It’s a corner of New York City where the Hudson River kisses the shore and majestic towers reach to the sky. It’s a place where business professionals make multi-million dollar deals and parents raise their children. It’s a place to dine with friends, shop and take a stroll. It’s a quiet oasis with brilliant sunsets and salty breezes.
Anyone who has ever had the pleasure to visit, live or work in Battery Park City has been given a great opportunity to enjoy one of the City’s most unexpected treasures.
Pearl of the Financial District
Unlike the rest of Manhattan that is rich in history, Battery Park City is a relatively new phenomenon. However, it is hard to remember a time when this unique neighborhood on the southwestern tip of Manhattan didn’t exist at all. The area’s genesis began in 1962 with a vision and a plan to revitalize New York’s Hudson River shipping terminals. In 1966 Governor Rockefeller announced his ideas for Battery Park City, a "comprehensive community," and by 1968 the Battery Park City Authority was created by the New York State Legislature.
The remarkable thing about Battery Park City is that the 92-acre area was created primarily from earth scooped out to build the nearby World Trade Center. Taking the concept of recycling to the max, this landfill formed the foundation for what has become a favorite waterfront enclave that includes thousands of square feet of commercial space, beautiful residences and generous open spaces with breathtaking views.
The heart of Battery Park City is undisputedly the World Financial Center, which encompasses four striking granite and glass towers near the North Cove Harbor. Designed by Cesar Pelli & Associates, these buildings house such powerful companies as American Express, Dow Jones and Merrill Lynch. The World Financial Center also includes many fabulous shops and restaurants, as well as the glass-enclosed Winter Garden, a stunning indoor vista with a giant staircase, soaring ceilings and numerous palm trees. It is a popular meeting place and the site for many cultural events. The exterior of the Winter Garden offers a three-and-a-half-acre plaza that faces the Hudson, and on warm days it is filled with people relaxing in the sunshine. The New York Mercantile, which contains the Commodities Exchange, is also located near North Cove Harbor.
Undoubtedly, the offices located in Battery Park City draw a number of professionals from the tri-state area and beyond. Subways, path trains and buses are easily accessible, and ferries transport passengers to and from the North Cove Harbor from Jersey City and Hoboken.
Something for Everyone
Although Battery Park City’s offices and retail spaces attract a large number of people each day, there is another side to this dynamic section of the City. Many people are proud to call it home. In 1980 construction began on the 1,712-unit Gateway Plaza, the area’s first residential development, and since that time many other buildings have been erected. The southern residential area extends from the World Financial Center to the Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park, and the northern residential area reaches for five blocks from the World Financial Center to Chambers Street. Each of these areas contains a variety of condominiums and townhouses. Built to comply with the requirements of the Battery Park City Authority, these properties have been designed to blend with the landscape and each other. Although these residences are relatively new, many of their architectural features echo those of older, aesthetically charming buildings throughout the City, particularly the Upper West Side.
According to Julie Stevens, manager of residential real estate firm Douglas Elliman’s 99 Battery Place office, "In just a few years Battery Park City has become one of Manhattan’s favorite neighborhoods because it truly offers something for everyone. Families love its peaceful setting, safe environment and notable schools, P.S./I.S. 89 on Warren Street and P.S. 234 and Stuyvesant High School on Chambers Street. Business professionals flock to the area because it is just a few short steps to their offices. As a result, demand for homes in this area is extremely high."
As with all new construction during the past 20 years, there are no cooperatives in Battery Park City. Prices for condominium studios begin at approximately $200,000. One bedrooms range from $275,000 to $425,000, and two bedroom units start at $450,000. Rentals for one bedrooms begin at $2,300. Of course, apartments with views garner higher prices.
The construction of new residential properties reflects the demand for homes in this neighborhood. Some of the newest buildings in Battery Park City include TriBeCa Pointe and TriBeCa Bridge Tower, Riverwatch and 50 Battery Place, all rentals. For those who have reached their golden years, The Hallmark is a newly constructed premier luxury community developed for seniors. These homes provide personal care and assisted living services in an attractive, 14-story building on North End Avenue.
Other buildings are also in the works. Ground is now breaking for a new condominium tower and five-star hotel scheduled for completion in 2001. Another extended-stay hotel is nearing completion in the northern residential section of Battery Park City.
A Natural Habitat
One of the greatest features of Battery Park City is that it captures nature at its best. The master plan demanded that one third of the new community include permanently protected open spaces, such as gardens, plazas and parks. As a result, Battery Park City feels like a suburb within a great metropolis. Meticulously maintained by the Battery Park City Conservancy, a private non-profit organization, the open spaces provide a perfect balance between man and the outdoors. The Esplanade, with its 1.2 mile stretch, extends the entire length of Battery Park City and is perfect for anyone who enjoys a walk along the river and uninterrupted views. Other open areas include Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park, South Cove, Rector Park, Rockefeller Park, West Thames Park and the Belvedere at North Cove Park. These public areas offer a variety of activities such as "Go Fish" days where one can learn about the Hudson River.
Part of what makes the Esplanade and the parks so beautiful, is the artwork that dots the landscape. Everywhere you turn you are greeted with a visual surprise. For example, The Upper Room, which marks the entrance to the Esplanade from Albany Street, is an impressive colonnaded court where visitors can relax and watch boats sail by. Whether it’s a bronze sculpture or the cobalt blue lanterns that line the walkways at South Cove these artworks add to the aesthetic pleasures of the neighborhood.
South Cove is also enhanced by two notable memorials that cause even the most hurried traveler to take pause. The New York City Police Memorial, which was designed by Stuart B. Crawford, honors those officers who have given their lives in the line of duty. Completed in 1997, The Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, stands proudly on the southern edge of Battery Park City. Extraordinary views of The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island offer moments of quite reflection.
Battery Park City is special for a number of reasons, the most striking of which is that it is a neighborhood that captures your heart whether you are six or 66. On any given day, one can see a variety of people — residents and office employees, singles and couples walking arm in arm, parents with children playing in the parks and wide-eyed tourists taking in the sites. As the area continues to expand through new construction and an influx of new faces, it will experience some growing pains. However, one thing is for certain: Battery Park City will remain a beautiful, much admired urban oasis on the shores of the mighty Hudson River.
Ms. Boccini is director of communications at Douglas Elliman, a residential real estate brokerage firm in Manhattan.