Volume 77 / Number 33 Jan. 16 - 22, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

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Scoopy's Notebook

Divining Doctoroff’s signs on Pier 40: The Pier 40 Partnership is feeling upbeat after a pair of meetings with the Hudson River Park Trust’s board of directors last week. About half of the Trust’s board of directors attended each meeting, held at the Trust’s Pier 40 offices, at which several Partnership members and their consultant from HR&A Advisors made a slide-show presentation and answered questions. The second meeting, in particular, gave the Partnership hope that the Trust is warming to their proposal for a nonprofit Pier 40 conservancy backed by tax-exempt bonds, with a school and visual arts center added to the pier’s current mix of uses. “I think we were very encouraged and heartened by their response,” said Gary Ginsberg, one of three Partnership members who attended the second meeting, last Thursday. Ginsberg — who is executive vice president for global marketing and corporate affairs for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation — said, among the Trust board members, former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff’s reaction seemed particularly positive. “Certainly, what he said and his body language indicated he was surprised at how thoughtful our plan was,” said Ginsberg. “He had some quibbles about our numbers — the bonding requirements, what rate you’d get these I.D.A. bonds…questions that anyone in his position would ask — questions that we can answer.” Ginsberg said the Partnership will provide Doctoroff with the answers by this week, since the Partnership is working on “an expedited timeline.” Asked to gauge the reaction of Diana Taylor, the Trust’s chairperson, who led both meetings, Ginsberg said, “I think she wants to make a decision. Her biggest fear is delay. She’s just looking for a viable path. Of the three proposals, our plan is the only one with financial viability, plus we have the community’s support. We don’t need any extending of the lease — our numbers work. Our plan does not need any amendments to any existing rules, regs, ordinance, etc.

Our plan is in compliance.” The two other proposals include The Related Companies’ Cirque du Soleil extravaganza, which critics fear would have a huge impact on the pier and surrounding community, and “The People’s Pier” by CampGroup and Urban Dove, which the Trust has branded financially unviable. Related says its plan would not work unless the Hudson River Park Act is changed to allow a 49-year lease, instead of a 30-year lease, for the pier. Meanwhile, Ginsberg said Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, the Department of Education and the School Construction Authority are all “interested” in the Pier 40 Partnership’s idea of putting a 100,000-square-foot high school on the pier as part of the Partnership plan. Ginsberg said it’s too early to get into specifics about the type or size of school, but he noted that high schools typically have about 450 students per class. He also noted that Bob Kerrey, The New School’s president, is also gung-ho on the Partnership’s plan and has offered to pay 30 years’ rent upfront for the space, which would definitely help their plan’s financials. Ginsberg said the Partnership hasn’t committed to anyone for the school space yet, since their proposal is “just a study,” at this point. He said another Trust board member at the second meeting, former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, also seemed “very intrigued” by their proposal. “I can’t discuss what went on,” Stern told us. Asked if he thought the Partnership’s financial plan would work, he said, “How do I know? If I knew, I would be on Wall St. making a lot of money.” The Trust’s board is set to vote on Jan. 31 on whether to designate the Related or CampGroup/Urban Dove plan for Pier 40. The Partnership is hoping the Trust rejects both plans and instead greenlights the Partnership to move ahead with its nonprofit conservancy proposal for the pier. For its part, Related recently announced another round of last-minute changes to its plan. “They’re clearly afraid, they’re scurrying,” said Ginsberg. The Partnership’s ultra-high-powered members all are local parents with young children who play sports at Pier 40 and who don’t want to see the sports pier turned into an entertainment pier with sports uses secondary. “Pier 40 is vital to Lower Manhattan,” Ginsberg said, “and to lose it would be a tragedy.”


Back from the grave: It turns out Scoopy’s report on Death & Co last week erred in saying that the place can no longer serve alcohol. It’s true, as we accurately reported, that on Dec. 21 the State Liquor Authority rejected the trendy E. Sixth St. cocktail bar and restaurant’s liquor license renewal application — meaning that Death & Co does not currently have a liquor license. Nevertheless, Death & Co still can serve alcohol. In fact, under the State Administrative Procedures Act, known as SAPA, the operators can continue serving alcohol for four months while appealing to the S.L.A. in an attempt to regain their liquor license. David Kaplan, one of Death & Co’s two partners, said if they lose their appeal at the S.L.A., they’ll take their battle to court and file what is known as an Article 78 lawsuit — a challenge to a ruling by a state or city agency. “We’ve always operated by what were the approved hours by the community board” — 1 a.m. closing time, except for 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, he said. The reason we said last week that Death & Co couldn’t serve alcohol was because an S.L.A. spokesperson told us that. Subsequently, last Friday, after Kaplan called us expressing his concern over our Scoopy’s item, we called back the S.L.A. spokesperson for clarification. The spokesperson said not renewing liquor licenses for premises the S.L.A. feels are a problem is actually something new for the authority — and that thus he, in fact, had not known that SAPA applied in this case, allowing the bar to continue serving liquor during its pending appeal. Kaplan said Death & Co is in for the long haul, and that they feel confident they will win their liquor license back. He added that they can’t help that Death & Co is known more as a bar than a restaurant — because their three bartenders are just so talented at making delicious cocktails with all-fresh ingredients that it outshines their food. He said he has two chefs and would like to hire even more — but chefs simply cost a lot more than bartenders.


Oops: Last week, Scoopy’s incorrectly identified Stu Waldman as the head of the Greenwich Village Federation to Preserve the Greenwich Village Waterfront. That title is held by Carol Feinman.


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