The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

February 25, 2013

NYC seaport a 'ghost town' months after Sandy

(Continued)

Meade's was only able to reopen thanks to a $25,000 grant that Holin received from the Downtown Alliance, a neighborhood association that has doled out 100 grants to small businesses totaling about $1.5 million.

The grant program was so popular that it was suspended two weeks after its debut in mid-November.

"We don't have a lot of traffic," said Nicole Osborne, who was tending the bar at Meade's on a weekday afternoon. "It's like we've been forgotten."

In the darkened window of Stella Manhattan Bistro, an Italian restaurant on Front Street, hung an American flag reminiscent of those displayed all over the city after Sept. 11. Alongside it, someone had posted a sign that said: "Thank you for all your support. Stay strong."

Most of the Front Street buildings had a geothermal heating and cooling system that was destroyed in the flood, said Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the developer, The Durst Organization, Inc. The repairs, which include moving the mechanical systems to the roof, are expected to drag on for months.

"We hope that they will come back," Barowitz said of the shuttered businesses. "It's very challenging."

The future of the South Street Seaport is equally uncertain. Howard Hughes Corp, which controls the former 19th-century counting houses that are home to the retail chains, said it does not yet know which — if any — of the major retailers will come back. The hope is to have Fulton Street in working order again before Memorial Day, when the summer season kicks off and the seaport will desperately need an influx of visitors.

But in a case of unfortunate timing, Pier 17, the shopping mall housed inside a rustic wooden building on the pier, is slated to close for a long-planned renovation in June that will transform it into a modern glass-walled structure with a rooftop plaza. The impending renovation has only added to the misery of shop owners who lost so much revenue since the storm and haven't recouped their losses.

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