Volume 78 / Number 9 - July 30 - August 5, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Landmarks’ grand goal

With the recent restoration of funds in the city budget and an abundance of buildings eyed for historic protection, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will attempt to designate about 1,000 properties citywide before Mayor Mike Bloomberg leaves office.

The push, announced by L.P.C. Commissioner Robert Tierney in an article in Monday’s New York Post, comes after the recent designation of the West Chelsea Historic District and current efforts by preservationists to landmark a swath of blocks in the South Village.

A bulk of the 1,000 sought-after landmarks would fall in Brooklyn and Queens, and the challenge will be to meet the commission’s preservation preferences after only 369 properties were approved citywide last year.

“The clock is ticking, and we’re trying to do as much as possible while we have the momentum and the resources,” Tierney told the Post. “I’m not sure ‘urgent’ is the right word, but there is a sense that we have to move ahead.”

A proposal by Villagers to designate the South Village Historic District — an area of 38 blocks and 800 buildings that would abut the Greenwich Village Historic District — is currently under the commission’s consideration.

First up for L.P.C, however, are the Brooklyn burgs of Prospect Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, as well as Ridgewood, Queens. The West Chelsea designation, approved only a couple weeks ago, includes 30 historic properties on the far West Side.

Andrew Berman, who joined the successful bid for West Chelsea’s designation, has been at the forefront of the South Village proposal as executive director of the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation.

“Our hope is that [L.PC.] will have begun to take action on the South Village before that [18-month] period is over, ideally on as much of it is possible,” Berman told Mixed Use. “I do believe that is a realistic goal.” The commission has started surveying the proposed district west of Sixth Ave., and Berman cited L.P.C.’s Gansevoort Historic District designation several years ago as a positive indicator of progress — with the South Village to hopefully represent “the culmination and completion of that work.”

‘Discreet’ digs

In the sea of starchitect-dominated properties in the far West Village, a quieter competitor for the super-luxe set recently hit the market on W. 12th St.

The 10-story brick building at 387 W. 12th St., between Washington and West Sts., just had three of its five unfinished units hit the market, ranging from $5.5 million to $14 million. Designed by architect/developer Cary Tamarkin, who crafted the building with a warehouse feel reminiscent of the area’s maritime history, the contextually designed property starkly contrasts with other nearby efforts by Richard Meier and Julian Schnabel that stand out in the neighborhood.

But what does stand out about this fairly unassuming-looking building is its sheer cost and size — with units running from $5.5 million for a 3,600-sqaure-foot loft, to $11.5 million and $14 million, respectively, for two 6,200-square-foot duplexes. (The building’s four-floor, nearly 10,000-square-foot penthouse unit is in contract with a $20 million price tag, according to the building’s Web site, which launched in mid-July.) Stratospheric prices like that greatly prohibit the prospective buying pool, and the development’s “discreet” marketing even further downplays its presence in the neighborhood, said Stephen McRae, an associate with Sotheby’s International Realty, which is handling the property.

Buyers will have absolute freedom in their space’s build-outs, and will enjoy Roman brickwork and multipaned steel windows with river views.

“It’s a very unusual product,” McRae told Mixed Use. “Some of the people that have been looking for this have been waiting for a long time for this kind of opportunity.”

On the waterfront

The city should be required to devise a strategy for waterfront development every 10 years to encourage vitality along the shores, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says.

Quinn, speaking at an event on Governors Island on Saturday, said she would introduce a bill next month mandating that the Department of City Planning create proposals for waterfront development each decade.

“There’s really so much potential in our waterways that we have yet to unlock,” she said. She cited her earlier proposal for all-borough ferry service and addressing the waterfront “as it relates to development, public use, industry and the natural environment.”

“By making it easier for people to get around the city, they have the potential to truly open up hundreds of miles of waterfront land throughout the city, creating permanent jobs and giving all New Yorkers — not just a privileged few — access to our city’s spectacular waterfront parks,” Quinn said.

A spokesperson for the speaker said the measure would be introduced at the City Council soon.

New capital conductor

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced the selection of a new head for its Capital Construction Company on Monday, only the M.T.A.’s second long-term appointment to the post since the division’s founding in 2003.

Michael Horodniceanu — who worked in the private sector as C.E.O. of a transportation-planning engineering firm after previously serving as the city’s Traffic commissioner from 1986 to 1990 — will succeed former C.C.C. President Mysore Nagaraja as the next heavily vowel-named head. (Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim served as acting president after Nagaraja’s departure in January.)

“Michael has the experience and vision to lead the M.T.A. Capital Construction Company at a time when the need for our transportation megaprojects is clear,” said Elliot Sander, M.T.A. executive director and C.E.O., in a statement.
The appointment comes at a time when the M.T.A. is facing fire for announcing a pair of fare hikes expected in 2009 and again in 2011.

“Challenging times will demand innovative solutions,” Horodniceanu said, “and I look forward to working…to get the job done.”



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