Volume 77 / Number 45 - April 9 - 15, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Meatpacking casualties

A pair of classic dive bars in the Meatpacking District have been forced to shutter, going the way of other local standbys recently priced out by skyrocketing rents.

Passerby, a favorite of the local art set famed for its disco-style floor, closed late last month after the building’s owner decided to demolish the property on W. 15th St. near Ninth Ave. to add air rights to a nearby condo development, The New York Observer reported. And now comes the news that Hog Pit, a barbeque/biker bar on Ninth Ave. near 13th St., will end its run at the beginning of next year because its owners can’t meet swelling rent demands.

“That neighborhood will essentially be Rodeo Drive,” said Hog Pit owner Felisa Dell, who paid $1,500 a month for the space when she opened the no-frills honky tonk in 1995. Now, she said, the landlord is asking $40,000 per month. “Many, many beloved places have shut down,” Dell added, citing Meatpacking mainstays like Florent, which will close this summer. “Even if the community feels bad about it, there’s nothing they can do; they can’t pay your rent. I can’t start charging $20 for Budweiser.” It’s rumored, she noted, that after the Hog Pit departs in early 2009, a Ralph Lauren clothing store will be taking over the location.

Dell has already been searching for new digs as far away as Harlem and Williamsburg, but she said rents there are also prohibitively expensive. However, she assured, “We will find a new space. Without the little guy, what is New York?”

S.L.A. strips Le Souk

East Village nightclub Le Souk, which has been a persistent source of quality-of-life complaints for Avenue B residents, had its liquor license cancelled last week by the State Liquor Authority.

The North African-themed nightspot has been blamed for a host of problems in the area, with neighbors grumbling to both Community Board 3 and the Ninth Precinct about noise and traffic congestion outside the establishment between Third and Fourth Sts.

“We had many, many, many, many complaints about Le Souk,” C.B. 3 district manager Susan Stetzer told Mixed Use. “This has been going on for a very long time.”

An employee at the club, however, denied the cancellation, claiming Le Souk would be open as usual and “everything is good.”

An S.L.A. cancellation is not the same as a revocation, Stetzer confirmed, noting the nightspot could seek a reapplication for a license, which would again have to go before the community board and Liquor Authority.

But, Stetzer pointed out, “If there were so many complaints about them in the immediate area, I wouldn’t assume that they’d want reopen in the same place.”

Waverly woes

The sole remaining tenant at 109 Waverly Pl., Archie Leigh Lee, smelled what he thought was gas on Friday afternoon March 28 and called 911. The Fire Department responded, found the sprinkler system had been turned off; the stairs to the roof blocked with construction material, and exposed wooden joists without fire insulation. Lee, a resident of the four-story building for the past 33 years, was forced to vacate and the Department of Buildings was notified and issued a stop-work order.

The owners, David Chan and Jeanie Park, who bought the building in December 2006, have been converting it for their own use and are constructing, among other things, a subbasement and a swimming pool in the backyard. They began a Housing Court action to evict Lee early this year, but the H.I.V. Law Project is fighting the case because Lee is living with H.I.V. and has other disabilities.

Cynthia Knox, of the H.I.V. Law project, contends that because of Lee’s disabilities and age — he’ll be 62 in October — the owners have to prove they intend to live in the building. And if they succeed, they will have to provide Lee with a similar apartment in the same neighborhood, Knox said.

Lee is now living in an apartment Chan and Park own on W. 23rd St. at Seventh Ave. That’s where they want to relocate him, but he said it’s in a high-rise on a busy commercial thoroughfare unlike his old digs on a quiet residential block just off the northwest corner of Washington Square Park.

Meanwhile, the Fire Department is keeping a close watch on 109 Waverly Pl. Firefighters were on hand Monday afternoon March 31 when a construction crew went into the building to work, and ordered them out until the violations were cured.

David’s goliath debut

Sixth Ave. will welcome another retail goliath, David’s Bridal, with a new store set to open in Chelsea.

The formalwear retailer, which specializes in wedding and prom dresses, is slated to arrive at 735 Sixth Ave., between 24th and 25th Sts. Ariel Schuster of Robert K. Futterman & Associates arranged for the ground-floor lease, which will bring the special-events store to Manhattan for the first time.

The property’s online listing also touts three smaller spaces at the site, which it states could accommodate such establishments as a Best Buy, Home Depot or Olive Garden.

With reporting by Albert Amateau





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