downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 | Issue 30 | December 8 - 14, 2006

Under Cover

Balazs’ Beaver
Folks worried about the school-straining number of families moving into Downtown’s new condo developments needn’t fret over William Beaver House, the Andre Balazs creation in the Financial District.

Billy Beaver appears to be catering to a particular crowd, and let’s just say it doesn’t involve strollers. Renderings on the Web site show an abundance of rich, young brokers enjoying the building’s three bars, disco/theater and glass-bottomed hot tub in the company of a variety of buxom young ladies (if a mix of “nude” and “bikini-clad” constitutes variety).

As an added bonus, the site features a video of Balazs chatting with the development’s cartoon beaver mascot, a martini-guzzling hipster who made his fortune in (what else) wood. As one Curbed staffer quipped in an email, “This campaign will leave no pun unturned.”

Summit meeting
Landscape architect Thomas Balsley, Tribeca’s condo courtyard designer du jour, joined developers Joel Silver and Ethan Eldon Monday night to showcase the Tribeca Summit’s “townhouses” ($2.25 million - $25 million), which will open early next year at 415 Greenwich St.

The condo sellers say they have sold about 30 percent of the 65 units.

The white-wine-drinking party attendees (red would have left a permanent stain on the contemporary pieces selected by Tribeca interior designers Amy Crain and her husband Shawn Moore of ROOM) got a look at one of the seven-story townhouses at a party to unveil a model interior design.

The squat former Summit Ware­house, built in 1913, now has two “donut holes” in the middle creating the area where Balsley designed the still-to-be-built atrium. All the homes will face the open area, which will have evergreen bushes but only one tree to allow lots of light into the homes.

Balsley also designed private spaces at 101 Warren St. and 200 Chambers St. — that’s Sites 5B and C to urban renewal nostalgists. Since his Tribeca bread is buttered on at least three sides, the dapper landscaper was smart enough not to tell us which of his three courtyards he likes the best.

Balsley has no complaints about designing private spaces for the neighborhood’s rich and famous, but he did seem like he was itching to get back to public work. Balsley said Tribecans could have gotten a public plaza at 200 Chambers in addition to the planned school annex and rec center, but community leaders negotiated for a smaller tower, fattening the building design and consuming the public area.

“Would five more stories make much difference,” he asked us. “You’re still going to have a tower there.”

He has also smoothed things over with an old friend, landscape architect Peter Walker, who was miffed when Balsley told UnderCover over the summer that he wasn’t sweet on the sweet gum trees Walker picked for the World Trade Center memorial plaza.

Downtowners haven’t seen the last of Balsley. He’s beginning work on a few of the slip plazas in the city’s Lower Manhattan plan for the East River waterfront.

Downtown’s Secret Santa
Some Downtown groups ought to add state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to their holiday card lists. According to a very ticked off Albany Times Union, which sued Silver to get the records, the speaker was personally responsible for $15.2 million in anonymous budget earmarks from 2003-05, many of which funded Lower Manhattan initiatives in his district.

In particular, Silver directed $400,000 to the Downtown Alliance and $36,000 to the Lower East Side tenement museum. Both groups retain the services of lobbyist Patricia Lynch, a former top aide to Silver.

Silver’s secret Santa days may be numbered, however, as Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer recently vowed to crack down on the anonymous earmarks — called “member items” in the state budget. Silver has defended the secret process by saying that the governor might automatically veto a budget item if he or she knew that it was sponsored by a member of the opposing party.

UnderCover wonders: Is the Times Union angry because earmarking is unethical or because Albany’s local lawmakers just aren’t that good at it? As the T.U. story points out, Cohoes representative Ron Canestrari directed just $330,000 to his district.

Take Two
For the second time in a week, Battery Park City played host to a film shoot. On Monday, “Definitely, Maybe” was seen shooting in the schoolyard and Chambers St. foyer of P.S./I.S. 89. If any schoolchildren seemed confused, chalk it up to the fact that the production renamed P.S. 89 for the shoot — calling it P.S. 322 Hudson River School.

B.P.C. kids will have to wait awhile to see their digs on the big screen, though. The movie, which features Ryan Reynolds, Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher and Rachel Weisz, is set to be released in 2008.

New NYC Map
Say what you will about city government, it has one heck of an infotech team. Taking a page from the Google playbook, the webmasters at www.nyc.gov have merged the multitudes of information available on the city’s Web site with the site’s map feature.

The resulting ubermap, which can be displayed as an illustrated map or a satellite image, inundates the user with information. For any address, a single click will pull up building and lot specifics and neighborhood statistics.

The map also displays the location of nearby services — everything from senior centers to subway entrances to WiFi hotspots — using cartoon icons that scroll over to reveal the service’s name, address and Web site, if available.

All of this is great fun until you make the mistake, as UnderCover did, of clicking on the “Restaurant Inspection” link, only to learn that your local Dunkin’ Donuts was written up for having no water or soap for employees to wash their hands. Proving, once again, that there is such a thing as too much information

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