Monthly Archives

May 2017


Seatrade Cruise News: NYC Announces Single Operator, $38.5m Upgrades to Manhattan, Brooklyn Terminals

May 26, 2017

May 26, 2017

The New York City Economic Development Corp. has selected Ports America to operate both the Manhattan and Brooklyn cruise terminals through 2029. As part of the new agreement, Ports America has agreed to invest $38.5m in capital improvements at both terminals, strengthening New York City’s position as one of the country’s premiere cruise ports.

Ports America will be responsible for vessel berthing and stevedoring, maintenance, parking, security, billing and additional operations at both terminals. Ports America will also provide ancillary services such as event management and military and yacht dockings.

With the partnership of council member Corey Johnson and the entire City Council, the lease agreement with Ports America was approved this week for the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, the final approval needed for NYCEDC’s operator selection. Ports America has agreed to invest $23.5m in capital improvements at the terminal, which will include new capacity for larger vessels and improvements to Pier 90, among other investments.

Brooklyn Cruise Terminal will be receiving $15m in capital investments, conceived through a partnership with Brooklyn Borough president Eric L. Adams, which will include an increased capacity for larger vessels, among other improvements. Adams initiated this project with a $1.2m capital allocation in fiscal 2016, and supplemented the effort with an additional $1m grant in fiscal 2017.

NYCEDC said the designation of a single terminal operator will lower costs and streamline operations between the two terminals, which will create new opportunities to secure long-term agreements with cruise lines. Ports America has managed and operated the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in successful partnership with NYCEDC for two decades, generating substantial growth in cruise volumes.

‘New York City’s rich maritime history must continue to inform and strengthen our current economy. Our partnership with Ports America marks continued progress in leveraging the city’s waterfront assets to create jobs, attract tourists and drive growth in an important industry,’ NYCEDC president and ceo James Patchett said. He thanked the elected officials in Manhattan and Brooklyn for their leadership in securing a ‘vibrant future for our two cruise terminals.’

‘For more than two years, my administration has been intensely focused on the revitalization of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, and the working waterfront as a whole, envisioning a future where the port’s infrastructure and services are able to attract and accommodate the high level of tourism traffic that our borough is excited to welcome,’ Adams said.

The investments put Brooklyn a ‘big step closer’ to becoming a top-tier player in the global cruise industry, the borough president said. He called Ports America’s $15m investment a game-changer for economic development in Red Hook and the entire waterfront, as well as the complementary impact it will have on businesses and cultural institutions across the borough.

‘I am so proud to have worked with the International Longshoremen’s Association and local stakeholders, as well as the leadership at NYCEDC, to make this a reality,’ Adams added.

‘The cruise industry is a major economic driver for New York City,’ said council member Johnson, ‘and I’m pleased that this new agreement will help us grow our position in this industry while directing more revenue to Hudson River Park.’ He thanked NYCEDC for striking a competitive deal that brings additional resources to local communities.

The new Brooklyn operating agreement requires zero-emissions environmental controls. Also, the new NYC Ferry dock is located adjacent to the cruise terminal, providing an additional local transportation alternative for passengers, crew and workers.

‘Ports America is energized about the future of the cruise industry in NYC under these new agreements,’ said Steve Loevsky, vp-cruise, Ports America. ‘We are also implementing strategies that will increase vessel calls and passenger volumes, while enhancing the overall guest experience, asset utilization and safety. Ports America looks forward to our continued partnership with NYCEDC and our cruise line partners to provide for world-class facilities and services at both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Cruise terminals.’

Presidents of International Longshoremen’s Association locals also expressed their support for the new agreement, including Louis Pernice of Local 1814 (Brooklyn) and Ronald Misiti of Local 824 (Manhattan).

NYCEDC issued a request for proposals for a new operator for both terminals in 2015. Metro Cruise Services had previously operated the Brooklyn terminal for many years.

In 2016, more than a million passengers cruised through New York City and the industry accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars in annual economic impact. The business also generates more than 1,000 full-time jobs through the International Longshoremen’s Association, the Port Police and Guard Union, and employees in accommodation, retail and food and beverage sectors.


NYC Patch: NYC Issues Zika Warning For Summer Travel Season

May 25, 2017

May 25, 2017

NEW YORK, NY — The Zika virus may not be grabbing many headlines these days, but city officials announced Thursday that New Yorkers traveling abroad this summer should still take precautions to avoid contracting the disease.

The city Health and Human Services Department warned that New Yorkers — both men and women — who are trying to conceive with their partners should avoid traveling to areas where the Zika virus is still being transmitted. These areas include the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America, the department said in its warning. The virus is no longer circulating in Miami-Dade County, Florida or Brownsville, Texas.

“This season, our campaign and awareness efforts are shaped by what we learned over the past year. Although local transmission of the Zika virus remains unlikely, the virus continues to circulate in Latin America and the Caribbean islands,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement. “We urge women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, along with their sexual partners, to avoid traveling to these areas.”

As of last week, 1,067 New Yorkers have contracted the disease while traveling abroad or from a partner who traveled abroad. Of those who contracted the disease, 402 are pregnant woman. So far, 32 babies were born in New York with defects consistent with Zika virus or have tested positive for the virus, according to city officials.

To avoid spreading the disease men should use condoms for six months after returning from an area affected by Zika and women should avoid getting pregnant for two months after returning from such areas, the health department said.

Despite that fact that no local transmissions were reported in the city last year, the health department will continue to monitor local mosquito populations, city officials said.

“Just because a health threat is no longer in the news, it isn’t any less dangerous,” Chair of the City Council’s health committee Corey Johnson said in a statement. “Reminding New Yorkers who travel during the summer months that certain precautions need to be taken to avoid the Zika virus is every bit as important now as it was last year.”

To find a full list of areas still affected by the Zika virus, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.


Chelsea Neighbors Declare Victory In Fight To Preserve Manhattan’s Last Underground Railroad Stop

May 24, 2017

May 24, 2017

On a quiet block of West 29th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, one of the townhouses is not like the others.

Its face is beige stucco, not brick. Its windows are sealed with blue boards. Scaffolding looms over the sidewalk. And this house rises higher by a single, not-quite-finished, story. But hold that thought — because to truly understand why it’s not like the others, you have to go back to the days of the Civil War, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reports.

“The Gibbons family provided shelter for slaves that were running away for their lives,” said Fern Luskin, who teaches art and architecture at LaGuardia Community College and lives just down the block from Manhattan’s last remaining link to the Underground Railroad. “The slaves were with them at their dining room table.”

In the summer of 1863, New Yorkers rose up against the government’s attempt to enforce the draft laws. The mob descended onto 29th Street, then known as Lamartine Place, with torches. They knew abolitionists lived there. Abigail Hopper Gibbons and her family managed to get up to the roof and across the adjoining buildings to safety.

“Their escape, over those rooftops, is precisely why this half of the block was landmarked,” Luskin said.

So, back to that roof. About a decade ago, Luskin noticed the fifth story rising, obscuring the escape route. She and neighbor Julie Finch formed a group called Friends of the Hopper Gibbons House, and began to fight. Permits were revoked. Court rulings came down agains the developer, Tony Mamounas. Finally, this week, the Landmarks Preservation Commission ruled that the roof is integral to the house’s story, and denied Mamounas’s revised construction plan.

“The relationship of these buildings kept that aspect of its historical events alive,” said Meenakshi Srinivasan, the commission chair. “That relationship speaks to events that are very unique to West 29th Street.”

“It took long enough,” said City Councilman Corey Johnson. “This was a complete and clear violation of what was allowed.”

Mamounas, the developer, has not returned a call from WCBS 880.

An emergency order from the Department of Buildings requires him to tear the fifth floor down within sixty days, and restore the facade to its historical appearance. If Mamounas does not comply, a department spokesman said the city will hire a contractor to do it and send him the bill.

“And if he doesn’t pay the bill, we’ll put a lien on the building,” said Johnson.

Preservationists see it as a strong signal that the city will listen to those who refuse to take its past for granted.

“It’s a landmark decision,” said Luskin. “And a victory for history.”


Gothamist: Tucker Carlson Reveals Crippling Fear Of Penn Station Restrooms On Live TV

May 17, 2017

May 17, 2017

The number one rule of life is that you should never go on sentient frat hazing prank Tucker Carlson’s scream show. The second rule of life is seriously, don’t go on his show. If you’re going to do it though, I guess the best you can do is act like City Council Member Corey Johnson and goad the Swanson heir into screaming something about spending a lot of time in Penn Station’s bathrooms.

Johnson was on Tucker Carlson Screamfest: Sponsored by Levitra ostensibly to catch a beatdown from the host/Dancing with the Stars failure over his bill that would force President Donald Trump to release his tax returns. Instead, it turned into Carlson, who doesn’t even live in NYC, shouting at Johnson about how the city (in which crime keeps falling) is falling to pieces.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t in any way feel bad that Johnson got treated poorly or eventually got his mic cut, because that’s what he was invited there for. But at least Johnson’s sacrifice gave us Carlson humiliating himself while screaming, “Have you been the men’s room in Penn Station?!” and demonstrating a sociopathic attitude toward the city’s homelessness crisis by sarcastically telling Johnson he must say “ignore the guy living under the ATM machine,” in his speeches. For a more nuanced take on the issue, might I suggest Gothamist dot com, and perhaps even making a donation to a group like CAMBA.

In addition to being mean-spirited and obsessed with public men’s rooms, Carlson also revealed that he doesn’t understand public transportation in New York. Just in case Carlson or his poor social media intern is reading this, Amtrak manages Penn Station, as so many delayed commuters have learned thanks to recent events, not the City of New York. But why would you need to know that if your job was to be a highly-compensated current events screamer?

All this being said, I did happen to go into the men’s room in the LIRR waiting room at Penn a couple weeks ago. It was…fine? Not any better or worse than I’ve seen it in my entire life, and certainly a safe enough place to let your child walk in and pee. Or you know, just accompany them in there if you’re a helicopter parent who watches too much Fox News.


The Villager: Nice Try, Tucker! Attacks Johnson On ‘Trump Taxes’ Bill

May 17, 2017

May 17, 2017

Tuesday night, City Councilmember Corey Johnson went on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News to discuss his bill that would force President Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

Johnson’s measure would require all New York City concession contractors to release their tax returns — but only if they have their personal name on their business. Trump owns the Trump Golf Links on city land in the Bronx.

Not surprisingly, Carlson quickly pivoted the discussion to another tangential topic and then argued over that with Johnson. Carlson is a bright guy, but, from what we know of his show, this is his shtick — to wind up berating and badgering his guests over a topic out of left field.

In this case, Carlson harangued the councilmember that, basically, he should not be concerned with Trump’s secret tax returns and should instead “do his job” and focus on quality-of-life issues in his Council District 3 (the Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen).

“You preside over a city that just decriminalized public urination, and you’re taking your time to basically grandstand on the national stage,” Carlson fumed. “How about filling some potholes and arresting some public urinators?”

“This is about transparency and public accountability,” Johnson calmly answered.

“Penn Station, it’s in your district — it’s a homeless shelter, it’s disgusting,” the anchor blared.

Carlson did have one point — that some might say the bill seems to “single out” Trump since it focuses on individuals whose names are emblazoned on their businesses. Government can’t pass laws against individuals, only against behaviors, Carlson noted.

Clearly, Johnson has staked out a position as a leader of “the resistance” in New York City. As we reported in last week’s issue, in his annual West Side Summit, Johnson declared the progressive West Side the ground zero of the New York resistance (“Trump trumps all issues at Johnson summit event”).

Hey, maybe Carlson actually read our article! If so, at least he’s got good taste in local newspapers.

“You give these speeches,” the Fox News talking head fulminated, “I just read one, where you’re like, ‘Trump is bad!’ but you ignore the guy living under the ATM machine or relieving himself… . I go to Penn Station every week. Have you been in the men’s room there?”

Johnson smoothly retorted, “Unlike former Republican Senator Larry Craig, I avoid men’s rooms.”

Nice one! Hey, Johnson’s good! Maybe he should get his own show on CNN someday.

“Do you think the president should release his tax returns?” he came right back at Carlson.

“I don’t know,” the Fox mainstay answered. C’mon, Carlson, you’re quoting British legal precdent one moment, but you really can’t answer that one?

“Why don’t you get on those bathrooms?” Carlson lamely doubled-down.

Johnson smoothly rebutted, “We need an independent counsel” to investigate Trump’s Russian connections, Trump’s real reasons for firing F.B.I. Director James Comey…and on and on and on. …

Let’s get our minds out of the bathroom, already, O.K.? We have a president who might not even last 200 days in office. But who knows? Maybe he’ll somehow manage to hang in there despite a crazy new crisis each week.

And unlike Carlson, we want Johnson to keep leading the resistance. For the record, Johnson is great on quality-of-life issues. He can do both. Now let’s hope that bill gets signed into law.


Metro US: NYC councilman’s plan to compel Trump tax return release

May 15, 2017

May 15, 2017

Amidst ongoing calls for President Trump to release his tax returns, it appears the tail may be wagging the dog; legislatively speaking, that is. New York City Councilman Corey Johnson is expected to announce a bill this month that would force the president to disclose his personal returns through a strategically-worded proposal targeting one of his golf courses.

The bill, which is still being drafted, would require any individuals holding concession contracts with the city, who are also named in their entity, to make their tax returns public.

Trump Ferry Point LLC, the president’s Bronx golf course, falls squarely under this narrow definition, an intentional move on the part of Council member Johnson, of New York City’s District 3, which includes a large chunk of Manhattan.

If enacted, the bill would demand the release of the president’s most recent returns at the time of the concession contract renewal.

“Donald Trump makes millions off of public land, he emblazons his name all over the property, and he doesn’t return a dime back to the city,” Johnson said in a statement. “This is public property, and the public deserves a much higher degree of transparency. Anybody who behaves this way ought to disclose their financial dealings. The choice for Donald Trump should be simple: Make your returns public or relinquish your contracts with the city of New York.”

How likely is it the bill would pass? Johnson believes it is almost a sure shot. “The response from my colleagues in the Council has been very promising so far,” he said.

However, given the nature of the bill, it is likely President Trump would take immediate legal action against the proposal if it were enacted, but the Council member isn’t too concerned.

“I think it will hold up,” he remarked. “This bill is about more than Trump. It’s about accountability and transparency. And it’s well within the city’s right to require transparency when it comes to the use of public property.”

Council member Johnson isn’t the only New York City politico looking to get ahold of President Trump’s tax information. State Senator Brad Hoylman introduced a bill last month in Albany demanding “statewide elected public officials including the president of the United States” make their tax returns public. The proposal, cleverly titled the “T.R.U.M.P. Act,” or, Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public Act, is currently sitting in the Senate Committee.

Despite possible backlash from President Trump, both legislative proposals show an active stance against the lack of transparency in the president’s administration and in his corporate dealings.

No response was received by Metro US from the White House on Council member Johnson’s bill.


The Villager: Trump trumps all issues at Johnson community summit

May 11, 2017

May 11, 2017

Corey Johnson announced the winners of his district’s participatory-budgeting voting at a “West Side Summit” at the Whitney Museum on Tuesday night. But it was the councilmember’s fiery comments about fighting Donald Trump that won the evening’s strongest applause.

After giving a lengthy recap of his accomplishments in District 3 over the past year, Johnson turned his focus to Trump, urging people to keep up “the resistance.”

As he did at a rally in Washington Square Park in January, Johnson once again slammed Trump as a “pathological liar” — but this time his litany of accusations went even further.

“In the not-too-distant future, Americans of all stripes and people around the world are going to ask each other, what did you do in 2017?” Johnson said. “What did you do when an authoritarian, autocrat, demagogue, pathological liar rose to power, pitting Americans against Americans, debased fundamental social institutions, pushed societal norms to the side, fired the F.B.I. director and U.S. attorneys, colluded with a foreign government, demonized and vilified racial minorities? What did you do in 2017?”

Johnson noted that the leaders of the African-American civil-rights movement, the anti-Vietnam War and women’s suffrage struggles and the farm workers’ movement were all from the grassroots.

“None of these movements were led by politicians and elected officials,” he stressed. “They were started by people, citizens, American people who said, ‘Enough is enough.’ They were movements that made our country and our world a better place.

“When our children and grandchildren look back, I hope they will be able to say we were part of the resistance,” Johnson declared, “that we stood up, fought back against a man and a Congress who wanted to bring us back 100 years.”

The young councilmember said his district, which includes the Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, is where the fight is currently being waged most intensely.

“New York is the epicenter of that resistance,” he stated. “The West Side is the epicenter in New York of that resistance. That is what these neighborhoods have been about for years, long before my time in the Council, even as a community member here — to march, to protest and to organize.

“We did it with the Women’s Marches across the country and we must continue to do it,” he said of the ongoing opposition to the president and his policies.

Finishing his pummeling of Trump, Johnson concluded, “We cannot normalize what is happening in America right now.” As the audience broke out into thunderous applause, nearly drowning him out, he declared, “We must be the face of resistance in America!”

Former state Senator Tom Duane, earlier in the program, praised Johnson for his activism against Trump.

“Whenever there’s a rally of resistance to the regime in Washington,” Johnson is there, Duane said, adding, “He’s a leader in that battle.”

But Duane — who began his career representing the Council seat Johnson now holds — also highly praised Johnson as the consummate local politician delivering for his constituents.

“Has Corey Johnson not knocked on anyone’s door?” he asked. “He holds so many events in the district. He has a wonderful staff. Not since Ruth Messinger was a councilmember on the Upper West Side, do I think anyone there’s anyone about who deserves to be said, ‘Are there two of them?’ Down at City Hall, he’s very effective from land use to getting funding for programs that really help people who are really need help. You are well represented,” he assured the crowd.

The event’s keynote speaker was Comptroller Scott Stringer, who also spoke to how Trump has galvanized New Yorkers into united opposition.

“It is amazing what is happening,” Stringer said. “We have Jews fighting side by side with Muslims, blacks and Hispanics, young and old… . We are organizing in a way I haven’t seen since the ’60s and ’70s, and I believe we will benefit from it when this resistance is over.”

In addition, Stringer said, Trump’s tax-cut plan would callously benefit the wealthy.

“This is not West Side rhetoric,” he stressed. “The millionaires would get a tax cut of $100,000. With corporate loopholes, they could walk away with $200,000. Single-parent households would see a tax increase of hundreds of dollars. This was literally written by the ‘Mar-a-Lago elite,’ ” Stringer scoffed, “millionaires writing a tax cut for millionaires to make them billionaires.”

The federal budget backed by Trump and the Republicans would cut $400 million from the Big Apple, slicing out critical funding for things like special education and Section 8 housing, the comptroller explained.

“It is a terrible attack on the city of New York,” he said.

Meanwhile, Stringer stressed that immigrants — much maligned by Trump and Co. — are the backbone of New York City’s economy.

“Immigrants make up half of the city’s workforce and earn $100 billion a year,” he said. “Our economy is built with the power of immigration.”

On the local front, taking some apparent shots at Mayor Bill de Blasio, Stringer stressed that, while it’s great that affordable housing is being included in new construction projects, the rents must be set at a level people can actually afford. And he slammed the practice of putting homeless families in what he derided as “roach hotels,” saying the only alternative is to create more affordable housing.

The announcement of the “P.B.,” or participatory-budgeting winners, came at the end of the two-hour “summit.”

Johnson reported that 3,518 people had voted this year — with around 1,600 of them voting online — in late March and early April. About a dozen projects competed for chunks of more than $1 million in capital funding.

The top vote-getter was $200,000 for a park in Hell’s Kitchen, on a vacant site at 10th Ave. between W. 48th and W. 49th Sts. that was used for construction of the Third City Water Tunnel. The city also plans to build affordable housing on part of the site. The community will be involved in planning and designing the park, Johnson said.

Coming in second was $125,000 for real-time rider-information signs at five key bus stops in the district. This will add to the 10 electronic signs already funded in last year’s P.B. process.

In third place was $150,000 for air conditioning for the library at P.S. 111, at 440 W. 53rd St., which is used for summer school and also as a cooling center.

Rounding out the winners at No. 4 was $500,000 for grounds renovations at the Elliot-Chelsea Houses, to install new playground fencing, renovate walkways and revitalize garden areas, designed with the complex’s residents.

During his recap of his accomplishments over the past year, Johnson cited the deal involving Pier 40 — which he helped broker — as the most significant.

“Pier 40 is arguably the most important community asset” in the district, he said. “Thousands of children use its playing fields and its parking garage generates one-third of the entire Hudson River Park’s revenue.

“A robust and transparent public process” resulted in “an outstanding deal,” Johnson said, in which more than $100 million was secured to shore up the W. Houston St.’s 4,000 corroded steel support piles. The deal will also bring 500 affordable apartments, including for seniors, to the new St. John’s Partners project at 550 Washington St., he noted, and also resulted in the city finally designating for landmark status the final one-third of the South Village Historic District. In addition, no further air-rights transfers from Pier 40 will be allowed into Community Board 2 after the St. John’s deal, in which the developers have agreed to buy 200,000 square feet of development rights from the massive park pier.

The 550 Washington St. project will also include a 15,000-square-foot publicly accessible indoor recreation space and an affordable supermarket. Plus, the city Department of Transportation will do a $1.5 million study of traffic along Varick St. and around the Holland Tunnel.

Johnson touched on many other initiatives he had a hand in over the past year, such as funding four formerly homeless workers from ACE to help keep the district clean and helping fund a green roof for the new Morton St. middle school.

On that last subject, Johnson revealed to applause, “I have it on good authority that the school will be named for Jane Jacobs.”

He called the “affordability crisis” the city’s most pressing issue.

“Rents are soaring as many people who have lived here their whole lives are being forced out of the city,” he noted. “Our neighborhoods are being transformed and are struggling to retain their character and spirit. We need affordable housing like our lives depended upon it.”

Johnson also said he is a strong support of the long-stalled Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which for years has never been allowed to come up for a vote in the City Council.

“Our neighborhood affordable businesses and small businesses are closing at an alarming rate,” he said.

At the end, Johnson thanked the crowd, saying it’s an honor to serve his constituents every day, and that he feels like the “luckiest” guy to have his job.

“I pinch myself each time that I walk into City Hall,” he said. “I can only serve two terms, then I’m out — so I can only savor every moment.”

Johnson has served three-and-a-half years of his first term and is running unopposed for re-election.

Finally, the councilmember added he has budgeted $200,000 to fill every empty tree pit in the district, so people should call his office if they see an empty one, and the city will plant a tree in it.

“Trees,” Johnson reflected with a sigh, “We need something to feel good about these days. “Let’s keep up the resistance!” he exhorted. “You guys rock!”


DNA Info: New Park on 10th Avenue One of Four West Side Projects Receiving $1M

May 11, 2017

May 11, 2017

HELL’S KITCHEN — A vacant lot on 10th Avenue is one step closer to becoming a park following a district-wide vote earlier this spring.

The planned green space between West 48th and 49th streets will receive $200,000 in funding after securing 1,405 votes in this year’s participatory budgeting process, Councilman Corey Johnson said at a summit Tuesday evening.

Each year, residents living in District 3 — which include Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, the West Village and parts of the Upper West Side, Flatiron and SoHo — vote on how to spend around $1 million in funding allocated by Johnson’s office.

“This is a site that’s been designated for a park for years,” Johnson said. “There’s going to be affordable housing on part of the site [and] the rest of the site’s going to be a park.”

The city’s Department of Environmental Protection has already pledged $1.2 million to the project, he added.

Also on the ballot this year was a plan to install electronic boards with real-time bus arrival information at five bus stops throughout District 3. That project will receive $125,000 in funding after securing 1,358 votes, Johnson said.

The library at P.S. 111, meanwhile, will get an air conditioning system after securing 1,323 votes and $150,000 in funding.

The remaining $500,000 will go toward ground renovations — including new playground fencing, renovated walkways and a revitalized garden area — at the Elliott-Chelsea Houses.

That project garnered 1,296 votes, Johnson said.

Last year, residents voted to spend $100,000 on planting new trees throughout the district. The city’s Parks Department will start planting them this fall, Johnson said.


The Villager: Viva la reconstruction! Spring Street Park overhaul starts

May 11, 2017

May 11, 2017

Local officials recently joined Ellen Baer, head of the Hudson Square Connection business improvement district, to break ground on the renovation of the former Soho Square — to be renamed Spring Street Park — on Sixth Ave. between Spring and Broome Sts. The project in the former Printing District aims to create “a new, green centerpiece for a more walkable and livable Hudson Square.” A few days after the groundbreaking, the statue of General Jose Artigas, “the father of Uruguayan nationhood,” below, was removed for restoration, after which it will be returned to a spot slightly north, plus rotated 180 degrees to face looking west down Dominick St. Of course, the park could no longer be named Soho Square since the BID and Trinity Real Estate have pushed to rebrand the Lower West Side enclave west of Sixth Ave. as Hudson Square. Trinity also led the effort to rezone the manufacturing-zoned area to allow residential use and hopefully turn it into more of a 24-hour neighborhood.