Best Laid Plans
Today the Whole Foods in Gowanus opened with considerable fanfare—vinyl records! Brooklyn-made treats! A rooftop beer garden!—attracting a stampede of hungry Brooklynites and apparently, a few Park Slope Co-op defectors (hey, in our experience, Whole Foods’ management of lines is very impressive). But the decrepit Coignet Building, the 140-year-old concrete mansion located just five feet from the gleaming new grocery store, is not sharing in all the bonhomie.
Though Whole Foods seemed like it might be a boon for the landmarked building—when the building’s owner, Richard Kowalski sold Whole Foods the lot in 2005 he extracted a promise from the bougie retailer to restore its exterior. But while Whole Foods has provided a new roof, the structure is otherwise worse for the wear, according to Brownstoner, having apparently sustained serious injuries during the grocery store’s construction.
Our City Since
Last Thursday, a wooden formwork, or cast, for a concrete wall inside one of *Manhattan’s many new hotels broke. This sent a cascade of concrete into one of the city’s grand not-quite-new-but-not-old hotels, Le Parker Meridien. The construction accident on West 56th Street put quite a damper on things inside the hotel where, as the Post points out, rooms cost $600 per night and, The Times adds,a hot chocolate is $6 at the Knave cafe, where the foot-thick flood of liquid stone settled, and began to harden.
Fortunately no one was injured in the accident. “One second, I’m sitting there having a cappuccino and the next moment, we are running for our lives,” Bernard Gershon, a West Sider who had met a friend for coffee, told the Post. Had something bad befallen the cafe guests, it would have been tragic not simply for the pain and suffering but because none of them are supposed to be there anyway.
The Knave Cafe, with its red satin drapes, lushly upholstered chairs and “deliciously diabolical drinks,” as the menu declares, has yet to reopen, and hotel staff could not yet say when it would. Perhaps never would be best. The Knave Cafe, it turns out, is kind of illegal.
Sodom by the Sea
The city’s ironworkers and carpenters have never much gotten along. Falling somewhere between rival sports teams and armies at war, the construction unions responsible for the city’s tall buildings rarely work together—office buildings are made from steel, apartments from concrete (which is poured by the carpenter’s union). “Is there ego? There is certainly pride amongst these unions, and not a little competition,” said Gary Higby director of industry development at the Steel Institute of New York, a trade group.
But 9/11 changed that, or at least the rebuilding of 7 World Trade Center did. It was not simply a matter of camaraderie but also necessity. “Obviously, what you had to do after 9/11 was address the fundamental question of how are we going to create buildings that are as safe as can be in a post-9/11 world,” said Janno Lieber, president of World Trade Center Properties at Silverstein Properties. “The concrete core was probably the single most important of hundreds of safety innovations at 7 World Trade Center that went beyond code. It was a huge step forward for safety and structural robustness.”
Coney Island’s boardwalk was first built in 1923 as an effort to improve public access to what had largely been private beachfront property. The city laid down hundreds of thousands of wooden planks to create the Reigelman Boardwalk (named for the borough president at the time), and it has been one of the Read More