Friday, November 9, 2007

Another Bowery Tower

Last night Community Board 2's Zoning Committee held a hearing to discuss a 15-story building that is being planned for 4th Street and Bowery. Roving tipster Sally Young was there and sent me her report.

“The meeting was a complete waste of time,” she said, as the plan is already a done deal. The development project was approved by Landmarks, who wanted to save the Skidmore House. In the deal, the developers were given a 99-year lease and allowed to build, provided they restore Skidmore.


source: curbed

• Skidmore house will be rented as a luxury single-family dwelling.
• Between Skidmore House and Merchant’s House there will be a small park--which basically exists so its air rights can be used to build the 15-story residential tower. The tower has only one setback at 63 feet.
• The ground floor of the tower will house retail and there is accommodation for one bar/restaurant seating 100 people.

Sally reports:
“What was approved for Community Board 2 did not take into consideration what's going on across the street, in Community Board 3. JASA residents were there with their canes and wheelchairs and were shut down, and even yelled at. All they wanted to say is that the noise, construction now, bar life soon, and diminishing light (can they grow plants in their windows?) is impacting their lives. Short lives, I may add, since many are elderly and have lived in this neighborhood their whole lives.

Most people left with the feeling that this meeting was just information on what is going to happen. There was no allowance for community input. A person from zoning told us, and he seemed very sympathetic, that it is a done deal and the only thing that could be done is to sue Landmarks over passing this. This will never happen.”

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

"A city in the process of going extinct"???? What are you talking about? Since 1960, plenty of landmark legislation has passed and has protected numerous structures. But change is inevitable. The cities that "go extinct" are those where there is little or no new construction.

Also, one has to consider the costs as well as the benefits of landmarking. Landmark legislation has a dramatic effect on prices, and thus keeps a lot of people with middle incomes out of many, many neighborhoods.

Joshua said...

How about that, Jerry? Unrestrained luxury development is apparently a good way to guarantee that people with middle incomes don't get pushed out of the city. That’s a new one, eh?

Annonymous did raise a good point, though. Land marking has been used as a tool to help facilitate gentrification, though this is usually when an entire neighborhood is land marked, not specific buildings. Either way, if real-estate speculation is utterly unfettered, as it is now, then preservationism has to be active in some form, or we’ll have nothing in this city but mile after mile of cookie-cutter condos.

Anonymous said...

Many people fail to understand!

SUPPLY vs DEMAND.

The fact is that rental prices are up so much because of reduced supply. This is a result of the failure of NYC to organically develop high quality housing during your gilded age of the 60-90's.

Several things reduce supply:
- Lack of habitable space, (empty lots, boarded up buildings, unsafe housing condemned by the city.)
- Rent stabilization & rent control further reduces supply of market rate housing.
- Condo-coop conversion and development projects reduced supply.
- Crime levels and neighborhood quality at levels that could not support communities.
- Expansion of NYU & Columbia campus's.

The one thing this city needs is more market rate rental housing. The prices are out of control because supply in Manhattan is artificially restricted. We need to attract more private capital and rezone whole areas of the city to develop the kind of housing stock necessary to deflate rental prices, and introduce more competition into the rental market.

Its Econ-101 people. Support rental development, it's in our best interests....

Greg said...

While I'm not crazy about more luxury housing, I think this building looks great. 15 stories is appropriate for a street as wide as bowery, and it is massed well on the site.

Here's to hoping that developers will continue to discover that glass & steel is not the only option.

kingofnycabbies said...

You know, I really try to steer clear of the free market fundamentalists, but the bit from "anonymous" demands a mild retort. If all this real estate fever is merely a question of supply and demand, then how much Manhattan housing stock is being lost each year to trigger the record-setting rental increases? If "market" rent goes up 30% in one year, that suggests a loss of 23% of rental properties. Is that even possible?

And if it is, isn't that the most clear-cut argument possible for expanding rent control, not letting it contract? 50 years ago, New York's population was what is now, and its borders remain unchanged. So how come the average joe could live here then, and not now?

Anonymous said...

freemarketers (offspring of freemasons?) never mention greed -fueled colonialism/imperialism. arrogant shits.

i work near wall street and am often tempted to go a' choking.