Click Here

Volume 79, Number 8 | July 29 - August 4, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Party police

The Soho Alliance neighborhood organization has claimed a victory against the developer of a new hotel on Lafayette St. for successfully beating back the builder’s attempts to secure a liquor license for a pair of planned outdoor spaces.

According to July 26 press release from the alliance, the developer of the incoming Mondrian Hotel near Howard St. recently withdrew an application with the State Liquor Authority to serve booze in the hotel’s courtyard and second-story patio space facing Crosby St. The alliance had previously expressed its concerns with “the outdoor party space” and its sought-after closing times, arguing that the racket brought on by patrons would negatively impact neighbors across the street. (The 25-story building, care of the Morgans Hotel Group, also contains restaurants on the rooftop and inside the hotel, the latter able to accommodate up to 400 people.)

“Not satisfied at the profits generated from having such spectacular views, the developer decided to double-dip, exploiting the outdoor Crosby space for late-night entertainment use,” the alliance’s statement read, adding, “What were they thinking?  Did they really think they were going to be allowed to destroy this part of Soho?”

And while Community Board 2’s S.L.A. Licensing Committee compromised to permit the outdoor spaces to remain open until 11 p.m., the full board disagreed, voting almost unanimously to recommend denial of the spaces’ use entirely.

“Mondrian may have thought that Soho activists have just fallen off the pumpkin truck,” said alliance director Sean Sweeney. “But we are seasoned organizers who will fight tooth and nail to prevent Soho from becoming a late-night playground. We have learned from the misery these party hotels have caused elsewhere Downtown, and we are determined that it will never — ever — happen in Soho.”

Rental market chill

Rental prices across the Village remained relatively stable during one of the most active months of the year, with rents off slightly in some neighborhoods while others produced the expected seasonal gains.

Over all, the East Village experienced a 1.25 percent jump in average rental prices for studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments in both doorman and non-doorman buildings since last month. Some of the strongest unit types throughout the Downtown market were the neighborhood’s doorman two-bedroom apartments, which showed an average gain of 11.45 percent from June to July. However, the East Village’s one-bedroom units suffered a 3.5 percent drop for both doorman and non-doorman units.

In Greenwich Village, prices slipped an average of 1.18 percent across all unit types, with doorman and non-doorman one-bedrooms falling by almost 4 percent. The lone bright spot were the neighborhood’s doorman two-bedroom apartments, which increased by 4.16 percent month over month.

Other notable changes included a nearly 9 percent drop in the average price of doorman studios in Soho, as well as 7.15 percent dip for non-doorman two-bedrooms in the neighborhood. However, Soho did post gains for non-doorman studios (up 9.03 percent) and doorman two-bedrooms (up 7.74 percent).

On the Lower East Side, noticeable decreases were felt in the price of non-doorman studios (down 7.75 percent) and non-doorman two-bedrooms (down 6.58 percent), while increases occurred at doorman two-bedrooms (up 6.89 percent) and doorman one-bedrooms (up 6.52 percent).

West Village ‘quiet zone’

City Council candidate Yetta Kurland has called for the creation of a “quiet zone” on Greenwich Ave. in the West Village to combat the noise from tour buses rumbling through the neighborhood.

“According to reports, as many as 80 tour buses a day travel along this route in the West Village neighborhood with loudspeakers turned on, greatly compromising the quality of life of residents along the way,” Kurland said in a statement. “Many residents have complained for some time about the serious problem of noise pollution, but so far nothing has been done about it.”

Kurland, a civil rights attorney who is running to unseat Council Speaker Christine Quinn, also expressed concerns about the buses’ exhaust fumes, especially given their proximity to the P.S. 41 schoolyard.

“We need to look into all the environmental hazards that these tour buses may pose and find a solution that permits them to operate effectively while at the same time minimizing the amount of harm being done to those in our community,” she continued.

West Village neighbors groused last year about the buses’ route along Bleecker St. and even formed the organization Buses Off Bleecker, a.k.a. B.O.B., to beat back tour operators’ advances in the neighborhood. According to Kurland, the tourist-toting double-deckers altered their route to Greenwich Ave. in response to community concerns.

“We want to be able to support our tourist industry,” she told Mixed Use. “But there’s definitely a way to do that where is doesn’t severely impact people’s lives and the enjoyment of their homes and their community.”

Reader Services



The Villager is published by Community Media LLC. 145 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY 10013 Phone: (212) 229-1890 | Fax: (212) 229-2790 | Advertising: 646-452-2465 | © 2009 Community Media, LLC

Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this newspaper, in whole or in part, can be reproduced or redistributed.