16-story building will replace gas station on Bowery
Construction will begin soon on a 16-story market-rate mixed-use residential and commercial building on the current site of a gas station and convenience store at the corner of Bowery and E. Third St.

John Ruha, owner of the site at 341 Bowery, and his partner in the venture, Jerry Rosengarten, developer of the high-rise residential condominium above the Theater for the New City on First Ave. at E. 10th St., plan to begin excavation on the $20 million project in January and full-scale construction in April.

The as-of-right project with about 75,000 sq. ft. of space is expected to be completed by September 2004.

The residential part of the building will include a mix of one-and-two-bedroom apartments with a few studios. About 9,000 sq. ft of ground floor retail space, a parking facility and three floors of commercial space will be included in the base of the project, said Ruha.

"We're looking for a single credit-worthy tenant for the ground floor commercial space," Ruha said. "We've been talking to supermarkets and we're considering a furniture retailer; a single large use. We intend to stay away from any bar or club."
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The project will include the existing five-story building and retain the current second-floor parking facility for ancillary parking for the new commercial and residential tenants, Ruha said. There will be three floors of office space and then a 25-foot setback at the fifth floor on both the Bowery and E. Third St. sides of the building for the 11-story residential tower.

"We have a lot of confidence in the neighborhood," said Ruha, who acquired the garage property in 1993. "I've been here long enough to see the quality-of-life improvements since Project Renewal began managing the men's shelter [the E. Third St. Shelter] for the city. Before Project Renewal came it was a disaster. But in the past 10 years there's been a major change, and I want to be part of that change." Project Renewal is a not-for-profit social service agency that began on the Bowery and now runs several residences in Manhattan.

Ruha, who owns an auto repair shop on Avenue C between E. 11th and 12th Sts. in addition to the Bowery property, is a member of the neighborhood advisory committee for the Kenton Hall residence that Project Renewal runs at 333 Bowery down the block from the development site.

"My family has been on the Lower East Side for two generations. My father had a gas station down on Pitt St.," Ruha recalled. "I want to help maintain the quality of life that the neighborhood has achieved."