Volume 80, Number 9 | July 29 - August 4, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Chris’s Birthday bash:
On Monday, Council Speaker Chris Quinn celebrated her birthday with the seniors from the Caring Community day program at Our Lady of Pompei Church, at Bleecker and Carmine Sts. “It was great,” said Lucy Cecere. “The seniors gave her some gifts that they made. She spoke a little on the hospital — it was very interesting.” And there was a cake, of course, or as Cecere said, “What a cake!” The speaker’s father, Lawrence Quinn, was there, too. Cecere said state Senator Tom Duane was unable to attend, but that a Duane staffer handed out a comprehensive list of places where the seniors can go for healthcare services now that St. Vincent’s Hospital has closed.
Never mind the bollards — Here’s the plan!
There’s some news on the Meat Market “traffic-calming structures” front. We hear from an anonymous source that a coalition of property owners and the Meatpacking District Initiative is moving ahead with plans to “upgrade” what’s on the ground now along Ninth Ave., and that the new design should be in place by next spring. There are few details at this point, as the coalition is mainly focused on ensuring that they will have adequate funding to maintain and “program” the spaces. There has been an ongoing problem with the current structures collecting trash and being graffitied on. The Meatpacking District Initiative isn’t an official business improvement district, or BID, per se that can raise money through a special tax assessment; as a result, any funding for the plazas would come from out of pocket of local property owners. One thing that’s for sure, though, is that the round traffic bollards with white tips — derided as “breasts” by some — have got to go. As for the stacks of slabs, hunks of granite and assortment of box planters, their future is uncertain, though the idea is for the new plazas to have “plantings,” we’re told. Chairs and tables also will be in the mix, and the footprints of the five “islands” that have been marked off by the “breasts,” bollards, slabs, etc., will likely be preserved. “We’re all aggressively working on a solution,” the source said. As for the spaces’ programming, it might be similar to what’s being offered this summer on the traffic triangle just to the north of 14th St. on Ninth Ave.; there the Chelsea Improvement Company — also not quite a BID — has been hosting free “Sunset Salsa” dancing and capoeira classes. Local property owners leading the push for the change are reportedly Paul Pariser of Taconic Investment Partners, Rich and Cliff Meilman and Darryl Romanoff. Our source said the redesigned plazas “can have a great draw, rather than be a blight — they’re a blight right now.” One challenge for the spaces’ use will be the fact that the street surface isn’t flat, as it is north of 14th St., but cobblestones. Jo Hamilton, chairperson of Community Board 2, confirmed that things are afoot with the Meat Market plazas. But she noted that the matter isn’t entirely in the hands of local property owners, and that C.B. 2 will have a key role in the public review process. Within the next month or two, the city’s Department of Transportation will come before the board to present the new design, she said. Hamilton, before she was on C.B. 2, was a leader in the effort to get the Meat Market landmarked; she was also a prominent member of the Greater Gansevoort Urban Improvement Project, which pushed for the traffic plan for Gansevoort Plaza and Ninth Ave. in the first place. She defended the process so far as a success. Remember, she pointed out, the plan that’s on the ground now was always supposed to be temporary. “It was never meant to be permanent,” she said. “It was just a way to delineate the spaces and redirect the traffic and see if it worked. It was always going to go back and become a design. I think we’re all looking forward to having a good solution there and having it properly implemented. Nobody likes the elements [‘breasts,’ hunks, slabs, etc.] and the choices that were made to define those plazas — but it was always meant to be temporary.” Hamilton said that further ensuring a good design will result, the project is in the city’s Design Excellence Program. As for the programming of the spaces, Hamilton assured the board will have a say. “Let’s put it this way — the salsa is in Community Board 4,” she stated, adding, “I’m looking forward to the proposals coming forward to Community Board 2.” The board, she stressed, will definitely have input on the “parameters” of what goes on in the plazas, from the type of activities and number of events to amplification and so on.
Disco developer’s slings and arrows:
In other Meat Market news, Novac Noury — the “Arrow Keyboard Man” of Studio 54 — said he may have something to tell us soon about development plans for his Little W. 12th St. property, where the city bulldozed his building last Christmas Eve. “Once again, I’m in talks,” he said. “I can’t reveal the party’s name — because of politics. The last time I revealed the name, that’s when my building got demolished — jealousy.” He’s also proud to announce that he recently developed the “Re-cycle” — “half-bike, half-A&P cart” — as he described it, a new boon for urban shoppers.