Digest, Week of Aug. 8, 2012

House Republicans say G.S.A. didn’t have approval for 1 W.T.C. lease
Two Republican congressmen asserted last week that the U.S. General Services Administration (G.S.A.) acted without the proper approval when signing a lease for six floors of 1 World Trade Center.

California Representative Jeff Denham is claiming that the G.S.A. submitted an incomplete report to the government prior to signing the lease and subsequently failed to provide basic information about the lease.

“In response to a letter sent by myself and [Florida Representative] John Mica requesting that G.S.A. explain on what basis it proceeded with signing the lease, we got an e-mail that failed to respond to the request,” said Denham.

“It appears G.S.A. believes it can ignore 40 years of legal precedent and sign a lease binding the taxpayer to $350 million without authorization,” said Mica, who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

But G.S.A. spokesperson Mafara Hobson told the Downtown Express that the agency followed all the proper procedures in signing the lease and gave the Transportation Committee a fair chance to voice its concerns.

“Although G.S.A. has the legal authority to proceed with the 1 W.T.C. lease, we chose to send the lease to Congress in the spirit of cooperation and transparency,” said Hobson. “The Senate expeditiously reviewed the lease and expressed no concern. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee had ample opportunity to review and act, and it did not.”

The G.S.A. announced the lease-signing with the Durst Organization and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the co-owners of 1 W.T.C., on July 18. The deal gives the federal agency approximately 270,000 square feet of space on floors 50 to 55 of the tower, with an initial term of 20 years starting in 2015.

The Port Authority and Durst declined to comment.

Massive new Key Food on verge of opening
The Financial District’s Key Food supermarket will be relocating from just down the road and opening up shop on the bottom three floors of Southbridge Towers this month.

Key Food’s 55 Fulton St. store, formerly at 77 Fulton St., is expected to open within the next week or two. In its new location, the supermarket will occupy approximately 30,000 square feet, spread over three floors. This is a huge size increase over the former space, which was approximately 3,500 square feet.

The supermarket chain, which signed the lease for the Southbridge Towers space in spring 2011, is replacing a Burger King and a Foot Locker, according to Scott Bloom, president of Bloom Real Estate Group, which brokered the deal.

Bloom won the Real Estate Board of New York’s annual prize in June for “The Retail Deal Which Most Significantly Benefits the Manhattan Retail Market” for his role in facilitating the lease.

In a press release describing the reasons for awarding Bloom the prize, R.E.B.N.Y. noted that Key Food plans to operate its new supermarket on a 24/7 schedule, thereby allowing local residents to shop when it’s most convenient for them.

City Council approves N.Y.U. South Village superblocks plan
The New York City Council voted to approve the New York University’s 2031 plan on July 25 after outspoken opponents of the project were forced out of the Council Chambers.

Of the Council’s 51 members, only Charles Barron, who represents Brooklyn’s 42nd District, voted against the expansion plan.

The finalized N.Y.U. plan will add 1.9 million square feet of new academic buildings to the university’s two South Village superblocks, which lie between Houston and West 3rd Streets and LaGuardia Place and Mercer Street.

The plan approved by the Council is approximately 20 percent smaller in scope than the original plan, which was revised by N.Y.U. after outcry from local residents and an opposing vote by Community Board 2.

Around 75 residents showed up to the Council Chambers on July 25 to protest the plan, but they were removed by security after Council Speaker Christine Quinn warned them about making too much noise.

Opponents were quoted in The Villager as shouting “Democracy is dead!” and “Shame on Quinn!” as they were escorted out of the Chambers.

Also, on July 31, N.Y.U. reached a land lease agreement with the co-operative that owns the building at 505 LaGuardia Place, one of the three residential towers on the South Village superblocks owned by the university. Under the deal, the term of the co-op’s current land lease will be extended indefinitely so long as the building remains part of the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program, according to The Villager.

M.T.A. seeks manager for new Fulton Center
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (M.T.A.) is now seeking proposals from developers and retail operators for a long-term master lease at the new Fulton Center.

The center’s master lessee will be charged with handling leasing and operations of the entire Fulton Center complex, which will contain approximately 65,000 square feet of retail space. It will also include more than 50 multimedia display screens that will generate revenue through commercial content, according to a July 31 M.T.A. news release.

The $1.4 billion Fulton Center, which is slated for completion in June 2014, will link 11 subway lines, the PATH and the World Trade Center.

In addition to the Fulton Center transit station, the complex includes the Fulton Building, on the corner of Broadway and Fulton Street; the Corbin Building, on the corner of Broadway and John Street; the Dey Street entrance, on the corner of Broadway and Dey Street; and the underground Dey Street Concourse, which will connect the Fulton and Corbin buildings to the transit hub.

“This out-of-the-box approach to managing our property will optimize rents coming to the M.T.A. while ensuring the highest standards of daily maintenance are kept for our customers,” said M.T.A. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joseph J. Lhota.

The M.T.A. expects to have all multimedia display screens and at least a majority of retail stores open for business once the Fulton Center is completed, according to the agency’s release.

Some sections of Fulton Center are already open, including the renovated 23 Fulton St. Station, the southern entrances of the new 45 Fulton St. Station and a new entrance at 135 William St.

Construction at 3 W.T.C. proceeds, despite lack of tenants
3 World Trade Center continues to rise in the sky as developer Larry Silverstein continues the time-sensitive search for office tenants for the building.

But if Silverstein doesn’t find a tenant by the end of 2013, when the tower is supposed to reach the eighth floor, then the project would be temporarily halted, according to Silverstein Properties spokesperson Bud Perrone.

Perrone stressed that work at the site has not been stalled: Construction of the tower’s steel perimeter and concrete core has reached the eighth floor, and the building’s steel perimeter will reach the seventh floor in the fall — after which there will be another year’s worth of work on the interior.

Silverstein is 100 percent committed to building the 72-story tower as quickly as possible, according to the spokesperson. “If, during this period, Silverstein Properties is able to secure a pre-lease for 400,000 square feet, then construction will continue uninterrupted to the top,” he explained. “Working with our leasing agent, C.B.R.E., we are marketing the tower widely and remain optimistic that we can meet our pre-leasing targets over the year, which would assure that construction continues without interruption.”

NYC Police Museum to host first summer camp
The New York City Police Museum will hold its first children’s summer camp in Lower Manhattan during the last two weeks of August.

The museum is offering two five-day camp sessions from Aug. 20 to 24 and Aug. 27 to 31, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The sessions, which are offered for children ages five to 10, will be held in the multi-purpose space of the museum, located at 100 Old Slip.

The camp will offer a mix of police-themed activities, engineering, science, art and history, according to Elana Hart, the museum’s manager of education who is directing the camp. In addition to learning about chemistry experiments used by crime investigators, children will be exposed to challenging, inquiry-based projects such as building roller coasters and crafting rubber band-powered cars.

For more information about The New York City Police Museum and the camp, visit www.nycpm.org.

Broad and Stone intersection to receive new traffic light
A new traffic light will be installed at the intersection of Broad and Stone Streets this fall as a result of a recent safety study performed by the New York City Department of Transportation (D.O.T.).

The installation was first announced in a July 20 letter from D.O.T. Lower Manhattan Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez to New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, who had advocated for the new signal.

“As our community grows, our streets must change with it,” said Squadron. “Thank you to D.O.T. for working with us toward safer streets and a safer neighborhood.”

The city completed its study of Broad and Stone Streets in June. The intersection met the D.O.T.’s criteria for the new traffic light based on high pedestrian volume, which during peak hours saw more than 1,000 people crossing the street, according to agency spokesperson Nicole Garcia.

Weather permitting, the traffic light is expected to be installed by the end of October, she said.

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