Monday, July 18, 2011

Firestone Bear Auto

Recently I asked, "How long will the tourist machine tolerate this industrial view from the High Line's new 'viewing spur' before the Firestone Bear Auto Center is suddenly put out of business?"

Well, the answer seems to be: Not long.

A JVNY reader followed up on the question and asked one of Bear Auto's employees if they were staying or going. The employee told our tipster they have "three months to vacate. The very expensive private school that is being built between 25th and 26th, a significant contributor to the High Line" is interested in the space and Bear is "in court" with their landlord.

That school, called Avenues, just got a major profile in the Times. CNNMoney described it as having "a rooftop playground with vistas of the Empire State Building and the financial towers of Midtown -- "Look, Mommy, that's where I'll be a hedgie someday!" -- and there's a café for parents downstairs. The school's third-floor dining area will have a porch right next to the High Line."

Tuition is estimated to be about $40,000 a year.

The High Line's 26th Street Viewing Spur, which looks out over the view of Firestone Bear, was paid for in part by the school. The spur is a showpiece of the Falcone Flyover, which happens to span the width of the school building, providing a garden view to the students on their porch.

entrance to come--across from Bear Auto

We can imagine that parents paying $40,000 a year don't want to see, hear, or smell an autobody shop across from the school's "early learning center" entrance. According to our tipster's conversation with Firestone Bear's employee, the school wants to build their own parking lot here.

Who knows for sure how this will shake out, but one way or another, Bear Auto has been marked for ouster.


Winick's got a listing on the property that says it's "fully leased" and "not available," yet there's a rendering of something shiny, containing the usuals--cafe, apparel, fresh market, and skinny people--no autobody shop.

According to our tipster's source, the garage has been doing business in this location for over 30 years
. The certificate of occupancy states that a gas station was here as early as 1939 and an automotive service station (with "lubritorium") came here in 1966. NYPL photos show a Sunoco here in 1940.

For over 70 years, one kind of business was on this corner. But, as predicted, as soon as the High Line comes, "undesirable" pieces of the old neighborhood must go.

See Also:
Eagle Under Siege
Folsom Under High Line
Goodbye Poppy's
The Upper High Line


SpragueD said...

I took a bunch of photos of that auto shop a few days ago because I suspected they weren't long for this world. The irony, of course, is that one of the virtues of the HL is that it allows you a bird's eye view into what remains of Chelsea's industrial and small business past.

JAZ said...

Lemme guess: "early learning center" is one of those schools set up to cater to all the trust funders' children, who, naturally, are 'exceptionally gifted', and must have their unique little genius catered to from the moment they leave the womb.

Pretty sick - you can basically go the length of the highline today, and pick out the businesses by sight that will be soon targeted for extinction.

Here's a sample quiz question for all the precious rooftop snowflakes:

"Auto Body Shop is to Early Learning Center as:

a) A beer at Mars Bar is to a popped collar
b) A $1.25 coffee from a corner vendor is to a $7.00 Ethiopian Blend Skinny Soy Latte
c) Big Apple is to Big Cupcake
d) All of the above

Anonymous said...

Who woulda thunk saving the highline would result in such an outrageous land grab? And why is a garage undesirable? I love them and the people that work in them. It's my blue collar roots I guess. Office buildings and their workers don't have the same appeal to me. Also, doesn't it seem a failure of our educational system that kids need $40,000 to enter first grade?
That is, if they can get accepted. Private schools like this promote a socially isolated society. you can bet your bottom dollar none of the kids of the people who work at Bear Auto are gonna be in attendance at roll call. Melting pot. Riiiiigghhhhtttt.

Katrink said...

As Charlie Brown says, "I can't stand it".

Anonymous said...

The last and final time I took my car to that Bear Auto Center, they pulled one of my spark plug wires and tried to tell me that the car needed a "tune-up" Not to mention the car was running perfectly when I brought it in. They used to be a reputable place... no longer. I say good riddance.

Just because something "vanishes" doesn't necessarily mean that it's a bad thing.

manonthemove said...

Well, you can't stop progress.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i've noticed that when i've posted about how the High Line (and its spawn) is displacing the industrial and other low-rent businesses of upper Chelsea, the response from readers is kind of lukewarm.

is it hard to get behind autobody shops, taxi medallion agencies, and scrap yards?

or is it because everyone, in their heart of hearts, loves the new High Line too much to be mad at it?

i'm curious.

cathryn said...

I think it's because it's "new" and saved (supposedly) something "old" but that none of us had any experience with. (Not like Washington Square where they replaced something people very much liked.)

Also, that area perhaps the neighbors are not as attached, as, say, people on Lower East Side to their neighborhood and the vibe.

Also someone wrote in to my blog when I wrote my piece on the High Line and said - I did not look into this but it seemed like they had - that the founders of the High Line did a big real estate grab around the area in advance of putting it into motion.

It's interesting ... because for the longest time the High Line seemed like an underdog and then it sprouted into this uber-"new" (as in glossy, shiny) Manhattan ideal.

I'm sure there's a huge story there but have enough on my hands with one "park." :)


Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Cathryn, that makes sense, that people aren't as attached to upper Chelsea because not many people lived there or had occasion to visit.

it reminds me of how people don't get as upset about Bloomberg's land grab of the Iron Triangle, or Columbia's up in Manhattanville.

trouble is, it's all part of the same diabolical process, and when it happens in one area, it impacts all the other neighborhoods.

cathryn said...

I agree. I think in another time, groups would have aligned across the city, but the forces with bloomberg are so layered and intense, that I think people just take on what they can.

It's really incredible and I hope gets some scrutiny - soon.

Don't know if you saw this week's Village Voice cover story on Bloomberg's tenure. Finally an in depth look (of course there is always more!).