Volume 78 - Number 34 / January 21 - 27, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Ad firm tries to help sell megagarage alternative
By Albert Amateau
Hudson Square community leaders last week enlisted a heavyweight ally in their fight to convince the Bloomberg administration to accept an alternative to the three-district Department of Sanitation garage proposed for the UPS site on Spring St.
The advertising and marketing firm Saatchi & Saatchi, active in 80 countries around the world and with headquarters in Hudson Square, signed on to the list of opponents of the $500 million project.
“We’re in full support of the Hudson Square community’s alternatives and against the D.S.N.Y. plan,” Lynne Collins, Saatchi’s director of corporate communications, told the Jan. 15 meeting of the Sanitation Steering Committee community group.
Collins said the community alternative for a smaller, two-district Sanitation facility would dovetail with Saatchi’s new sustainability project. She noted that Saatchi’s headquarters, with 1,000 employees, has been at 375 Hudson St. in Hudson Square for 20 years, and the company has a deep commitment to the area, which is fast becoming a 24/7 district with high-end residential development.
The Sanitation project’s opponents contend that the proposed three-district garage — 128 feet tall, plus a 75-foot-tall salt shed between Spring and Canal Sts. and a diesel refueling station with fuel storage capacity of 30,000 gallons — would put 800 additional garbage-truck and Sanitation employee trips a day on neighborhood streets.
“The project would devastate the community for 100 years,” said Rosemary Kuropat, a neighborhood activist who spoke at the meeting.
The smaller community alternative, the Hudson Rise plan, would accommodate a two-district Sanitation garage, create public rooftop green space and connect with the rooftop of the sprawling St. John’s Center building, which extends from Charlton St. to Clarkson St. between Washington and West Sts. Hudson Rise would cost $200,000,000 less than the Department of Sanitation project, community advocates say.
Richard Barrett, a member of the Canal West Coalition and the Sanitation Steering Committee, said he had expected City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and state Senator Tom Duane to attend the Jan. 15 presentation of the community alternative and to support it in front of the Department of Sanitation. But both Quinn and Duane had to cancel their plans.
“That doesn’t mean that we won’t have more meetings with them,” said Barrett. “Chris Quinn has offered to set up another meeting. Until now, we’ve been forced to be reactive, but the Hudson Rise plan is proactive and we’re here to move it forward,” he said.
Nevertheless, the Sanitation project has been reviewed and received approval from the City Council on Nov. 19. At that time, the Bloomberg administration made a commitment to hold off on construction for six months to give the community the chance to suggest alternatives.
“We’re currently under a ticking clock,” said Phil Mouquinho, a Steering Committee member, at the Jan. 15 meeting, noting that the six-month grace period will end at April’s end. “We’ve cajoled, finessed and caressed D.S.N.Y. with alternatives, but we’re running out of time,” he said. “We still want to work with our elected officials, and we will be back in touch with Chris Quinn’s office to set up another meeting.”
Project opponents have vowed to challenge the Sanitation Department in court under Article 78, which allows lawsuits against government actions that are “arbitrary, unreasonable and unlawful.” But no lawsuit has been filed yet to challenge the proposed garage for Sanitation Districts 1, 2 and 5.
To realize the Hudson Rise plan, opponents are coming up with alternatives for the vehicles for Sanitation District 5, which serves Midtown between 14th and 59th Sts., mostly between Lexington and Eighth Aves.
The latest suggestion at the Jan. 15 meeting for District 5’s garage was a parking lot between W. 50th and 51st Sts. and 11th and 12th Aves. — 622 W. 51st St.-627 W. 50th St. — owned by Gary Spindler, who attended the meeting. Spindler said he was ready to sell the city that 100,000-square-foot lot in a manufacturing zone.
Spindler is also the owner of a smaller Hudson Square parking lot at Washington and Clarkson Sts., which the city, in a 2007 version of the Spring St. Sanitation garage project, had proposed to acquire for the salt shed. Sanitation subsequently refined the design of the project and decided to drop the parking lot idea and put the salt shed on the site of the current District 1 garage, on the triangular-shaped block bounded by Spring, Canal and West Sts.