Volume 18 • Issue 17 | September 16 - 22, 2005


The art of being Tutu
In case you were losing sleep over this one: Desmond Tutu has nothing to say about art at the World Trade Center site. The diminutive Arch Bishop Emeritus of Cape Town paused briefly at a Tuesday gala in his honor at the General Theological Seminary in Chelsea to tell UnderCover that he could not comment on something he knew nothing about. The embattled International Freedom Center must have slipped the Nobel laureate’s mind; he gave the center his blessing a year ago when it was awarded a home in the W.T.C. cultural center, saying at the time, it will “symbolize the indomitable spirit of the people of this land, the indomitable spirit of people from other lands, of the people of this city who may have been down but certainly not out.” We can only wonder what spirit the Freedom Center will symbolize when it presents details neutering artistic content to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. later this month.

Trinity converting
We bumped into Hudson Square developer Nino Vendome on Canal St. the other day and he gave us the good real estate word. He said the Urban Glass House, the Philip Johnson-designed building at Washington and Spring Sts. that he’s a partner in, should be finished in nine months. Unfortunately, it won’t be the blackout-proof, green building as he had planned, since he sold the controlling share to Charles Blaichman. (We’re just wondering: will the Ear Inn patrons still be able to spill out on the sidewalk with their beers when the haute bourgeoisie moves in overhead?) On another subject, asked about the commercial space he used to have in one of the Trinity buildings at Canal and Hudson Sts. where he fed the 9/11 recovery workers and then briefly had a 9/11-themed Italian restaurant, Nino’s American Kitchen, Vendome said, “Well, you know what happened.” Actually, we don’t. More to the point, he said he hears Trinity is thinking of converting space in its three massive commercial buildings around the intersection to residential. Trinity Church recently got a new rector, who brought in hotshot Carl Weisbrod, former head of the Downtown Alliance business district, to head their real estate department. While Weisbrod was noncommittal, he didn’t deny Vendome’s tip that Trinity is thinking residential in Hudson Square. “I just arrived here a month ago and I’m looking at what the global vision for Trinity Real Estate should be,” Weisbrod told us. “One of the reasons I came here is to take a broad look at this neighborhood and see what they can do. It’s an appealing neighborhood.”

Pier reunion
The Flying Neutrinos, those jazz hipsters with Downtown and New Orleans ties, rocked Pier 25 Friday helping Manhattan Youth raise about $25,000 for Hurricane Katrina relief. Poppa Neutrino, who used to live on a makeshift vessel off the pier, told the crowd to be kind to be Big Easy musicians playing on city streets. Other notable attendees sampling the homemade gumbo were Assemblymember Scott Stringer, who went on to win the borough president’s primary Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, and Jimmy Gallagher, former owner of the Tribeca pier’s Yankee Ferry (who also has a damaged house in New Orleans).

Living art
Frank Sciame might have slapped a $59 million price tag on his yet-to-be-built South St. penthouse jewel, but not everyone’s buying it.

Although construction is expected to begin in March on the Santiago Calatrava-designed vertically stacked, townhouse cubes at 80 South St., the developer has yet to finance the project.

Each unit of the tower’s 10 luxury condominiums is four stories tall and has about 10,000 sq. ft. of living space. The cheapest unit is priced at a mere $29 million, sans interior improvements like a lap pool for the terrace. In case the selling price isn’t quite high enough, monthly costs for maintenance and taxes runs from $34,456 to $36,038.

Uber-rich buyers are expected to put about $7 million down for a yet-to-be-financed project, the New York Times reported. While you’re busting out your checkbook, we’ve got this great bridge we could sell you....


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