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Residents Fume Over Demolition Plan For Former Stock Exchange Building

By Irene Plagianos | April 8, 2013 8:00am | Updated on April 9, 2013 8:44pm

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Developers plan to shut down a Financial District block for months while demolishing one of the former American Stock Exchange buildings — infuriating residents who live nearby.

A block of Cedar Street will be mostly closed to traffic during the day for four months starting in mid-April, to make it easier for real estate giant Fisher Brothers to tear down the historic 10-story building at 22 Thames St., company officials told outraged residents at a Community Board 1 meeting last week.

Only construction vehicles will be permitted on Cedar Street between Greenwich and Church streets, as the century-old building, which sits just south of the World Trade Center, is slowly torn down, said Alex Adams, a project executive with Fishers Brothers.

The company also plans to shut down pedestrian traffic on neighboring Thames Street between Greenwich and Church streets, a block that is already closed to vehicular traffic, Adams said.

“This is an absolutely outrageous plan,” said Diane Blell, a longtime resident of neighboring 125 Cedar St. “I’m going to pitch a tent in the middle of Cedar Street before I let their demolition trucks roll through. They can call the cops, I won’t budge.”

Residents fear that the area, already heavily congested because of World Trade Center construction and the millions of yearly visitors to the 9/11 Memorial, will become even more of a traffic nightmare with the Cedar Street closure.

Another major point of contention is that residents say they weren’t given any notice about the impending shutdown.

Representatives of the developer said they sent letters and emails to surrounding buildings and the community board, but most locals said they’d only found out through word-of-mouth.

“These people have been through hell and back over the years, living through 9/11 and the years and years of construction,” said CB1 chairwoman Catherine McVay Hughes, clearly upset as she chided the developers. “This is not a normal block. You have not at all done enough for your community outreach plan.”

Adams responded that the Cedar Street closure was a plan worked out with the Department of Transportation and the mayor’s office, and added that the company had no idea shutting down the block would set off such a firestorm.

But now, Adams said at the meeting, “we hear you loud and clear.”

Adams he'd be happy to sit down again with the DOT, as well as with CB1 members, to discuss an alternate route. Some residents suggested shutting down Rector Street instead.

The Fisher Brothers representatives also fielded questions about what exactly the company would be building once the old structure was demolished.

Last year, according to reports, the company bought both 22 Thames St. and neighboring American Stock Exchange building 86 Trinity Place for $150 million.

However, according to property records, Fisher Brothers purchased only the 22 Thames building and paid $87.5 million for it in October 2012.

Adams said at the meeting that 22 Thames would be turned into a mixed residential and commercial space, but he wouldn’t give any details. The developer has not yet submitted plans to the Department of Buildings.

Previous owners of the space said they wanted to turn 22 Thames into a 60-story tower.