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  1. #31

    Default Broadway from 26th to 31st Street

    Note. Photographs from the slide show in this article have been posted to the New York in Black and White thread HERE

    Streetscapes | Broadway from 26th to 31st Street

    A Hip Replacement for a Down-at-the-Heels ’Hood

    Left, Office for Metropolitan History; Andrea Mohin/The New York Times
    Businesses like Poland Spring, shown about 1910 and now, reflected the fading of the area as a destination for out-of-towners.


    Published: February 10, 2010

    BY day it’s the Canal Street of Midtown, a blurry tumble of frantic shop fronts in an epic half-mile panorama, Perfume-Hairpieces-Jewelry-Sweatshirts-Sunglasses. But by night the stretch of Broadway from 26th to 31st Street, between the Shake Shack and Herald Square, gives a foretaste of what promises to be a hip new hotel center.


    An Aging Hotel Row

    Andrea Mohin/The New York Times
    The 1904 Breslin Hotel, at Broadway and 29th, is now the Ace Hotel. Several old nearby hotels are also being spruced up.

    This section of Broadway got its big break in the 1870s, as a new entertainment district coalesced north of Madison Square, bringing hotels and restaurants. The marble-fronted Grand Hotel, at the southeast corner of 31st Street, opened in 1868, followed in 1871 by the gangly 300-room Gilsey Hotel, at the northeast corner of 29th.

    The Gilsey is today described as Second Empire for its colossal mansard roof, but The Real Estate Record and Guide called it Palladian in 1870. As much steamboat as hotel, it is a giant tooting spectacle of cast iron painted to look like stone, with cornices, columns, pediments and other details cascading down to the angle it makes with Broadway.

    In 1895 Alfred Zucker designed the entrancing temple-topped Baudouine Building, at 28th Street, with escutcheons of anthemions topped by lion’s heads over many of its windows.

    The double-height temple space is so unusual that it must have been designed for a particular tenant, perhaps the Baudouine family, which had offices at that address. The crisp, unorthodox handling is typical of Mr. Zucker’s distinctive work.

    More big structures came after 1900, like the Johnston Building at 28th and Broadway, now under renovation as the NoMad Hotel. Designed by Schickel & Ditmars, it has an all-limestone facade, unusual for what appears to be a typical commercial building. In its current state, the temporary Broadway entrance presents a palimpsest of architectural debris. The mid-20th-century dropped ceiling in the lobby has been pulled down, revealing peeled paint, bare steel beams, carved plasterwork and an octopus of tangled electrical conduits and downlights.

    One block north, James H. Breslin’s eponymous hotel went up in 1904, its high-style French Renaissance brick and terra cotta showing up the old-fashioned Gilsey Hotel, previously operated by Mr. Breslin.

    By this time, Broadway below Herald Square was off the beaten track for entertainment and hotels, although Louis Abernathy, 6, and his brother Temple, 10, chose the Breslin as the finish line for their journey to New York from Oklahoma in 1910, 60 days on horseback, unescorted.

    The high life quickly faded. Theaters like Weber’s, Wallack’s and Proctor’s still operated on this stretch, but were gradually edged out by railroad offices, manicurists, hatmakers and dentists. Poland Spring took over 1180 Broadway around 1910.

    The Gilsey and other older buildings were reconstructed as lofts and commercial space. The year the Abernathy boys rode into town, James T. Lee, a grandfather of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, had just finished a 17-story loft building next to the Breslin. The architects, Rouse & Goldstone, gave it a classical design and the name Centvrian Bvilding, Roman-style, carved into the frieze.

    The educated tone of the Centurian was not sustained, and there was little later construction of note. But in 1959 the architects Telchin & Campanella made a bizarre modernization of buildings at the northeast corner of Broadway and 27th. Their comical assemblage of supersized maroon and black stripes separated by vertical metal strips looks like a weird packing case, perhaps the one the building came in.

    At night you can still see the old garment and manufacturing firms in the upper floors. At 27th Street, a five-story building has dirty windows, stacks of fabrics, towers of boxes, and falling ceiling tiles, all evocative of the old-economy New York of the mid-20th century.

    Now this little strip verges on transition. The Breslin is now the Ace Hotel, a project of GFI Development. The lobby of the Ace is a mix of old and new: salvaged paneling, hip metal tables, an oddball display of stuffed birds. You might call this post-preservation style, a later generation of old-building renovation, which treats vintage elements with an ironic insouciance, not veneration.

    The old paneling, taken from another location, is mounted on a steel armature projecting out from the wall, so visitors know that it is fake, which itself defies fakery. The huge columns were originally faux-painted as Italian marble. Now they are plain white, and ringed by simple circles of pipe, with schoolhouse-style light fixtures attached.

    On a recent evening there were about 85 people in the lobby, average age 30, two-thirds of whom were typing away on laptops, BlackBerrys and other keypads. One guy was reading a book, and a woman who at first appeared to be lost in thought was instead listening to an iPod, its earbud hidden by her hair.

    The NoMad should be completed next year, and another hotel, the Flatiron on 27th Street, is scheduled to open its doors this spring. So at the moment, the Ace has for company Lola Trading, X-Tensions hair products, the synergistic Perfume and Digital Inc., and a dwindling cohort of manufacturers on upper floors, a particularly unusual hybrid even in the miscellany of New York streets.


    Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

  2. #32
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    Oct 2002

    Default NoLIta

    A Time Capsule Invaded


    slide show

    VISIT NoLIta early enough on a weekday, before all the boutiques stir to life at 11 or even noon, and you might feel as if you had traveled back in time 75 years. Weathered walk-up tenement buildings cast shadows over the side streets; homeless men trudge through on their way to the Bowery; pizza shop workers settle in for a day at the ovens.

    But even in its quiet moments, there are signs that this neighborhood, framed by Houston, Lafayette and Kenmare Streets and the Bowery, is now something very different. A woman strolling past St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral does so in Chanel flats; a trash pile on Prince Street includes a white leather handbag in like-new condition.

    And about those tenement buildings: Many are expensive to live in, when they are available at all.

    Andrew Anderson, a senior vice president of Prudential Douglas Elliman, said recently that only around two dozen units were for sale in the neighborhood. Prices reflect that scarcity. When people are dead set on being in NoLIta, Mr. Anderson said, “I think what ends up happening, most of the time, is they buy right outside the neighborhood.”

    He was in that position himself once and now lives on East Fourth Street, to the north. “You end up living within arm’s reach of NoLIta,” he said. “I still eat dinner there every night.”

    The allure is clear. The 16-square-block neighborhood of approximately 4,500 people, whose name is an elision of “north of Little Italy,” is quieter and homier than nearby SoHo, though its businesses and nightlife scene draw the same well-heeled crowd. Residents prize its central-downtown location and are fiercely protective of what remains of its Old New York atmosphere.

    In some cases, their ire finds an outlet in the name. Bob Gormley, the district manager of Community Board 2, which represents the area, recalled a conversation with one resident: “She said, ‘You know, there are people who’ve lived here a long time who get really angry when you mention the name NoLIta, because that’s really a concoction of the real estate industry.’ ”

    “Some of the old-timers,” he added, “they still like to say that they live in Little Italy.”

    But old and new residents alike, Mr. Gormley said, have been united in their resistance to new bars — and even some restaurants serving beer and wine. As in several other downtown neighborhoods, he said, new liquor licenses and the related issues of noise and crowding are of great concern.

    In 2007, residents thwarted the opening of a burlesque club on Kenmare Street. Just this year, they blocked the arrival of a Shake Shack burger joint that had been proposed, with a takeout window and a rooftop terrace, for Prince Street.

    “Sometimes the neighborhood feels like it’s beyond the saturation point, and where is it going to end?” Mr. Gormley said. “When you have so many places and it’s such a small area, it kind of gets people on edge.”

    This worry is, of course, a form of love.

    Debra Zimmerman, who has lived in a rent-stabilized building on Prince Street for 32 years and who helped lead opposition to the Shake Shack, recalled renting her apartment for $175 a month when there was a chicken slaughterhouse across the street, then spending decades getting to know the neighborhood’s people and its odd quirks.

    “It’s a really special little corner of New York,” said Ms. Zimmerman, who runs a nonprofit group for women who are filmmakers. “I’ve watched kids grow up in the neighborhood. There’s old Italian women, there’s young hipsters, there’s the Dominicans in bodegas, there’s all the bridge-and-tunnel people who come to eat in Delicatessen.”

    There are also, she said, people like her, who are involved in the arts and who may have sought to live in SoHo years ago but found plenty of appeal in the neighborhood next door. Ms. Zimmerman’s office is at Grand Street and Broadway; her previous one was at Lafayette and Spring Streets.
    “I am the quintessential ‘Don’t go above 14th Street’ person,” she said. “I don’t go above Houston and I don’t go below Canal. If you live here, why not?”


    The Bowery and Lafayette Street are the heavily trafficked eastern and western boundaries, with taller buildings, wider sidewalks and more cars. But inside the neighborhood, Prince and Spring Streets are the main commercial strips; smaller shops and restaurants are found on the ground floors of five- and six-story tenements on Mulberry, Mott and Elizabeth Streets.

    On a recent morning, several storefronts on those streets appeared empty or soon to be. Mike Bennett, who owns a commercial and residential building on Mulberry, said commercial rents were down as much as 35 percent, though that also could be said of other Manhattan neighborhoods.

    Despite the turnover, he said, the area remains popular.

    “You can see on the weekend people walking around with their New York maps,” Mr. Bennett said. “It’s a lot like the Lower East Side — people are really interested in these little spots that have kind of become New York landmarks.”

    That includes vestiges of Italian-American culture sprinkled here and there, like the Parisi Bakery on Mott Street and Albanese Meats and Poultry on Elizabeth. More notoriously, the Ravenite Social Club at 247 Mulberry Street, long known for its association with John Gotti, is now a shoe store.


    Co-op apartments in NoLIta sell for at least $800 to $1,000 per square foot, and as much as $1,200 per square foot in especially high-quality buildings, said Darren Kearns, a senior vice president of the Corcoran Group.

    “It’s just rare to find anything for sale,” Mr. Kearns said. “Most of those buildings never turn over. When something does come up, it still demands really good prices per square foot.”

    Condominiums are even pricier. Mr. Anderson, at Prudential Douglas Elliman, said units could be had for $1,200 per square foot but added that in rare new construction, like a highly regarded brick building at 211 Elizabeth Street, prices were $2,000 per square foot or higher. One-bedrooms there are on the market for $1.5 million to $2.4 million, depending on their size, he said.

    Still, Mr. Kearns said, most of the buildings on Mulberry, Mott and Elizabeth, like tenement buildings in the nearby East Village, are rentals. As many as 25 percent of those, he said, are rent-stabilized or rent controlled.

    As for the rentals, listings on Craigslist begin just over $2,000 a month for basic one-bedrooms — less for the occasional studio — though prices for nicer units are much higher. Mr. Kearns cited a building on Mulberry Street where loft-style apartments were renting for $4 per square foot; he also said he had recently handled a 2,200-square-foot penthouse duplex on Mulberry in the same building that rented for $9,250 per month.


    The area is a hub for tiny fashion-forward boutiques — shoes, wedding dresses, jewelry, baby clothes and more — and for restaurants, Italian and otherwise. Café Habana, at Prince and Elizabeth, is a favorite, crowded for dinner and brunch, and there are many fancier places, as well as two of the city’s more historic (if congested) pizza places: Lombardi’s and Ray’s.

    The Feast of San Gennaro, a decades-old Little Italy street fair, runs for 10 days every September on Mulberry Street. The festivities draw crowds and plenty of complaints from neighbors.

    NoLIta is short on green space, but Lieutenant Petrosino Square, a 0.3-acre sliver of land with a few benches between Centre and Lafayette Streets, was expanded and newly landscaped last year.


    All elementary students are zoned to attend Public School 130, a few blocks south of the area on Baxter Street. The school, which serves more than 1,000 students from prekindergarten through fifth grade, received an A on its most recent city progress report, with 92.4 percent of students meeting standards in English and 98.9 percent in math.

    Middle School 131, outside the area on Hester Street, also got an A, with 62.4 percent proficient in English and 84.9 percent in math.


    The 6 train stops at Spring and Lafayette Streets, on the western edge of the area, and the Broadway-Lafayette station, at the northwest corner, is served by the B, D, F and V lines. The R and W trains, at Prince Street in SoHo, and the J and M trains, at the Bowery by Delancey Street, are also within walking distance.


    Traditionally considered a part of Little Italy, the area got its name in the 1990s, as signs of Italian culture faded. Italians had first settled there in the late decades of the 1800s and predominated through most of the 20th century.

    St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, framed by Prince, Mott and Mulberry Streets, was built between 1809 and 1815, and served as the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York until 1879, when St. Patrick’s Cathedral took over.

  3. #33
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

    Default West Village

    Beauty and Variety vs. Crowds and Costs


    The intersection of Charles Street and West Fourth Street

    Near Hudson Street, the enclave of Grove Court with its private, gated courtyard is tucked back on Grove Street

    Patchin Place, off of 10th Street

    One Jackson Square

    Charles Street townhouses

    Gay Street

    Jefferson Market Garden on Greenwich Street

    Bleecker Street

    St. Vincent’s Hospital

    LIVING in the West Village has its tradeoffs, just like living anywhere else. On the minus side, there are the tourist buses inching through the neighborhood each day, the near-farcical property prices, the creep of luxury stores up Bleecker Street, the 3 a.m. spillover from bars.

    But on the plus side?

    “This block that I live on is one of the most beautiful in the city, actually,” said Albert Bennett, who has been a resident of the same house on Morton Street for 55 years. “It’s the best place in the world to live.”

    For Mr. Bennett and thousands of others who populate the West Village’s oddly angled street grid, there is a lot to love in the restored 1800s town houses, the ironclad community spirit and the multiplicity of choice in shopping and dining. So much to love, in fact, that residents overlook certain things, as did Howard and Jessica Jamner last year when they spent their first night at One Jackson Square, a new building on Greenwich Avenue. That night happened to be Halloween.

    “It’s 2 in the morning and we’re looking outside, and it’s utter gridlock,” said Mr. Jamner, who along with his wife is retired. “There’s 20,000 people just in our view outside the building. Jessica turns to me and goes, ‘Do you think it’s going to be like this every night?’ ”

    It isn’t, of course. Most nights, a stroll down Waverly Place or Charles Street is more serene architectural tour than raucous bar crawl. But the option for either is always there, and the variety of choices in the neighborhood is just what attracted Ben Rubinstein and Cheryl Goldwasser, a couple in their 20s who got engaged on the Christopher Street Pier last November.

    The housing stock, even at an upper-middle-income level, can be “distressing” in its spareness, Mr. Rubinstein said. The couple rent a 500-square-foot one-bedroom on Christopher Street for $2,700 a month — though they got one free month this year — their second in the neighborhood. And film crews may stop them on the sidewalk to keep them from walking through scenes in production. But the restaurants, the quiet walks, the creative buzz and the waterfront pathways a few blocks away overwhelmingly make up for any drawbacks.

    “The fact is, you take the tradeoffs,” Mr. Rubinstein said. “It comes with the territory. I’d rather live in an interesting place.”


    As evidenced by requests for directions from camera-toting tourists, Manhattan’s straightforward grid of avenues and streets meets defeat in the West Village. But newcomers should rest assured that a place where West Fourth and West 10th Streets intersect eventually begins to make sense.

    “One does learn, somehow,” said Mr. Bennett, the Morton Street resident, who also heads his block association. “It’s osmosis.”

    Adding up the tracts between the Far West Village, on the other side of Hudson Street, and the Avenue of the Americas, 2000 census data found that it has 24,110 residents (though that number will probably change after this year’s count). It is a population packed mostly into a varied collection of 19th-century town houses, though apartment buildings do occasionally show up, especially at the neighborhood’s edges.

    Hudson Street, Seventh Avenue and Avenue of the Americas are all commercial strips, though there is commerce on those curving interior streets as well. Bleecker Street moves from Murray’s Cheese and Faicco’s Pork Store, near Avenue of the Americas, to Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren heading north toward Hudson, a transition that irks those who desire more local businesses. West Fourth Street has its own shops, as do Carmine and many others.

    Nearly all of the northern half of the neighborhood, and much of the southern, is governed by the regulations of the Greenwich Village Historic District, one of the city’s first, dating to the 1960s. Today, an extension to the district is being considered; the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission said a vote should occur this summer. Residents are watching closely.

    “It is zealously defended,” said David Gruber, the president of the Carmine Street Block Association, speaking of the neighborhood’s historic character. “It’s the legacy we have to pass on to the next generation.”

    This protection means new construction is mostly unheard of, yet the One Jackson Square building, named for the small park it overlooks, recently welcomed its first residents. And near the neighborhood’s southern border, a new development called the Townhomes of Downing Street is under construction.

    One issue that brought residents together in protest recently is St. Vincent’s Hospital, which closed its doors on April 30. An urgent-care facility is to open on its site, but residents say the subtraction of the hospital and all of its services represents a major loss for the neighborhood.


    The story of property in the West Village is one of inventory, or the lack thereof. From a recent analysis of the market, Mike Lubin, a vice president of Brown Harris Stevens, found that there were just two apartments of two bedrooms or more in full-service buildings for under $3 million, and only eight town houses under $7 million.

    “You always hear about little inventory,” Mr. Lubin said, “but when you assign a real number to it, it’s shocking. I can’t tell you how many times we have buyers and there’s literally nothing to show them.”

    The resulting effect on prices is evident. Town houses in good condition typically fall within the range of $2,000 to $2,800 per square foot, said Jill Bane, a director of sales at Leslie J. Garfield & Company, pointing out that this was still lower than the $3,500 levels in 2007 and 2008, before the financial crisis.

    “It’s not sky-high like it was in 2007,” said Alex Nicholas, a senior vice president of the Corcoran Group, “but there are certainly strong numbers.”

    Ms. Bane sold a house on Bank Street in December for $8.995 million; the house had 5,960 square feet of space and was in need of renovation, she said. Mr. Nicholas sold the Edna St. Vincent Millay house on Bedford Street, known as “the narrowest house in New York” for its nine-and-a-half-foot width, this past winter for $2.175 million. The square footage was about 1,200, he said.

    The neighborhood has fewer condominiums than co-ops, Mr. Lubin said, adding that with many cost $1,000 to $2,000 a square foot, depending on size and degree of renovation.

    Since One Jackson Square entered the market in summer 2007, 25 of 30 units have sold, said David Penick, a vice president of Hines, the company that developed the property. Sales have ranged from $1.7 million, for a one-bedroom with 1,200 square feet, to $8 million for a full-floor apartment with a large terrace and 2,700 square feet .

    One-bedroom rentals in the neighborhood typically cost $2,500 to $3,500 a month, Mr. Lubin said. Two-bedrooms start around $3,000, but the climb can be steep from there.


    The West Village is stocked with schools, both public and private. At Public School 41 on West 11th Street last year, 98.1 percent of students met standards in math, 95.4 percent in English.

    Some students are zoned to attend Junior High School 104, the Simon Baruch School, on East 21st. Last year, 86.2 percent of students met standards in math, 76.8 percent in English.

    Last year at City-as-School, a public high school on Clarkson Street, SAT averages were 491 in reading, 471 in math and 465 in writing, versus 435, 432 and 439 statewide.
    Private schools include the City and Country School on West 13th, and St. Luke’s School on Hudson.


    Aside from untold numbers of shopping and dining options, there are plenty of neighborly activities like the Charles Street Spring Planting, which just took place last weekend; residents are advised to look to bulletin boards for others. For recreation-seekers without memberships to the area’s multiple gyms, the Hudson River and its well-traveled waterside trails are a short walk away.


    Residents are never far from a subway that can quickly get them to Midtown or the financial district. They can choose from any of the lines along 14th Street, including the A, C, E and L at Eighth Avenue, the 1, 2 and 3 at Seventh Avenue, and the F, V and L (and the PATH train) at Avenue of the Americas. The 1 train also stops at Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue; the B, D, F, V, A, C and E all stop at West Fourth Street and Avenue of the Americas. Finally, the 1 train has a stop at Houston and Varick Streets.


    Once a marsh, then farmland, the West Village and environs really only took off as a neighborhood when disease beset the city in the early 19th century. Those who came in search of a place free of cholera and yellow fever decided to build houses and open stores.

  4. #34
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    Oct 2002

    Default NoHo


    By C. J. HUGHES

    40 Bond Street

    88 Bleecker Street

    Great Jones Street

    Bleecker Street

    slide show

    ON New York’s streets, finding a comfortable place to sit outdoors usually requires ordering something off a menu. While busy sidewalks may offer many delights, they are known to be short on free benches.

    But there are many inviting exceptions to this rule in NoHo, a small former manufacturing hub in downtown Manhattan that makes up in style what it lacks in size.

    Street furniture, in the form of four metal seats welded in place, beckons on a shaded stretch of Bleecker Street, near Mott, and somebody has also graciously provided a pair of wooden benches a few blocks away, by Broadway. Weathered benches face one another on Bond Street, too, so visitors can kick back, perhaps, after touring the many home-furnishings shops.

    When Jonathan Kenyon arrived in New York from London in 2003, perches like this were ideal for contemplating the seemingly unhurried pace of life, particularly after cocktail-fueled evenings nearby in the East Village, where Mr. Kenyon rented a two-bedroom. “I would sit and have a smoke and watch the world go by,” he said, “and I would dream about living here.”

    Last year those dreams came true. Mr. Kenyon, who runs a design studio, and his partner, Tory Clarke, paid $1.66 million for a 2,400-square-foot NoHo loft. People-watching now takes place from up above, through windows that reveal quaint studies in contrast, like cars bumping down stone-surfaced roads past shiny metal condominiums.

    For Mr. Kenyon, NoHo’s chief appeal is an artistic pedigree strikingly evident even in passing. A huge plywood copy of part of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco hangs on a corner of Lafayette Street; gleaming golden figurines dance on a building’s fire escape; a giant origami-like mural soars above a Gristedes on West Third Street.

    The artist population has fallen in recent years, but even so, buildings like Mr. Kenyon’s co-op still teem with them. His neighbors include a painter, a sculptor and a filmmaker. Mr. Kenyon himself makes silk-screen prints.

    Technically speaking, living in NoHo more or less requires being an artist, under the terms of a 1976 zoning amendment. Although it left the 20-block area mostly zoned for manufacturing, the amendment was passed to benefit early colonists already camped out in NoHo’s cavernous spaces as commercial tenants were vacating.

    Today New York rarely enforces the artist-in-residence rule. And most co-ops look the other way, according to residents and city officials, as long as buyers sign a waiver acknowledging they’re breaking the law.

    Some argue that the rule should be scrapped, because the makeup of the neighborhood has radically changed anyway — with artistic types having given way to bankers.

    There are even artists who would pull the plug on the special zoning. Stan Reis, a photographer, believes that doing so would not only generate diversity but also help achieve fairer market values. His own loft has 2,900 square feet, nine north-facing windows and maple floors. In 1974, it cost $25,000, he says; today it could sell for 100 times that.

    “I used to say, ‘A million four and I’m out the door,’ and then it became two million, and now I’m not taking three,” Mr. Reis said. “This neighborhood has constantly improved.”


    Shaped like a tooth, NoHo is bordered by Mercer Street and the Bowery, from East Ninth to East Houston Street, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which declared most of the area a 125-building historic district.

    Many of those antiques are Romanesque, with brick of varying tones and huge arched windows. And they’re comparatively short, allowing a sense of airiness, much as when Bucky Wunderlick surveyed the scene in Don DeLillo’s 1973 novel “Great Jones Street.”

    NoHo’s buildings then were “half as tall as they should have been, as if deprived by light by the great skyscraper ranges to the north and south,” in Bucky’s view.

    Traces of NoHo’s workaday past remain, like the “Jos. Scott TKGN Corp. Stables” lettering in a cornice on Great Jones Street. But many factories have been lovingly converted, like the former tent company at 10 Bleecker Street, which is now a 22-unit co-op, and 250 Mercer Street, whose 277 apartments were fashioned from joined commercial buildings above Dojo restaurant.

    At the same time, NoHo has splashily added condos, which have been met with varying degrees of approval. Some, for instance, criticize the wavy glass facade at 445 Lafayette Street, a Related Companies development on Astor Place, by Gwathmey Siegel and Associates, for being out of context.

    But 40 Bond Street, developed by Ian Schrager and designed by Herzog and de Meuron, has won raves from established neighbors who might be expected to object to avant-garde construction. Most approve of its finish, which resembles the foil used to wrap holiday wine.

    Its block has become a stop on architectural star maps: there is No. 25, a nine-unit building with a chipped limestone finish, by BKSK Architects, and No. 48, a 17-unit structure by Deborah Berke and Partners Architects, whose windows slant outward.

    The anchor of the block is No. 54, a white cast-iron former bank, whose three upstairs apartments are on the market starting at $4.5 million. “We started with something that had a very hard life and brought it back,” said Adam Gordon, its developer, who predicts more of the same now that the landmarks commission has effectively banned demolitions.

    The rental stock used to be made up of lofts that lacked final certificates of occupancy. These days things have evolved somewhat, one example being 2 Cooper, a 15-story luxury rental building with a weathered brick skin. Of its 144 units, 35 percent have been leased since May. Studios start at $2,925 a month.


    In late June there were 58 listings on the market, at an average asking price of $3 million. They ranged from a studio for $299,000 at 88 Bleecker Street — a rare postwar co-op — to the entire fourth floor of 25 Bond, with four fireplaces and a balcony, for $19.5 million.

    But prices and activity have trended downward over the last few years, and more sharply than in similar Manhattan neighborhoods. At the market’s peak in 2007, for example, there were 116 sales for an average of $2.7 million, according to data prepared by the Corcoran Group. That year was led by the $18.03 million sale of the 10th-floor condo at 794 Broadway, known as the Dandy, though there were also 24 sales at 77 Bleecker Street, a more modest block-through 242-unit co-op.

    In 2009, 21 units sold, for an average of $1.37 million. That works out to a 50 percent price drop — about twice what other desirable neighborhoods experienced. That year, the biggest deal was $3.55 million for a three-bedroom condo at 21 Astor, which is above a Starbucks.


    Audiophiles enjoy Other Music, whose displays include shrink-wrapped vinyl albums, like the Velvet Underground and Nico’s “banana” record ($18.99) and the National’s Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers ($17.95).

    Dashwood Books, a basement-level shop, is dedicated to photography.

    NoHo Star, which has thrived in a former publishing plant since 1985, offers a lively brunch. From a cart outside, you can buy balsamic-infused ice cream.


    The high-performing Public School 41 on West 11th Street has an enrollment of about 750 from kindergarten through Grade 5. On state exams last year, 100 percent of fourth-graders met standards in math, 96 percent in reading.

    At Simon Baruch Middle School, 81 percent of eighth-graders met standards in math, 79 percent in reading.

    Washington Irving High School, just outside the area, has almost 1,400 students. It has a 33 percent dropout rate. SAT averages last year were 386 in math, 386 in reading and 376 in writing, versus 502, 485 and 478 statewide.

    NoHo is well served by subways. The N and R trains stop at Eighth Street, while the B, D, F and M trains are available at Broadway-Lafayette, along with a connection to the downtown No. 6 train (which also stops at Astor Place). A connecting passageway is being built as part of a $94 million station renovation to allow access to the uptown No. 6.


    In many ways, the high-end housing takes NoHo back to its 1830s roots, when Bond Street with its rows of town houses was a prestigious address. The area has few green spaces today; it once had Vauxhall Gardens, near the site of Joe’s Pub. “Couples strolled along gravel paths among shrubs and flowers and classical statuary,” writes Mary Knapp, the historian at the Merchant’s House Museum, in a forthcoming book, “An Old Merchant’s House: Life in a Nineteenth-Century New York City Home, 1835-65.” The museum, on East Fourth Street, is a relic of that era.

  5. #35
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    Oct 2002


    Hudson Square


    Patrons outside the Ear Inn, in a 19th-century house on Spring Street that once belonged to a tobacco trader and is one of the city’s oldest bars.
    The area feels “really New York,” as one denizen put it.
    That definition encompasses a good bit of commercial space and not much shopping.

    THE compact area known as Hudson Square — and also known, at times, as West SoHo and the South Village — is nestled among three of the most desirable neighborhoods in Manhattan: the West Village, TriBeCa and SoHo. As luxury condominiums take root in this once overwhelmingly commercial sector, it is establishing a presence.

    “It feels very artistic, it’s really New York — you know you’re in New York and yet it’s got this small-town feel to it,” said Ellen Baer, president of the Hudson Square Connection, a business improvement district. “There’s a real sense that there’s something happening here, and something very modern.”

    Largely at the southern end of the five-by-seven-block neighborhood — bounded by Houston and Canal Streets on the Far West Side — new residential buildings at 505 Greenwich Street, 255 Hudson Street and 330 Spring Street, among others, have attracted well-heeled residents including several famous actors. Open-floored commercial buildings in the area, a former printing hub still mostly zoned for commerce, are increasingly home to media and advertising companies.

    Some residents of those new buildings value privacy, and the neighborhood, while busy during the workday, has far less foot traffic than SoHo. Of course, that does mean fewer options for buying daily necessities and groceries. But Wilbur Gonzalez, a Prudential Douglas Elliman managing director who lives there, says the quiet makes it “much nicer on the weekends.”

    A towering dose of busier SoHo just arrived this year in the form of the Trump SoHo, a 46-story hotel-and-condominium development controversial for its size. Sales of the condo units started out slow, and a group of buyers accused the building’s backers in a lawsuit of inflating early sales figures. But the building is still there, across Varick Street from a Manhattan Mini Storage building. The hotel part of it opened for business in April.

    In many ways, Andrew Azoulay recalls, the life that he and his wife, Karen, used to have on Charlton Street in Hudson Square was ideal. Their building was full of young families with children, and they saw the neighborhood’s location as nearly ideal. In short, it was the kind of place where you can settle down, which they did, buying a loft for $1.7 million and having a daughter. They joined hundreds who have moved in over the last few years.

    But for all the area’s charms, the Azoulays decided to decamp for TriBeCa in January, selling the loft for $2.4 million despite their fondness for Hudson Square. Their reason: a large city sanitation garage going up at the western end of Spring Street, to the unease of many.

    Planning goes on despite objections. A lawsuit was dismissed in January. Bob Gormley, district manager of Community Board 2, which represents the area, says the board is scheduled next month to hear a presentation on a salt shed to be housed on the new site. Space there is also allocated for fuel storage tanks and — most galling to neighbors — a truck garage.

    Phil Mouquinho, the owner of the nearby Italian restaurant P. J. Charlton and a leading opponent of the facility, says it sends a mixed message.

    “On the one hand, the mayor’s saying, ‘Bring us your children, bring us your family, right next to this wonderful Hudson River Park,’ ” Mr. Mouquinho said. “And then he goes and approves the building of this mammoth, Stalin-era type of building.”

    Others are guardedly optimistic. “I think if it’s done reasonably well, it’s not going to be the neighborhood-killer that people think it’s going to be,” said Tobi Bergman, a community board member.

    Still, Mr. Azoulay, who is 42 and works in the children’s clothing business, said the facility was the main reason his family left. “Just even the concept of it was just way too much to handle,” he said.


    “Hudson Square” has started to edge out “South Village” and “West SoHo”; it has the backing of the community board, the business improvement district, and Trinity Real Estate, the property-management arm of Trinity Church, which owns about 40 percent of the square footage in the area.

    A thornier problem, Mr. Bergman said, is the fact that most of the neighborhood is still zoned for manufacturing, which makes more new residential construction difficult. He isn’t the only resident who would like to see that changed, especially since the current zoning does allow hotels. (Besides the Trump SoHo, there is a Hampton Inn on Watts Street, and in the fall a Courtyard by Marriott is to open on Varick Street.)

    “I think people would hate to see new development limited to hotels,” Mr. Bergman said. “I think the need is to maintain the basic character but to allow people to build reasonable-sized apartments in the vacant areas.”

    In the nearer term, Hudson Square Connection is planning a series of streetscape improvements aimed at making the area’s wide sidewalks more inviting and de-emphasizing the presence of the Holland Tunnel entrance. Short-term efforts, Ms. Baer said, will very likely include tree-plantings and storm-water and traffic management. A long-term plan is in the works, to go into effect over the next few years.


    Mr. Gonzalez of Elliman sees condominiums in doorman buildings — the bulk of new construction in recent years — as a relatively good buy on a per-square-foot basis.
    “I think that we’re getting from $1,100 to $1,200 to $1,250 here, as opposed to central SoHo where they’re $1,250 to $1,500,” he said. “So, that’s a good 10 to 20 percent discount.”

    In practice, according to sales data, that has amounted to one-bedroom units in luxury buildings selling for $900,000 to $1.1 million, and two-bedrooms from $1.2 million and $1.8 million.

    Then there is the Urban Glass House, the Philip Johnson-designed condo building at 330 Spring Street — next to the proposed sanitation garage. Some potential buyers are troubled, said James Attard, an associate broker at the firm Tabak Is TriBeCa, which is selling a unit in the building. His opinion is that the city’s renderings make the facility look visually attractive, and besides, not all units face that direction.

    Still, the unit his firm is selling has had its price lowered.

    “Originally we put it in at a much higher price, and at the time there were a lot of people interested in a much lower number,” Mr. Attard said. “Now, that much lower number, today, would have been very close to the asking price.”


    The neighborhood has little green space, though there is a small wedge-shaped plot of trees and benches on Spring Street at the Avenue of the Americas. Hudson River Park, just beyond the neighborhood to the west, has biking and running paths, picnic areas and a dog run. Pier 40, the park’s largest pier, is accessible from West Houston Street, and features baseball and soccer fields and kayaking.

    Live music sites include the Jazz Gallery, on Hudson Street, and the City Winery, which also provides facilities for members to make and bottle their own wines. The Ear Inn, in an 1817 house on Spring Street that once belonged to a tobacco trader named James Brown, is one of the city’s oldest bars, claiming continuous operation since the late 19th century.


    Public Schools 3 and 41, both to the north in Greenwich Village, both received A’s on their city progress reports. At No. 3, 91.6 percent scored at or above grade level in English, 96 percent in math. At No. 41, 94.8 were found proficient in English and 97.8 in math.
    Junior High 104 on East 21st Street draws its nearly 1,000 students from a wide swath including Hudson Square. It scored a B on its most recent city report card, with 82.5 percent found proficient in English, 85.1 percent in math.

    Public high schools in the general area include the Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School and the NYC iSchool, both at 131 Avenue of the Americas. In 2009, averages at Chelsea Career were 405 in reading, 408 in math and 407 in writing.

    The iSchool is new and did not have any test-takers. At the Unity Center for Urban Technologies, just to the south on Avenue of the Americas, averages were 371 in reading, 391 in math and 389 in writing. State averages were 435, 432 and 439.


    The No. 1 train runs under Varick Street, stopping at the area’s northern end, at West Houston Street, and south end, at Canal Street. The C and E trains run under the Avenue of the Americas, the eastern boundary, stopping at Spring and Canal Streets. Canal is also served by the A train. West Street has eight lanes of traffic heading north and south along the West Side. Drivers headed for New Jersey are already directly adjacent to the Holland Tunnel.


    The land now known as Hudson Square, part of a 1705 land grant from Queen Anne of England to Trinity Church, was later the site of a thriving market district, according to the group Friends of Hudson Square. Tenements began replacing single-family homes in the mid-19th century, and commercial and manufacturing buildings soon followed. The Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District, at the northeast corner, is home to a collection of Greek Revival and Federal-style houses.

  6. #36
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    Oct 2002

    Default Meat Packing District

    Living In | The Meatpacking District

    The Corner of High Life and High Line


    slide show

    WILLIAM PHILLIPS owned Phillips-O’Shansky Meats on Gansevoort Street for decades starting in the early 20th century. He was a sharp-eyed man, his grandson Jonathan Phillips said, but he would never have imagined the meatpacking district as a place where people would want to live, let alone pay a premium to do so.

    “He would have laughed,” said Jonathan Phillips, a senior vice president of Halstead Property. “He actually won his butcher shop in a game of cards.”

    The transactions are weightier these days. One of Mr. Phillips’s listings is a town house on Horatio Street, just south of the district, with an asking price of $8.5 million. There are cheaper places to live in the area, to be sure — and there are even a few meat businesses. But as the neighborhood has transformed into a late-night destination, residential sections nearby have attracted new people who want to be around all the fun, and who have the financial means to put themselves there.

    The meatpacking district proper — a tiny trapezoid framed by Gansevoort Street, West 14th Street, Hudson Street and the West Side Piers — is not zoned for residences and no longer has many illegal lofts. Most people who want to experience the district, then, move to adjacent streets in the West Village like Horatio or Jane, or just over the northern border in West Chelsea.

    Sterling Kenan, a 31-year-old interior decorator who has been renting on Jane Street since May, said her border location was ideal, near restaurants like Pastis and Paradou but not too close to the area’s nightclubs.

    “There’s all that excitement up there, and then there’s the quiet West Village just south of me,” she said.

    Thomas and Pauline Nakios, who own the women’s clothing line Lilla P, do manage to live inside the district. Though they do so “precariously,” in a mostly commercial building, Mr. Nakios said, they have been there since 2002. (The couple were reluctant to say how much rent they pay, but monthly rents in the area range from $2,800, for a studio, to $6,000 or more for a top-floor two-bedroom like the Nakioses’.)

    Mr. Nakios fondly remembered his early days in the neighborhood, when the meat industry was fading and the social scene less mainstream and more eclectic. In those days, he said, the 24-hour French diner Florent on Gansevoort was a favorite of artists, clubbers and night owls of all sorts. It closed in 2008 when its rent got too high, and lately, Mr. Nakios said, the neighborhood’s feel is more retail-oriented and corporate.

    Not that the couple find this a bad thing: next spring they are planning to open a Lilla P store in a West 14th Street space that once housed a meat business. Also, Mr. Nakios said, the 2009 opening of the High Line elevated park, which has an entrance on Gansevoort, has had a democratizing effect.

    “I think early on you kind of got a fashionista, style-only crowd coming to the neighborhood,” he said, “but now with the High Line you’re getting all walks of life.”
    The Nakioses, meanwhile, are looking for a new place, and have made an offer on a condominium on the eastern border of the district.

    If all goes as planned and they stay, they will be part of a mix in the area that Jonathan Phillips describes as still varied: fashion people, club people, people who value old New York history, and “people who have at least a certain portion of their life in Europe.”

    He also sees many more of the very young. “I’ve noticed a lot of people there with small children,” Mr. Phillips said, “which is a much different thing than 10 years ago.”


    The neighborhood was accorded landmark status in 2003, and the height limitations that come with that designation keep its buildings much shorter than immediately surrounding ones. The exceptions are two tall and relatively new hotels: the Gansevoort, at the eastern edge, and the Standard, straddling the High Line to the west.

    Most streets are paved with Belgian blocks, and many old market buildings have distinctive sheet-metal awnings. The blocks to the south in the West Village are a combination of town houses and converted industrial buildings that now house rentals and co-ops.

    Many residents of these buildings have become fed up with garbage and noise from the district’s nightclubs, and the attendant taxi and foot traffic, said Bob Gormley, the district manager of Community Board 2, which represents the area.

    “We get calls all the time about the late-night activity,” he said. “And actually, as far as complaints go, we seem to be getting some concerns about brunch parties being kind of loud.”

    In fact, Mr. Gormley said, on a recent Sunday stroll he happened on one such brunch event that he mistook at first for a rock concert. “I haven’t heard anything that loud since I was in Studio 54 30 years ago,” he said. Though the neighborhood’s reputation back then was dicier, he added, “the meatpackers and the prostitutes were quiet.”

    The board’s chairwoman, Jo Hamilton, who has lived on Jane Street for 16 years, recalled the area as “this wonderful, fine mix, 24 hours, kind of cool at all times with different populations coming in.” Now, she said, “it has been taken over by the clubs.”

    For the most part, she finds residents keeping their distance from the clubs at night.

    “This is a problem that’s common, to any neighborhood that gets chosen by whoever chooses it to become a hot spot for nightlife,” Ms. Hamilton added. She called the neighborhood’s historic buildings remarkable, and predicted that the club era would pass. In particular, she said, the opening of the High Line, as well as the planned construction of a Whitney Museum offshoot next to the line beginning next year, should provide a stabilizing influence.


    Mr. Phillips of Halstead says buyers are looking at a range with a low end of $450,000, for a studio, and a high of $20 million for a penthouse. Town houses like those on Horatio Street can command $1,200 to $1,300 per square foot, $2,000 if they are in a desirable spot — near the High Line, for example.

    Nick Gavin, a senior associate at the Corcoran Group, offered two recent examples of representative prices. One was a three-bedroom at 345 West 13th Street that he listed at $4.195 million. The other was a one-bedroom at 321 West 13th Street, priced at $1.1 million, for which he represented a potential buyer. In both cases, Mr. Gavin said, the owners received multiple offers above their asking prices within weeks.

    Mr. Gavin, who said he helped the actor Mickey Rourke rent a 5,000-square-foot loft off West 14th last year, described inventory in the area as low and demand as still high.

    “If you’re paying a premium,” he said, “you want to be able to walk out your door and say, ‘O.K., I want to go to Spice Market for dinner,’ or ‘I want to go to Jeffrey’s to do some shopping.’ ”


    The High Line is the area’s newest and best-known recreational attraction. Ms. Kenan, the interior decorator, says she likes to stroll through during the week; it is crowded on weekends. Farther west, Hudson River Park has jogging and biking paths.

    And, as befits an area with “meat” in the name, dining options are myriad. The Standard Grill, under the High Line on Washington Street, has a thriving outdoor dining scene.


    Primary students in the neighborhood — including the blocks immediately surrounding the meatpacking district — are zoned to attend Public School 3, on Hudson Street, or 41, on West 11th Street. Both received A’s on recent city progress reports. At No. 3, 91.6 percent of students met standards in English, 96 percent in math. At No. 41, percentages were 94.8 in English and 97.8 in math.

    Middle school students are zoned for Junior High School 104 on East 21st Street, which the city also gave an A. In recent tests, 82.5 percent were proficient in English, 85.1 percent in math.

    Two high school options, to the north of the neighborhood, are the Manhattan Business Academy and the Humanities Preparatory Academy. They share the West 18th Street site that until 2004 housed Bayard Rustin High School.

    The business academy started in 2009, so scores are not available. At the humanities academy in 2009, SAT averages were 420 in reading, 388 in math and 410 in writing, versus 435, 432 and 439 statewide.


    The nearest subway stop, just past the neighborhood’s eastern border, is at Eighth Avenue and 14th Street. A, C, E and L trains stop there.

    The city recently added a bike lane on Ninth Avenue; that and other streetscape improvements, intended to calm traffic, have made the district more pedestrian-friendly.


    Heavy industry, including a granite works and an iron foundry, constituted the earliest development, according to the city’s historic designation report.

    An open-air farmers’ market, eventually called the Gansevoort Market, thrived in the neighborhood beginning in the 1880s, offering vegetables, oysters, fish and meat.
    It was after World War II that meat and poultry businesses began to predominate. Their decline, in the 1980s, coincided with the ascendancy of nightclubs mostly serving a gay clientele.

  7. #37
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    Oct 2002


    Battery Park City Rolling On


    While the real-estate market stalled across most of New York City during the financial crisis, building at Battery Park City went full steam ahead, turning the once-blighted downtown into a suburban mecca for stroller-pushing parents and Wall Street executives.

    View Slideshow

    Over the past 10 years, nine residential buildings with 2,435 units have been built as part of a 40-year master plan developed through the state's Battery Park City Authority. While hundreds of area residents were displaced during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and many didn't return, a mix of temporarily reduced rents, government subsidies and rebuilding funds helped to restore the neighborhood.

    More recently, the influx of new development and overall downturn have caused apartment prices to drop in Battery Park. The median sales price in the neighborhood dropped 17% to $1 million in the third quarter from a year earlier, according to the Real Estate Board of New York.

    Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. began to move into the neighborhood in a big way in 2005, leasing land to build a new headquarters, a luxury hotel and three Danny Meyer restaurants, including a Shake Shack location.

    Now there are virtually no remaining empty lots left to develop in Battery Park City, largely built on top of landfill from the excavated from the World Trade Center site in the 1960s. The area now is home to a gaggle of activist families who in the past year managed to persuade the city to install a new library branch and a kindergarten through eighth grade public school.

    "The plan is almost completed but our job here is not done," says Gayle Horwitz, who took over as president of the Battery Park City Authority this week. "We're closing the chapter as a real-estate developer and opening a new one to make sure we maintain this neighborhood for the future."

    On Battery Park's last two developable sites, Milstein Properties is constructing two more residential buildings that are set to be finished in 2011—the 32-story Liberty Luxe and 22-story Liberty Green buildings. In between the two buildings will be the 52,000-square-foot Battery Park City community center. The center will contain a 25-yard Olympic pool and fitness center, a 156-seat theater, classrooms and public space that will new located next to existing ball fields.

    Nearby, Brookfield Office Properties' World Financial Center will undergo renovations to fully integrate the complex into the city street grid as the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site and transportation center continues. Plans could include removing the large marble staircase in its Winter Garden indoor plaza and making way for a food and retail concourse. Developers are still in talks with the community board and city.

    Gourmet grocery store Battery Place Market opened this month inside the Visionaire, the Albanese Organization's residential condominium at 70 Little West St. There are already two Gristedes Supermarkets and a Whole Foods Market nearby.

    Busy on the northern end of the neighborhood is Goldman Sachs, which in 2009 moved its headquarters into its new 43-floor, 2.1-million-square-foot building at 200 West St. The project cost $2.1 billion.
    That has stimulated residential sales. "Every week we get a number of prospective buyers from Goldman Sachs," says John Tashjian, a principal of Centurion Real Estate Partners, which took over the Riverhouse condominiums this year and has sold more than 85% of the building.

    Goldman Sachs also has announced plans to revamp the entertainment and hotel complex next door to its building—turning the current Embassy Suites into a luxury Conrad Hotel and adding three Danny Meyer establishments.

    "The neighborhood offers families the experience of raising kids in the suburbs while giving them everything the city has to offer but the only thing missing was restaurants," Mr. Tashjian says.

    It's no secret that families run this neighborhood. Stroller brigades march along the parks and streets. Community board meetings are typically packed and nearly every new residential building includes a children's playroom.

    "Once people move here, they never leave so they're very involved with the community," says Jessica Weitzman, a vice president at Corcoran Group who lives in the neighborhood.

    In September, PS/IS 276 opened on Battery Place, after busloads of parents went to Albany to urge officials to turn what was supposed to be a women's museum into a school.

  8. #38
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    Oct 2002


    Hudson Sq. taps high-powered makeover team

    Seven firms led by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects will put a greener, prettier Hudson Square on the map; reclaiming for pedestrians streets built to handle heavy truck traffic.

    By Amanda Fung

    375 Hudson Street

    In its ongoing effort to become a handsome, bustling, 24-7 neighborhood—and to leave its gritty industrial past behind—Hudson Square will pretty itself up a bit. The lower Manhattan neighborhood's Business Improvement District, known officially as Hudson Square Connection, said Friday that it has selected a team of seven firms to design streetscapes that would better reflect the area's creative character.

    The effort will be led by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, which was picked from 23 teams that responded to a request for proposals issued in July. The BID was seeking a group to develop a comprehensive streetscape improvement plan for what was once the city's printing district and is bounded by West Houston Street on the north, Canal Street on the south, Sixth Avenue on the east and Greenwich Street on the west.

    “It was a tough choice,” said Ellen Baer, president of the Hudson Square Connection.

    “This team got it. They have a really good understanding of the technical stuff as well as design and the local knowledge and ability to get things done while retaining a global perspective.”

    The selected team will have until the end of next year to draw up specific plans and a vision for the neighborhood, which has become home to a number of media and creative firms, including CBS Radio and Horizon Media. The area is known for its early 20th century art deco buildings, many of which housed printing companies. These properties are now modern loft-like office buildings.

    Since it is still in early stages, details of the plan have yet to be fleshed out, but the goal is clear: to make Hudson Square a destination open from all different directions and neighborhoods (TriBeca, Chinatown and SoHo are all nearby), while balancing the pressures of car traffic in the area with increasing foot traffic, according to Signe Nielsen, principal at Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects. The design will also support the growing number of residents and tourists in the area.

    “Everything is on the table,” said Ms. Baer, adding that they will work closely with the city and the Department of Transportation in formulating a plan. For instance, the neighborhood has wide streets because it was constructed for truck deliveries and “we want to reclaim that space for pedestrians,” she said. “There are very few places where people can sit and enjoy lunch here. We want to create those oases and green spaces.”

    “Our team is excited about this,” said Ms. Nielsen. “Our goal is to put Hudson Square on the map.”

    Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects worked on the pedestrian and landscape improvements in Hudson River Park. The firm is also currently working to make the temporary Broadway pedestrian plaza in Times Square permanent, as well as on improvements to the 125th Street corridor in Harlem.

    For the Hudson Square project, Mathews Nielsen has teamed up with Rogers Marvel Architects, industrial designer Billings Jackson Design, design/engineering firm ARUP, graphic designer Open, Mercator Land Surveying and consultant VJ Associates.

  9. #39
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    Oct 2002

    Default Tompkins Square Park

    Grit, Glam and Green, in One Vibrant Package


    87 St. Mark's Place

    slide show

    NISHA KEWALRAMANI, 34, moved with her parents to the East Side of Manhattan when she was 8 months old, and has enjoyed jumping around the city, exploring different neighborhoods, ever since. Since March, though, she has found herself roaming less. It’s not that she’s tired of New York. On the contrary, she said recently, it’s that after a lifetime, she has finally settled in a neighborhood she does not want to leave.

    The neighborhood is the East Village, not all that far south of Ms. Kewalramani’s last apartment, at 49th Street and First Avenue, but a world apart in character. Specifically, she is on Avenue B facing Tompkins Square Park, a 10.5-acre green space that has provided shelter and comfort to an array of East Villagers from its spot at the heart of the neighborhood.

    That group has included homeless people and drug users who took over large parts of the park in the late 1980s, more than once clashing with the police. But it also includes people like Ms. Kewalramani, a yoga teacher who paid $1.2 million for her 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom in Christodora House, a 16-story condominium at 143 Avenue B.

    Loyalists say one of the best things about the park and its environs is that they can comfortably accommodate such a broad spectrum of residents.

    Ms. Kewalramani’s home studio faces the park, which provides a wide view and open sky, as well as a refuge she traverses every day. “It’s kind of like a meditation for me,” she said. “Walking through the park to come home and walking through the park to go out and start my day has been one of my greatest blessings of living in 143.”

    Susan Stetzer, the district manager of Community Board 3 and an East Village resident since 1970, said the park had attained a state of relative quiet, aside from complaints about the handful of “very loud” concerts it hosts throughout the year.

    “There’s no issues there,” Ms. Stetzer said. “We have a big playground that was renovated very, very recently. It’s very nice. The park is well used. We have a rat problem, but so does a lot of the rest of New York City.”

    Speaking as a resident rather than as a district manager, she described something bittersweet about having witnessed the slow gentrification of the park. The playgrounds — there are actually three — are shinier and more colorful than when she used to take her son there in the late ’70s and early ’80s. But, she said, they loved the park then, too, and that era had its advantages.

    “It was a much stronger, much closer community then,” Ms. Stetzer said. “Everyone knew everyone, and they weren’t necessarily people like you.”

    In a neighborhood known for its activism, she added, people used to meet one another at conferences for one cause or another, or while handing out petitions on tenants’ rights.
    “Nowadays, if someone’s giving out something,” she said, “it’s for a sale.”

    Still, she said, the Sunday morning Greenmarket at Avenue A and East Seventh Street is a popular gathering place, as is the park’s dog run, near its northeast corner. And many of the newer people, though they do have more money, are nonetheless there because they appreciate the community.

    Alex Clark, an owner of the Ost Café on East 12th Street who moved to East 11th Street in 2009, said that the park retained some of its grittiness, but that residents tended to give one another room to live. There is one thing, he said, that everyone has in common.
    “I think everyone who lives here realizes at some point that they, at least in their eyes, live in the best neighborhood,” Mr. Clark said.


    The Christodora, where Ms. Kewalramani lives, has had a colorful history: Built in the late ’20s as a settlement house for low-income families, it was empty for years, and then in the ’60s served as an unofficial community center. By the late 1980s, after its conversion to condominiums, it became a target as the “Die, yuppie scum” building — a phrase that gained currency during the Tompkins Square Park rioting.

    Christodora residents, many of whom were involved in neighborhood activism, have long considered such taunts unfair, even as high-priced sales in the building continue to make news.

    Most buildings in the area are shorter than the 16-story Christodora. Five-story tenements, fire escapes crisscrossing their facades, dominate the side streets. Condos are still rarer than co-ops, said Emma Hamilton Malina, a senior associate broker at the Corcoran Group who lived in the neighborhood for almost eight years.

    It can be hard to discern the relative priciness of such buildings, which look much the same from the outside as they did 50 years ago. A glimpse of a high-end track bike in an apartment window or an Eames desk chair in a storefront office, may indicate a lavish interior. Still, Ms. Malina said the nature of the area’s housing stock, especially the absence of buildings with elevators, has kept prices diverse.

    “If it’s a fifth-floor walk-up,” she said, “it’s never going to be a million-dollar property. So you do kind of have something for everyone.”

    The main retail corridors near the park, A, B and C and First Avenues, are distinctive for their relative lack of chain stores, a result of neighborhood campaigns to preserve small businesses. These avenues, to the chagrin of many residents, can get loud: They are lined with bars and restaurants, and the community board has begun restricting the issuance of liquor licenses in some areas to cut down on noisy late-night foot traffic.


    Ms. Malina of Corcoran said a typical price for a one-bedroom walk-up co-op unit near the park cost about $600,000. Two-bedrooms, which are rarer, trade at “a serious premium,” she said. So do units in the Christodora, as Ms. Malina would know: She and her husband were the previous owners of Ms. Kewalramani’s apartment. The last four apartments there, she said, have sold for around $1,200 a square foot.

    In the rest of the area near the park, Ms. Malina said, prices are more like $900 to $1,000 per square foot, though there are some relatively inexpensive small units on the market, like a pair of ground-floor studios for $350,000 and $250,000.

    Craigslist indicates that rental prices vary widely, with studio units near the park renting for around $1,700 a month, two-bedrooms for more than $2,500 and three-bedrooms for close to $4,000. Ms. Stetzer, at the community board, also notes that there is public housing on East 12th Street and subsidized housing around the neighborhood, though the supply is dwindling.

    That, she said, explains many longtime residents’ nostalgia for the days when the area was rougher and less sought-after. “There were certainly a lot of bad things happening,” she said, “but we could afford to live here.”


    Few subway lines pass near the park; the closest is the L train, at 14th Street and First Avenue, and the N, R and 6 trains all make stops a few long blocks to the west. Travel time to Midtown is around half an hour. Some residents don’t mind the relative insularity, arguing that it makes the neighborhood more close-knit. There are alternatives: The city recently installed bike lanes on First and Second Avenues.


    Residents can choose among a seemingly endless supply of cafes, restaurants and bars. The block of St. Mark’s Place just west of the park has restaurants specializing in sushi, vegan food, crepes, Thai, hot dogs, hummus and dumplings, among others. There is also an Irish pub and a tattoo parlor.

    The neighborhood abounds in community gardens, often on vacant lots. Civic activism remains a popular pastime; the East Village Community Coalition is the most prominent group. Neighborhood campaigns in recent years included one to preserve St. Brigid’s Church, on Avenue B, that proved successful. Another, to stave off developers at a former public school and community center on East Ninth Street, remains unresolved.


    The public elementary school closest to the park is No. 64, at Sixth Street and Avenue B. It scored a C on its most recent city progress report, with 26.5 percent of tested students found proficient in English, 44.7 percent in math. Public School 19, on First Avenue, also scored a C; 34.1 percent were proficient in English, 56.8 percent in math.

    The Tompkins Square Middle School, in the same building as No. 64, received an A, with 57.3 percent of students proficient in English, 72.8 percent in math. The East Side Community School on East 11th Street, which serves Grades 6 through 12, got an A for its middle school, with 33 percent of students proficient in English and 60.8 in math. Its high school also scored an A. In 2009 its SAT averages were 395 in reading, 406 in math and 390 in writing, versus 435, 432 and 439 statewide.


    According to the Encyclopedia of New York City, Tompkins Square Park and the surrounding neighborhood was once owned by Daniel D. Tompkins, a governor of New York who was vice president under James Monroe. The city acquired the land, then a swamp, in 1834, and landscaped and graded it. As far back as 1857, it was the site of protests about jobs and the economy.

  10. #40
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    Oct 2002

    Default Morningside Park

    The Name Evokes Dawn for a Reason


    Carl Schurz statue

    Morningside Drive

    slide show

    FOR decades, in spite of supporters who argued to the contrary, Morningside Park was saddled with a dangerous reputation: a haven for drug addicts, a no man’s land separating the ivy privilege of Columbia University, literally lofty on its perch, from the valley of Harlem below. Columbia students knew to avoid it. Lucy Martin-Gianino, an agent with the Corcoran Group who has sold homes along Morningside Drive, recalled crossing the park as a girl. “I thought, ‘This is the end of me,’ because it was dangerous territory.”

    The city accorded Morningside Park landmark status only in 2008, long after it anointed other parks from the design team of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux — Central Park in 1974 and Riverside Park in 1980, for example.

    “It’s absolutely picturesque beyond any description,” said Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, whose Upper Manhattan district includes the park. “But for many years it was not treated with the same deference as other Olmsted parks, partly because of where it was.”

    A narrow 30-acre expanse on a steep cliff of Manhattan schist, the park is named for its sunrise views. Standing on the western ridge, near Columbia University, you are about even with the middle floors of Harlem buildings.

    Today there is evidence that decades of community activism have paid off. Signs of vitality include a dog run; a renovated playground; and, in the spring, the pleasing cracks of softball bats. A 25-foot sequoia, donated by a nursery in Portland, Ore., anchors a grove of pines near West 112th Street. And since 2005, at the behest of the group Friends of Morningside Park, a co-operative called Community Markets has run a seasonal market at 110th Street and Manhattan Avenue, said Jacquie Connors, the Friends president.

    On exiting their apartments, those who live along the eastern edge of the park have a view of a distant waterfall; it pools into a pond on the site where Columbia planned to build a gymnasium in 1968, until protests halted construction.

    Developers are realizing the golden opportunity of parkside living. “The good news-bad news is, there’s so much gentrification happening,” said Ms. Martin-Gianino, the Corcoran agent.

    Even so, advocates have occasionally been frustrated by the slow pace of progress. The northern tip of the park, near 123rd Street, is fenced off; the city parks department stores equipment there. A department spokesman cites plans to improve nearby entrances, pathways and plantings, as well as to renovate a playground. But Brad Taylor, who heads Community Board 9’s parks committee, expressed concern that budget cuts could delay such efforts. “We’re a little wary about it,” he said.

    Mr. Taylor, an architect, has for two years lived at 54 Morningside Drive, overlooking the park on 116th Street. He paid nearly $1 million for his three-bedroom one-and-a-half-bath apartment, which he shares with his wife and two children. For 18 years before his move, he lived on Amsterdam Avenue.

    “The park is so aptly named — Morningside,” he said. “You’ve got these spectacular sunrises every morning that come up over Harlem. You can be on the second floor or third floor and you feel like you’re on the 15th.”

    Cami Anderson and her partner, Jared Robinson, were both drawn by the area’s diversity and culture. In July 2009 they rented a two-bedroom two-bath place on Manhattan Avenue near 118th Street for $3,300 a month. “We hang around here a lot,” said Ms. Anderson, who works in education. “Some people come up here to get more space and then get on the subway. Not us.”

    Last year the couple’s first child arrived. Given their proximity to Frederick Douglass Boulevard — and his statue at the northwest corner of Central Park — they named their son Sampson Douglass Anderson Robinson.


    The park is bounded to the north by 123rd Street, to the south by 110th Street, to the west by Morningside Drive and to the east by Manhattan Avenue and Morningside Avenue. A mix of apartments, Columbia-owned buildings and institutions line Morningside Drive, the park’s lofty western edge. Among the institutions are the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, St. Luke’s Hospital and the pillared Church of Notre Dame, a Catholic church built in 1911. The apartment buildings are popular among Columbia faculty.

    Terraces along Morningside Drive allow spectacular views of the park and Harlem.

    Morningside Avenue and Manhattan Avenue, along the eastern side, are dominated by town houses. Even though Morningside Avenue is very close to Frederick Douglass Boulevard, the feeling is more residential, said Beatrice Sibblies, the developer of 88 Morningside, a 73-unit condo tower now under construction on Morningside at 121st Street. “It’s a street that feels like a brownstone block, because of the low scale and because of the park.”

    Ms. Sibblies’s building will have a gym, a media room and a roof deck with private cabanas. At 12 stories, it will be the tallest on the park’s east side. When completed — in February, according to the sales agent — 88 Morningside will join another sentrylike structure, Avalon Morningside Park, the 20-story rental tower at 110th Street and Morningside Drive. Completed in 2008, it occupies the same huge block as St. John the Divine and glassily guards the park’s southwest corner. Although Manhattan’s various neighborhood boundaries are impossible to etch in stone, even the most flexible observer might raise an eyebrow at Avalon Morningside’s telephone greeting, which describes “a luxury apartment community located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.”

    David Bernhardt, the building’s general manager, said the depiction was more conceptual than geographical. “I think when you advertise as Harlem, you are setting a different expectation for price, and I think this community and our specific locale is geared more toward the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights.”

    As for the area around Morningside and Manhattan Avenues, it seems a place apart from the massive retail corridor of 125th Street and iconic Harlem establishments to the north, like the Apollo Theater and Sylvia’s.

    “I call it a suburb of Harlem,” said Amanda Jhones, an agent with Prudential Douglas Elliman. The sense that these blocks are at once a part of greater Harlem and distinct from it, Ms. Jhones said, is helped by the street names: Morningside Avenue, for example, runs only from 113th to 125th Streets, a tiny stretch compared with city avenues that thread through dozens of neighborhoods.


    Prices have decreased 20 to 25 percent since 2009, said Ms. Jhones of Elliman. A three-family town house along Manhattan or Morningside Avenue near 110th can range from $1.3 million to $1.5 million, while a four-family might run $1.75 million to $1.95 million and up, she said. Shells and houses requiring gut renovation can be found around 120th Street, for $550,000 to $950,000.

    At 88 Morningside, 19 apartments are currently on the market, said Felicia de Chabris, the building’s sales agent, who works for Halstead Property. One-bedrooms start at $375,000, two-bedrooms at $595,000 and three-bedrooms at $775,000.

    Rentals at Avalon Morningside Park start at $2,700, for a studio, $3,300 for a one-bedroom and $4,800 for a two-bedroom, Mr. Bernhardt said.


    While Morningside and Manhattan Avenues are residential, in recent years the blocks along Frederick Douglass Boulevard immediately north of 110th Street have sprouted new businesses and destinations. The stretch of Frederick Douglass between 113th and 114th Streets, for example, includes: Bier International, which opened last August and bills itself as Harlem’s first beer garden; Society Cafe, a popular spot for group brunches or a solitary Ethiopian coffee; and 67 Orange Street, a speakeasy-style bar serving $13 cocktails.

    West of Morningside Drive, along Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway, restaurants and bars are plentiful, as well as shops catering to a Columbia-dominated population. One of these is the Hungarian Pastry Shop, on Amsterdam at 111th Street. The farmers’ market, at 110th and Manhattan Avenue, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays from May through December.


    Elementary schools nearby include Public School 125 Ralph Bunche, on 123rd Street near Morningside Avenue, for kindergarten through Grade 5. Last year it received a B on its city progress report; 15.6 percent of fourth graders met standards in English, 35 percent in math, versus 45.6 and 58.4 citywide.

    Among nearby middle schools is Columbia Secondary, on the same site as Bunche, serving Grades 6 through 9. Last year the school received a C on its progress report, with 79.8 percent of eighth graders meeting standards in English, 96.7 percent in math, versus 37.5 and 46.3 citywide.

    Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts, on West 114th Street, serves Grades 6 through 12. SAT averages last year were 376 in reading, 373 in math and 371 in writing, versus 439, 462 and 434 citywide.


    The B and C subways stop near Morningside Park, at 110th and Central Park West and 116th and Eighth Avenue. Commuting to Midtown takes about 20 minutes. Buses include the 3, along Manhattan Avenue, and the 4, along 110th Street and Central Park North.


    The city rejected Olmsted and Vaux’s initial design proposal, in 1873, only to hire them 14 years later.

  11. #41
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    Oct 2002

    Default Garment District

    An Identity Dyed in the Wool

    By C. J. HUGHES

    A PLEASING cityscape appears in the wraparound windows of Elizabeth Penberthy’s 11th-floor loft apartment in the garment district on the West Side of Manhattan: pointed buildings; glassy buildings; the Hudson River.

    But the most pleasing part to Ms. Penberthy, especially at night, is the most offbeat: the neon sign of the New Yorker Hotel just a few rooftops away, the ruby letters sizzling.
    Evoking Edward Hopper paintings or pulp detective novels, electric signs like these cast an evocative glow across many of the district’s 28 blocks.

    Some alert drivers to parking garages, where fans wearing foam fingers whoop after Knicks games at Madison Square Garden. Another tells where to gamble on horses on Seventh Avenue, though that sign, on a closed Off-Track Betting parlor, has been reduced to “Off Tra.”

    Pink hearts announce adult-themed entertainment; in this way the area’s seedier past lives on, if drastically downsized in recent years. But the vintage vibe is what appeals to Ms. Penberthy, an executive with a sportswear company who began her career in the fashion industry nearby.

    “The area is really just a throwback to an earlier time,” she said.

    Prices, too, can seem to have arrived via time machine. In 2010, her 3,000-square-foot unit, which has two bedrooms and two baths, cost $2.315 million, or about $770 a square foot, which is at least 20 percent lower than the price for a comparably airy space in, say, SoHo, according to brokers.

    With 6,000 people living in an area of about half a square mile, according to the American Community Survey figures released by the Census Bureau in December, it remains largely industrial. But the fact that people live throughout marks a shift from the mid-20th century, when residents, many in the fashion business, lived closer to the edges of the district than its heart.

    One of these is Myra Mann, a retired fashion buyer. In 1960 she moved to a building on 34th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues, surrounded by high-rises; she says that cluster of buildings was then home to many in her field.

    The rent on her first apartment there was $52 a month. She now owns a two-bedroom, from two combined units, at the same address. The apartment cost her a total of $248,000 — she bought the first unit in 1984 and the second in 2004 — though it might fetch $800,000 today, she guesses. Living and working in the same part of town for five decades has left Ms. Mann acutely aware of how much it has changed. Transvestite prostitutes “wearing eight-foot platform shoes” by the Lincoln Tunnel exit ramps are long gone, she says. She also recently noticed that a factory once run by a client that churned out blouses has now become a residence.

    But on balance, she said, what is remarkable about the garment district is how little, fundamentally, it has succumbed to the tsunami of gentrification that has swept other parts of the city.

    “They are always talking about huge changes to the area, but I just don’t see it,” said Ms. Mann, explaining that grocery stores are still lacking. But proximity to a manufacturing zone does have benefits: namely, the hush that falls after everybody punches out.

    At nights and on weekends, “you could throw a cannonball down 34th Street,” Ms. Mann joked, “and you wouldn’t hit anything.”


    It is clear that fewer clothes are being made in Manhattan these days. Even by the turn of this century, manufacturing and showroom jobs in the 10018 ZIP code had fallen to 77,191, from a high of 206,225 in 1960, according to Labor Department statistics.

    But the spirit of the garment industry still pervades the place (strongly enough that an aficionado of local history, Mike Kaback, offers a specialized tour). Signs for beads, lace and thread echo vivid window displays, like the wall of ribbons at M & J Trimming on Avenue of the Americas and 38th Street.

    Sidewalk medallions honor designers like Halston and Perry Ellis. And on a recent afternoon, at 39th Street and Seventh Avenue, it seemed almost like a fashion statement to find an orphan glove left on the statue of the garment worker at his sewing machine.

    Exact boundaries are open to interpretation. A generous definition could have them stretch south to the Fashion Institute of Technology on West 27th Street, or over to Fifth Avenue, which is where the business improvement district puts it.

    Its proper name, too, is debatable. The business improvement district prefers Fashion Center, while others use Clinton, Hell’s Kitchen — and even, like the Wyndham Garden Hotel on West 36th Street, “Times Square South.”

    That hotel and more than a dozen others, cheek-by-jowl on blocks like West 40th Street, are the result of the 2005 rezoning of nearby Hudson Yards, which allowed high-rises to go up on the sites of dormant factories and parking lots.

    Others that have taken advantage of the zoning are the Townsend, a 206-unit rental from Lalezarian Developers on West 37th Street, and Emerald Green, a 569-unit rental from Glenwood on West 38th Street; both opened last year.

    Excavation is also under way on a second Glenwood tower, Crystal Green, which is to deliver 200 units on West 39th Street. And pair of new rental towers from TF Cornerstone face each other on 37th Street and 10th Avenue.

    Galerie, a 12-story project from Assa Properties that is supposed to feature 92 condos and 87 hotel rooms at 39th Street and Ninth Avenue, doesn’t seem to have moved much beyond the theoretical stage. The number on the fence around the lot for its sales office was disconnected, but a spokeswoman declared the building to be on track.

    The signature building is the brick and terra cotta factory type, with a wide arched door on the ground level and a top that tapers upward, courtesy of graceful setbacks, like a wedding cake. Most of those that became co-ops did so before 1987, when a zoning law passed to keep jobs in the area made it more difficult to convert them. Battles persist about how best to use those spaces.


    As befits its workhorse status, the garment district does not have a huge amount of inventory, so it can be hard to draw too many meaningful conclusions from past sales data, as the samples are usually small. But prices seem strong, despite the struggle in surrounding areas to return to prerecession levels.

    In 2010, 28 co-ops and condos sold, at an average of $1.01 million. By contrast, in 2007, at the height of the market, 31 co-ops and condos sold, but the average was just $870,000.

    Prices seemed to have been buoyed last year by a flurry of activity at 100 West 39th Street, the condo known as Bryant Park Tower. At the corner of the Avenue of the Americas, above a Marriott, and offering free laundry service, the high-rise had 16 of the year’s sales.

    For those who are seduced by Manhattan’s westward creep, the garment district can’t be beat, says Peter Browne, a Stribling & Associates broker who has sold there for three decades. “Businesses keep on moving in this direction,” Mr. Browne said, “and they will go to Hudson Yards, too, when it’s built. And people are looking to live close to work.”

    In terms of rentals, the newer buildings have studios for around $2,000 — for instance Hudson Crossing, a red brick Equity Residential property on Ninth Avenue. At the Townsend recently, a one-bedroom was listed for $3,555 a month. Worn older tenements, some with bas-reliefs on their brownstone facades, are usually cheaper.


    In last few years, the neighborhood has cemented its identity as a theater district. Soon to join the long-resident Abingdon Theater Company, housed in a former Con Ed substation on West 36th Street, will be a new performance arts complex at 450 West 37th Street.

    In March, a classical music recording studio is to open in the building, formerly known as 37 Arts, alongside the Jerome Robbins Theater, which stages plays, dance performances and films across multiple floors.

    Remnants of an Italian enclave survive on Ninth Avenue, where small food shops offer spices, fresh fish and cupcakes. Esposito’s Meat Shop sells fresh mozzarella for $4.98 a pound.

    Even the newer restaurants in the area have a retro feel. The “Steak, Fish, Spaghetti, Cocktails” promised on the Cooper’s Tavern window is a menu that a Raymond Carver hero might relish.


    Public grade schools are nonexistent; one nearby is Public School 5, on West 45th Street, for prekindergarten through Grade 5. It received a B on its city progress report last year.
    Clinton School for Writers and Artists, a middle school with 275 enrolled, occupies a temporary home on West 33rd Street, awaiting completion of a new facility near Union Square. The city gave it an A last year.

    One nearby high school is Humanities Preparatory Academy, on West 18th Street, which received a B rating. SAT averages last year were 433 in reading, 405 in math and 417 in writing, versus 484, 499 and 478 statewide.


    The A, C and E run under Eighth Avenue, and the 1, 2 and 3 under Seventh. The N, R and Q trace Broadway; the F, B, D and M follow Avenue of the Americas. All stop at 34th and 42nd Streets; with creative maneuvering, one can exit deeper in the neighborhood. Buses include the 7, 11, 16, 20 and 34.


    Bickford’s, a defunct automat-style chain, once had an outpost at 488 Eighth Avenue. During the Depression, union members used a slingshot to break its windows after it hired nonunion glaziers, according to The New York Times. Today, Bickford’s cursive logo survives by its roofline, next to a pawn shop with the traditional three golden globes hanging outside.

  12. #42
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    Oct 2002

    Default Flatiron District

    Flatiron District Evolves Into Pricey Choice


    The Flatiron District's most famous landmark is, of course, the 22-story Beaux-Arts building from which the neighborhood derived its name. The structure, built in 1902, was originally named the Fuller Building, after the construction icon George A. Fuller. But the nickname Flatiron suited the triangle-shaped structure, and the building came to define the neighborhood.

    The Flatiron District—located between Union Square and 28th Street and boarded by Sixth and Park avenues—has only been a residential area for about the past 30 years.

    Madison Square Park

    During the late 1850s, Broadway was becoming a popular retail corridor, and Sixth Avenue was gaining its reputation as Fashion Row. By the end of the First World War, most of the department stores fled uptown, and were replaced with manufacturing facilities and office spaces.

    The 1980s brought a revival to the neighborhood as more people along with restaurants and retailers began moving in. Still, parts of the neighborhood remained rough around the edges: Union Square was better known for its crime rather than its farmer's market and artistic marketplace. More recently, the area has attracted publishing, advertising and tech companies.

    Now the neighborhood is one the priciest in the city. Of the 155 residences currently listed on real-estate site, the median asking price is $1.825 million. The median square price per foot is $1,356. To the south in Greenwich Village the median price per foot is $1,045 and in Chelsea to the west it is $1,103, according to StreetEasy.
    A number of national retail shops lining Broadway and Fifth and Sixth avenues have been attracted to the well-heeled residents of the neighborhood.

    Fifth Avenue at 22nd Street

    The Flatiron District is also developing a reputation as a food destination. Last year, Mario Batali opened Eataly, his collection of gourmet Italian restaurants and markets, on Fifth Avenue. Also in the neighborhood is Craft, run by Tom Colicchio, a judge on Bravo's "Top Chef" series.

    There haven't been very many new residential buildings added to the neighborhood. Many of the area's Art Deco buildings built between 1906 and 1929 have been converted into residential co-ops and condos, said Francis Lacoste Riggs of Prudential Douglas Elliman. Some of the buildings resembling large Parisian-style buildings previously were used as commercial spaces and hotels, he said.

    One such building is the Grand Madison on Fifth Avenue. The 13-story Renaissance Revival structure opened in 1906 has served as a warehouse, a hotel and a sales showroom. In 2006, it was converted into condominiums with 195 units. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment there is on the market for $2.45 million.

    In the southern portion of the neighborhood near Union Square, much of the housing stock is comprised of large condos and co-op buildings built around the 1960s, said James Curnin of the Parker Realty. The 380-unit Parker Gramercy on 15th Street was built during the mid-1960s as a rental building. During the 1980s, it was converted into co-ops. A two-bedroom, 1½-bathroom apartment is currently on sale there for $895,000.

    Schools: Flatiron's schools are in District 2. It includes Ballet Tech, which is a specialized public school that admits students throughout the city based on talent for classical ballet. There is also the high school Manhattan Village Academy and Baruch College Campus High School.

    In 2009, 92.6% of District 2 students in grades three through eight received a proficient score on the math exam, and 85.8% of students received a proficient score on the English Language Arts exam. In 2006, the results were 78.5% for math and 73.8% for reading.

    Private schools in the neighborhood include Xavier High School, a Jesuit Catholic school. There is also the preschool Your Kids Our Kids and in nearby Gramercy there is the Epiphany School, which runs from nursery school to the eighth grade.

    Parks: The six-acre Madison Square Park has been used as public space since 1686 and became a formal park in 1847. The first and second Madison Square Gardens were located near the park during the late 1800s. The Flatiron Building is also nearby. During the summer months, the park hosts a children's concert series. There are also gardens, playgrounds, a dog run and free WiFi.

    Also in the south side of the neighborhood is Union Square Park, which measures about seven acres. It opened in 1839 and landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, designers of Central and Prospect parks, later redesigned Union Square to allow for larger gatherings. More recently, the north and east plazas, 16th Street transverse and its playground underwent renovations. Work continues on the pavilion building.

    New York's largest green market takes place in the park every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. There is also a dog run.

    The birthplace of Theodore Roosevelt, the only U.S. president born in New York City, is at 28 E. 20th St. The original building has been demolished but it was rebuilt and is now a national historic site.

    Entertainment: Flatiron is home to the Daryl Roth Theatre, a performing arts space where the show "Fuerza Bruta" is performed. Vineyard Theatre features off-Broadway productions. The Institute of Culinary Education, which offers recreational classes, is also in the neighborhood.

    Shopping: Numerous national chain stores in the area like Banana Republic, the Container Store, Levi's and H&M. Fishs Eddy has inexpensive glassware, china and kitchen products. Idlewild Books has an extensive collection of travel and foreign language books. There is also a Whole Foods nearby.

    Dining: The neighborhood offers a diverse selection of dining options. Eleven Madison Park serves new American cuisine, Petite Abeille serves Belgian fare and Sala One Nine is a tapas bar. Burger fans often wait more than an hour for a bit to eat at the original Shake Shack located in Madison Square Park.

    There is also the neighborhood mainstay Mesa Grill, which Bobby Flay opened up almost two decades ago. Or grab a cocktail at Raines Law Room.

  13. #43

    Default Chelsea

    Streetscapes | Readers’ Questions

    A Bit of Moscow on the Hudson?


    Published: February 3, 2011

    Q. Who designed the 1930s District Health Center, at Ninth Avenue and 28th Street? It’s the fenestration that I have most liked, with its interplay of single and affiliated units. It’s an undersung work, and to me it curiously echoes an early Soviet modernist building in Moscow, Nikolai Ladovsky and Sergei Chernishev’s Lenin Institute (now State Socio-Political Library) of 1925-27. ... Joseph Masheck, Manhattan

    Museum of the City of New York
    A Ninth Avenue entrance in 1937. Could the design have been influenced by a building in Moscow?

    The District Health Center at Ninth Avenue and 28th Street, in 1940.

    A. Good thing Joe McCarthy never heard about this! “Mr. Mayor, in my hands I have a list, a list of communistic-inspired architecture right under your nose. ...”

    However, this chunky light-brick-and-polished-granite structure was designed in 1935 by Carl F. Grieshaber and Will Rice Amon, neither of whom had any ascertainable communist leanings. Both had high-end training, including M.I.T. and Les Écoles d’Art Americaines de Fontainebleau.

    Grieshaber worked for Carrère & Hastings in the 1890s, and then at Delano & Aldrich for 30 years, becoming partner. Amon came to Delano & Aldrich about 1922.

    The two men went out — or perhaps were put out — on their own after the crash, in that brave new world.

    Their partnership continued through the 1930s, although the District Health Center appears to be their major commission. It was part of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s New Deal-financed program for health centers, broadly interpreted to include playrooms, auditoriums and social service offices.

    A plan published in 1940 shows a network of cubicles on the main floor for dentistry, maternity, TB and venereal disease clinics. (The author remembers, in his distant and impecunious youth, two of those.)

    A search of the Avery Architectural Library index to periodicals yields very little in American journals about Soviet architecture, and it is unclear how Grieshaber and Amon would have known of the building in Moscow.

    Nikolai Ladovsky was an avant-garde architect, a leader of the rationalist movement, and no fan of the heavy classical styling favored by Stalin. Sergei Chernishev was chief architect for Moscow from 1934 to 1941, and continued in high positions until the end of his life in 1963. Comrade Ladovsky, however, died in 1941 under mysterious circumstances.

  14. #44
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    Oct 2002


    Trinity says it’s time for residential in Hudson Square

    By Lincoln Anderson

    A map showing the area Trinity is proposing rezoning to allow residential use.
    The rezoning would also add height caps for new construction.

    Calling Hudson Square’s zoning “outmoded,” Trinity Real Estate wants to rezone a major portion of the district to allow residential use.

    With the change, Trinity expects 3,000 to 3,500 new residential apartments over ten years would be added to the neighborhood — not counting the district’s few existing legal residential units.

    The plan’s centerpiece is a new, 429-foot-tall, residential tower at Duarte Square, on property owned by Trinity. Helping alleviate local school overcrowding, a 420-seat, K-to-5 public school would be included in the tower’s base. Trinity would build out the school’s raw space for the Department of Education.

    Currently, residential use and schools are not allowed in Hudson Square’s M1-6 (manufacturing zoned) district. Neither are cultural uses currently permitted.

    Tonight, Thursday, Trinity Real Estate will present the rezoning concept plan to Community Board 2’s Land Use and Business Development Committee. Three days earlier, Trinity gave The Villager an exclusive advance presentation.

    Trinity officials who showed the plan asked not to be quoted by name in this article.
    In short, Trinity feels there’s “a strong desire” for some residential use in the district.
    In addition, Trinity is seeking height caps for new construction in Hudson Square. The caps are being described as “a modest downzoning.”

    Along wide streets, like Canal, Hudson and Varick and Sixth Ave., there would be a height cap of 320 feet, or 32 stories. For commercial use, the maximum floor area ratio, or F.A.R. (which determines how much square footage can be built.) would be 10, with current bonuses for including public plazas and arcades eliminated.

    On these wide streets, residential F.A.R. would be 9, which would get a bump up to 12 F.A.R. with the inclusion of 20 percent affordable housing.

    Currently, the whole district’s F.A.R. ranges from 10 to 12. Plus, there’s no height limit — which is how the Trump Soho condo-hotel could be built to 490 feet, equivalent to 49 stories, by acquiring air rights from adjacent buildings and using a plaza bonus.

    On narrow streets, like Greenwich and Spring Sts., and other east-west streets, the height cap would be 185 feet, about 18 stories, and on mid blocks the F.A.R. would be lowered from the current 10 to 6.5, but could rise to 8.5 with affordable housing included.

    On Broome and Watts Sts., however, the F.A.R. would be even lower, 5.4, but could rise to 7.2 with the affordable-housing bonus. The height cap would be about 12 stories.

    The tower Trinity hopes to build at Duarte Square — at the wide-streets intersection of Canal and Varick Sts. and Sixth Ave. — at 429 feet would be taller than other new construction. The public school in it would occupy four stories and be 100,000 square feet, and would not count toward the project’s F.A.R. Trinity would build out the school’s core and shell — and then give the space to the city for free — and rent free, for perpetuity.

    Trinity is also obligated to build a park on part of the property at Duarte Square as part of the development.

    A prime concern of Trinity is to preserve the jobs of current commercial tenants. Under the scheme, existing buildings of more than 50,000 square feet could not be residentially converted. If a commercial building of more than 50,000 square feet were demolished, then there would have to be a “1-to-1 replacement” in the new building — meaning it would have to have at least 50,000 square feet of commercial space. Buildings less than 50,000 square feet could be residentially converted, and the expectation is that many would be. According to Trinity, under the rezoning, about 90 percent of the existing square footage in the neighborhood would be preserved as is.

    Also, under the proposed change, new nightclubs would not be allowed to open in Hudson Square. Big-box stores would be banned, as well, with an exception for supermarkets.
    Bounded by Sixth Ave. on the east, the Hudson River on the west, Houston St. on the north and Canal St. on the south, Hudson Square was formerly known as the Printing District. Located west of Soho and north of Tribeca, it lacks both those neighborhoods’ renowned cachet. Yet, in recent years, as new businesses have moved into the area, Hudson Square increasingly has become an energetic and hip, media and creative hub. Foot traffic — at least during the day — has shot up.

    Trinity Real Estate wants to increase, not only residential occupancy, but also retail in Hudson Square. Right now, the neighborhood turns quiet with empty streets at night and on weekends. Lunch options are few. Trinity would like to make it a “24-hour community.” Residential use would increase foot traffic, helping sustain retail. However, luring chain-store-type or high-end retailers is definitely not the goal.

    Specifically, Trinity is seeking a rezoning for the area north of Canal St., east of Sixth Ave. and Varick St. over to Hudson St. and then across Spring St. over to Greenwich St. and up to Houston St.

    Trinity is, unquestionably, the area’s major stakeholder; it owns 40 percent of the neighborhood’s built space and closer to 50 percent if the land Trinity leases to others is included. (The Saatchi & Saatchi building, at 375 Hudson St., for example, is on Trinity property but is owned by Tishman Speyer.)

    Meanwhile, Hudson Square’s retail vacancy rate, 30 percent, is very high, despite having one of the lowest retail rents in Manhattan. Other areas, like the World Trade Center and the Hudson Yards, have commercial subsidies, but Hudson Square does not. As a result, property owners are turning to hotels — a number of nondescript ones having recently popped up in the neighborhood, along with the towering new Trump Soho condo-hotel at Spring and Varick Sts. Yet, hotels generate a lot of traffic, which is a concern of Trinity Real Estate.

    In addition, Trinity had a bad experience with a hotel project on one of its own properties: The planned Viceroy hotel, to be built atop the gutted shell of a warehouse at 330 Hudson St., never panned out. At great expense, Trinity itself had to seal up the vacant shell.

    And SEIU is reportedly having trouble finding a buyer for its former union headquarters building at Sixth Ave. and Grand St. Without residential use, converting the building into another hotel might be the only option.

    Under the proposed rezoning, a special permit would be needed for new hotels with more than 100 rooms.

    Trinity doesn’t want to attract so-called destination retail — like Soho’s glitzy boutiques and the large stores lining Broadway. Rather, Trinity hopes to attract small and mid-sized retailers and restaurants — mainly to service its own commercial tenants and the increased number of residential tenants that would populate the neighborhood due to the rezoning.

    Currently, Hudson Square’s residential occupancy is about 4 percent. With a rezoning allowing residential use, Trinity hopes to boost this figure to 25 percent. Two mixed-use neighborhoods that Trinity sees as comparable to Hudson Square, Park Ave. South and the Flatiron District, have residential rates of 38 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

    All of Trinity’s profits go to support Trinity Church as well as Trinity’s charitable mission throughout the city, focused on neighborhoods like Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Harlem, the South Bronx and the Upper West Side. Except for its actual church building, Trinity pays property taxes on all its real estate holdings.

  15. #45


    Quote Originally Posted by Merry View Post
    Under the scheme, existing buildings of more than 50,000 square feet could not be residentially converted. If a commercial building of more than 50,000 square feet were demolished, then there would have to be a “1-to-1 replacement” in the new building — meaning it would have to have at least 50,000 square feet of commercial space. Buildings less than 50,000 square feet could be residentially converted, and the expectation is that many would be. According to Trinity, under the rezoning, about 90 percent of the existing square footage in the neighborhood would be preserved as is.
    I don't understand the logic here. Why won't they be able to convert large buildings to residential? This just seems like an invitation to needlessly demolish beautiful old prewar commercial buildings in order to then build hideous, cheap alucobond-and-prefab residential, no? What is the sense in needlessly saying that large buildings would have to be demo'ed rather than converted to residential?

    Quote Originally Posted by Merry View Post
    Also, under the proposed change, new nightclubs would not be allowed to open in Hudson Square.
    And what's with the continuing attempts to strangle fun in Manhattan? Is there any place safe those who want to party on a weekend night (i.e., a large proportion of Manhattan residents and visitors)?

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