Battery Park City is a mainly residential 92-acre (37 ha) planned community at the southwestern tip of the island of Manhattan in New York City, New York, United States, more than 1⁄3 of which is parkland. The land in Lower Manhattan upon which it stands was created by land reclamation on the Hudson River using over 3 million cubic yards of soil and rock excavated during the construction of the World Trade Center, the New York City Water Tunnel, and certain other construction projects, as well as from sand dredged from New York Harbor off Staten Island. The neighborhood, which is the site of Brookfield Place (formerly the World Financial Center), along with numerous buildings designed for housing, commercial, and retail, is named for adjacent Battery Park.
Battery Park City is bounded on the east by West Street, which separates the area from the Financial District of lower Manhattan. To the west, north, and south, the area is surrounded by the Hudson River.
The development consists of roughly five major sections. Traveling north to south, the first neighborhood has high-rise residential buildings, the Stuyvesant High School, a Regal Entertainment Group movie theater, and the Battery Park City branch of the New York Public Library. It is also the site of the 463-suite Conrad New York luxury hotel, which contains restaurants and bars such as the Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar, ATRIO Wine Bar Restaurant, Mexican-themed El Vez, and three Danny Meyer-branded restaurants (North End Grill, Blue Smoke, Shake Shack); the hotel has a ballroom and a conference center. Other restaurants located in that hotel, as well as a DSW store and a New York Sports Club branch, were closed in 2009 after the takeover of the property by Goldman Sachs. Former undeveloped lots in the area have been developed into high-rise buildings; for example, Goldman Sachs built a new headquarters at 200 West Street.
Nearby is Brookfield Place, a complex of several commercial buildings formerly known as the World Financial Center.
Current residential neighborhoods of Battery Park City are divided into northern and southern sections, separated by Brookfield Place. The northern section consists entirely of large, 20–45-story buildings, all various shades of orange brick. The southern section, extending down from the Winter Garden, contains residential apartment building such as Gateway Plaza, and Rector Place apartment buildings. In this section lies the majority of Battery Park City’s residential areas, in three sections: Gateway Plaza, a high-rise building complex; the “Rector Place Residential Neighborhood”; and the” Battery Place Residential Neighborhood”. These subsections contain most of the area’s residential buildings, along with park space, supermarkets, restaurants, and movie theaters. Construction of residential buildings began north of the World Financial Center in the late 1990s, and completion of the final lots was completed in early 2011. Additionally, a park restoration was completed in a 2013.
Battery Park City is owned and managed by the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), a Class A public-benefit corporation created by New York State under the authority of the Urban Development Corporation. Its mission is “to plan, create, co-ordinate and maintain a balanced community of commercial, residential, retail, and park space within its designated 92-acre site on the lower west side of Manhattan” in New York City. Created in 1968 (L. 1968, ch. 343) to redevelop outmoded and deteriorated piers, a project that has involved reclaiming the land, replanning the area and facilitating new construction of a mixed commercial and residential community. The authority’s board is composed of seven uncompensated members who are appointed by the governor and who serve six-year terms. N.Y. Pub. Auth. sec. 1973. The BPCA is invested with substantial powers: it can acquire, hold and dispose of real property, enter into lease agreements, borrow money and issue debt, and manage the project. N.Y. Pub. Auth. sec. 1974. Like other public benefit corporations, the BPCA is exempt from property taxes and has the ability to issue tax exempt bonds. N.Y. Pub. Auth. sec. 1981.
Under the 1989 agreement between the BPCA and the City of New York, $600 million was transferred by the BPCA to the city. Charles J. Urstadt, the first Chairman and CEO of the BPCA, noted in an August 19, 2007 op-ed piece in the New York Post that the aggregate figure of funds transferred to the City of New York is above $1.4 billion, with the BPCA continuing to contribute $200 million a year.
Excess revenue from the area was to be contributed to other housing efforts, typically low-income projects in the Bronx and Harlem. Much of this funding has historically been diverted to general city expenses, under section 3.d of the 1989 agreement. However, in July 2006, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor George Pataki, and Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. announced the final approval for the New York City Housing Trust Fund derived from $130 million in Battery Park City revenues. The fund aimed to preserve or create 4,300 units of low- and moderate-income housing by 2009. It also provided seed financing for the New York Acquisition Fund, a $230 million initiative that aims to serve as a catalyst for the construction and preservation of more than 30,000 units of affordable housing citywide by 2016. The Acquisition Fund has since established itself as a model for similar funds in cities and states across the country.
The September 11 attacks in 2001 had a major impact on Battery Park City. The residents of lower Manhattan and particularly of Battery Park City were displaced for an extended period of time. Parts of the community were an official crime-scene and therefore residents were unable to return to live or even collect property. Many of the displaced residents were not allowed to return to the area for months and none were given government guidance of where to live temporarily on the already crowded island of Manhattan. With most hotel rooms booked, residents, including young children and the elderly were forced to fend for themselves.
When they were finally allowed to return to Battery Park City, some found that their homes had been looted. Upon residents’ return, the air in the area was still filled with toxic smoke from the World Trade Center fires that persisted until January 2002. More than half of the area’s residents moved away permanently from the community after the adjacent World Trade Center towers collapsed and spread toxic dust, debris, and smoke. Gateway Plaza’s 600 building, Hudson View East, and Parc Place (now Rector Square) were punctured by airplane parts. The Winter Garden and other portions of the World Financial Center were severely damaged. Environmental concerns regarding dust from the Trade Center are a continuing source of concern for many residents, scientists, and elected officials. Since the attacks, the damage has been repaired. Temporarily reduced rents and government subsidies helped restore residential occupancy in the years following the attacks.
After September 11, 2001, residents of Battery Park City and Tribeca formed the TriBattery Pops Tom Goodkind Conductor in response to the events of the attacks. The “Pops” have been Grammy-nominated and are the first lower Manhattan all-volunteer community band in a century.
Since then, real estate development in the area has continued robustly. Commercial development includes the 2,100,000-square-foot (200,000 m2) 200 West Street, the Goldman Sachs global headquarters, which began construction in 2005 and opened for occupancy in October 2009. 200 West Street is seeking gold-level certification under the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program by incorporating various water and energy conservation features. Several residential projects are underway, including LEED buildings which cater to the environmentally conscious.
A largely Arab-American neighborhood existed in southeastern Battery Park City from the late 1880s to the 1940s. “Little Syria” encompassed Washington Street from Battery Park to Rector Street. It declined as a neighborhood as the inhabitants became successful and moved to other areas, especially Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, and disappeared almost entirely when a great deal of lower Washington Street was demolished to make way for entrance ramps to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which opened in 1950. The overwhelming majority of the residents were Arabic-speaking Christians, Melkite and Maronite immigrants from present-day Syria and Lebanon who settled in the area in the late 19th century, escaping religious persecution and poverty in their homelands – which were then under control of the Ottoman Empire – and answering the call of American missionaries to escape their difficulties by traveling to New York City.
However, many other ethnic groups had lived in this diverse neighborhood, including Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Slovaks, Poles, Hungarians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Czechs, and Irish.
A long-standing reminder of the ethnic past was the former St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed in the September 11 attacks. An additional historic church, St. George’s Syrian Catholic Church, still stands at 103 Washington Street.
The first residential building in Battery Park City, Gateway Plaza, was completed in 1983. As of 2010, the population of the area was 13,386. Some of the more prominent residential buildings include:
Millennium Point, a 449-foot (137 m), 38-story skyscraper built from 1999 to 2001. It occupies the street addresses 25–39 Battery Place. However, due to the September 11 attacks which hit the nearby World Trade Center, opening of Millennium Point was delayed until January 2002. The building won the 2001 Silver Emporis Skyscraper Award. The tower section contains 113 luxury condominiums. The wider, lower 12 floors are occupied by a 5-star hotel, The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park. The hotel has 298 rooms, including 44 suites, with the largest suite spanning 200 square metres (2,150 sq ft) in area. The Skyscraper Museum occupies a small space on the first floor of the building. A restaurant is located on the 14th floor.
The Solaire, the first green residential building in the United States, as well as the first residential high-rise building in New York City to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli and completed in 2003, it has been described as an “environmentally-progressive residential tower”. The Solaire is located at 20 River Terrace. The developer received funding from the State of New York, which was somewhat controversial as the developer was only required to agree to set aside 10% of the units as “affordable housing” or “moderate income”, rather than the usual 80:20 agreement. When the building opened, rents ranged from roughly $2,500 to $9,001 depending on the size of the unit. The building has been rated LEED Platinum. The energy conserving building design is 35% more energy-efficient than code requires, resulting in a 67% lower electricity demand during peak hours, resulting in, among other benefits, lower electric bills for residents, photovoltaic panels converting sunlight to electricity, and a computerized building management system and environmentally responsible operating and maintenance practices.