JP Morgan Chase Under Pressure Over Plaza Closure

Categories: Buildings, Parks

ChaseManhattanPlazaFenceNew.jpg
The fences around Chase Manhattan Plaza, first erected in September, will stay up at least until next spring.
Pressure is mounting on JP Morgan Chase to account for the ongoing closure of Chase Manhattan Plaza in Lower Manhattan.

The Voice has been tracking the ongoing saga of the fenced-off public plaza since January -- see previous coverage below -- but others are starting to growing curious as well. Gothamist and the New York Times have recently written about the fenced-off plaza, and last week the local community board held a hearing to demand some answers.

Officials from JP Morgan Chase appeared in front of Community Board 1 last week to defend the closure of the plaza. DNAInfo reports that Financial District residents attending the meeting were angry and frustrated at the closure of one of the only open spaces in the neighborhood, and also skeptical of the Chase officials' claims that the closure is part of routine maintenance and not a response to the Occupy Wall Street protests.

That claim contradicts what Chase employees told the Voice last winter, and seems hard to square with the face that the plaza has now been closed more than ten months with no actual work undertaken.

Chase has consistently declined to comment on the plaza closure to the press, but JP Morgan Chase Vice President Karen McGinnis was more forthcoming at the Community Board meeting, according to DNAInfo.

The bank has spent the past 10 months preparing to do the repair work, which has not yet begun, McGuinness said.

Whenever the work begins, it is expected to carry on through the spring, at which point the plaza will again reopen to the public, Chase officials promised the Community Board.

The community might have an easier time answering the question of whether Chase is just taking its own sweet time making necessary repairs or is closing the public plaza to insulate itself from demonstrations if the repair plans were public. Plans filed with the Department Buildings generally are available to the public, but in the case of Chase Manhattan Plaza they've been kept secret under an NYPD anti-terrorism policy.

A lawsuit over that secrecy had its first hearing recently, and the New York Times reported that the presiding judge urged the city to "take another look at the plans and see what could be disclosed."

Previous Coverage:

[npinto@villagevoice.com] [@macfathom]

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