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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 6, No. 30,  July 31, 2020   

"When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.
"Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

      -  Congressman John Lewis wrote an essay shortly before his death, to be published on the day of his funeral, which took place  on July 30, 2020. This is part of what he said. 
WEATHER INFORMATION: For current weather information, click here.

COVID-19 CASES IN NEW YORK CITY: As of July 30 at 1:21 p.m.
2,596,228 tested * 224,863 confirmed cases * 23,525 deaths
Go to for breaking news and for updated information on facility closures related to COVID-19  
MASTHEAD PHOTO: Storm clouds over Jersey City and the Hudson River. July 11, 2020 (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)  

Terese Loeb Kreuzer, editor
There's an old brick building at the corner of Washington and Desbrosses Streets in Tribeca that you probably wouldn't notice unless someone pointed it out to you. I often point it out to people who visit the neighborhood. "That's where James Farmer used to live," I tell them. "He lived there for two years on the top floor."

James Farmer co-founded the Congress of Racial Equality known by its acroynm, CORE. Its agenda was to end racial segregation in the United States through non-violent means. Farmer was in his early twenties when he first served as CORE's chairman for two years. Shortly after that and after a brief marriage and divorce, he moved to New York City from Chicago, seeking to start over. Here, he connected with a young woman named Lula Peterson.

She "had what could charitably be called an apartment," he wrote in his book, "Lay Bare the Heart: An autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement."  It was a two-bedroom cold water flat meaning that it had no central heat. "It was January," Farmer wrote. "I wondered what she did for heat. There was a gas cooking stove in the kitchen and a wood-burning fireplace in the living room, she told me. She also had a small electric heater in her bedroom. If that was roughing it, so what? The rent was only $18 a month."

Farmer moved in and eventually he and Lula Peterson got married. "For over two years, 27 Desbrosses Street was home," he wrote. "When anyone asked either of us where we lived, we would say 'Number 27 Day-Brossay Street in Manhattan.' That sounded as though we were doing well in the big town."

Actually, that was far from the truth. They were struggling financially.

I have been thinking about James Farmer the last few days because of his connection with John Lewis. In the spring of 1961, long after James and Lula had moved away from their cold-water flat in Tribeca, Farmer organized the original Freedom Riders to challenge segregation in public transportation, which the Supreme Court had ruled unconstitutional.

CORE recruited 13 people, both black and white, to ride on two buses from Washington, D.C. to Alabama, knowing that they would likely be assaulted and perhaps killed for daring to sit where they wanted on the buses and for using restrooms and dining facilities along the route that were designated as either for whites or "colored" only. John Lewis was one of the recruits. He was 21 years old at the time and a student at the Tennessee Bible Institute in Nashville, Tenn. He was one of the youngest Freedom Riders.

In his book, Farmer describes Lewis as "the soul of decorum and gentleness. Small in stature, he was huge in dignity, and that dignity was matched by a quiet courage and flawless integrity."

That was the John Lewis who was mourned and celebrated yesterday after his death at the age of 80. He was beaten on that Freedom Ride in 1961. His attackers left him unconscious, lying in a pool of his own blood. He was imprisoned repeatedly. But he never wavered from what he believed to be right. Nor did he ever retaliate with violence.

John Lewis's experience with James Farmer's Freedom Riders set him on the course that he followed for the rest of his life. "He was gentle and compassionate," Farmer wrote of him. That's what so many people said about him at his funeral.

He was also innately and to the end a man of quiet and unflinching courage.

Terese Loeb Kreuzer
The building at 27 Desbrosses St. in what is now called Tribeca, where James Farmer and his wife, Lula, lived on the top floor. In his book, "Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement," Farmer described the two-bedroom apartment as a "cold water flat," meaning there was no central heat. The primary source of heat was a woodburning fireplace. The rent was $18 a month. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

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The ornate Victorian-era bar in The Paris Café on South Street, which closed a few months ago because of business fall-off from Covid-19.  (Photo: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
On July 21, State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley showed up at Cipriani Downtown, a bar and restaurant at 376 West Broadway in SoHo. Cipriani Downtown is described on one website as "an upscale scene where an international crowd tucks into Italian food chased with Bellinis." However, Bradley was not there to pay a social visit. Following numerous complaints, he was conducting a compliance check to see whether the restaurant was observing the regulations laid down by New York State in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. During the check, he recorded that he observed 17 patrons, most without facial coverings, drinking and standing around tables with no chairs in front of the premises. The Chairman went inside and saw an employee behind the bar with no facial covering serving four patrons who were buying alcoholic beverages. He slapped Cipriani Downtown with an emergency order of summary suspension, mandating immediate closure in order to protect public health and safety.
Cipriani Downtown was one of 10 establishments in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Suffolk County that were closed down by the State Liquor Authority between July 20 and July 24. However within a few days, Cipriani Downtown was again serving food at its outdoor tables accompanied by a choice of soft drinks or water. It had lost its liquor license.   
New York State has become the poster child in the United States for Covid-19 containment but Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking no chances. He sees threats from without because of the dozens of states in the country where the coronavirus is raging. He also sees threats from within should bar and restaurant patrons not observe mandatory restrictions. Defeating what he called "the beast" had taken a herculean effort. He vowed to do everything he could to keep C-19 under control.  
On July 16, with New York City about to qualify for Phase 4 of his phased reopening scheme, the governor announced new regulations for the city's bars and restaurants to ensure their compliance with state social distancing and face covering orders. He said that any establishment that received three violations would be closed for business. Egregious violations could result in the immediate loss of a liquor license and closure.    
The new requirements for bars and restaurants included the provision that they only serve alcohol to people who are seated and ordering food and that all service at bar tops must only be for seated patrons who are socially distanced and separated by physical barriers. Cuomo stated that anyone seeing violations could report complaints, including photos, to the State Liquor Authority (SLA) at 
Cuomo has assembled a multi-agency task force to combat violations of coronavirus-related regulations at bars and restaurants. Businesses found in violation of Covid-19 regulations face fines of up to $10,000 per violation.  
"We are sending a clear message that the State will not hesitate to take action against businesses that put New Yorkers' health and safety at risk," Cuomo said.  
Nevertheless, a lot of bar and restaurant owners seem to be taking their chances that they won't get caught.
On July 30, Cuomo announced that the State had suspended liquor licenses for seven bars - five in New York City, one in Westchester County, and one in Erie County - after finding egregious violations of pandemic-related Executive Orders. On Wednesday night (July 29), the state's multi-agency task force, led by the State Police and State Liquor Authority, conducted 835 compliance checks and documented violations at 41 establishments. Since Monday, the task force has completed 1,966 compliance checks and observed 96 violations, for a non-compliance rate of almost 5%. Many of these bars and restaurants attract a crowd of 20-somethings to 30-somethings.
"The rising rate of infection among young people and the issue of crowded bars is not unique to New York," said Cuomo. "The World Health Organization has warned about it, states all across the country are dealing with it, and even the President has said young people should avoid bars - but we are taking decisive action in the Empire State to make sure it does not undermine our progress against the coronavirus."
- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Buses bring travelers from Newark Airport into Manhattan.  (Photo: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
As of July 28, 2020, the New York travel advisory now includes 34 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico where the C-19 virus is surging. Whether you're coming into New York State by airplane, train, car or any other way you MUST fill out a form issued by the State Department of Health IF you are traveling from a state with significant community spread of the Covid-19 virus. You must also self-quarantine for 14 days.  
Anyone caught without filling out that form or breaking the quarantine risks a $2,000 fine and mandatory quarantine.
The current list is as follows: Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Delaware; District of Columbia; Florida; Georgia; Iowa; Idaho; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maryland; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Mexico; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Puerto Rico; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Virginia; Washington; Wisconsin.
In addition to travelers, New York State residents who visited any of these locations and stayed for more than 24 hours must also fill out the form and self-quarantine for 14 days. 
A travel enforcement operation at airports across the state ensures that travelers are following New York State's quarantine restrictions. Enforcement teams requesting completion of the New York State Department of Health traveler form are stationed at Port Authority and regional airports to meet arriving aircraft at the gates as passengers disembark.
This form is being distributed to passengers on flights to New York State. For an electronic version of the Department of Health travel form, click here

Travelers who leave the airport without filling out the form will be subject to a $2,000 fine and may be brought to a hearing and ordered to complete a mandatory quarantine. "Once we get the forms, we follow with a random checks," New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said.   
For more information about the travel advisory, click here.

Té Company Pop-up Shop

Té Company, the intimate and superlative tea shop at 163 W. 10th St. owned by Battery Park City residents Elena Liao and Frederico Ribeiro has been closed since the pandemic surfaced in New York City but this Saturday will be open for tea and treats to take away.

When: Saturday, Aug. 1 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: 163 W. 10th St. Order through the tearoom hallway - with a mask
What: One cold brew option, hot tea brewed to order, pineapple linzers, kumquat jars, and new shortbread cookies! For more information about Té Company, click here.


Michele Iuliano, owner with his wife Anisa of Gnoccheria at 100 Broad St. demonstrated his gnocchi-making skills for the Dine Around Downtown Cooking At Home edition on June 25.  This was a project of the Alliance for Downtown New York to take the place of the Alliance's popular Dine Around Downtown that in years past has attracted thousands of people to 28 Liberty Plaza to sample food from dozens of Lower Manhattan restaurants. The Covid-19 pandemic made a large gathering impossible this year. Instead, via Zoom, three prominent Lower Manhattan chefs showed how to make some of their signature dishes. (Photo: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer 2020)

On June 25, Lower Manhattan foodies who tuned in to the second installment of the Downtown Alliance's Dine Around Downtown: Cooking at Home edition made the acquaintance of chef Michele Iuliano. With his wife, Anisa, he owns Gnoccheria Wall Street, a restaurant at 100 Broad St. that specializes in Italian cooking. Over the course of an hour, the Dine Around Downtown online segment showed chef Iuliano tossing off perfectly formed gnocchi followed by demonstrations of how to prepare four different kinds of sauces. He made it look easy. Maybe it is if you've been doing it a few thousand times. 
At any rate, it was a great pleasure to run into Michele and Anisa again on July 30 in the pages of the New York Post in an article entitled "Manhattan rooftop restaurant has NYC's only greenhouse dining." It seems that Michele and Anisa wanted to open a combination of a pasta and beer garden on the roof of their restaurant but as Anisa said, "Then COVID hit."
Fortuitously an ad "popped up" on social media for a greenhouse, Anisa said. it cost $800 and she thought it could be used to safely distance customers. Michele couldn't see it.
As the article recounts, "After some quarreling, 'He said, you know what? I think it will work," to which Anisa replied, "Too late. I already ordered five."
And that's the whole back story of how five greenhouses holding two people each and a sixth one large enough for as many as eight people ended up on the rooftop of 100 Broad St. According to the New York Post article, "Tables are already booked up three weeks in advance."
For more about how Michele and Anisa are coping with the pandemic in their well-loved restaurant, you can read the New York Post article. Click here.    
- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 

A meeting of the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association in October 2015.
(Photo: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The chances are that no one was entirely happy with the Gateway Plaza deal that the Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors unanimously approved at its monthly meeting on July 15 but it was a deal and a deal, however flawed, was urgently needed. Gateway Plaza is the largest residential development in Battery Park City and a cornerstone of the community.

Fifteen days after a previous 10-year-long rent-stabilization agreement had expired, the BPCA inked an agreement with Marina Towers Associates (MTA), a development company and landlord owned by the LeFrak Organization, to preserve rent protection for approximately 600 residential units in Gateway Plaza. Through June 30, 2030, rent increases for these residents' apartments will be limited to 2.5% per year for one-year renewals and to 3.78% per year for two-year renewals, providing tenants with predictable housing costs and preventing steep year-over-year rent increases.

Despite the frequently expressed desire of the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association that all apartments at Gateway be rent stabilized, most of Gateway Plaza's 1,700 apartments will remain at market rates.

BPCA President & CEO B.J. Jones called the deal "an important first step in our continuing efforts to preserve and even expand affordability and certainty in Battery Park City."
Congressman Jerry Nadler, who represents New York's 10th Congressional District, congratulated the BPCA and Marina Towers Associates on the agreement, but added, "I look forward to continuing to work with the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association and my fellow elected colleagues to ensure that all tenants of Gateway Plaza are included in future rent stabilization protections."

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer qualified her praise for the deal by saying, "I will continue to work with the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association and with my colleagues in government to ensure that the housing stability offered by the agreement will be reinforced with rent affordability so that current QRS [Quasi Rent Stabilization] households can continue to call Gateway Plaza home for the next decade and beyond."

Several other elected officials praised the fact that there was a deal but agreed that there was much more to be done. "My enthusiasm is tempered particularly by the reality that any rent increase during the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis will be a hardship for many residents," said New York State Senator Brian Kavanaugh.
The 2.5% annual rent increase cap included in the agreement approximates the 20-year average one-year rent increase approved by the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) although it is more than the RGB approved on June 17 when it set a rent freeze for one-year leases on rent stabilized housing along with a rent freeze for the first year of two-year leases to be followed by a 1% increase the following year. Those guidelines go into effect on October 1, 2020.

For Gateway Plaza tenants who have already signed lease renewals for terms starting July 1, 2020, their lease renewals will be amended retroactively after the execution of the agreement to reflect the newly negotiated rent limitations, and any credits due will appear on each tenant's subsequent rent invoice.
Additionally, as the property is subject to a mortgage issued by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the agreement must also be reviewed and approved by HUD as mortgagee.
Gateway Plaza is the oldest residential development in Battery Park City, with the first residents moving into the six-building complex in 1982. Rent increase limitations in the complex, dating from the late 1980s were originally scheduled to expire on June 30, 1995, with the BPCA and Marina Towers Associates negotiating successor agreements in 1995, 2005, and 2009. The most recent agreement protects all of the approximately 600 Gateway Plaza tenants and their families who have lived in the complex prior to the 2009 extension.
In addition to the 10-year, 2.5% annual rent increase cap, the agreement also:
    *    Increases ground rent payments to the BPCA from 2023 through 2044 (lease years), from 8.125% of collected rent to 10.75% of effective gross income
    *    Requires a minimum capital investment in the complex during this period
    *    Extends the length of the agreed-upon ground rent terms between the BPCA and MTA (and the Fair Market Value rent reset date) from 2040 to 2045
    *    Provides for the collection of around $13 million in owed commercial real estate taxes over the next three years

Richard LeFrak, chairman of the LeFrak Organization 

What this means is that Marina Towers Associates did all right in this deal. For all Battery Park City buildings, ground rent is a major expense that has been going up precipitously. MTA is getting a five-year reprieve under this deal. It is also (somewhat mysteriously) getting a pat on the head for paying around $13 million in commercial real estate taxes that it already owes.  

Regardless of its flaws, the deal will keep around 600 Gateway Plaza tenants from facing the choice of paying rent increases that they can't begin to afford or being evicted.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Disaster Loans & Grants 
Unemployment Assistance - available for W2 and Schedule C clients
Mandated additional sick pay and associated tax credit
Paycheck Protection Program;  Extended tax loss carry-backs

Bits & Bytes

The W Hotel on Albany Street will close as of Oct. 13. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 
"Manhattan's First Full-Blown Uighur Restaurant Debuts With Skewered Meat and Stuffed Pastries,", 7/22/2020. reports that "Almost unbelievably, a full-blown Uighur restaurant appeared a few weeks ago just uphill from the South Street Seaport, in the space that was formerly Chubby Princess, an innovative Chinese restaurant from the MaLa Project people. The new Uighur café [at 200 Water St.] is evocatively named Caravan, reminding us that the Silk Road winds through Xinjiang, the homeland of the Uighurs. The chef and owner is Abdul Ahat Bakri. Previously, acquiring a complete Uighur meal in NYC meant training to Flushing or Brighton Beach. Uighurs are China's persecuted Turkic minority, and 11 million live in the far western province of Xinjiang, while a million more are dispersed across China and Central Asia. We are lucky to have an estimated 5,000 here, which meant a half-dozen Uighur cafes and food court stalls, mainly in Queens, before the pandemic hit and food court locations closed. As Café Kashkar demonstrated when it debuted in Brighton Beach nearly two decades ago, Uighur cuisine centers on such dishes as savory lamb pilaf (termed "fried rice" on its menu), bulging meat dumplings flavored with onion, cumin-scented kebabs, pickled salads, and 'big tray chicken,' a showy dish of chicken and potatoes in chile oil with Sichuan peppercorns served over broad wheat noodles, popularized here at a Henan Chinese restaurant, Spicy Village." For the complete article, click here.  

"W Hotel in downtown Manhattan closes forever,", 7/17/2020. "The W Hotel in downtown Manhattan is the latest to close its doors for good," says The Real Deal. "The 217-key hotel at 8 Albany Street, which boasts suites with walk-in rainforest showers and reflective snakeskin tiles, will shut down Oct. 13, Bisnow reported. According to a notice filed with the state by Starwood Company & Resorts, 137 hotel workers will be let go." For the complete article, click here
"Bennie's Thai Cafe in Manhattan to close after 24 years, citing COVID-19 crunch," New York Post, 7/16/2020. Bennie's Thai Cafe became the latest restaurant casualty of the coronavirus in Lower Manhattan. The New York Post reported that the popular eatery at 88 Fulton St. called it quits on July 26 - the 24th anniversary of its opening in 1996. "We made it through the dark days of 9/11, the recession and Superstorm Sandy, but the Covid-19 pandemic was just too much for us to undertake," the family-owned business posted on its Facebook page. Bennie Boon and her husband, James, started their restaurant careers in the 1970s as owners of two Blimpie franchises in Lower Manhattan, hiring mostly Thai employees. As is tradition in the restaurant industry, they provided a "family meal" for their workers, cooking up Thai specialties including pots of curry noodles. For the complete article, click here.

"Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban drop $3.5M on Manhattan pied-à-terre," New York Post, 7/15/2020  Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban have added a Manhattan pied-à-terre to their international real estate collection, says the New York Post. The actress and country music singer's main residence is their Nashville, Tenn., mansion, but the celebrity couple also has homes in Los Angeles and their native Australia. Now they are buying a two-bedroom apartment at 108 Leonard St. for around $3.5 million, sources tell Gimme exclusively. The landmarked McKim, Mead & White building in Tribeca - which once held the grand headquarters of the New York Life Insurance Company but was converted to condos in 2018 - spans the block between Lafayette and Broadway. For the complete article, click here.

"Sheldon Silver, Former N.Y. Assembly Speaker, Will Finally Go to Prison," New York Times, 7/20/2020. "Sheldon Silver, the once dominant New York State Assembly speaker who for nearly five years fended off prison after being convicted twice on corruption charges, lost a final bid for freedom on Monday when he was sentenced to 78 months in prison," says The New York Times. "His lawyers had asked that Mr. Silver be allowed to serve a term of home confinement, arguing that sending him to prison would increase his chances of becoming ill or even dying from the coronavirus. They cited Mr. Silver's history of cancer and chronic kidney disease. 'Your honor, I do not want to die in prison,' Mr. Silver, 76, wrote to the judge before the sentencing. But the judge, Valerie E. Caproni of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said that Mr. Silver had acted out of a sense of greed, and that he was guilty of 'corruption, pure and simple.' She added that issuing a sentence that did not include prison time was not appropriate." For the complete article, click here.

"How This N.Y. Island Went From Tourist Hot Spot to Emergency Garden," New York Times, 7/23/2020. "This was supposed to be the busiest summer yet for Governors Island," says The New York Times. "After 15 years of careful redevelopment, a semi-abandoned isle off the southern tip of Manhattan had blossomed into a lush day-trip destination. There were plans for a new tram, ferries designed to shuttle in a thousand people at a time, and field trips for hundreds of city children to scramble around a one-acre teaching garden on the island's southeastern shore, one of its last unrenovated parcels. Then the city shut down. 'Now it's crazy quiet,' said Shawn Connell, who manages the seven-year-old garden on behalf of the environmental organization GrowNYC. 'You can hear the water and the boats.' It was just before noon one recent weekday, and his three seasonal staffers were packing pints of berries, tying beets into bunches and cooling down several hundred pounds of just-picked greens in the shade of a gazebo. All it of was headed to emergency food distributions in the Bronx, Harlem and central and eastern Brooklyn." For the complete article, click here.

"Governors Island to provide spaces for artists affected by COVID-19 during the 2020 park season,", 7/23/2020. "New York City artists will be able to display their work or have a space to create at Governors Island for the 2020 park season," reports. "The Trust for Governors Island (The Trust), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) and 18 cultural organizations with space on Governors Island will join forces to host free residency programs through the new Governors Island Residency Initiative. The initiative will allow 115 artists and cultural practitioners that have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis to use repurposed indoor spaces as residencies or workspaces from August to October this year for free. The initiative is open to artists, writers, cultural workers and creative practitioners living and working across the five boroughs. All participating organizations will manage their own selection processes and oversee their own independent residency programs in their spaces." For the complete article, click here.  
"Nom Wah, Chinatown's oldest eatery, used frozen dumplings to offset pandemic struggles," New York Post, 7/16/2020. "COVID-19 forced Nom Wah Tea Parlor to chart a new course through its 100th year in business - and it leads straight to your freezer," says the New York Post. "After the pandemic shuttered the Chinatown dim sum destination, owner Wilson Tang decided to try something new: Freezing Nom Wah's famous dumplings for patrons to prepare at home. The resealable packages of pork, chicken, shrimp and edamame dumplings became a lifeline for Nom Wah, which opened its doors on Doyers Street in 1920 and has other locations in Nolita and Philadelphia. Thousands of orders have poured in since they went on sale in early April - thanks in part to Tang canvassing his Financial District neighbors to drum up business, he said." For the complete article, click here.
"Brooklyn Bridge revamp proposals include glass walkways, parks and zero cars," New York Post, 7/15/2020. "A new proposal for revamping the Brooklyn Bridge would replace the span's wooden promenade with see-through glass," says the New York Post. "The design - envisioning a 'glass surface above the bridge's girders,' with more space below for biking, walking and lounging - is just one of several newly-announced finalists in the City Council's Brooklyn Bridge redesign contest. Another finalist would expand the walkway with 'planks sustainably sourced from a partner community in Guatemala that protects a 200,000-acre rainforest,' and place parks on the Manhattan and Brooklyn sides of the bridge, according to the Van Allen Institute, which co-sponsored the competition with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. That design and several others suggest banning cars from the bridge, which was initially built for cable cars and pedestrians when it opened in 1883." For the complete article, click here


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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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