Volume 77 / Number 46 - April 16 - 22, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
By Patrick Hedlund
Chronicling a vanishing city
Mixed Use often counts on our local pavement-pounders for tips on the freshest Downtown development grist, but we reserve a special spot for a group of savvy bloggers whove kept detailed tabs on the citys real estate boom and its resultant casualties.
The brains behind Jeremiahs Vanishing New York and Lost City consistently update their metro-centric Web sites with original news about neighborhood openings and closings, and commentary on the citys ongoing evolution, with an overriding sense of mourning for the New York of yore.
Unfortunately, theres always stuff to write about, said Lost City blogger Brooks of Sheffield, who, as a working journalist by day, uses a pen name for his site. These places are treasures, and once theyre gone, theyre irreplaceable.
Lost City, which recently chronicled the changes or, as Brooks found, lack thereof on the Lower East Sides Ludlow St. over the past decades, often breaks news that feeds some of the citys larger real estate media, such as Curbed.com and the big dailies.
The same goes for Jeremiahs Vanishing New York, whose proprietor Jeremiah Moss also using a nom de plume offers a bitterly nostalgic look at a city in the process of going extinct, according to the banner atop his site.
When you have a blog that just accumulates so much, you realize just how truly overwhelming it is, Moss noted of his aggregated posts, which number more than 300 since the sites launching less than a year ago.
Moss first reported the recent closing of the Cheyenne Diner, which later appeared in the pages of the New York Post and The Villagers sister paper, Chelsea Now, as well as on a handful of other Web sites. J.V.N.Y. was also first to break the news about the likely loss of eight businesses on Ninth Ave. following a large real estate deal.
That barbershop [located on the Ninth Ave. stretch] is just a hub of activity for people in the community, Moss lamented. Its kind of a refuge.
Both bloggers maintain that they do not make profits off the sites, doing it more out of a sense of duty to a city theyve seen overrun in recent years. (Brooks has lived here since the late 80s, while Moss moved here 15 years ago.)
I dont know what City Hall thinks makes New York special, said Brooks of constant development displacing longtime tenants. Its layers and layers of history, and if theyre all eradicated, how are we different from Atlanta?
Added Moss: Id like to see a city in which everybody can have a niche and survive, he said. I dont want everything to be the same, and I feel like thats what were moving to.
S.L.A. says no to disco
Another Lower East Side nightlife hotspot has bitten the dust, with the recent news that the 205 Club at Chrystie and Stanton Sts. lost its liquor license.
State Liquor Authority spokesperson Bill Crowley confirmed that the less-than-two-year-old lounge had its license revoked last month, noting the place has got lots of adverse history.
Community Board 3 district manager Susan Stetzer acknowledged she was fuzzy on the details of 205, but said the two-story venue and its cousin club The Box a half-block away have had a history of troubled relations with local residents.
We get a number of complaints about them, said Stetzer of the high-profile establishments, noting a regular stream of criticism about them at Fifth Precinct Community Council meetings.
The lifting of 205s license was news to David Bruno, a local music promoter and deejay who lives on Orchard St. and has held events at 205 in the past. He previously housed his monthly party, People Dont Dance No More, at the now-defunct 200 Orchard Bar, which lost its license last year, so the trend of revocations has affected his ability to operate in the neighborhood.
I know they had troubles in the past with the community board, Bruno said of 205, and I thought things were going much better as of late.
Meanwhile, it looks like the community might be gaining the upper hand in its war on nightlife expansion.
It will be a huge loss to the new disco community in N.Y.C., Bruno added.
Hudson Sq.-block visions
While it was announced recently that the square-block plot at Canal St. and Sixth Ave. will soon play host to a public sculpture garden, musings over future development at the site have already begun at the attractive Hudson Square-Soho-Tribeca intersection.
The folks over at New York magazine, whose offices recently relocated across the street from the site in question, asked four architectural firms for their unfettered developmental visions for the Trinity Real Estate-owned lot. (The magazine also leases from Trinity at One Hudson Square.) The results ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, with designers like Work Architecture Company and FLAnk providing pie-in-the-sky plans, including a stagger-stepped urban farm and an advertisement-incorporating, affordable-housing tower.
Also featured were an art-inspired green building and a more traditional brick-and-glass hotel/residential space. But from the looks of things, the opportunities appear vast.
Erin Roeder, Trinitys director of strategic neighborhood development, maintained to Mixed Use that the company is now focused solely on its interim art use and that Trinity wasnt approached about the magazine feature. Roeder added she expects the first sculptures to land this summer, pending current negotiations with artists.