The hot, hot heat coming off of the Financial District this year is undeniable. Over the last 12 months, the World Trade Center was the subject of tons of huge announcements. Perhaps the most substantial of those is the opening of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, Santiago Calatrava’s $4 billion "glorious boondoggle," and its accompanying Oculus and shopping center that have been in the works since 2004. Although folks seem to largely agree that another high-end mall is a misuse of space on the important site, it’s opening is an achievement nonetheless, after all these years.
Meanwhile, 3 World Trade Center topped out at 1,079 feet in June, and Calatrava’s Saint Nicholas National Shrine came to stand at its full height in November. Neighborhood residents and employees have another park in the area to enjoy with Liberty Park, which finally opened to visitors in June. Another long-awaited unveiling: the World Trade Center Performing Arts Center, now known as The Perelman following a $75 million charitable donation from billionaire Ronald Same Last Name, made its design debut. The Perelman is the last World Trade Center structure to be unveiled.
On the residential front, move-ins began for the billionaire buyers of 30 Park Place and the new rentals at Art Deco landmark 70 Pine were unveiled, to name a few biggies. Two anticipated hotels opened their doors: the Four Seasons Downtown at 30 Park Place, and the stunning Beekman at Temple Court, whose opening means visitors and New Yorkers alike can now bask in the long-shuttered turn-of-the-20th-century landmark.
But it isn’t all business in the Financial District. St. Paul’s Chapel, where George Washington prayed after he took the oath of office in 1789, celebrated its 250th birthday, and the Seaport Museum returned with its first exhibit after Hurricane Sandy. The world’s largest Viking ship docked in Battery Park City’s North Cove marina after crossing the Atlantic, and Bowling Green Plaza was ceremoniously dubbed 1783 Evacuation Day Plaza to commemorate the location where George Washington and the Continental Army watched the last British flag fall at the conclusion of the American Revolution.
This small section of the Lower East Side nestled around the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges is another area of the city that, like the South Village, saw many plans for its future unveiled this year. Most of those plans are of the 700-foot-plus variety; in 2016 alone, JDS unveiled its 77-story condo coming to 247 Cherry Street; L+M and CIM Group announced their intention to bring two residential towers, one 69 stories and the other 62 stories, to a neighboring lot; and Starrett Corp finally revealed its plans for a 62-story tower at 259 Clinton Street.
But all of those plans were met with pushback by the community in a way that less engaged/more transient neighborhoods don’t see as fiercely. Earlier in the year, community activists submitted a proposal to curb as-of-right development and in June, Council member Margaret Chin announced a plan to seek a land use review procedure for the area that would help bring neighborhood resources like schools and access to public transportation to the area. (It was later rejected by the city.) Area residents also launched an effort for an area rezoning. The community’s engagement with the developers to ensure neighborhood upgrades for all is ongoing.
Meanwhile, construction started on Extell’s One Manhattan Square which now stands at a third of its full height. The building launched sales in November, and revealed that it sold its $13 million penthouse—an unprecedented price point in the neighborhood—just this week. Big (and tall) changes are ahead here.