New York’s Hudson Square neighborhood is getting a $27 million makeover thanks to funding from the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the New York City Council and matching funds from the Hudson Square Connection Business Improvement District.
The move reflects a shift from the center of the city’s printing industry into one clustered with Read More
the high cost of banking
During the depths of the Great Recession, Angelo Biondo, owner of K-9 Powerhouse Kennel in Park Slope, was doing great business. Mr. Biondo rented out his guard dogs to developers who needed someone—or some animal—to watch over their stalled sites, but couldn’t afford a full-time human guard.
He told The Observer in 2009 that he charged $1,750 to $2,000 a month for the service—a steal compared to what a guard of the primate species would cost. “Brooklyn is the No. 1 area,” he said at the time, though neighbors near stalled sites guarded by Mr. Biondo’s dogs were not always so pleased—two dogs at a Robert Scarano site once escaped and bit a neighbor and his dog.
The market has since rebounded—there aren’t many stalled sites left to guard—but when the next crash inevitably arrives, Mr. Biondo won’t be around to rent out Great Danes and Rottweilers to unlucky builders.
In recent years, the Upper West Side has been besieged by bank branches, with countless TD Banks and Citibanks, Chase Banks and Banks of America gobbling up once-vibrant street corners, the dull gleam of their ATM screens casting an eerie glow on the empty sidewalks late at night.
There has been hand-wringing, there have been outcries, there is even a zoning ordinance that prohibits banks from having storefronts wider than 25 feet. And unlike the cancerous spread of Duane Reades across every corner of our fair city, which for all their colonial tendencies offer a certain languorous refuge for the stressed city dweller, no one can quite understand what is driving the bank branches’ spread. Aren’t we always told that people are doing more and more banking online? Other than withdrawing cash from the ATM, how often do most of us really visit the bank?
on the waterfront
“This is a street that predates Manhattan. It has been one of the finest addresses in the city and it has been skid row, and now it’s changing again,” said Bill Wander, offering an extremely brief history of the Bowery.
We were standing with Mr. Wander, historian for McSorley’s Old Ale House (yes, McSorley’s has a historian), in the Bowery Hotel, surrounded by other historians, preservationists, punk rockers, poets, Italian bakers and many a downtown bar veteran who had gathered to celebrate the Bowery’s recent listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Best Laid Plans
How would you like to wake up to views of the Manhattan Bridge and Lower Manhattan beyond, a lavish waterfront park right outside? That is the vision Brooklyn Bridge Park is hoping will entice developers into the newest private development within the libertarian park. Today, the park released a request for proposals for a development at the nexus of John and Pearl streets in Dumbo. The project calls for no more than 130 residential units in a 101,000-square foot development that can rise no higher than 13 stories.
“The addition of the residential development at the John Street site represents a critical element of our park maintenance plan,” Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, said in a statement. “This development will not only benefit the DUMBO community, it will further activate the northern end of the park.”
In the Rezone
From the start, one of the biggest concerns over the proposed Midtown East Rezoning has been the fate of the area’s historic buildings. Midtown has its fair share of landmarks already, but it is no Upper East Side or Park Slope. No doubt there are precious older buildings worthy of preservation, or at least consideration for landmarks protections, especially when staring down all the development that is likely to come from a huge rezoning like the one the Bloomberg administration has proposed for Midtown East.
To that end, the Municipal Art Society has put forward 17 buildings it believes the city ought to consider protecting before the Midtown East Rezoning goes into effect. A survey of the area’s historic buildings actually has more time than it might seem to proceed, as the administration rushes toward approving this plan sometime next year, since it has promised the rezoning will have a sunrise provision preventing it from taking effect until 2017. Still, that does not mean any of these buildings could be saved from being torn down and becoming the next Empire State Building.
The new towers in Hudson Square are going to look more, well, square.
That is after Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer wrangled a deal with Trinity Church to reduce the size of new towers as part of a rezoning the rectors are undertaking in the formerly industrial neighborhood just north of the Holland Tunnel. This was among the concessions extracted by Mr. Stringer before giving the project his conditional approval, which he signed yesterday as part of the rezoning’s public review process.
The buildings will be a bit wider, though, so as not to lose their density, but they can only rise to 290 feet, rather than 320 feet. Stocky towers instead of slender spires, basically. But that is in many ways fitting with the areas already stolid building stock of former printing plants, which typified the neighborhood for a century before it became a popular haven for Soho expats and minor celebrities (hello James Gandolfini and Lou Reed!).
Buildings along the southern lip of Manhattan are still pumping water from their basements almost two weeks after Governor Andrew Cuomo led a chorus of voices warning that violent storms and extreme weather patterns are the new normal. But the market for residential real estate seems, by and large, completely unphased. Hurricane Sandy may have flooded the city, but she has not dampened the desire to buy real estate in Lower Manhattan. At least not yet.
It is, of course, still early to judge what effect, if any, the hurricane will have on the Manhattan market, but real estate professionals say that cold—and wet—feet have not been an issue in showings and closings during the weeks since Sandy hit. (Banks, on the other hand, are feeling less confident, with a number insisting on inspections to rule out structural damage for loans on buildings in Zone A, even those that have long been in contract.)
The restaurants may be closed, along with mass transit, the schools, stores, your workplace, and everything else on the East Coast right now, but if you are one of the lucky s.o.b.’s who can afford an Equinox membership, you have a safe port during the storm of the century. Of the 25 spas in Manhattan and surrounding metropolitan areas, only one venue is currently closed.
If you happen to live on the city’s now-glitzy skid row, you should be high and dry, at least for the time being, so fear not for a slip-up during the mayor’s storm update this morning. If you caught it, Mayor Bloomberg said the Bowery had flooded, when in fact he meant The Battery, according to his staff.
“There has already been some flooding already in the Bowery, as well as the FDR and some of the Rockaways,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “We expect surge levels of 6 to 11 feet. A surge of 9 to 10 feet is possible along Coney Island and the Rockaways. And a surge of 11 to 12 feet may occur at the Battery Monday evening.”
An Arena Grows in Brooklyn
It has been, thus far, a year of almost incandescent hopes for the Manhattan luxury market. The $88 million sale at 15 CPW, the $70 million sale at the Ritz Carlton and rising like a beacon to the south, the unfinished One57 tower, with a penthouse in contract for more than $90 million.
Indeed, the market has burned so brightly for the owners of trophy and would-be and could-possibly-be trophy properties that it may even have blinded a few to the realities of the real estate market—while it could be described as magical, it is not magic. Is One57 a rising tide that will lift all boats (yachts?) or an ultra-luxury development that most other buildings breaking the skyline can’t compete with in finishes or prices? Or even worse: a view-blocker, shadow-caster and general reminder that places like the Time Warner Center and the Trump International are not as new as they once were?
Best Laid Plans
Some good news for Bruce Ratner today, but probably not for the neighborhood or the folks who want to move into the developer’s promised apartment towers at Atlantic Yards. The Islanders will mean more crowds roaming the streets of Prospect Heights and Fort Greene before and after games, and more revenue for the Barclays Center, but this will not help speed up construction of the long-delayed apartments, according to Mr. Ratner.
It Takes a Village
We’re kind of embarrassed to admit that this never occurred to us until just now, reading The Times‘ recap of the Midtown East debate. Sure, all the familiar arguments on both sides are there—the city is moving too fast, the city is not moving fast enough, the buildings are too big, they are not big enough, we must compete, we must consider the consequence—but there is also are new argument that should have been obvious from the start, though no one has brought it up, at least not publicly, until Charles Bagli spelled it right out.
The Beats may be long gone, but protest music is alive and well in Greenwich Village—thanks in part to the institution that helped drive many of the artists out, New York University.
On Wednesday, a group of musicians, including Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth fame) and John Zorn will convene at 6:30 p.m. at Le Poisson Rouge to help raise money for NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan’s legal fund. Last month, the faculty group that opposes the university’s expansion south of Washington Square filed a lawsuit against the city and the University trying to stop it. All proceeds from the $20 show will go directly to the cause.
It’s that time of year again when New York flings open its too-often locked and double barred doors for the 10th annual Open House New York (OHNY) weekend. The event promises unprecedented access to the cities myriad of architectural, cultural and historical gems. From the spectacular—The Grand Masons Lodge, which is participating with the event again this year at its historic 23rd street location—to the austere—the Brooklyn Army Terminal, an imposing 5 million square-foot site of criss-crossed steel and exposed concrete—to the just plain obscure and whimsical—come explore the lost streams of New York, which can be observed, using a flashlight, through the ventilation holes of old manhole covers, but normally that’s about it.
It’s a wonderland, this city.