possible. But, with pressing concerns about money, the authority determined that riders would be able to use the new PATH station designed by Mr. Calatrava to make the connection between the two subway lines with no great difficulty.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
June 29th, 2005, 11:36 PM
Before the new Coney Island Station, when was the last time a stationhouse was errected in NYC?
June 29th, 2005, 11:40 PM
does MTA do anything good?
i hope they don't pull stuff like this on calatrava's center
7 World Trade
June 30th, 2005, 01:19 AM
all i've been seeing from developments done by city agencies in nyc is the city officials watering down chosen designs until they are of little architectural merit. it's a sad trend...
oh well, i never liked that lipstick-like dome anyways...
June 30th, 2005, 04:37 AM
It would be nice to build the grandiose version, but where's the money ? And it's not like Bloomberg can raise taxes. Hasn't he already raised property taxes throught the roof ?
June 30th, 2005, 07:48 AM
I'm glad. I think it looks hideously ugly.
July 3rd, 2005, 10:31 PM
I don't see why it can't have an underground mall like Penn Station.
August 16th, 2005, 03:09 AM
No station for 6 months
BY JOSHUA ROBIN
August 12, 2005
The Cortlandt Street subway station in lower Manhattan will close for six months beginning Aug. 20, NYC Transit announced yesterday.
The move is needed to construct an underpass to connect a new $785 million MTA Fulton Street transit center with a new PATH station at the World Trade Center site, according to the agency, an arm of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The station serves the R and W lines and is located at the intersection of Trinity Place and Cortlandt Street. Trains will bypass the station until February.
The 14,585 passengers who use the station each weekday will instead be forced to use the nearby Rector Street, City Hall, World Trade Center, Fulton Street or Broadway-Nassau Street stops.
The underpass, expected to measure 150 feet, will cross the existing track and platform. During the closure, crews are also expected to widen station platforms.
The Fulton Street Center is expected to open in December 2008. The $2.2 billion PATH terminal at the World Trade Center, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, is to open in December 2009.
The upcoming closure will not be the first time the MTA has shuttered the site.
For about a year following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, crews had to renovate the damaged station. The Cortlandt Street Station on the No. 1 train, just west of the R/W station, has remained closed since the attacks.
August 31st, 2005, 06:23 AM
First Phase Of Fulton Street Transit Hub Now Underway
August 30, 2005
The first phase of the creation of a major transit center in Downtown Manhattan is now underway.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki were on hand Tuesday afternoon to announce the groundbreaking for the Fulton Street Transit Center.
The goal of the $750 million project, all financed with federal money, is to make getting around downtown easier for straphangers.
When completed, the complex will connect virtually every mode of transit in Lower Manhattan, including 11 subway lines, as well as the PATH and ferry systems.
It will also be accessible to the disabled, and provide better light and air and overall more pleasant conditions to more than 275,000 daily riders. In addition, it will include a concourse under Dey Street.
“Maybe one of these days you will work in Lower Manhattan and you’ll take the subway to Fulton Street and you won’t have the same reaction I had back 30 years ago, saying, ‘My God. What a dingy, dark, crowded, confusing station,'" said Pataki. "You’ll come out of Fulton Street and say, ‘What an exciting place, fitting of Lower Manhattan, fitting of the greatest city in the world.’”
“Today, we’re beginning in earnest the makeover of a decades-old, complicated, confusing and cobbled-together network of stations and replacing it with one modern transit hub,” said Bloomberg.
This first phase of construction, which includes renovations to the 2, 3, 4 and 5 subway stations, is expected to be completed by 2006. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2008.
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Copyright © 2005 NY1 News. All rights reserved.
October 17th, 2005, 09:10 PM
Volume 18 • Issue 21 | October 14 - 20, 2005
Shops moving to make room for train project
Downtown Express photos by Jefferson Siegel
Shops and offices in the Corbin Building, left, will soon have to leave for construction of the Fulton Transit Center.
By Ronda Kaysen
It’s never easy owning a small business in Manhattan. Rent is high, competition is fierce and customers are fickle. But some shop owners near the Fulton subway station face a new obstacle: eminent domain.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to seize five properties near Fulton St. and Broadway under the powers of eminent domain in order to build a new $785 million Fulton Street Transit Center that will combine the confusing Broadway/Nassau/Fulton stations in to one and connect it to the Calatrava-designed PATH station at the W.T.C. In total, 114 commercial tenants will be displaced, including the tenants in the historic Corbin Building, which will be preserved. The first tenants, those west of Broadway, will likely be out by the end of the year. The remaining tenants should be gone by the following August, making way for the new hub, which will be completed in 2008.
Moving “is very risky,” said Mirza Mamur, standing behind the counter of his print and frame store, Glamour Art Gallery at 189 Broadway, a wall of picture frames behind him. “Everywhere you go you see stores going out of business and that worries me.” All six businesses in the two-story structure on the corner of Dey St. will move by the end of the year.
While property owners are entitled to receive fair market value for their properties, shopkeepers will only be reimbursed for moving costs up to $25,000. The M.T.A. will not compensate shopkeepers for the higher rents they might pay elsewhere and the time spent luring a new clientele to their business.
“We have a large team of people working with the tenants,” William Wheeler, director of project development for the M.T.A. told Community Board 1 in July. “I would characterize” — the tenant’s experience with eminent domain proceedings — “as a learning process. They’re getting used to what the benefits really are.”
Mamur has yet to notice any benefits. He opened his store, a narrow shop covered from floor to ceiling with framed prints, four years ago and worries he might not find such a well-traveled location with affordable rent elsewhere. Glamour Art Gallery is located a block away from the W.T.C. site and opened four months after Sept. 11. “We were targeting the future, for when they rebuild the World Trade Center site,” he said. He has revised his expectations: he now hopes to be able to stay through the holidays.
For some business owners, the cost of moving far outweighs anything the M.T.A. has offered. Mohamed Elfeky, owner of Manhattan Muffin in the Corbin building on John St. estimates it will cost as much as $800,000 to move his bakery. “It’s going to be hard,” said Elfeky. “We’re like a small factory here.” His bakery is located on two levels with ovens and mixers and other baking machinery. Elfeky has built a solid customer base over the 13 years his business has been in the Corbin and worries he will vanish with the store. “I’m going to be like a brand new store somewhere else,” he said.
James Logan, head librarian for the Christian Science Reading Room in the Corbin building worries his business will not be adequately compensated either. Although the price of moving — which will be covered — is modest, the cost of remodeling a new space is anything but. The reading room, which has been Downtown since 1911, moved into its John St. location in 2003 after it left 5 W.T.C. in 1999. It is freshly renovated with blond wood floors, new bookshelves, a computer room and plush furnishings. Logan declined to say how much the renovation cost, but said it was “substantial.”
“It’s obvious that the retail tenants are not well cared for” in the eminent domain proceedings, he said.
Eminent domain can only be evoked in the service of “public use,” according to the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. A June Supreme Court ruling against Connecticut property owners, however, further strengthened eminent domain laws. The Fulton Transit Hub is a clear case of eminent domain, leaving business owners little recourse to fight the transit authority.
“The writing’s been on the wall, what am I going to do?” said Geoff Feder, owner of Cookie Island at 189 Broadway. “Of course you’re upset, it’s a drag, it’s a total drag. It’d be a drag if I had to move my doghouse across the street.”
Aside from the “drag” of moving, finding a new location in the neighborhood at all might prove to be impossible for many of these shopkeepers as they suddenly flood a market already short on retail space because of a spate of residential conversions in recent years.
“There’s no space Downtown,” said David Rakhminov, owner of Alex Tailor Shop, as he bent over a sewing machine working on a leather coat in the tiny street level John St. shop. It moved to the Corbin building six months ago, after its previous location converted to residential condos.
“What says that the next building I move into the owner isn’t going to say that he wants out of renting to small businesses?” said Cynthia Callsen, a psychologist with a private practice in the Corbin building. “There’s no security going forward for small businesses.”
Most of the business owners Downtown Express spoke to for this story were resigned to their fate, however, agreeing the transit hub is a necessary part of the neighborhood’s redevelopment. Many have an existential view of their unfortunate role in the story of the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. “Take a map of New York and start a business somewhere and then take a dart and throw it at the map,” said Feder. “Well you just hit us.”
November 16th, 2005, 11:46 PM
Business Owners, Forced Out For Transit Center, Protest
by Barry Owens
A group of small business owners being forced out to make way for the new Fulton Street Transit Center took to the steps of City Hall on Nov. 3 in protest.
“We’re not going out quietly,” said Katherine Hill, a graphic designer, and member of a newly formed group called the Ground Zero Small Business Association. The group is comprised of 140 business owners with offices and retail space in the buildings between Fulton and John Streets on Broadway that are soon to be demolished.
The 115-year-old Corbin Building, at the corner of Broadway and John, will be preserved and incorporated into the transit center, but current tenants will be sent packing as the offices are to be taken over by the MTA. The MTA also plans to acquire 189 Broadway across the street to construct an entry pavilion to a new underground concourse connecting the transit hub to the World Trade Center site.
“We’re not trying to stop the transit project,” said Arthur Castle, a statistician with an office at 198 Broadway, who sees the transit center as a needed improvement for the neighborhood. “But don’t hurt us.”
The MTA is offering relocation assistance, but the business owners claim the amount of financial compensation is not enough. Nor does the compensation guarantee that the businesses will find new homes Downtown, where small, affordable office space is in short supply.
“I’m 52 years old. I can not start over somewhere else,” said William Saad, a tailor at 198 Broadway. “If I go further than five blocks, I’m ruined, ruined, ruined.”
Some of the tenants of the buildings moved in to take advantage of low rents after Sept. 11, but many have operated there for years and struggled to keep the doors open following the attacks. Some took out loans they said they are still paying back.
“We Survived 9/11 to Be Ruined By The MTA,” one protesting business owner’s sign read. “Gov. Pataki Told Us To Stay, MTA Forces To Go,” read another sign. “What Are We, Chopped Liver?” read another.
An MTA spokesman, Tom Kelly, said the tenants should battle with the city for additional tax breaks and not with the agency that he said is working to assist the tenants in relocating.
Kelly said that about a quarter of the tenants had signed agreements. He declined to reveal the amount of compensation offered to the business, but said it varies from shop to shop.
“We have lived up to our commitment and worked with these people and done everything possible to assist them,” he said.
Marlene Burke, a psychotherapist, has worked since August of 2004 to organize business owners in an effort to get information and assistance from public officials and Downtown business groups. She said the MTA’s efforts have not been enough.
“I had a sense that we weren’t going to be helped,” said Burke. “The MTA wasn’t seeing us, or hearing us. They were just making nice-nice.”
Castle said it was ironic that the businesses already in Lower Manhattan were in danger of losing their Downtown address, while others seemingly have to be coaxed with tax breaks to locate below Canal Street.
“They don’t have to bribe us to stay here,” said Castle, pointing west, in the direction of the future headquarters of Goldman Sachs. “We just need a little bit of help.”
November 26th, 2005, 10:10 AM
Volume 18 • Issue 28 | Nov. 25 - Dec. 2, 2005
Leaders look to help businesses pushed out by subway project
By Ronda Kaysen
Rendering of the Dey St. corridor which will connect the Fylton Street Transit Center to the W.T.C. PATH station.
A group of small business owners who will be displaced by a new Fulton St. subway hub is getting the attention of local politicians and Downtown business leaders as the witching hour approaches.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority plans to seize five properties near Fulton St. and Broadway under the powers of eminent domain in order to build the new $785 million Fulton Street Transit Center that will combine the confusing Broadway/Nassau/Fulton stations into one and connect it to the Calatrava-designed PATH station at the W.T.C. In total, 140 businesses will be displaced, including the tenants in the historic Corbin Building, which will be preserved. The first tenants, those west of Broadway, will be out by the end of the year. The remaining buildings could be purchased by the M.T.A. as early as December. After that, tenants will receive 90 days notice. The M.T.A. expects all the tenants to be gone by August and the hub to be completed in 2008.
The tenants, in accordance with federal law, will be compensated by the M.T.A. for their moving costs and the M.T.A. will pay for any equipment — such as ovens —that cannot be moved. The M.T.A. has also provided real estate brokers to help tenants find new space.
The tenants represent a wide swath of the small business community. In addition to retailers and lunch food places, the upper floors of the buildings are filled with doctors, dentists, psychologists, tailors, designers and the like.
For many tenants, the M.T.A.’s offer is not enough to ease the blow of a forced move.
In June, several business owners on the east side of Broadway organized a coalition called the Ground Zero Small Business Association. Earlier this month they held a press conference organized by City Councilmember Alan Gerson on the steps of City Hall, launching a campaign to get the ear of the M.T.A. and the city.
“The M.T.A. could offer us something that would cushion our fall. It’s something they should do,” Arthur Castle, chairperson of the association, which represents about half of the tenants facing eminent domain, told Downtown Express. Castle is a statistician and a 17-year tenant of 198 Broadway, one of the condemned buildings.
For the tenants, many of whom endured 9/11, this latest development in the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan comes after four years of struggling to recover from the W.T.C. disaster less than two blocks away.
“The governor and the mayor begged us to stay Downtown,” said the association’s co-chairperson, Katherine Hill, co-owner of FDT Design in the Corbin Building. “We were all hit. We struggled to stay, we were asked to stay and now that we’re on our feet we’re being asked to leave.”
On the City Hall steps behind her stood three dozen small business owners clutching handmade signs reading “We survived 9/11 to be destroyed by the M.T.A,” and “M.T.A.: They created desolation and called it revitalization.”
Since the press conference, the business association has been getting the attention of local business leaders. The Downtown Alliance recently put its support behind the tenants.
“To the extent that it’s possible, we’d like to see them stay Downtown…. We will do our best to help as many as possible,” said Eric Deutsch, president of the Downtown Alliance, which runs the neighborhood’s Business Improvement District, adding that the transit hub “is very important to Lower Manhattan.”
The Alliance has been in discussions about the tenants with Community Board 1, which also recently got involved in the issue. The board’s Small Business Task Force passed a resolution last week requesting that the M.T.A. or the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the agency overseeing the redevelopment, secure additional funds to help keep displaced businesses in the neighborhood.
“They’re in a very difficult position, they’ve been in business for a long time and they’re losing their home,” said Joel Kopel, chairperson of the Small Business Task Force and general manager of Barthman Jewelers. “There are forces that are out there looking out for them. People are well aware of their situation.”
The majority of the tenants lease office space and as Downtown becomes increasingly residential, small office space is in short supply. Even with a 13 percent office vacancy rate Downtown, many small businesses cannot find small offices. Advocates for the displaced tenants have suggested leasing a large office and subdividing the space into smaller offices.
“A developer wants to rent a whole floor or multiple floors. They need to be willing to subdivide floors. That’s where the city could step in and be helpful in negotiating for space that would accommodate smaller businesses,” said New York State Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who recently wrote a letter to Robert Walsh, commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services, on the tenants’ behalf. “All agencies should be willing to be helpful.”
For many of the tenants, rent will spike even with public support. Some tenants have longtime leases, with rents as low as $13 per square foot, well below market rate. Castle requested rent subsidies to ease the burden and the loss of business that would be associated with moving to a new location.
“A lot of these people are paying the old prices for Lower Manhattan. That doesn’t exist anymore,” said Kopel, adding that tenants need to be clear about what they want — and what they can afford. “They need to wake up to the reality that it got more expensive in Lower Manhattan… They need to come to terms with that, and once they do, they need to figure out if a build out will be amenable to the new rates.”
M.T.A. has not indicated if it will help the tenants anymore than what it originally promised. “We are assisting all of the impacted parties,” said M.T.A. spokesperson Mercedes Padilla, reading a prepared statement to Downtown Express. “We are reaching out to them and we are hoping to find a location for them to establish their businesses. We are paying the relocation cost and awarding fixture payment,” for equipment that cannot be moved.
For some tenants—especially those on the west side of Broadway who have already received their notices—the recent interest in their cause might not be enough to keep their businesses afloat. “It’s a little too late,” said Geoff Feder, a partner of Cookie Island at 189 Broadway, which will likely close before the holidays. Feder does not expect his cookie store, which was originally supposed to open on Sept. 12, 2001, to survive this latest setback. “This happened two years ago and at 11 o’clock they figure someone will do something? It’s a little too late for that.”
November 28th, 2005, 09:47 PM
The Last Days of the Little Guys
By STEVEN KURUTZ
Published: November 27, 2005
John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times
The Corbin Building.
AS shopping districts go, the corner of Dey Street and Broadway, in Lower Manhattan, hardly carries the prestige of Madison Avenue or the relentless bustle of Herald Square. Still, for a certain brand of merchant, one who relies partly on tourists and impulse buys, this is one of the city's best locations. Because the A, C, 2 and 3 trains, among others, stop nearby, there is plenty of foot traffic. The popular discount department store Century 21 is a block west, and a bus carrying ground-zero-bound tourists stops on the corner.
We would have to be in Times Square to equal this location," said Geoff Feder, the manager of Cookie Island, a gourmet cookie shop at 189 Broadway, a two-story building.
Like the five other tenants that occupy the building, Mr. Feder has been thinking about location lately. That is because the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is acquiring 189 Broadway, as well as the larger Corbin Building, across the street, to construct a $785 million transit hub for Lower Manhattan. The buildings will be taken under the state's powers of eminent domain, and while the Corbin Building, a sliver-thin late-19th-century survivor, will be preserved, 189 Broadway will be demolished, and tenants in both buildings will be displaced early next year.
More than 100 businesses will be forced to relocate, a cross section of New York commerce that includes a golf shop, several law offices, a Christian Science reading room, two discount jewelers, a beauty shop, a tailor and a temp agency. The M.T.A. has offered to help the businesses relocate, and store owners will be reimbursed for expenses like moving costs. But as often happens when property is acquired under eminent domain, many merchants being displaced feel deeply, almost existentially cheated.
"The money is, like, a joke," said Mirza Mamur of the Glamour Art Gallery, which specializes in framing panoramic photos and which opened at 189 Broadway shortly after 9/11. David Sutton, who owns New York Stocking Exchange, a lingerie outlet next door, added, "I spent nine years building up this business, and I can't even announce a going-out-of-business sale because the city hasn't given me a moving date."
The transit center is a federally funded project, meaning that the M.T.A. must follow strict federal guidelines on compensation, said Tom Kelly, a spokesman for the transit authority. The agency, he said, is trying to be as flexible as possible in setting a vacate date, in order to allow the businesses to stay through the holiday shopping season.
There is a precedent for this sort of disruption downtown. New Yorkers of a certain age will recall Radio Row, the strip of electronic stores on Cortlandt Street that sat at the heart of one of the city's nastier legal tussles. In 1961, the Port Authority announced that it was eyeing the neighborhood as the future site of the World Trade Center. Soon after, Oscar Nadel, proprietor of Oscar's Radio and TV, along with his fellow merchants, waged a bitter battle against the Port Authority, hiring a civil liberties lawyer and holding a funeral procession for the endangered species they described as Mr. Small Businessman.
The issue wound its way to the upper reaches of state government, and the trade center went forward only after the United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case. A few years later, a planned civic center near City Hall resulted in the condemnation of more businesses, including Gasner's, a restaurant popular with a string of mayors.
Some of the business people being displaced this time around have coalesced as the Ground Zero Small Business Association, and two weeks ago, they gathered for a rally on the steps of City Hall, waving signs with slogans like "What Are We? Chopped Liver?" In spirit, the event recalled the Radio Row campaign, but the murky politics of a post-9/11 downtown complicates matters. As Isaac Zafarani, a manager at Renaissance Jewelers, a discount store in the Corbin Building, put it, "Unfortunately, people don't want to be seen as going against progress."
Downtown is moving forward. The crowds are returning. Construction on the transit hub began this month, and the difficult days and months that followed the terrorist attacks are receding in the minds of shoppers and real estate developers. But businessmen like Mr. Zafarani, who stayed open when lower Broadway resembled a war zone, are unlikely to take part in the renewal. The downtown rents are too high for him to stay.
Mr. Feder, the manager at Cookie Island, has decided to close. "On December 24th," he said, "I'll turn the lights off." And then? "I'm going on unemployment," he said.
June 3rd, 2006, 11:35 PM
Shops Near Planned Transit Hub Face Eviction
By THOMAS J. LUECK
Published: June 2, 2006
When it was conceived in the weeks after the World Trade Center was destroyed, the Fulton Street Transit Center was considered a symbol of hope, and a safe bet.
The project, to be financed by a $750 million federal grant, would link a dozen subway lines, and would bring a gleaming new architectural jewel to the devastated blocks of Lower Manhattan.
But the planned transit hub has been pulled into the quagmire of redevelopment at ground zero. Like other projects in the area, its problems have become layered in a frustrating mixture of cost overruns, delays and politics, all before construction has even gotten under way.
The project's latest problem — described yesterday by Representative Jerrold Nadler and the Manhattan borough president Scott M. Stringer — are the 148 small businesses at the site of the planned transit hub, on Broadway between Fulton and John Streets, that are being displaced.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has used eminent domain to take title to buildings on the site, and yesterday was the deadline for the businesses to leave. If they do not, the authority said, it would begin eviction proceedings.
"We will follow through," Tim O'Brien, a spokesman for the authority, said late yesterday. "Any delay will delay the overall project, and cost millions in taxpayer dollars," he said, adding that the authority needed all the buildings on the site to be vacant by the end of August, so it could begin demolition in September.
Fewer than half the businesses have left so far, or even said when they were going to leave. And Mr. Nadler blamed the authority itself, which he said had failed to provide relocation assistance required under the rules of condemnation.
"They have completed the job that the terrorists began of destroying small business," Mr. Nadler said of the authority at a news conference at the planned site of the transit hub. He distributed a review by the Federal Transit Administration, conducted at his request, and released late Wednesday, which found that the authority had "failed to clearly demonstrate adequate compliance to date" with its requirement to provide relocation consulting and assistance.
It was unclear yesterday how severe a blow the federal review, and the complaints by the Lower Manhattan businesses being displaced, would be to the transit center project. Mr. Nadler and Mr. Stringer insisted that the authority postpone by three months its deadline for the businesses to leave, that it fire a relocation consulting firm that it has been using for the project and that it work more aggressively to find alternative spaces for them.
The federal review found more room for compromise. "The areas found lacking in this report have been identified early enough," it said, for the businesses to be relocated by the end of August.
The delays and rising costs of the project were described to the authority's board on May 22. Because of rising real estate values, and because of unexpectedly high costs for asbestos removal, the project is running $40 million to $50 million over budget, said Mysore Nagaraja, head of the authority's capital construction company.
The projected completion of the transit center, originally December 2008, has been pushed back to June 2009, he said, and costs will have to be reduced, perhaps by scaling back architectural flourishes.
At the news conference, Mr. Nadler rebuked Gov. George E. Pataki, who exerts powerful influence over the authority's board.
"We'll have to see if Governor Pataki has time to deal with these kinds of problems in New York," Mr. Nadler said, "or if he is going to spend all his time in Iowa."
As Mr. Nadler spoke, Mr. Pataki was a few blocks south at a ceremony to reopen Liberty State Park.
When asked to respond to the charge, the governor avoided any reference to presidential politics. But he said "we have followed every process" in the transit center project. "There are those who tell us to slow down or stop progress, and we are not going to do that," Mr. Pataki said.
The 148 businesses being forced to move include merchants, professionals and others, many of whom survived the upheaval of 9/11. "They are the unsung heroes," said Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1, which represents Lower Manhattan.
"We are being squashed, and left out," said Isaac Zafarani, whose family owns Renaissance Jewelers, at Broadway and John Street. He said the relocation company retained by the authority had suggested alternative locations behind dank storefronts on side streets with higher rents than Renaissance is now paying. "We want to stay in Lower Manhattan, but we don't know what to do or where to go," he said.
June 4th, 2006, 02:06 AM
If I was in the right place, this is the streetcorner where the main structure for the station would be, as it is today. june 1st
June 8th, 2006, 03:46 AM
There has been some digging going in the area right now from a blogsite known as Test of Will.
December 16th, 2006, 05:21 AM
Volume 19 | Issue 33 | December 15 - 21, 2006
Subway and street closings on Cortlandt St.
By Skye H. McFarlane
Cortlandt St. — the short thoroughfare whose name means “short land” — will be long on problems in the new year, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
In order to speed up renovations of the Cortlandt St. stop on the R and W subways lines, the street will be closed to vehicles for half of a year starting sometime this month. The subway stop, meanwhile, will remain closed indefinitely due to a conflict with the Port Authority’s construction of the east bathtub on the World Trade Center site.
The work is part of the M.T.A.’s Fulton Transit Center project, which will revamp and connect 12 subway lines in the Fulton St. area and create a glassy new above-ground hub for the station at the corner of Broadway and Fulton St.
The news of the Cortlandt St. snags, which M.T.A. officials delivered to Community Board 1’s World Trade Center Committee on Monday night, caught some community members off guard.
“I’m worried that there’s no deadline for the R/W station,” said C.B. 1 member Barry Skolnick. “I’m worried that it’s just some vague, open-ended time frame that will just continue and continue until it’s done.”
M.T.A. representative Ray Finnegan explained that because the southbound entrance to the station falls within the construction zone for the W.T.C.’s eastern slurry wall, no one will be able to enter or exit the station until the Port Authority finishes it’s work in the area. Although the M.T.A. is negotiating with the Port to coordinate an earlier opening date, the station would presumably be able to open, at the latest, on Dec. 31, 2007 — the day the Port is contractually obligated to turn over that part of the site to Silverstein Properties so that the developer can build Towers 3 and 4. The northern part of the bathtub, where Tower 2 will be built, is to be delivered to Silverstein by June 31, 2008.
As for Cortlandt St., Finnegan said that the M.T.A. made the decision to close the street entirely after consulting with the Department of Transportation, the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center and local businesses at a public meeting last month. The authority determined it would be better to close off the street for six months (although pedestrians, local deliveries and emergency vehicles will still have access) than to maintain a partial closure for 18 months, the length of time the project would take if it had to be done in stages.
To try and keep east-west traffic moving despite the closure, the M.T.A. said that Liberty St. would be repainted to allow two-way traffic west of Broadway. Committee member Joel Kopel suggested putting a moratorium on spring street fairs on Fulton St. to keep the traffic flowing and several community members asked the M.T.A. to smooth out the potholes and metal plates near its work sites to make travel easier for bicyclists, strollers and residents with limited mobility.
“It’s a little bit of chaos,” said Finnegan, showing the committee a picture of Dey St., one block north of Cortlandt.
Dey St. has been, and will remain, closed to traffic while the M.T.A. installs a tunnel connecting the R and W lines to the current tangle of Fulton St. subways — the 4, 5, A, C, J, M, Z, 2 and 3. An additional connector, which would add the World Trade Center E train to the subterranean superstation, looked to be on the chopping block at the end of November when the M.T.A. declared that the Transit Center project was running over its $844 million federal budget. On Monday, M.T.A. officials reassured the community that not only would the E train connector remain in the project but that — despite several published reports to the contrary — the transit station’s glass dome would not be scaled down any further to save money.
When asked how this was possible, given the $15 million budget shortfall, the officials at first would only say that the project “would be funded.” When pressed, however, they said that the additional money will come out of the M.T.A.’s capital fund.
Because the E connector will also require Port Authority coordination, the M.T.A. is currently pushing forward on other parts of the project. The renovations on the 2/3 platform finished up on Nov. 30 and the 4/5 is set to be complete by next September. Above ground in 2007, the M.T.A. must decontaminate and deconstruct several buildings along Broadway (189 and 204-208) to make way for the new hub.
Despite the setbacks, Finnegan was clearly excited about the scope of the project’s underground engineering.
“If you’re walking by the site,” he said, “It’s a good idea to poke your head down the hole. It’s really incredible how deep it is.”
March 4th, 2007, 12:30 AM
Some recent shots from Derek2k3 shows that there has been a demolition on the block, but it would be nice if these buildings were saved rather than torn down.
April 27th, 2007, 01:25 AM
Some recent shots that were taken by Zippy the Chimp over at Wired NY.
May 16th, 2007, 03:05 AM
More recents shots form Zippy the Chimp over at Wired NY, though there is not a lot of changes excpet for the digging and the slow demolition of that lowrise that has Cingular.
November 25th, 2007, 12:56 AM
Volume 20, Number 28 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 23 - 30, 2007
Fulton water project drowns out business and sleep, Downtowners shout
By Julie Shapiro
At a rowdy meeting Monday evening, residents and business owners told city agencies exactly how they feel about the Fulton St. reconstruction project — and they’re not happy.
“We’re getting killed down here,” one resident called out as the speakers introduced themselves.
City representatives gave updates on the progress of Fulton St. at the second community stakeholders meeting. The project, which requires tearing up pavement and shutting off water, will replace a 150-year-old water main, along with other utilities.
The noisy, messy construction is fatal to the tourist traffic that keeps
local businesses thriving, owners said.
“It’s a nightmare,” Antonietta Caruso, co-owner of Caruso’s Pizza & Pasta at 140 Fulton St., said in a telephone interview. “People are not walking down the streets.” To recover some business, Caruso hopes to build up the restaurant’s delivery orders.
“It’s like a war zone down here,” Caruso said.
The noise that keeps customers away also keeps residents from sleeping at night. Some jackhammer and sawing work, which cannot be done during weekday business hours, requires water shutoffs.
“We prefer sleep over water,” one resident said at the meeting, approving of the recent shift of some night work to weekends. “It’s an inconvenience [to not have water over the weekend] but it’s a lot better than not getting any sleep.”
To mitigate the noise, contractors have fitted their jackhammers with mufflers and are ordering a noise suppression tent, said Thomas Foley, from the city Department of Design and Construction.
A resident of Gold and Fulton Sts. said that the noise has improved over the past month, and asked for a round of applause for Foley. He received a tepid response.
Problems with garbage collection sparked the most tension at the meeting. Louis, a resident of Fulton and Gold Sts. who declined to give his last name, watched a pile of garbage on his corner grow from 3 feet by 5 feet last Thursday to 5 feet by 10 feet Monday evening. His repeated calls to the Sanitation Department went unheeded.
“I pay $2,500 a month and that’s what I have to see?” he said.
When Foley replied that the city Dept. of Design and Construction is not responsible for sanitation, other attendees got angry.
“But you want to be doing this million-dollar project,” one said. “It’s not our job to call sanitation.”
As city representatives started to respond, Louis interrupted them: “You think it’ll be clean tomorrow?”
Several people began shouting over one another, as Sayar Lonial, from Councilmember Alan Gerson’s office, tried to keep everyone in order.
In the midst of the screaming, Gerson himself walked in.
“That’s outrageous,” he said when told of the garbage pileup.
He calmed the small but loud crowd of about two dozen and promised to find a way to remove the garbage. The issue is complicated because the Sanitation Department does not collect garbage from private businesses. Each business is supposed to contract with a private collector, but many of these collectors are unable or unwilling to navigate the narrow, construction-blocked streets.
Early Tuesday afternoon, the garbage was still piled outside Louis’s window, and he wasn’t happy, calling the previous night’s meeting “a joke.”
Another issue is the traffic caused by multiple street closures.
John Fratta, chairperson of the Community Board 1 Seaport Committee, said the traffic isn’t just an annoyance — it’s also a hazard. With all the street closures, it recently took him an hour to get from Fulton and Gold Sts. to the West Side. While he was stuck on Broadway for 15 minutes, an ambulance was stopped behind him, unable to move.
“That person died, whoever he was,” Fratta said half kiddingly. “We have a serious problem.”
Other attendees were also concerned about ambulance access to New York Downtown Hospital, and said that cars and trucks are often double- or triple-parked along the curb.
“The neighborhood looks like a dump,” said Ann DeFalco, a Southbridge Towers resident who works at Pace University. She complained that potentially dangerous wires were left uncovered. Most disturbing, Pace recently had a fire in its kitchen, and fire trucks could not get down Spruce St. because of all the cars backed up due to construction, she said.
“We need to find a way to keep that open,” DeFalco said. “Do we have enforcement?”
Foley replied that he has met with the fire department and added that there are traffic agents from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at five intersections: Church and Fulton; Broadway and Fulton; Gold and Beekman; Gold and Fulton; and Vesey and Broadway.
Fratta asked if there were any plans to enforce laws against street peddlers on Fulton St., who add to the sidewalk congestion. His question elicited several “Yeah”s from the audience, but Lonial cut the discussion short, saying that the meeting’s focus was on the reconstruction project, not on vendors.
“But we can’t walk!” someone called from the back of the audience.
“We’re very much aware of the challenges and difficulties we’ve been having,” said Josh Kraus, from the Department of Transportation. Each project requires a period of adjustment, he said, but in the meantime, “We’re going to keep our eyes peeled, and we appreciate your patience.”
Several other people complained about the cramped, narrow sidewalks.
“There’s nowhere to walk,” said a resident of 33 Gold St. “It takes 10 minutes to walk three blocks.”
Meriam Lobel, who lives on South St., has had similar problems.
“It’s difficult to go down the street at a New York pace,” she said. When she walks down Fulton St., she is squeezed into a narrow passageway between the construction and a wall. “It’s very isolating,” Lobel said, adding that the closed-in space feels dangerous at night.
Another attendee also criticized the dark passageways and suggested lights. “It can’t be too hard to put up a lot of lights,” he said. “For all the money being spent, you’d think at the very least we can get some lights.”
Foley is looking into installing temporary lights, but added that the generators that run them will make a lot of noise.
Before fielding the many questions from attendees, city representatives presented the recent progress on construction.
Water main work is complete at DeLury Square and on Fulton St. between Broadway and Nassau St., Foley said. Now, workers are updating other utilities in those areas, and will be finished by March.
On Fulton St. from Gold St. to William St., water main work is 80 percent complete, Foley said. All subsurface work there is scheduled to be done by June 2009. Additionally, work at Church and Vesey Sts. was completed ahead of schedule.
Of the 3,000 feet of water main to be installed, approximately 1,900 feet are complete.
Construction at Church and Fulton Sts. and the middle of the Broadway and Fulton St. intersection will begin in January, Foley said. There will be no construction between Dec. 24 and Jan. 10.
The Fulton St. project is so complicated because the construction of the Fulton Transit Center is going on at the same time, an occurrence that is “unique and uniquely challenging,” Kraus said. The Transit Center work includes the replacement of ducts along Fulton, which power the subway and are several decades old. The ducts are significantly below the other utilities, which adds an “additional level of difficulty,” Kraus said.
Seth Myers, from the Economic Development Corporation, urged the audience to look at the larger picture.
“Keep in mind all the good things that will come out of this,” he said.
Myers listed four new or refurbished open spaces: DeLury Square, Pearl St. Playground, Titanic Park and Burling Slip. He also mentioned voluntary storefront and facade improvements, along with Downtown Alliance-funded streetscape additions, including new streetlights and street furniture.
The last person to speak at the meeting was Adam Alvarez, owner of Pride Optical on William St. between Ann and Fulton Sts. He said most pedestrians stay away to avoid the construction.
“The foot traffic has changed its mind,” Alvarez said, adding that he has not been notified about street closures. Sometimes, he would plan a special event, hire extra staff and order hundreds of dollars worth of balloons, only to find the street closed and be forced to cancel the event.
While officials debated whether he was being affected by the Fulton St. project or another project, Alvarez had only one question to ask: Who would repay him for his monetary losses?
For the first time, the meeting room fell completely silent.
After several moments, a representative from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation mentioned the Small Firm Assistance Program, designed to help businesses affected by construction. The program would pay businesses $2.50 per square foot per month affected, up to $25,000, according to the Web site. The L.M.D.C. is finalizing the program’s guidelines, and will likely begin accepting applications early next year, said A.J. Carter, spokesperson for the Empire State Development Corporation, the L.M.D.C.’s parent agency.
Several business owners had never heard of the program, which the L.M.D.C. proposed in the summer, but an L.M.D.C. representative at the meeting encouraged them to submit applications when the time comes.
As people filed out of the meeting, Alvarez was cautiously optimistic.
“We discussed as much as we could tonight,” Alvarez said. “I’m going to give them an opportunity [to make changes].”
November 26th, 2007, 03:04 AM
I am having a trouble understanding - where this transit center will be? If it is downtown isn't it too close the Calatrava station in the new WTC? Anybody - please give me an exact location of it. Thank you
November 26th, 2007, 03:23 AM
It is a block and a half or so from the WTC site and yes it is extremely close to the Calatrava Transit hub.
November 26th, 2007, 06:30 AM
Now that I am thinking about that it makes me wonder why the MTA has never connected the Fulton St hub with the PATH Station. Ironically, you can get to it from Cortland St-WTC (R, W), Chambers St-WTC (A, C), Park Pl (2, 3), and WTC (E) yet there is no connection from Fulton St (J, M, Z, 2, 3, 4, 5) or Broadway-Nassau St (A, C) despite their proximity. It even makes me think why the MTA never took advantage of this. Then again, it doesn't hurt to walk outside another block since it wouldn't be a free transfer anyway like it wouldn't be from the other ones I have mentioned.
November 28th, 2007, 06:06 PM
Now that I am thinking about that it makes me wonder why the MTA has never connected the Fulton St hub with the PATH Station. Ironically, you can get to it from Cortland St-WTC (R, W), Chambers St-WTC (A, C), Park Pl (2, 3), and WTC (E) yet there is no connection from Fulton St (J, M, Z, 2, 3, 4, 5) or Broadway-Nassau St (A, C) despite their proximity. It even makes me think why the MTA never took advantage of this. Then again, it doesn't hurt to walk outside another block since it wouldn't be a free transfer anyway like it wouldn't be from the other ones I have mentioned.
I wonder the same thing - it is at most a couple blocks away - corner of Cortland and Broadway. They can connect it to future Calatrava transit hub with no problem. What are we talking about here - a mere 120 yards or so?
This is why I had a problem figuring out where this place is going to be since the WTC transit hub will be built as well.
December 3rd, 2007, 02:54 AM
I think that another reason to why the Fulton St hub never got connected to the PATH was also b/c the MTA was intending to connect it with the LIRR from the Atlantic Ave Line, which currently ends at Flatbush Ave.
December 29th, 2007, 12:23 AM
Volume 20, Number 32 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 21 - 27, 2007
The cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority may be looking to make more cuts to the Fulton St. transit center and build a residential tower over the hub, a source tells UnderCover. The glass, domed public building of several stories may also be history.
The transit center’s price tag seems to grow by the day and this would not be the first big change. The space above the transit hub was at first supposed to house a glass egg-shaped structure, flooded with natural refracted light, and was later scaled back to a rectangle with a glass dome, while keeping the retail and public space. Now, the M.T.A. is considering a residential tower on the site, recouping some money by selling or leasing the air rights.
A second source also said the financially troubled hub could face cutbacks, and said the latest plans for the station “will annoy some people.” The source added that the changes aren’t yet definite.
At $888 million, the transit center is already $41 million over the federal allocation for the project, Metro reported last week. That means it’s time for some “soul-searching,” M.T.A. board member Nancy Shevell told Metro.
The good news, though, is that the M.T.A. remains supportive of connecting the E to the R/W, our first source said. The source hopes some of the money from the tower could be used to fill another Downtown need.
“It would be great if it wasn’t just a commercial building but had some public amenity,” the source told UnderCover, imagining a performing arts center on the site. “Maybe something positive can come out of this.”
January 29th, 2008, 12:28 AM
Fulton Hub Costs To Cross $1B, Agency Says
By JARED IRMAS
Special to the Sun
January 28, 2008 updated 2:45 pm EST
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced today that cost estimates for the Fulton Street Transit Center in Lower Manhattan have grown to $1.15 billion from an original price tag of $750 million and officials say the design will be reconsidered to save costs by excluding the planned above ground retail complex.
"I am sad to say that we cannot build the transit center as currently envisioned in this market," the executive director of the MTA, Elliot Sander, said.
The more than 200,000 commuters who use the 12 subway lines that would be linked by the new hub will now have to wait at least until October 2010, according to the new estimates.
The downsizing today is one of many that have plagued the MTA since the authority first began work on the transit center in 2005. Originally slated to open by the end of 2007, the timeline was pushed back twice and its budget increased $133 million before the MTA's announcement today.
With current estimates, a transit center with underground connections and above ground retail space will run over $1.15 billion. The new $903 million price tag announced this morning by the MTA will not cover any above-ground construction. Mr. Sander cited the rising price of construction services as a major factor in the cost overruns. A request this month for contracting bids on an estimated $408 million phase of construction yielded only one proposal for $870 million, more than double what the MTA had projected.
Any spending above the $847 million in federal funds allocated to the project must be secured by the MTA.
"It's important that the MTA get its arms around this beast, because the project is so vital," the chairman of the City Council's Transportation Committee, John Liu, said. "The MTA should not blow this opportunity."
"There is no question that construction costs are way up," Mr. Liu said. "The question is why the whole project itself is taking so long."
January 30th, 2008, 03:51 AM
Higher Costs May Curtail M.T.A. Work
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
Published: January 29, 2008
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
After a decision on Monday, plans are being revised for the Fulton Street Transit Center, shown in a rendering, in Manhattan.
Soaring construction costs could force the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to scrap plans for an architecturally ambitious glass-domed subway station in Lower Manhattan and lead to more than $1 billion in cost overruns for the authority’s major expansion projects, officials said Monday.
The rising costs could slow progress on the three so-called mega-projects needed to expand the capacity of the public transportation system, including a Long Island Rail Road link to Grand Central Terminal, a westward extension of the No. 7 subway line and the first leg of the Second Avenue subway.
The news represents another setback for the subway station project, known as the Fulton Street Transit Center, which was envisioned as a central element in the recovery of Lower Manhattan after the terror attack of Sept. 11, 2001.
“We’re just in the middle of a construction inflation crisis,” said H. Dale Hemmerdinger, the authority’s chairman. “And from our point of view as an agency that spends an awful lot of money, this is not good news.”
Elliot G. Sander, the authority’s executive director, ordered an immediate review of the budgets for the three mega-projects. The review will identify areas where costs can be cut and the projects scaled back, although he said that he hoped to keep cutbacks to areas that would not directly affect riders.
A “back of the envelope” calculation, Mr. Sander said, suggested that together the three mega-projects could see “$1 billion or more in additional costs.” The combined budgets for the three projects total $12.5 billion.
The problems were underscored Monday, during a round of authority board committee meetings, by the decision to drastically scale back plans for the Fulton Street Transit Center, a project to modernize and unravel a spaghetti bowl of interlinked subway stations in the vicinity of Broadway and Fulton Street.
Financed partly by federal funds earmarked for the post-Sept. 11 recovery of Lower Manhattan, the transit center was to be topped by an eye-grabbing glass and steel domelike structure called an oculus, which would direct natural light into the underground.
The center was also seen as the transportation authority’s answer to the even more ambitious and costly PATH terminal designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a block to the west at ground zero. (Cost estimates there have also risen, to as much as $3.4 billion from an initial budget of $2.2 billion.)
Several underground portions of the Fulton Street subway project have been completed or are close to being finished, including a renovation of the platform and mezzanine serving the Nos. 2 and 3 trains.
The authority planned to finish the project by letting out a contract to cover the construction of the entrance building and oculus and several remaining pieces of the underground work.
But the authority received only one bid, of $870 million, far exceeding the $370 million the authority had budgeted for the contract.
Mysore L. Nagaraja, the authority’s president of capital construction, said the authority rejected the bid and would now split the project into smaller pieces, in the hope of attracting more bidders and greater competition.
He said the underground portions of the work could be completed by late 2009, which will make the connections between subway lines fully functional for riders.
But officials said that it was unclear now what would go on top.
“I’m sad to say that we cannot build the transit center as currently envisioned in this market with the budget that we have,” Mr. Sander said.
As it is, even without a station building, the project will reach a total cost of about $930 million, which is nearly $30 million more than the authority has in its overall budget for the project.
It is not the first time the project has run into budget trouble. The cost of acquiring real estate to make way for the project rose to $157 million from an early estimate of $50 million.
The authority has already razed several buildings at Fulton and Broadway to make way for the project, and Monday’s developments raised the prospect of the site’s remaining virtually vacant above ground for an extended time, or of a much more modest entrance building.
“Fulton and Broadway are the crossroads of downtown, and the transit hub as imagined was going to give Lower Manhattan something that it hasn’t had, which is a visible transportation hub,” said Elizabeth H. Berger, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, a business group.
“It’s at the center of our future, and the project has to get back on track.”
Mr. Hemmerdinger said that the rise in construction costs was being felt across the country in both the public and private sectors and that it was driven by a steep increase in the cost of basic materials, including steel and concrete.
Mr. Sander said that if the financial problems on the projects get worse, they could cause delays.
“We don’t want to repeat the mistake that we made on Second Avenue, for example, where we completely stopped the project in the ’70s,” he said. “I think what happens if we were to have a real financial cataclysm, which I don’t think we’re facing now, what you would probably do is slow the pace of the projects down. I don’t think we’re talking about doing that in any kind of dramatic way.”
February 15th, 2008, 11:44 PM
Volume 20, Number 40 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Feb. 15 - 21 , 2008
More salt for wounded businesses: M.T.A. can’t rebuild the ruins
By Julie Shapiro
Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert
The landmark Corbin Building at Broadway and John St. was to be incorporated in the new train station, but now there is no money to build the structure over the demolished Broadway buildings. The M.T.A. says it had to demolish the buildings anyway to build the underground part of the station.
As William Saad ripped a seam out of a pair of Dockers, he listed the strikes against his small tailoring business — and he got further than three.
“I make my living in the eye of the needle,” Saad said. “It’s not like I’m broke, but you really have to do it one stitch at a time.”
Saad, 54, smiles easily when he is not describing his business troubles. Born in Egypt with the name Wadea, he came to the United States 35 years ago and took a new name. Many of his customers call him “William the tailor.”
His difficulties began in 2006 when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority demolished a row of buildings on Broadway to make way for the Fulton St. transit hub. Saad had operated out of 198 Broadway for 14 years and was among about 140 business owners on the block who lost their space.
Short on options, Saad moved nearby to a 7 Dey St. office, where his rent doubled and business plummeted. His regulars didn’t know where to find him. Construction for the train center chomped apart the street, driving pedestrians behind barriers and discouraging them from wandering into his second-floor shop. To make matters worse, a competing tailor in Saad’s building hung signs on a barrier, funneling the few passersby into the other office. Saad recently hung his own signs, and he sometimes goes out into the street to show his bewildered customers the way in.
“It’s very horrible being here,” Saad said. “I’m just trying to ride the storm out and God knows how I pay the rent.”
As for the recent news that M.T.A. ran out of money to build the domed glass station above the transit hub, Saad wasn’t surprised — in fact, he takes credit for being one of the first people to predict the grand building would never be built. The gleaming structure wasn’t right for the neighborhood and looked far too expensive, he said.
Many owners of displaced businesses criticized the M.T.A. for demolishing buildings without first securing funding to complete the project, but the M.T.A. cited rapidly rising construction costs and said there were no other options anyway.
“Every building taken was necessary for the below-ground improvements,” M.T.A. spokesperson Aaron Donovan said in an e-mail. “Nothing was taken unnecessarily.”
March 1st, 2008, 01:40 AM
Volume 20, Number 42 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | FEB. 29 - MARCH 6, 2008
Grants are ready for stores hurt by construction
By Julie Shapiro
For more than 40 years, Fulton Supply, a hardware store, has stood on Fulton St., drawing business from tourists and local workers.
But as construction took over the street last summer, Alex Portnoy, the owner for the last 4 ½ years, saw fewer and fewer people enter the store.
“It’s crazy, very crazy, very bad,” Portnoy said from behind his counter, as he fetched custom-made keys. Over the summer, the city dug an enormous trench in what used to be a bustling street, corralling foot traffic along narrow sidewalks behind plywood barriers. “They cannot see us,” Portnoy said.
Portnoy’s story of confusion, frustration and resignation is common among small-business owners struggling to stay solvent while dozens of construction projects rip apart streets across Lower Manhattan.
To help these business owners, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the city launched a
$5 million Small Firm Assistance Program, which will pay street or basement level retail businesses $2.50 per square foot per month affected by construction, up to $25,000. If the square foot subsidy figure ends up exceeding the amount of money the business lost, the shop will be compensated only for the loss.
The program is retroactive to July 1, 2007, and the L.M.D.C. will take applications until April 30, 2011 or until the funding runs out. The money could help at least 200 businesses in Lower Manhattan.
The L.M.D.C. was supposed to announce the program last Friday with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the city’s Small Business Services, but the winter’s first snowstorm got in the way. Although the L.M.D.C. has begun accepting grant applications, the corporation declined to comment until the L.M.D.C. makes an official announcement. Officials hope to get the first checks in the mail in about 60 days.
For Portnoy’s 1,100-square-foot shop between Ryders Alley and Gold St., the program means $2,750 a month. According to an L.M.D.C. chart, his block has already been affected by the installation of a new water main for seven months, bringing his potential total to $19,250 so far.
“It’s definitely going to help,” Portnoy said as he crunched the numbers on a calculator in his store.
The assistance won’t come a moment too soon. In addition to losing foot traffic, Portnoy is also having trouble getting deliveries. The trucks that deliver cans of paint, for example, are too big to pull up near his store, and even if they do squeeze in, they get a ticket. So, Portnoy instructs the truck drivers to get as close as they can, and then he sends his employees with hand trucks to pick up the paint.
To be eligible for a grant, a retail business must be below Canal St., have 50 or fewer employees and demonstrate a financial downturn. Also, the business must have a street-level entrance on a block that was closed or partially closed for at least 15 days during any 30-day period because of a publicly funded construction project. The application form and the full eligibility requirements are on the L.M.D.C.’s Web site, renewnyc.com.
The L.M.D.C. has released a list of all eligible blocks from July 2007 through January 2008 and will update that list monthly on its Web site. Some of the most affected blocks during that period were Broadway between Ann and John Sts.; Dey St. between Broadway and Church Sts.; Fulton St. between William and Ryders Alley and Broadway to Nassau; and John St. between Broadway and Nassau St.
To prove a financial impact, a business must submit statements showing that sales or revenue were lower while construction work blocked the street.
Ayhan Sav, who owns The Country Kebab at Fulton and Gold Sts., was glad to hear of the L.M.D.C.’s new grant program.
“I will definitely apply,” she said over the phone. “It wasn’t so easy for us — I’m behind on some of my rent, trying to catch up.”
The water shutoffs, which are part of replacing the 150-year-old water main beneath Fulton St., paralyzed Sav’s business for hours at a time. When the city first broke ground on the project, hordes of rats flooded the street, and it was nearly impossible to keep them out of the ground-floor restaurant, she said.
Business has been slow since last summer, and Sav sees no end in sight. She and her husband opened The Country Kebab about six years ago and also own five other restaurants Downtown, all of which have been affected to some degree by construction, she said. Together, the businesses have fewer than 50 employees, so Sav expects to be eligible for funding, though she didn’t know how many square feet she had.
Isaak Zaurov, owner of Isaak’s Fulton Haircutters, was skeptical about the L.M.D.C.’s grants.
“The program is not going to help businesses that much,” Zaurov said in a phone interview. “If they would finish it faster, that would be a lot better than any money they give.”
As the construction rumbles on, Zaurov has seen few new customers, though his regulars still know where to find the 14-year-old shop. On a recent afternoon, only one chair had a customer, while the rest sat empty. Zaurov wishes the city would build a bridge across Fulton St. and widen the sidewalks.
Zaurov said the city told him the construction would only last for several weeks, then they said 10 weeks, then 18 months. And while the pace of work was fast at the beginning, with as many as 50 workers per block, Zaurov said the site has gotten sleepy.
“It looks the same since Christmas,” Zaurov said, and several other business owners agreed.
Zaurov also quibbled with the L.M.D.C.’s formula for compensation, which is based on area. At 250 square feet, Zaurov’s shop would receive $625 a month. Meanwhile, his rent is $4,000. “We lose a lot more than $600 a month,” he said.
J.C. Chmiel, co-owner of the coffee bar Klatch, at 9 Maiden Ln., was frustrated to hear that his block is not eligible for funding. Maiden Ln. has been closed many times for construction, especially after a Con Edison transformer explosion in February 2007. But since the streets were clear before last July, the L.M.D.C.’s starting date for the grants, Chmiel won’t get reimbursed for lost business.
“It’s well known that Maiden Ln. was a terrible construction zone for the longest time,” Chmiel said in a phone interview. Last spring, the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center held a meeting with Maiden Ln. businesses specifically to address the effects of traffic interruptions. The foot traffic and revenues noticeably plummeted, especially when the sidewalk immediately in front of Klatch was ripped up several times.
“The small businesses of Lower Manhattan have been suffering greatly since 9/11,” Chmiel said. “Now they’re trying to put some finite, arbitrary, small window — it seems not fair to those who went through the construction before that timeframe.”
Late on a recent afternoon, Mr. Rafael’s Cleaners, on Fulton St. between William and Gold Sts., was full of clothes but empty of customers.
Alex Costa, who works behind the counter, said the noise and barriers keep customers away. “People are lazy — they just go somewhere else,” Costa said. “People walking on the other side don’t see the signs.”
Costa hadn’t heard about the L.M.D.C. program and wouldn’t be the one to decide whether to apply, he said. Meanwhile, there’s not much he can do, so “we’re waiting,” he said, sighing.
March 8th, 2008, 11:17 PM
Volume 20, Number 43 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN - MARCH 7 -- 13, 2008
Some sort of building will rise at Fulton, M.T.A. says
By Julie Shapiro
Downtown Express photos by Elisabeth Robert
Tailor William Saad last month before his Dey St. office closed. His old office on Broadway near Fulton St. was demolished to make way for the Fulton St. Transit Center, leaving a vacant site on Broadway, below. The cnter’s elaborate building had recently been cut out out of the plan, but the M.T.A. now hopes to spend $295 million in its capital budget to build an undetermined structure at the site.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority gave the first hint this week of what could go in the enormous dirt pit on Broadway between Fulton and John Sts.
From the pit, the glass-domed Fulton Street Transit Center was supposed to rise — that is, until the M.T.A. announced last month that it nixed the plans for the costly aboveground portion of the station. The worst case, the M.T.A. said then, was that the site would see nothing more than a plaza.
But this week, for the first time, the M.T.A. promised to erect a building above the transit hub.
“It’ll be something more than a plaza, but less than the oculus,” M.T.A. spokesperson Aaron Donovan said, referring to the dome. Donovan also said the building would contain retail, though he did not know what type or how much.
The announcement did not soothe Downtown politicians and community leaders, who have lobbied hard for the oculus and aren’t about to give up.
“We have to hold their feet to a fire and make sure what was promised is delivered,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told Downtown Express this week. “We want to get something that’s practical but also something that’s consistent with what was promised to the community.”
The M.T.A.’s capital plan, released last week, suggests allocating an additional $295 million for the Fulton St. hub, bringing the total for the project to $1.198 billion, more than $400 million over the original estimate for the center before it was scaled back. So far, the M.T.A. has awarded Fulton contracts worth close to $1 billion, Donovan said.
The overall $29.5 billion M.T.A. capital plan, for 2008-2013, already suffers a shortfall of $14 billion, but Silver believes there are ways to find more funding for the transit hub. The M.T.A. needs to put more money in, he said, and additional funding could come from the federal government and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. If the proposed congestion pricing plan is passed by the end of the month it would provide $4.5 billion to the capital plan.
Right now, the M.T.A. may have a large budget gap, but it has a still larger credibility gap, Silver said. The fact that the M.T.A. “is about $10 billion short in terms of funding has people wondering whether anything will be built,” Silver said. “The transit center is a clear symbol for that.”
The project’s completion date, last scheduled for June 2009, is listed as “To Be Decided” in the capital plan. Donovan said he would have more information in 30 to 45 days.
The belowground work, to ease connections between 12 subway lines, is moving forward as planned and was never in jeopardy.
At last week’s Association for a Better New York breakfast, Gov. Eliot Spitzer briefly mentioned the Fulton Transit Center as one of many M.T.A. projects that must be built. He did not say whether he meant that the station would have a building or retail.
“We support the M.T.A.’s review of the project design and contracts and we feel confident the transit center will meet the needs of the community,” Erin Duggan, spokesperson for the governor, wrote in a subsequent e-mail.
Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of Community Board 1’s World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee, was not happy to hear that the M.T.A. has eliminated the oculus.
“We’re very frustrated with this switch-and-bait plan,” she said in a phone interview. “What was promised appears like it’s not going to be delivered.”
The M.T.A. will make a presentation at the April W.T.C. Committee meeting, but Hughes doesn’t want to wait that long for specifics on the M.T.A.’s plans. “Unknowns are not good for the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan,” she said. “The sooner we get clarification the better.”
At several recent meetings, Hughes and others have drawn attention to another project that received 9/11-related transportation funds, the rebuilding of the South Ferry station, which is nearly complete. South Ferry was never a priority of C.B. 1 because the intent was to speed the commute for Staten Island residents commuting to Midtown. The Fulton Transit Center, in contrast, was among C.B. 1’s top priorities.
“It’s unfortunate they didn’t start immediately on Fulton St. and [now] that was almost complete instead [of South Ferry],” Hughes said.
Though plans for the future station keep shifting, what happened in the past does not change: The M.T.A. used eminent domain to displace 140 businesses on Broadway to clear out space for the glass-topped hub. Many of the businesses left the area when their buildings were demolished in 2006, but those who stayed face construction-choked streets ill suited to commerce.
The M.T.A. says the buildings on Broadway had to be demolished to complete the belowground work, regardless of whether anything is ever built aboveground.
William Saad, a tailor, was among those forced out of 198 Broadway. The best place he could find to reopen was at 7 Dey St., on a block torn apart by construction, where rents were higher and foot traffic never wandered. After spending a year and a half on Dey St. operating at a loss, Saad finally had to close shop for good last week.
“Day after day, you can’t just sit there, do nothing and pay the rent,” Saad said from his home in Jersey City. “You’ve got to blow air in a balloon that has no holes in it. The balloon Downtown doesn’t even exist, let alone have a few holes.”
Saad hopes to rebuild his tailoring business in New Jersey, working for local drycleaners and department stores. He also wants to offer his services to New York professionals in their offices, picking up their garments and delivering the finished product several days later. With no overhead costs, he’ll be able to offer his services at a discount, he said.
“I’m very hopeful,” he said. “I’m not throwing in the towel yet.”
In some ways, Saad even felt liberated to leave his Downtown difficulties behind. Several years after 9/11, the streets of Lower Manhattan were bustling with life, as people spent money to help revitalize the neighborhood, Saad said. Now, the narrow, dusty streets are suffocating, cut off with construction barriers from the throngs of visitors, residents and workers, he said.
Saad, who didn’t believe the M.T.A. would ever build the oculus, was unsurprised to hear the latest word on the dome.
“The glass dome is like a lollipop to the public, where the public would not object to the project,” Saad said.
He is also skeptical about the M.T.A.’s promises of retail space. “They say, ‘Retail, retail, retail,’ but they already ruined the retail life in the area,” Saad said. “Will that house any small businessman who operates by himself? I don’t think so.”
After reading a Downtown Express article featuring Saad last month, Hughes, of C.B. 1, decided to try out his shop. She brought him a coat with a hole in the pocket, which he quickly mended.
“I was so excited,” she said. “Those are the services that make living down here bearable.”
Hughes was sad to hear Saad had gone out of business — she recently tried to bring him two more coats to fix but found his door shut — and she said the M.T.A. needs to do more to support small businesses. The M.T.A. could put up additional signs at street level on Dey St., directing passersby to the invisible businesses on upper levels, Hughes suggested.
Arthur Castle, a statistician displaced by the M.T.A. for the Fulton St. Transit Center, questioned the city’s use of eminent domain.
“They should put up something there that will serve a good public purpose, something for the community,” Castle said. “I don’t think it should be a big decoration that’s a magnet for high-end retail stores.”
Castle cited the shops near Columbus Circle as exactly what he doesn’t want to see: places where “you spend $150 on lunch, then buy fancy imported handbags,” Castle said. “It’s going to have nothing to do with most of the people who live Downtown and work Downtown.”
April 12th, 2008, 10:29 PM
Proposal Would Relocate Arts Center to Transit Hub
By ROBIN POGREBIN
Published: April 10, 2008
The New York Times
A transit hub at Fulton Street and Broadway might include a relocated arts center.
A rendering of the interior view of the Fulton Street center.
New York State’s top economic-development official has proposed moving the performing arts center planned for the former World Trade Center site and building it atop a vast subway station planned for downtown at Fulton Street and Broadway.
The official, Avi Schick, chief executive of the Empire State Development Corporation, said his proposal was at this point only “an idea or a concept.”
But it has prompted concerns from the Joyce Theater, which in principle is to occupy the performing arts center; from downtown business groups; and from the architecture firm that designed the Fulton Street Transit Center.
Mr. Schick, who is also chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said that by combining the performing arts center with the Fulton Street Transit Center, the state and city could save money and time.
Kate D. Levin, the city’s cultural affairs commissioner, said the city would consider the matter. “The state asked us to take a look at this, so we’ve agreed to a quick 30-day examination of that,” she said. “I need to see what we come up with.”
Moving the performing arts center would amount to yet another significant change in the original master plan for ground zero. The proposal could well signal yet another power struggle between the city and the state over downtown redevelopment.
Both the transit center and the performing arts center have been plagued by fund-raising hurdles and delays. In January the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it might have to scrap plans for the station altogether because of $1 billion in cost overruns for the authority’s expansion projects over all.
Fund-raising has not even begun on the performing arts center, which is to be designed by Frank Gehry. The project has been postponed pending the construction of a PATH station, designed by Santiago Calatrava, because the future Joyce site will be occupied by a temporary train exit until the station is completed.
Linda Shelton, executive director of the Joyce Theater, said she was wary of the proposal. “We have to look at any possibility, but we are still committed to being part of redevelopment at the World Trade Center site,” she said. “The reason we were selected in the first place still stands: to be part of a performing arts center that was going to activate and animate the area.”
Placing the theater atop the transit hub would also mean eliminating the glass dome designed for the station by Grimshaw Architects, James Carpenter Design Associates and the engineering firm Arup. The dome, which is called an oculus, has already been diminished since its original 2004 incarnation because of budget constraints.
Initially designed to be 50 feet high — taking the building’s total height to about 100 feet — it was scaled back to 20 feet in 2006 and to about 10 feet in 2007. Building on top of the station would cut off the light that the glass was designed to bring into it.
Elizabeth H. Berger, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, a business group, said she was dismayed by Mr. Schick’s proposal. “We want what was promised — which was an architecturally distinctive, above-ground transit hub with retail — and we want it built now,” she said. “To change the design and the purpose of the building will cause substantial delays.”
Ms. Berger said the station’s function as a “commercial crossroads” would make the site problematic for a performing arts center. (The Fulton Street Transit Center would essentially replace six existing Lower Manhattan subway stations, incorporating 12 subway lines.)
“You have 250,000 people coming in and out of that station every day, and it will be 300,000 after the connectors are built,” she said. Ms. Berger added that it would be difficult for trucks carrying scenery or remote broadcasting equipment to navigate the surrounding side streets, which are narrow.
The Transportation Authority said in a statement: “The M.T.A. continues to evaluate options for the above-ground portion of the Fulton Street Transit Center. We are aware of the proposal, which the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is reviewing.”
Mr. Schick said the new station he envisions would preserve the transit hub’s program and simply add a 1,000-seat theater on top. “If the M.T.A. can build what it has promised, that would be best.” Mr. Schick said. “It’s certainly an unbelievable location on top of 12 subway lines and on the corner of Fulton and Broadway.”
If part of the ground zero plan, the performing arts center stood to get funds from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Mr. Schick said it would still receive that aid in the new location. “We’re not looking to diminish our support,” he said.
Mr. Schick has been president of the Empire State Development Corporation since 2007 and became acting chief executive of the corporation in March, after Patrick J. Foye resigned as co-chairman.
Andrew Whalley, director of the New York office of Grimshaw, said the proposal raises serious questions.
“Transportation infrastructure makes lots of noise and vibration,” he said. “A performing arts center requires a certain amount of acoustical isolation. They’re not natural bedfellows.”
May 17th, 2008, 02:31 AM
Volume 21, Number 1 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | May 16 - 22, 2008
M.T.A’s magic number remains 30
For the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, answers on the Fulton St. Transit Center continue to be 30 days away.
That’s how many days the agency said it needed back in January, after announcing that it ran out of money to build the Fulton St. Transit Center. Within 30 days, the M.T.A. promised, a revised plan would be on the table.
But at a City Council hearing in April, the M.T.A. again deferred all questions about what would be built over the hole in the ground at Broadway and Fulton Sts., where the M.T.A. demolished a row of buildings to make way for the glass-domed hub. City Councilmember John Liu demanded answers, and the M.T.A. repeated assurances that answers were coming — in 30 days.
Then, at the Community Board 1 World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee Monday night, the M.T.A. gave another update on the project. In response to specific questions about what the M.T.A. is planning to build, Uday Durg, the project manager, said he didn’t know yet, but he’d have answers in three to four weeks.
Durg reassured the board that the M.T.A. would still include the promised 25,000 square feet of retail in the transit center, no matter the final configuration of the building. But the schedule for the project is still uncertain, he said.
Shortly before the April City Council hearing, Avi Schick, chairperson of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, floated the idea of moving the performing arts center slated for the World Trade Center site to the Fulton St. Transit Center. The idea looked unpopular from the start, but the city agreed to examine it, promising to have a final decision by the end of April.
As of Monday, Durg said he did not know where the discussions stood, but he acknowledged that the M.T.A. has to decide on the performing arts center before deciding on the type of building.
All the decisions will be made public, he said, in 30 days.
-- Julie Shapiro
March 19th, 2013, 07:58 PM
Next Stop, Lower Manhattan: Fulton Center Transit Hub Chugs Forward
It’s been a rocky delivery. Since 2004, when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s project—then known as the Fulton Street Transit Center—was introduced, its budget has ballooned from $750 million to $1.4 billion. And the completion date has been pushed back from 2007 to June of 2014.
March 21st, 2013, 12:48 AM
Some recent shots:
Fulton St. Transit Center and adjoining restored Corbin Building:
FultonSt_8043 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtaphotos/8551553985/) by MTAPhotos (http://www.flickr.com/people/mtaphotos/), on Flickr
FultonSt_8089 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtaphotos/8551553531/) by MTAPhotos (http://www.flickr.com/people/mtaphotos/), on Flickr
FultonSt_8246 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtaphotos/8551552261/) by MTAPhotos (http://www.flickr.com/people/mtaphotos/), on Flickr
FultonSt_8265 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtaphotos/8551552029/) by MTAPhotos (http://www.flickr.com/people/mtaphotos/), on Flickr
FultonSt_8266 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtaphotos/8552654172/) by MTAPhotos (http://www.flickr.com/people/mtaphotos/), on Flickr
April 5th, 2013, 05:54 PM
I wonder if the dome will be see through or solid as in the latest pictures?
April 6th, 2013, 02:18 AM
I wonder if the dome will be see through or solid as in the latest pictures?
Just the big ocular window unfortunately. Too much crazy HVAC looping along the interior of the dome to make transparent cladding work...
April 6th, 2013, 05:01 PM
Just the big ocular window unfortunately. Too much crazy HVAC looping along the interior of the dome to make transparent cladding work...
well at least something. there was a talk that there is not going to be a dome at all due to the lack of money. So I am happy that even this gets done.
In our time it is very hard to expect something extravagant and posh from developers. Times when buildings like Woolworth building was built are gone and developers are as cheap as they can be. They give you a glass box and expect you to have an orgasm just by looking at it. :lol: