Forget drugs or gang violence, adult kickball leagues are the real scourge of downtown Manhattan.
Karen Gehres, who lives across the street from P.S. 142, has started a petition to rid her neighborhood of its “annoying” adult kickball league. The excessive noise from the games, which run four times a week, has made summer evenings Read More
They ain’t ready for this jelly.
Beyonce’s bootylicious new H&M ads have been turning heads all over the city (like, seriously—is that body post-Blue Ivy?! Oh cruel, cruel world.) But while we’ll take any chance we can get to see the Queen Bee’s bod, in the Lower East Side, residents have decided to add a Read More
Demolition work started on 143 Ludlow Street almost immediately after developer Samy Mahfar’s SMA Equities purchased the Lower East Side building last summer. Walls were knocked down, entrances sheathed in plastic sheeting, electrical wires yanked from walls, the water turned off. There were a few ceiling collapses, a gas pipe was dislodged. Which might not have been overly problematic had not tenants still been living in the building.
Now the eight remaining rent-stabilized tenants (the others cleared out following the sale) are suing Mr. Mahfar for unsafe living conditions. The building currently has 145 open HPD housing code violations, including, but not limited to: broken windows, tiles and door buzzers, intermittent electricity, gas, heat and water, ceiling collapses, interior wall demolitions and the removal of fire extinguishers. The last is of particular concern given that the building has had three electrical fires since workers started the extensive renovation project this summer.
The abandoned banana warehouse on Pier 42 isn’t going anywhere in the coming months, nor is the parking lot stretching out in front of it, but New Yorkers will be able to get a little closer to the East River starting May 4. A piece of Pier 42—about a third of the total footprint—will be open to the public for the first time ever.
The Lower East Side pier and its decaying banana warehouse are slated for better, greener things—namely, a $16 million makeover whose appearance has yet to be decided by the public and Mathews Nielson landscape architects.
But State Senator Daniel Squadron and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who secured the funding for the redevelopment, have described the future park as being the missing section needed to create “a continuous green ribbon around Lower Manhattan, connecting the East and West Sides and providing the Lower East Side and Chinatown communities with much-needed open space.”
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
In an effort to stave off its inevitable transformation into a wasteland of vast sports bars and mega clubs, the East Village is considering zoning restrictions that would limit the number of clubs and large bars. Such restrictions aim to preserve the intimate, sticky-floored watering holes for which the East Village is known, essentially creating a protected nightlife district of dives. Certainly, it’s not the only Manhattan neighborhood that might make good use of a carefully-targeted zoning change to safeguard its unique identity? The Observer has a few recommendations.
Profiles in Development
The members of the Upper West Side’s Carlebach Shul had nearly polished off their halibut and grilled squash when the band struck up “Killing me Softly,” and Roberta Flack took the stage inside the St. Regis ballroom. Ms. Flack, clad in a rustling black gown, leaned in close to the microphone, and, to the great disappointment of many guests, launched into a speech rather than her famous song.
“I’m here to honor a special friend of mine. Someone I’ve known more than a year—a couple of years—and who is very dear to me,” were the opening lines of a brief address that ended with Ms. Flack handing a large hunk of engraved glass to Michael Bolla, whom the synagogue was honoring as “the force behind the recent and much publicized Jewish revitalization of the Lower East Side.”
Ms. Flack vanished almost immediately, but Mr. Bolla remained until almost midnight, basking in the praises of his fellow congregants.
Shouldering the burden of the Lower East Side’s salvation is a far cry from Mr. Bolla’s last project, which saw the 44-year-old real estate broker and developer restoring antique Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers and Italian plaster ceiling medallions at a mansion in Chelsea.
In the Rezone
Yesterday, in a unanimous vote 47 years in the making, the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area has finally been approved by the City Council. SPURA, that massive parcel of barren (or in City Council speak, “under-developed”) city-owned land in Lower Manhattan, will now become a 1.65 million square foot mixed-use development. It’s a change that, according to the project’s backers, will create 1,000 housing units, 1,000 permanent jobs and 5,000 construction jobs.
Street Fighters Too
The city has a love-hate relationship with its cyclists, but at least a few savvy Village business owners have embraced the city’s two-wheeled denizens for fun and profit.
Last month, Transportation Alternatives, the pro-transit advocacy group, in collaboration with Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, opened the city’s first Bike Friendly Business District on the Lower East Side. The district, a network of some 150 businesses and institutions now dedicated to better bike infrastructure, was proposed as way to increase customer traffic to local businesses. It’s an idea that has, according to the latest study, worked remarkably well.
In the Rezone
It took 40 years, but the transformation of the Seward Park urban Renewal Area, better known as SPURA, may finally be here. While everyone seemed excited at the prospect of this finally happening, the opinions were far from unanimous about what the city came up with for its plan for the seven undeveloped acres south of Delancy Street on four forlorn parking lots.
But there was unanimity today, when the City Council’s land-use committee approved the 1.65 million-square-foot plan for SPURA by a vote of 16-0. Attendees of last week’s public hearing on the development south of the Williamsburg Bridge will be relieved to hear that 50 additional affordable housing units (offset by another 50 at market rate prices) have been added to the project, for a total of 1,000 units, half of which will be affordable, half not. The administration also agreed to that now de rigueur piece of rezoning negotiations, a new public school.
In the Rezone
Yesterday, at a City Council hearing on the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, more commonly known as SPURA, the proper pronunciation of acronym—s-pure-rah? spur-ae? spewer?— wasn’t the only point in contention. The other question, the one the public, very many of them, had come out to answer was: Could New York finally take real steps, after nearly 40 years of waiting, to develop a long-neglected series of parking lots on the Lower East Side while still maintaining the famed spirit and character of that neighborhood. Or, as some would have it, would SPURA become just another in a long chain of missed opportunities.
The hearing, chaired by council members Steve Levin of Brooklyn, chair of the zoning subcommittee, and Margaret Chin, the local rep, was a packed affair with the honorable Mr. Levin often reminding people to show their appreciation by, “doing the Occupy Wall Street thing,” as he wiggled his fingers in the air. “Jazz hands” is the technical term, we believe. It was a gesture that would be seldom actually seen during the next three and a half hours, with many of the speakers, both for and against the project, receiving their own rounds of loud supportive applause. The truth was this crowd came to be heard and many of them had been waiting for a very long time.