Volume 77 / Number 34 Jan. 23 - 29, 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

Rezoning Chinatown?

As plans to rezone the East Village and Lower East Side currently wend their way through the Department of City Planning, local activists are now pushing for even further zoning action to cover Chinatown.

Community organizer Rob Hollander, who has thus far lobbied unsuccessfully for the inclusion of the Bowery in the city’s zoning plan, now sees Chinatown as the next sought-after neighborhood with the rapid pace of development Downtown.

“Time has come again for wisdom, this time the wisdom of forethought,” Hollander said in a letter to Mixed Use, adding that Community Board 3 is currently reviewing another zoning proposal for the rapidly changing Bowery, which City Planning initially shot down to focus on the areas most under threat in the East Village and L.E.S. “If the Bowery and the L.E.S. are both rezoned to limit development, Chinatown will be placed at even greater risk as the last frontier for development and gentrification,” Hollander warned.

The Department of City Planning did not directly respond to any future plans to rezone Chinatown, only acknowledging that the department’s “door is always open to discuss community priorities,” according to spokesperson Jennifer Torres. “As the city works to balance population growth with overdevelopment concerns, this administration recognizes that New York’s neighborhoods are vital to the city’s health,” Torres said.

Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corp., said the area needs planning for affordable housing, rather than less development.

“I always tell people, don’t think that the developers are not looking,” Chen said. Citing an “unnecessary level of anxiety” about the neighborhood, he asked, “Don’t you think they would have scooped it up?”

Avalon update

Two of the Lower East Side’s more auspicious new developments — Avalon Bowery Place and Avalon Chrystie Place — were almost completely occupied as of this week, proving the neighborhood’s growing pull as a residential destination.

The two-building Avalon Bowery Place — with 206 total units on nine floors at 11 E. First St. and 90 total units on seven floors at 22 E. First St. — is currently more than 99 percent filled, said leasing manager Jacqueline Sim. Two studio and two one-bedroom rental units remain at 11 E. First St., with the 450-square-foot studios starting at $2,945 per month and 520-square-foot one-bedrooms with outdoor space starting at $3,795.

The 14-story, 361-unit Avalon Chrystie Place at 229 Chrystie St. is currently about 97 percent filled, with more studio, one- and two-bedroom units all opening by February and March, said leasing manager Gina Falco. Two studio units, about six one-bedrooms and three two-bedroom units will be opening; with the 500-square-foot studios starting at $2,850 per month, 700-square-foot one-bedrooms starting at $3,750 and 1,000-square-foot two-bedrooms starting at $5,300.

Add ad firm to Hudson Sq.

Advertising agency Lowe & Partners Worldwide has inked a lease for 40,000 square feet of space at 250 Hudson Square, joining the burgeoning roster of media firms relocating to Hudson Square from Midtown.

The company, a subsidiary of global communications conglomerate Interpublic, will take over the entire second floor and portions of the third at the 15-story, Jack Resnick & Sons-owned building. The agency plans to move into its new digs, between Dominick and Broome Sts., by summer, according to Lowe spokesperson Carrie Welch. She confirmed the entire New York staff will move in the relocation.

Council eyes safety

The City Council will hold a special hearing to discuss building-site safety next month after a partial collapse at the Trump Soho condo-hotel last week caused the death of a construction worker.

The Feb. 4 hearing, announced by Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Housing and Buildings Committee Chairperson Erik Martin Dilan, seeks to examine “if we need to enhance worker training, whether city regulations around high-rises are sufficient, if we have a large enough workforce to keep pace with development demands and whether the timeframe for the development of high-rises is appropriate.”

The “emergency” hearing will be held a full three weeks after construction worker Yuriy Vanchytskyy’s death while performing concrete work atop Trump’s Spring St. project. The real question, Mixed Use muses, is whether Trump’s stop-work order will be lifted before the Council can convene for the first time on this issue.

New-look Staples

Office-supplies store Staples opened its newest location on W. 14th St. and Sixth Ave. last week — marking the chain’s 25th Manhattan venture — with a nod to small businesses.

The 4,000-square-foot Staples Copy & Print Shop provides specialized services designed “to meet urban business needs” by offering full-service printing and copy capabilities, plus “mobile office” supplies, like wireless Internet service and computer rentals, said spokesperson Mike Black.

To kick off the opening celebration, Staples presented its inaugural “True Original” Business Award to East Village restaurateurs Caesar and Sarita Ekya, owners of S’MAC (Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese) at 345 E. 12th St.

The Ekyas received the award for their community and philanthropic efforts, including mentoring young entrepreneurs and contributing to local charities.

This is the third new-format Staples store to open in Manhattan, Black said, with eight total slated for this year.

So, with bog-boxes like Staples now colluding with the East Village mom-’n’-pop class by catering specifically to small businesses, what does the future portend for communities fighting fervently to stave off incoming chains? Your call, Reverend Billy.


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