Volume 77, Number 3 - January 2 - 8, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

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Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

New Year’s resolutions

Mixed Use asked a handful of community representatives — from politicians and powerbrokers to realtors and activists — to reflect on the year that was in Downtown real estate and make their resolutions for 2008.

In the Village, monitoring the newly announced St. Vincent’s Hospital redevelopment will be of paramount importance for Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. He also cited his organization’s push for a South Village Historic District, limiting New York University’s expansion in the Village and keeping an eye on the development of The New School’s new 14th St. building as crucial to his work in 2008.

Community Board 2 Chairperson Brad Hoylman similarly counted St. Vincent’s and the proposed New School project, as well as the future of Pier 40, as “very important and unprecedented development projects” for 2008. Hoylman also wants to continue reaching out to the Chinatown community on tenants’ rights as development continues in that historic enclave.

Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation, agreed Chinatown is perched at a dubious and “unique position not like any other time in past history.” He noted that the community needs to seek help from its neighbors, as well within its own ranks.

“Rather than giving us fish all the time, as the Bible says, we need to learn how to fish for ourselves” Chen said. “It’s the American way.”

The East Village and Lower East Side’s impending rezoning has Community Board 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer looking toward its impacts on the community. She said local residents have expressed eagerness over the city’s forthcoming proposal because “the issues of overdevelopment and the loss of economic diversity are certainly very important to the community.”

The rezoning’s public review process is slated to begin this year, according to Department of City Planning spokesperson Rachaele Raynoff. “The character of these neighborhoods must be acknowledged and preserved,” said Raynoff.

New York City “Queen of Retail” Faith Hope Consolo said the Lower East Side will remain on its path toward supplanting Chelsea as the city’s premier arts district.

Assemblymember Deborah Glick plans to keep close watch on overdevelopment. She cited new construction that appears out of character with the community — like the Trump Soho hotel-condo, and other projects that “stand out in…an unpleasant fashion.”

“My hope,” Glick said, “would be that the overdevelopment boom that is slowly destroying the character of Downtown will slow down, if not come to a grinding halt.”

For C.B. 2 member Doris Diether, she’ll be focused on issues of tenant protection and landlord harassment of rent-regulated residents. “I wish they would stop picking on rent-controlled tenants,” said the Village resident. “We need low-income people in the city…who obviously can’t afford the kind of rents they’re charging in the new buildings.”

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