What's Old Is New Again
The dead may not literally walk among us, but they can certainly cause headaches for developers. In 2006, work on Trump Soho was temporarily halted when human remains were discovered at the construction site, where a Baptist Church once stood. Last year, plans for a development in Queens were nixed after the property—home to a colonial-era cemetery—was landmarked. And back in 1991, the federal government was forced to significantly alter plans for its $276 million federal office tower in Lower Manhattan after uncovering the 17th and 18th-century remains of hundreds of African Americans.
Now, several preservation and community groups are pleading with developer Douglast Steiner to his abandon plans to demolish the Mary Help of Christians Church complex at 181 Avenue A (between East 11th and East 12th streets), because the buildings were built over a former Catholic Cemetery.
The Trump SoHo, the lone protrusion in an otherwise mid-rise Hudson Square, is one of the most controversial buildings in lower Manhattan—so controversial, in fact, that it helped inspire the neighborhood’s recently-passed rezoning. Built in an industrial and commercial zone, the tower styles itself as a “condo hotel” under a loophole worked out by the Bloomberg administration. While marketed as a condo building, buyers are technically not allowed to stay in their rooms for more than 120 days out of the year, or for more than 29 days out of any 36-day period.
But, as Andrew Berman at the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation pointed out to The Observer, these restrictions are basically unenforceable (the Department of Buildings’s press office didn’t know offhand if anyone’s ever gotten in trouble for violating these provisions, or if they’re even responsible for enforcement), and now Mr. Berman has noticed something strange: the city’s own tax lot data codes the property as ”mixed residential and commercial buildings”—apparently a contravention of the zoning code.
Adam Leitman Bailey strode into the lobby of his lower Manhattan law firm dressed in a dark blue suit and blue shirt, his extended cuffs all but dangling from his jacket. No sartorial misstep, Mr. Bailey would explain. The cuffs protruded noticeably beyond his jacket sleeves for a reason.
“It’s essential,” said Mr. Bailey, the attorney who last year garnered national attention as counselor for the Ground Zero mosque developer Sharif El-Gamal. “I’ve studied everything about the court room. It’s a subconscious thing, but this shows a jury you have nothing to hide.”
As if to prove his point, Mr. Bailey awkwardly tucked the sleeve of his shirt back inside his jacket. “See?” said the attorney, who takes the nuances of his dress code so seriously that every new associate at the law firm shops for their first suit with him so that he can personally give them a lesson in proper courtroom attire. “You’re hiding something.”
Blame the bad spirits. Or maybe it was the economy. Or living next door to the Holland Tunnel. Or the fact you couldn’t actually live there because it was not a condo—that would violate city zoning for a manufacturing district—but a condotel, where units were habitable 120 days a year and never for more than 30 days at a stretch (move out for a day and you were fine). Still, in this age of the foreign buyer, when all anyone wants is a pied a terre, the Trump Soho would seem to be the perfect home. Wasn’t that the plan all along?
Well, it has not worked out, as the developers of the bedrock-defying 48-story tower have decided to put the remaining units in the building up for auction, according to Bloomberg. Alex Sapir, developer of the property and son of the cabbie turned billionaire Tamir Sapir, said he was approached by an interested party but has decided to go the auction route to test the waters of a bigger sale.
Met with standing ovations and applause from media guests and hotel staff, the official ribbon-cutting for the new Trump Soho hotel-condo tower on Spring Street took place Friday in the never-before used third-floor banquet hall, overlooking the bustling streets of midmorning Soho.
The hotel’s managers present the hotel-condo as the first “world class, full-service hotel” for the area, Read More
This one goes to 11! The fanciest New York hotel projects challenged by the Great Recession. Read More
Greenwich Village may be notoriously prickly about new development, but will Donald Trump’s provocations never end?
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and ardent Trump SoHo opponent, has just sent out a plea for like-minded activists to inundate the City Planning Commission with requests to "change the zoning for Read More
Donald Trump shares how he won the battle to build the Trump SoHo condo-hotel at Varick and Spring streets in his new book, Trump Never Give Up: How I Turned My Biggest Challenges Into Success (out about six weeks ago from Wiley).
Mr. Trump recounts how he marched against a rabble-rousing minority:
[E]veryone and their Read More
The blogs are buzzing with news that the construction of the lower floors of Trump SoHo resumed this morning for the first time since worker Yurly Vanschytskyy died and two others were seriously injured in a tragic accident last month.
The Department of Buildings gave the general contractor Bovis Lend Lease clearance Read More
It’s barely two months into 2008, and the Trump SoHo condo-hotel on Spring and Varick streets has already weathered a fair share of obstacles and still managed to sell over half the units. First, one of Donald Trump’s development partners was implicated in some shady financial dealings. Then construction worker Yuriy Vanchytskyy died in Read More