Volume 19 Issue 44 | March 16 - 22, 2007

Under Cover

D.O.B. chides Chang
As any student of the New York City real estate market can tell you, the sands beneath your feet can shift at any time. But when your project starts to shift the sands underneath someone else’s feet, well, that’s when the Department of Buildings gets involved.

In what may signal the start of yet another Sam Chang saga in Lower Manhattan, the prolific hotelier’s project at 370 Canal St. was issued a stop work order on Feb. 28 for “work nonconforming to the approved plans.” Namely, excavation at the site — along a famously unstable swath of one-time swampland — was causing neighboring buildings on Lispenard St. to shake.

On March 1, the D.O.B. amended the order to allow Chang to start “shoring work,” but as of Tuesday, no workers were evident on the site. Chang’s operation has previously riled portions of the Downtown community with a Seaport area hotel that did not match up with its renderings, a Duane St. project marred by delays and rodent issues, and a current fight to tear down a 1798 Greenwich St. rowhouse to make way for a hotel.

More Trinity tenants
The tenants keep marching in for Trinity Real Estate. The Hudson Square landowner’s quest to enliven the neighborhood with what Trinity President Carl Weisbrod called “like-minded, creative tenants” took another two steps forward this week.

At 345 Hudson St., CBS Radio exercised an option to expand its Dec. 18, 2006 lease. The radio group will be taking another 30,000 square feet of space, giving CBS Radio the entirety of the 10th and 11th floors to house four of its five Manhattan-based stations.

At 75 Varick St., Trinity added New York Magazine. The magazine signed an approved sublease to occupy space controlled by Bruce Wasserstein, the high-profile investor who bought the magazine in late 2003.

Model mop duty
Use your cell phone while driving and you might be subject to a fine. Use your cell phone as a projectile weapon, however, and you might end up scrubbing floors for the Department of Sanitation.

Model Naomi Campbell, notorious for her diva-like behavior on and off the runway, was sentenced to a week of community service for chucking a jewel-encrusted cell phone at her housekeeper (the wound reportedly required five stitches).

According to the gossip hounds at the New York Post, Campbell will serve the community at the D.O.S. warehouse on the Lower East Side’s Pier 36. Starting March 19, she’ll spend five days mopping up with other not-so-model citizens. The indoor duty, the Post said, was designed to prevent the media circus that accompanied Boy George when he was sentenced to clean L.E.S. streets last summer.

Seaport land-grab?
The public space that General Growth Properties last month proposed to exchange for the height of a mixed-use tower (the taller the tower, the bigger the public space) may already belong to the public.

Irked that G.G.P. presented a 360-foot tower as a “conceptual possibility” for the redevelopment of the South Street Seaport, Paul Goldstein decided to recheck the zoning in the area — zoning he helped to draft as Community Board 1’s district manager.

Goldstein, who now works for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, then told C.B. 1’s Seaport Committee that G.G.P. had been misleading in its Feb. 26 presentation. According to Goldstein, the only spot in the entire Seaport area where building height is not capped by either Seaport district or waterfront zoning is the New Market Building, the home of the Fulton Fish Market prior to its relocation to the Bronx.

At its presentation, however, G.G.P. showed slides that put the “conceptual” tower south of Pier 17 (the New Market Building is north of the pier) — perhaps because the developers do not control the up-zoned northern site. While G.G.P. has right of first refusal on the Tin Building and the Market Stalls, it has no such claim to the New Market Building, which is owned by the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

G.G.P. appears to have the inside track to occupy the E.D.C. space, but only if the developers can come up with a plan the city likes. The developers have even employed the same SHoP Architects that are designing E.D.C.’s East River Waterfront Park. Still, UnderCover has to give G.G.P. credit — it takes major cojones to offer a horse trade for a horse you haven’t even saddled yet.

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