:shock: Wow! That is a long article...is it finish yet? Is this a record of the longest articles ever posted?
Down by the Riverside
World-class architects are bringing high design and higher prices to an industrial-strength swath along the Hudson, west of the Village and north of Tribeca. Is lower Manhattan ready for a megadose of Eurostyle?
By Deborah Schoeneman
On a recent icy morning, a stretch limo glided up Greenwich Street to No. 497, an eleven-story luxury condominium rising behind a dramatically rippled glass exterior—an anomaly among blocks of squat warehouses mitigated only by the occasional café and dive bar. Carlo Salvi, an Italian entrepreneur with wild black hair who owns, among other less glamorous and more profitable companies, half of the modeling agency that reps Naomi Campbell, emerged from the car, trailed by a middle-aged assistant. Salvi is thinking about adding another address to his collection of homes—he’s already staked out Miami, Lugano, and London—so he’s checking out the Greenwich Street Project, where Campbell, Jay-Z, and Isabella Rossellini have toured lofts, and artist Richard Tuttle, among more than a dozen others, recently closed a deal. “I am in New York for only two months a year, so I don’t need a terrace,” Salvi says, surveying the massive wraparound glass balconies of the $6.6 million, 3,600-square-foot penthouse duplex that will be delivered raw. He guesses out loud that it would cost him another $1 million before he’d be finished, especially if he plans to take his broker’s advice to build a central glass staircase like the one in Apple’s Soho store. “I don’t need it, but I’ll buy it if I find a good deal.” Through slanted floor-to-ceiling windows, the unobstructed views of the river and the freshly renovated stretch of the $400 million Hudson River Park below are spectacular, even if a winter storm has turned the landscape into an icy tundra.
There’s a real-estate revolution afoot on downtown’s Far West Side, and it’s a revolution from above. Salvi typifies a new breed of buyers being targeted by ambitious developers who are colonizing the Hudson River shoreline from the western edge of Soho north to the Far West Village. Speculators are betting that these high-end homesteaders will shell out millions for eye-catching architecture, picture-postcard sunsets, and such luxury amenities as resistance pools and guest apartments. The ideal buyer is not dissuaded by the fact that it’s all but impossible to hail a cab on these frigid, windy corners, since he’s likely to have a car and driver idling curbside, not to mention another home at the ready in gentler climes. There are no snobby co-op boards to impress. And let’s face it: The private chef may be the only one prowling the forbidding side streets in search of black truffles or aged Gouda.
The Greenwich Street Project, brainchild of British developer Jonathon Carroll and Dutch architect Winka Dubbeldam, is just the first stop on Salvi’s neighborhood tour. On the same block, the fourteen-story 505 Greenwich Street, which opened its sales office in early January, touts a list of 400 prospective buyers waiting to look at apartments. A dozen blocks north, buyers are moving into Richard Meier’s celebrated twin glass towers at 173 and 176 Perry Street, developed by Richard Born, or eagerly awaiting a third, even more luxurious Meier tower going up next door at 165 Charles Street for developers Izak Senbahar and Simon Elias, who are, like the others, asking $1,500 to $2,500 per square foot for their new digs.
A short walk from the Meier matrix is Morton Square, developer Jules Demchick’s sprawling compound of condos, townhouses, and lofts designed by Costas Kondylis, where buyers as disparate as artist Chuck Close and the teen television-and-tabloid stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen will be moving in. And the West Village land rush isn’t over, either: On January 15, the Related Companies (which brought us the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle) signed a deal to develop high-rise condos on the site of the former Superior Printing Ink Company, a 33,000-square-foot lot about four blocks north of the Perry Street towers, at Bethune and West 12th Street. “It’s the last and best remaining site,” boasts Related’s 35-year-old golden-boy president, Jeff Blau.
The dream these developers and their world-class designers share is the total transformation of the lower West Side riverfront, an area that extends from 14th Street south to Canal Street and from Hudson Street west to the river. Until recently an industrial wasteland a little too far from the cobblestones and quaint townhouses of the West Village and Soho, the area has quickly become a status sphere replete with Park Avenue amenities—and Park Avenue sticker shock. What distinguishes the new buildings beyond their luxe accoutrements is their bold attack on the skyline, bringing airy, spacious, open residential design more typically associated with California and Europe to the banks of the Hudson.
The new condo coast owes its development in part to the Hudson River Park renaissance—Rollerblading! Trapeze school! Kayaking! Jogging trail! But it’s also a consequence of developers running out of commercial buildings to convert in Tribeca and Soho—and being unable, because of zoning, to go vertical in the meatpacking district. New buildings also lend themselves to high-tech amenities and luxury appointments (pet spa, anyone?). Embellish them with cutting-edge, brand-name architecture, and you’ve got catnip for the city’s restless buyers ever in search of the latest trophy home.
“You’re seeing a lot of your typical Upper East Side buyers moving downtown for something hipper, cooler, with better views and new modern buildings,” Blau says. “The people who are buying in this market are used to having their own drivers.”
And they’re willing to pay for parking garages, proximity to the West Side heliport, gyms with spas, and 24-hour concierges in brand-new buildings, rather than conversions of warehouses and factories like their Tribeca predecessors.
The neighborhoods into which they’re moving range from the yuppie-friendly Far West Village at the north end, adjacent to the quaint cafés and chic boutiques that line the narrow streets of the West Village, to gritty pre-gentrification West Soho at the south end, an area almost completely lacking in amenities.
Not surprisingly, current residents are somewhat ambivalent about the impending glamorization of the last stretch of viable real estate along the West Side Highway. High-rise development is allowable only because it’s outside the historic zone, which prompts West Villagers to worry that it will end up blocking the light and air—not to mention their river views.
“The major concern of locals,” adds Arthur Strickler, district manager of Community Board 2, which oversees the Far West Village, “is we don’t want to have our side of the Hudson River mirror the New Jersey side.”
If you’re looking for the man most responsible for luring the chauffeured set to Manhattan’s newest Gold Coast wannabe, look no further than Richard Meier. His name is the mantra uttered by downtown brokers and developers spinning the rationale for charging Central Park prices for Abingdon Square environs. When Richard Born broke ground three years ago on the matching Meier-designed glass towers at the river end of Perry Street’s windy corridor, Martha Stewart, Nicole Kidman, Calvin Klein, real-estate developer Scott Resnick, and Sun Microsystems co-founder William Joy were among the first to spend about $2,000 a square foot for raw space that included concrete floors, de rigueur wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows, and vertigo-inducing terraces. The only boldface name to have moved in so far is Rita Schrager, the former ballet dancer and ex-wife of hotelier Ian Schrager (though Boy From Oz star Hugh Jackman is renting there). But the condo board has already been elected: Resnick, Joy, Ian Schrager, and president Calvin Klein, who has almost finished his $14 million triplex.
Bordered by West Houston Street to the south, Hudson Street to the east, and West 14th Street to the north, the Far West Village—the northern end of the new Condo Coast—is only a few blocks from the area where Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore, and Anna Wintour live in nineteenth-century townhouses that have been protected by the Greenwich Village Historic District since 1969. It’s family-friendly, though the riverfront has yet to have a big family presence. Public School 3 and the Greenwich Village Middle School, both on Hudson Street, have some of the city’s highest test scores, and St. Luke’s School is also a desirable private-school option for the deep-pocketed buyer.
Of course, not everyone is convinced that the new development will mesh with the surrounding area. “It’s really a separate neighborhood, it’s so far west,” says hotelier Jeff Klein, who owns a West Village townhouse and midtown’s City Club Hotel. “Two years from now, when Nicole and all of them get out of there, the glamour will be deflated and it’s not going to be as expensive. It’s a very inconvenient area. It’s not a neighborhood, even though two blocks east is great.
“If you look at East End Avenue, that was created as an expensive enclave,” Klein continues, “but the prices per square foot are not as expensive as Fifth Avenue. The more central you are in the city, the better off you are.”
But the riverfront really is pretty central, especially if, like Kidman, you travel by Town Car and helicopter. It may seem like the end of the world—or at least like Jersey City—but there’s actually a dry cleaner and a parking garage on the same block as the Perry Street towers, which are just a few blocks from established shops like Magnolia Bakery, home of the city’s most celebrated cupcake, and around the corner from Wallsé, one of the area’s top-rated restaurants.
“All the old West Village people, like Lou Reed, Julian Schnabel, and Laurie Anderson, come in here, and I hear stories about before that are much different from what I see now,” says Kurt Gutenbrunner, Wallsé’s Austrian chef-owner. “Look at the traffic! When I came here in 2000, I never would have thought Jean-Georges would be down the street, and now he’ll be in the Meier building. I’m not so lonely here anymore.”
Soon he’ll also be joined by the all-star team renovating Le Zoo, at 314 West 11th Street (about three blocks from the Perry Street towers). Mario Batali and Bono are among the backers of the new restaurant, slated to reopen by next spring with chef April Bloomfield, formerly of London’s River Cafe, a posh Italian restaurant.
"You're seeing a lot of your typical Upper East Side buyers moving downtown for something hipper, cooler, with better views."
The dearth of shops and services isn’t the neighborhood’s only obstacle. The Perry Street towers do look lonely from the street, as only a handful of buyers have finished the raw apartments they purchased, and just one, on the second floor of the south tower, has installed the white shades on the floor-to-ceiling windows that are the only allowable treatments to provide privacy. The Rear Window effect already has some buyers backing out of the building. “It’s not very private,” complains one uptown socialite whose new husband bought a Meier loft before they were engaged and has since put it on the market for $2.75 million. “It’s gorgeous, but it’s more of a bachelor pad.”
Brokers—at least those who haven’t scored commissions in the towers—claim that selling unfinished apartments is a mistake, and 30 percent of the original buyers are trying to flip the Perry Street lofts, with unforeseen difficulty. Born counters that only 5 of 23 units are being flipped, and he doesn’t regret choosing to sell the spaces raw. “Very high-end users want to create their own environment, and whatever I would give them would probably not be what they want,” he says. Martha Stewart’s $6 million, 3,000-square-foot duplex sat on the market for more than a year before finally selling last week, and actor Vincent Gallo recently spent $1.6 million for a loft that the previous owner bought for $2 million—and just sold it since he doesn’t want to live next to a construction site.
The third Meier-designed tower will be unveiled next spring, complete with a 35-seat screening room, a 50-foot lap pool, and a ground-level art gallery. Unlike the Perry Street buildings, there will be two apartments per floor, rather than one. The new sixteen-story tower will have 31 apartments, priced at about $2,500 per square foot. Meier is designing everything from the shower curtains to the kitchen sink.
Meier and Senbahar agreed on “an evolution from the Perry Street towers,” Senbahar says, and in deciding to let Meier finish the interior space, the developer is betting he’ll be able to charge up to 50 percent more than the Perry Street prices: “I’ve always believed that the finished product in New York City is a better product, because construction is a tough business.” Prices will start at $4 million and cap at $20 million for the 5,000-square-foot penthouse with 24-foot-high ceilings.
Senbahar closely resembles Morton Square’s architect, Costas Kondylis (who has also designed most of Donald Trump’s condo towers), and somehow it’s hardly surprising that they’re close friends who vacationed together over New Year’s in St. Bart’s. Both are born-to-the-manner Eastern Europeans, but while Senbahar is aiming for the high-end buyer, Kondylis and Morton Square’s developer, Jules Demchick of J. D. Carlisle Development Corporation, have created a compound suitable for middle-to-upper-class residents.
Just a few blocks south of the Meier towers, Morton Square stretches from West Street to Washington Street, with rounded corners that evoke an ocean liner nestled next to the venerable townhouses and shops that line Barrow and Hudson streets. It’s also barely a block from the Archive, a redbrick Romanesque Revival building, constructed in the 1890s as a warehouse for federal archives, that was converted about ten years ago into luxury apartments—complete with a DÂ’Agostino supermarket, a Crunch gym, a dry cleaner, and paparazzi-hounded tenants including Monica Lewinsky.
“Ours is a whole city block,” says Kondylis, who also designed 285 Lafayette Street four years ago, then a pioneering building and still home to such original buyers as David Bowie and Iman. “We took an urbanistic approach. What makes great urbanistic designs is to be contextual. We didn’t just want to drop objects on the site like Meier did.” Which is not to say that Kondylis doesn’t admire Meier’s design: “The standard is now set,” he declares. Kondylis used Meier’s aesthetic for inspiration, as well as the rounded corners of Chelsea’s massive Starrett-Lehigh building, home to the Martha Stewart Omnimedia mother ship.
But Kondylis didn’t copy Meier, much to his developer’s relief. The façade is composed of just 65 percent glass, and the apartments are delivered finished. “We learned from Meier’s mistakes,” says Demchick, who sports a gold pinkie ring. “We’re trying to create substance and security. Floor-to-ceiling windows are not a secure feeling.”
Brokers list Naomi Watts, Stanley Tucci, and Ally Sheedy among the celebrities who have toured the property more than once, and say that Sheedy is moving in, joining the Olsen twins, who bought a $3.5 million condo in lieu of shacking up in a Greenwich Village dorm next fall, when they plan to attend NYU.
Built on a former United Parcel Service parking lot, the development near the north end of West Street includes a fourteen-story condo tower and six townhouses with loft apartments. They’re slated to be ready by next fall. Morton Square’s sales office opened last summer, and about 62 percent of the units, ranging in size from 1,160 to 4,000 square feet, are said to have sold for $1.1 million to $4.25 million.
With its bicycle room and 24-hour valet staff, Morton Square feels more Upper West Side than West Village—which is precisely why artist Chuck Close and his wife Leslie decided to move there from Central Park West. They liked the underground parking garage, since he’s confined to a wheelchair and uses a van for transportation. But to draw buyers like Close, the creative-minded people whom the Far West Village developers are targeting, Morton Square’s developers also commissioned a lobby installation from trendy glass sculptor Tom Patti and plan to add jazzy features like handprint-recognition technology instead of keys to gain entry to the garage.
They also built West Village–style townhouses and downtown-type lofts for people wanting a Tribeca feel—which seems to be working. Andrew Marcus, a 34-year-old single chiropractor, recently bought a $1.85 million, two-bedroom condo. The river views were a major selling point, drawing him from an apartment he owns in Murray Hill. “You can’t beat being on the water,” says Marcus. “Morton Square is unobstructed. Every night you see the sunset over Jersey City. And I don’t think there’s any better place to be than the West Village, for the downtown nightlife and restaurants.”
The most isolated part of the Condo Coast is the southern extremity: The Greenwich Street Project and 505 Greenwich—just two blocks east of the West Side Highway and one block from UPS’s not-exactly-eye-candy loading docks and parking lots—are pioneers in a primarily commercial area that optimistic developers and brokers have dubbed West Soho or Hudson Square. Young hipsters pack nightlife mainstays like the Ear Inn, Sway, and Don Hill’s, but there is no bakery, shoe-repair shop, or pharmacy within winter walking distance.
Around the corner from the new towers, the Vendome Group is planning a Philip Johnson–designed tower at 328 Spring Street to replace an earlier proposal that was rejected a few years ago by the Board of Standards and Appeals for being too tall.
The Jack Parker Corporation is also building a rental property on Spring Street. And Peter Moore Associates, an architecture-and-development firm, is working on two eight-story condo towers in West Soho that should break ground next fall on Spring Street and Renwick Street and on Washington Street and Canal. Prices figure to average about $900 per square foot and apartments will feature river views. “I think it’s great that developers recognize that good architecture adds value,” says Moore. “It’s better than all this stuff that looks like Battery Park City. I’m excited about what’s going on down here.”
Across from 505 Greenwich’s elaborate sales office on Spring Street is Giorgione, owned by Giorgio DeLuca (of Dean & Deluca). Sources say neighborhood resident DeLuca is now negotiating to take over the restaurant down the block, formerly known as Spring Street (and before that, Theo), between Greenwich and Washington streets—and to transform it into a restaurant and maybe a gourmet market for all the new high-end residents.
Deluca’s timing may prove better than that of his predecessor Jonathan Morr. The BondSt restaurateur had shown the foresight to shoot for three stars in West Soho with Theo—a well-received restaurant that nonetheless failed—but it turned out to be three years too early, even after its reincarnation as the truffle-heavy 325 Spring Street. “It was meant to be an up-and-coming neighborhood, but it was very, very difficult to get people down there,” says Morr. “It was like going to a different state. But the neighborhood is going to boom because of all these new buildings.”
Jane Gladstein of Metropolitan Housing Partners (Soho 25, the Sycamore), which is developing 505 Greenwich Street with financing from Apollo Real Estate, makes the lobby and courtyard planned for 505 Greenwich sound more like a New Age spa than a condo tower: Architect Gary Handel & Associates’ design features river rock, black bamboo, burnished copper, and Jerusalem limestone. The apartments will be delivered finished, with the obligatory Sub-Zero and Viking appliances, a wine cooler, ten-foot-high ceilings, and a flat-screen color-monitor security system. Prices will range from $770,000 for a 725-square-foot one-bedroom apartment to $3.5 million for a 2,500-square-foot three-bedroom penthouse.
Denise Levine, 48, and her 51-year-old husband, Jay, who both work for Con Edison, recently bought a 1,000-square-foot apartment after renting for four years in Battery Park City, where they liked living by the Hudson River.
“We love lower Manhattan, and here is a building that’s really in the middle of everything,” Denise says. “And I like the idea of a relatively youthful neighborhood. There are also nice restaurants in the area and convenient transportation. I wouldn’t say great, but convenient transportation.” The Levines even like the idea that another building is going up next door and that other condo towers are being built nearby, on the waterfront. “I think there will be more services soon in the neighborhood, more restaurants and delis. And everyone has FreshDirect now, so there’s no need for a supermarket.”
Meanwhile, 37-year-old Jonathon Carroll chose not to have a sales office at all for his Greenwich Street Project. The hip Brit, who made a pile of cash as an investment banker in London, wants to spend his money creating something artistic. With a slight resemblance to actor Paul Rudd, he looks the part of the artsy kid in the pack of silver-haired suits. This is his first development project since hiring Winka Dubbeldam in ’97 to design his massive three-bedroom loft at 50 Wooster Street (also home to Claire Danes and Donna Karan). The loft—which has been featured in photo shoots with Lauren Bush for Town & Country, a Law & Order episode, and a Lenny Kravitz album cover—doubles as his office and features a model of the new building and a sample window in the middle of his living room.
But Carroll’s probably going to sell it and move into the Greenwich Street Project’s penthouse—now that Salvi and Jay-Z have passed.
The building’s 23 units range in price from $2 million for a 2,800-square-foot loft to $6.6 million for the 3,600-square-foot penthouse with its 1,700 square feet of outdoor space. There are two elevators, a gym with a sauna and infinity pool, and a shared courtyard. Though three young families have bought lofts, most buyers, says Carroll, either have grown children or none, like Tom Schaller, a 52-year-old architect who recently bought a 2,800-square-foot loft he hopes to move into this summer, after he’s fitted it out with a massive bedroom and a guest room–art studio. He’s a fan of Dubbeldam’s and wanted to live in a building with what he deemed “real architecture.”
Schaller doesn’t expect any inconveniences or lack of amenities. “It’s not as if I’m moving to Nepal,” he says. “There are a lot of things around. But if I had kids, I might worry about it.”
Carroll says he’s sold about 70 percent of the lofts and doesn’t regret delivering them raw, even though other developers and brokers claim it’s made for slow sales.
“It’s always surprised me that New York is the most heterogeneous city there is, but in terms of where people live, it’s the opposite,” says Carroll, who likes to wear his olive-green raver sunglasses inside the apartment and says he only ventures above 14th Street to shop. “I didn’t want to make decisions on interiors for other people.” Call him earnest or disingenuous, but he also insists that money doesn’t matter. “The apartments are selling,” he says.
“We will be sold out in the next two months.” And he believes luxury buyers want to design their own homes: “People buying more than $3 million apartments want to do it their own way.”
When Carroll first bought the former food-storage lot that would become the Greenwich Street project in 2000, 505 Greenwich had not yet been planned and he hadn’t heard anything about the Meier towers. “People thought I was insane,” he says. “There was nothing there.” Frankly, he wouldn’t have minded if it had stayed that way, especially when the simultaneous construction of the adjacent buildings led to some inevitable complications—broken glass, ensuing catfights—that no one wants to talk about, at least on the record. “I would prefer if 505 weren’t there,” he admits on a recent afternoon, wearing designer army pants from Bergdorf’s. “But I knew something would go up there.”
Although Dubbeldam, who moved to New York in 1990 from the Netherlands to attend Columbia’s architecture school, has designed commercial spaces (notably the now-defunct Gear magazine’s fabulous offices), this is her first residential apartment building. The wavy-glass-curtain wall was a choice that reflects an obsession with both form and function: “I wanted the façade to have more interface with the city,” she says. (The other reason was that, at the time Carroll and Dubbeldam applied for the permits, the city’s building code mandated that a new tower had to have an incline after 85 feet in height. But the code changed between the two buildings’ ground-breakings, so 505 Greenwich is taller and straight. “It’s not fair, is it?” Dubbeldam carps.)
Dubbeldam is also moving from a Soho rental into the building this spring, and three buyers have asked her to design their raw lofts. “I love the new neighborhood,” says Dubbeldam, who found the spot for Carroll after they had unsuccessfully scoured Williamsburg, Dumbo, and the Lower East Side.
“It’s on the edge of everything, but it’s not a hot spot yet. It’s a nice, calm environment, and I can go running on the river.”
While some established area residents may resist having the Marc Jacobs set move in, the high-end developments are indisputably good news for area’s struggling small-business owners. To Javier Ortega, chef-owner of Pintxos, a tiny Basque restaurant right across the street from the two new buildings on Greenwich, the future tenants may as well be free gold. Five years ago, he came from Guatemala and opened the restaurant—but while the place fills up on weekends, he has yet to pack a crowd for a $35 dinner, including wine. Next door is Pao!, a popular Portuguese restaurant that was nevertheless almost empty at lunchtime one recent afternoon.
“Now people are coming in, filling three or four tables and looking across the street and saying, ‘Maybe I’ll become a regular customer,’ ” says Ortega. “This is very good for people like me.”
Can the new upscale owners blend into the neighborhood and, ultimately, bring growth to such an out-of-the-way area? “When I came here nine years ago, people said, ‘You’re going to die.’ Now there are five or six restaurants on the block,” says Don Hill’s eponymous owner, whose popular nightclub is adjacent to 505 Greenwich Street. “But I still don’t think families are going to move into the neighborhood. Whether the edgy artists are going to be able to come out of here, where the rent’s going to be so high, is another story. Rock artists are going to be trust-fund babies.”
Strickler also doubts the waterfront-construction boom will abate anytime soon. “It’s the wave of the future,” he notes. “Ninety percent of the warehouses are all converted already. The only thing left is the empty lots.”
What developers can do is make sure the buildings add stature to the skyline. “For the first time in New York, we finally have a real chance to show off some world-class architecture on our riverfront,” adds Related’s Blau. “It’s up to the developers to keep the bar raised high.”
Here's a completed Meier apartment: http://www.nymetro.com/nymetro/shopp...atures/n_9810/
:shock: Wow! That is a long article...is it finish yet? Is this a record of the longest articles ever posted?
Any renderings? This area is booming. It's about time.
Gottlieb gets in on river rush
By Lincoln Anderson
The former Keller Hotel at West and Barrow Sts. is being remodeled into 20, presumably luxury, apartments.
It’s an old empty hotel and something secret is going on inside.
No, it’s not the Bates Hotel.
It’s the Keller Hotel on the Greenwich Village waterfront. The building has been vacant for the last 10 to 15 years, but construction workers have recently been renovating inside in what to neighbors appears to be a clandestine manner.
“The hotel is being remodeled, being rebuilt — very surreptitiously,” said Peggy Lewis, who lives on Barrow St. in the West Village Houses.
Lewis, director of Biz Kids, Inc., an acting school for youth on Pier 40, said workers have punched a hole through the wall between the hotel and an adjacent empty garage, where they are loading debris into a dumpster, which is carted away full each morning.
“One day they had a cherry picker on a flatbed truck loading sheetrock into the second- and third-floor windows,” Lewis added. “Friday, I saw them lifting what looked like plywood to the second and third floors.”
Lewis said she noticed the hole to the garage one morning when the garage door was left open. She guessed the secretiveness may be because the workers appear to be nonunion. When unions discover nonunion construction sites, they tend to show up with a large inflatable rubber rat and picket loudly.
According to Department of Buildings records, an alteration permit for “interior demoliton of nonbearing partitions and plumbing” was obtained for 150 Barrow St. by the Estate of William Gottlieb on Jan. 27. The contractor was listed as Mollie Bender.
“That would be a gut interior renovation,” explained Ilyse Fink, a D.O.B. spokesperson.
On Feb. 12, a permit was granted by Buildings for “related general construction and plumbing work [to] convert existing building to class A apartments.” “Class A” means a regular apartment with a bathroom and kitchen, as opposed to a single-room-occupancy hotel room. The use is listed as residential and the number of apartments as 20. The site’s zoning is commercial, C6-2, which allows residential use.
The necessary work permits are posted on the hotel’s front door, the windows of which are covered with old newspapers so nothing can be seen inside.
Located at Barrow and West Sts., the stately, yet derelict, six-story building and adjacent, nondescript garage are owned by the Gottlieb real estate company. Before he died in 1999, William Gottlieb assembled an empire of small Village properties, today worth millions, including 75 properties in Greenwich Village and the Meat Market. He left the company to his sister, Mollie Bender, cutting his estranged brother, Arnold, out of his will. Arnold fought unsuccessfully to get part of the holdings, a struggle that saw the two sides come to blows in the company’s Hudson St. office.
William Gottlieb was known to never sell his properties nor invest more than the minimum in them, a tradition his sister has, until now, apparently upheld. So the fact that major work is going on in the Keller Hotel leads some observers to conclude that the property must have been sold.
“Somebody’s doing work in there. And it’s unlikely that Gottlieb would be doing such massive renovations,” said Zack Winestine, co-chairperson of the Greenwich Village Community Task Force. Like Lewis, Winestine said people have noticed the hole punched in the wall between the hotel and garage and the dumpster that is being used.
At Bailey-Holt House, an AIDS residence around the corner at Christopher and West Sts., two staff members recently said they believed the building had been purchased, even though, as one of them noted, everyone knows “Gottlieb never sells.”
“I seen some people come to look at it over a year ago,” said one staff member, asking that his name not be used. He said he thought that the same people who had purchased a small building, 178 Christopher St., next to Bailey-Holt House had also bought the Keller.
However, Millennium Homes, LLC, which purchased 178 Christopher St. from prominent developer Philip Pilevsky, said they have nothing to do with the Keller and don’t know anything about it.
A spokesperson said Bailey-Holt House’s president, Regina R. Quattrochi, had no information about the old hotel.
Several calls to the Gottlieb office asking if the building had been sold were not returned.
However, signs seem to indicate that the Gottlieb company is ready to cash in on what developers are calling the new “Condo Coast,” the rapidly transforming historic Village waterfront, where designer buildings are sprouting up like weeds and whole block fronts are being scooped up by developers — like Related Companies’ recent deal to buy the Superior Ink factory at West and Bethune Sts.
Lewis said she recently walked by another long-vacant Gottlieb property, the Northern Dispensary on Waverly Pl., and noticed people “meeting” inside.
“I said, ‘Maybe the Gottliebs are finally starting to do something with their properties,’ ” she said she thought to herself.
Department of Finance records don’t show the hotel having changed hands. However, on Jan. 28 there was a filing for an easement, which Rob Roman, a Department of Finance spokesperson, said could have been, for example, to allow Con Ed workers to set up a work space inside and have access to the building on a regular basis. Bob Perl, a Village real estate broker, said an easement can also mean creating a connection or passage between two properties or through a property; perhaps the hole through the wall to the garage?
According to “Maritime Mile: The Story of the Greenwich Village Waterfront,” by Stuart Waldman (with photographs by Winestine), the Keller, built in 1898, was one of the West St. seamen’s hotels that thrived in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was designed by architect Julius Munckwitz.
In its latter days the Keller was a single-room-occupancy hotel and at one point was also a “welfare hotel,” where the city housed the indigent. The Keller Bar, in the hotel’s ground floor on West St., was considered a nuisance by neighbors.
Michael Bordonaro, 21, born and raised in the West Village Houses, a middle-income Mitchell-Lama development across the street from the hotel, recalled, “The bar was pretty sleazy. I don’t know what kind of people stayed upstairs — but there were lots of drugs upstairs.”
Tim Duffy, a Sixth Precinct community affairs officer who used to patrol Christopher St., said, “The issue with the Keller Hotel was the bar. There were crowds that would go in and out. It was over by the West Side Highway, so there were just more people. It was less residential.”
But with former socialist press buildings and ink factories giving way to designer residences the tide has turned and the waterfront is now becoming residential. Not merely residential, but like the new upscale apartments planned for the grungy old Keller — “class A,” as in “Condo Coast,” residential.
Anti-development protesters build their case at City Hall
By Lincoln Anderson
Villager photos by Elisabeth Robert
Undaunted by humid, 90-degree weather plus a half-hour wait to go through a security check, 150 Villagers rallied near the steps of City Hall last Sunday to demand a stop to the overdevelopment of the Far West Village and waterfront.
“We’re here today because we know that our neighborhood is under threat and if we don’t act quickly our neighborhood will be history,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
While the effects of the recent building boom are plainly visible along the waterfront — the Richard Meier towers at Perry St. and Morton Square at Morton St. — Berman said now developers are moving inland along the sidestreets, ready to eat up historic low-scale buildings. He said 163 Charles St., right behind one of the new Meier towers, has been sold and is already slated for demolition.
Leading Sunday’s rally against overdevelopment were Andrew Berman, director of G.V.S.H.P., holding a sign of Morton Square, left, and State Senator Tom Duane, next to sign of Charles St. townhouse slated for development.
Berman said they’ve sent a letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission requesting immediate designation of the building as a landmark to preserve it from demolition.
Berman added that there are 20 buildings in the unprotected area that date from the early 19th century and 35 dating from the late 19th century.
“The commissioners at Landmarks know what these buildings are — they’re historic and they should be preserved,” said Berman.
However, he said there are some encouraging signs in that the city is willing to sit down and look at the area’s zoning.
Barbara Chacour, a resident of Charles St. for 25 years, bemoaned the construction of the luxury Meier towers, specifically the one on her side of the street.
“I avoid looking at it even though I am told Hugh Jackman has the apartment across from me. I’m sure he enjoys his view of the river,” she said. Chacour added that the foundations are being tested at a warehouse across the street from her to see if a high-rise can be built on top.
“I don’t want my building to be a relic, like P.J. Clarke’s, with no light, no air,” she said, referring to the East Side bar that famously rebuffed a developer’s purchase offers.
Stu Waldman, of the Federation to Save the Waterfront, said the Village waterfront is an historic treasure for the whole city.
“We were built from the water out,” he said. “Our neighborhood is the last large maritime neighborhood in the city that exists the way it did a century ago. What they are doing is destroying not just Greenwich Village, but a part of New York City history.”
“We’ll be back! We’ll be back!” the Villagers chanted, vowing to keep returning until their neighborhood is protected from the wrecking ball.
During the rally they were heckled by Dave Doctor, a young Libertarian from the Lower East Side, who objects to restraints on property owners’ rights. Using an electric bullhorn — he specifically got a sound permit ahead of time — he shouted, “Berman — go home!” and held up a series of signs, such as “No More Historic Dictatorships” and “Free the West Village.”
“Creep!” the Villagers shouted back at him.
:lol: This so funny!During the rally they were heckled by Dave Doctor, a young Libertarian from the Lower East Side, who objects to restraints on property owners’ rights. Using an electric bullhorn — he specifically got a sound permit ahead of time — he shouted, “Berman — go home!” and held up a series of signs, such as “No More Historic Dictatorships” and “Free the West Village.”
“Creep!” the Villagers shouted back at him.
~only in NYC people
Isn't he the man who posted here?
I have not idea...
But he is sure a funny character.
Publication:The New York Sun; Date:Feb 25, 2005; Section:Front page; Page:1
WEST VILLAGE DEVELOPMENT
Luxury High-Rise Planned for Bethune Street ‘Gold Coast’
By JULIE SATOW Staff Reporter of the Sun
The Related Companies has filed plans with the city’s Department of Buildings to construct the tallest tower on “the Gold Coast,” the stretch of Greenwich Village waterfront that is fast becoming known as the location of some of New York’s most exclusive residences.
To make way for a 20-story high-rise, the Superior Ink factory at 70 Bethune St.,which was a Nabisco cracker bakery when it opened in 1919, would be destroyed. That has raised the ire of preservationists who are fighting to get the neighborhood designated a historic district and prevent the demolition of the area’s noteworthy buildings.
“The proposed building is completely inappropriate for this site,and we absolutely intend to fight it, and fight hard,” the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Andrew Berman, said.
According to the filing, the building would reach 225 feet. That is 15 feet taller than the next-highest building, the Richard Meier glass towers at Perry and Charles streets.
The firm behind the Related Companies’ asymmetrical glass Astor Place Tower on Lafayette Street, Gwathmey Siegel Associates, will design the new building. A source familiar with its design said the new construction would look “not dissimilar to the Astor Place building, except with a six- to seven-story base instead of a two-story base.” The amoeba-shaped tower would face the West Side Highway, with views overlooking the Hudson River and townhouses built along Bethune.
Superior Printing Inks, the company that owns the factory, sold the building to the Related Companies in a private deal. The printing company, which has two other factories in the New York metropolitan region, at Long Island and at New Jersey, did not return calls.
The still-operating factory on Bethune Street, with its twin, 100-foot smokestacks in working order since the bakery opened when Woodrow Wilson was president, had been part of a broader complex of Nabisco buildings now known as the Chelsea Market.
The Related Companies had no comment, but sources familiar with the project told The New York Sun the developer has been meeting with officials at the Department of City Planning about a possible rezoning. The site is zoned for manufacturing and would need to be rezoned for residential.
Mr. Berman said his group would battle any zoning change. “This is not new for us,” he said.“We’ve been around this block before and we’ve been successful.”
To build the 104-unit high rise, Related would also need a larger floor-area ratio than the zoning now allows. The Superior Ink factory site, which has a floor area of 32,210 square feet, has a FAR of 1.76, which would allow the construction of a building of roughly 56,600 square feet. The building the Related Companies has proposed would be 216,899 square feet, requiring a FAR closer to seven. That could be achieved only through a rezoning or a variance.
It is unlikely the developer is pursuing a variance, because Related officials have not met with the Board of Standards and Appeals to discuss the matter, according to an official who works at the board and requested anonymity. The board is the body that approves variances.
“With such a large project, it is also more difficult to get a variance than a zoning change,” the official said.
The City Council and Department of City Planning must approve a rezoning, but for a variance the board requires that an applicant prove the project is the “minimum variance necessary,” or the smallest change that is needed to make a reasonable return on the property.
“The assertion that a 20-story, 225-foot, super-luxury residential tower is the minimum necessary for Related to turn a profit on this site is, on its face, ludicrous,” Mr. Berman said.
This is the latest battle in a war pitting the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation against residents and developers who are looking to take advantage of what has become one of the toniest areas in downtown. The artists Julian Schnabel, Kenny Schachter, and Annie Leibovitz have locked horns with the group when trying to sell or change the historic characters of buildings they owned.
In a bid to protect the area from development, preservationists have submitted a proposal to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate a historic district in the area bounded by Gansevoort Market to the north, the printing house and warehouse district to the south, the Hudson River waterfront to the west, and Greenwich Village to the east.
A spokeswoman for Landmarks, Diane Jackier, said yesterday the staff was still studying the proposal.
According to the proposal, 100 significant buildings are in the district, and they consider several to be in danger of destruction. Those include 303 W. 10th St., purchased by Lehman Brothers, and 383 and 387 W. 12th St., which the designer Diane von Furstenberg sold to the Russian heiress Anna Anismova.
“Related should be prepared because they are going to have a big fight on their hands,” Mr. Berman said.
Hehehe.Originally Posted by ILUVNYC
PMS...Originally Posted by ILUVNYC