Manhattan bankruptcy court to open on Tuesday

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 12, 2012 7:29 PM
Manhattan bankruptcy court to open on Tuesday

By Nick Brown

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan will reopen on Tuesday after being closed for more than two weeks due to flooding and other damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, according to its website.

The court, which had been without steam, Internet and phone connection, is "now operational," according to an announcement on the site on Monday.

For large companies restructuring under Chapter 11 in New York, like Patriot Coal Corp and American Airlines parent AMR Corp, it means returning to normal after days of postponed or relocated court hearings.

The court, a major hub for corporate restructurings and liquidations, is located at One Bowling Green, near Manhattan's southernmost tip. The area suffered major flooding and power outages after Hurricane Sandy touched ground in the New York area on October 28.

While workers were able to drain water and sewage that had flooded the courthouse basement within a day or so, the building remained without heat, Internet or phone.

By court order, judges were allowed to move hearings to other courts. Some companies, like AMR, held hearings in White Plains, New York, while others, like the liquidating financial giant Lehman Brothers Holdings, postponed them altogether.

Stephanie Circovich, a spokeswoman for the federal court system in the Southern District of New York, told Reuters on Monday that she was not aware of a planned reopening on Tuesday. Court employees were off on Monday due to the Veterans Day holiday.

Renee Miscione, a spokeswoman for the U.S. General Services Administration, told Reuters in a phone interview that all GSA buildings affected by Hurricane Sandy, including the courthouse, are fully operational.

The court is housed in the Alexander Hamilton Custom House, an ornate Beaux-Arts-style building designed by architect Cass Gilbert at the beginning of the 1900s. As a custom house, it was the revenue collection point for the lower Manhattan port. The building stood vacant for much of the 1970s before undergoing major renovations. The bankruptcy court moved into the structure in 1987.

(Reporting by Nick Brown; Editing by Richard Chang)