Volume 20, Number 43 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN - MARCH 7 -- 13, 2008

Under Cover

Ratner snubs Silver
Developer Bruce Ratner is snubbing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Silver wrote a letter to Ratner expressing concern about the lack of progress on construction of the Beekman Tower building, which will house a new K-8 school. The site has showed no sign of movement since late last fall, but the school is somehow supposed to open in September 2009.

Silver sent the letter Feb. 25 but still has not received a written response from Ratner.

The speaker brokered the deal for the school with Ratner and Mayor Mike Bloomberg three years ago, back when the threesome were pal-ling around. But now that Ratner is apparently having trouble coming up with the dough to build Frank Gehry’s design, it seems he’s not keen on speaking to the speaker.

Ratner’s speaker, P.R. exec Loren Riegelhaupt, emailed UnderCover and said: “We have received the speaker’s letter and understand his and the community’s concerns relating to the opening of the school. We …appreciate all of his efforts in helping to move the project forward as quickly as possible.”

The speaker may also appreciate a direct response.


Going to school
Community Board 2 is taking lessons from C.B. 1 on getting new schools. “We’ve taken a leaf from our sister Community Board 1 to the south,” said Brad Hoylman, Board 2’s chairperson.

He pointed out that the Lower Manhattan board was able to get city and state approval last November for a new school on the state-owned site in the southern part of Battery Park City originally designated for a women’s museum. That was preceded by a school annex for Tribeca’s P.S. 234 and an apparent (see previous UnderCover item) win on the Beekman school project.

Board 2 passed a resolution asking the city to take a close look at Pier 40 near Houston St., parochial and private schools that are closing, Hudson Sq. development sites, the St. Vincent’s redevelopment project and 75 Morton St. for new schools. Hoylman thinks the Morton St. building, which contains several state service agency offices may be particularly ripe.


Bouley defenders
Chef David Bouley threw in the towel at least temporarily last week and withdrew his application for a liquor license at what will be his first Japanese restaurant, Brushstrokes, but that didn’t stop some community members from continuing to lobby on his behalf.

Wendy Chapman, Dawn Cook and Sarah Reetz, co-chairpersons of this year’s Taste of Tribeca, wrote a letter to Community Board 1 singing Bouley’s praises.

“These establishments are the top of their industry and well run,” they wrote of his Tribeca restaurants, Bouley and Danube. “People from all over know about our little triangle of the world in part because of what [Bouley] and other top chefs built here.” They call Bouley a generous neighbor who has steadily supported local schools through Taste, and Bob Townley’s new community center.

That’s a remarkably different picture than the one painted by Julie Nadel, a C.B. 1 member who led the fight against the liquor license and called Bouley anything but a good neighbor.

But since Bouley withdrew his application for the W. Broadway spot, the fight appears over, at least for now.


White House green
On the day Mayor Bloomberg made front page headlines for announcing he would not run for president, Gov. Eliot Spitzer came Downtown to give a speech to the Association for a Better New York. After spending several minutes explaining his commitment to upstate education, Spitzer promised the crowd that downstate would receive funding, too.

“I gather the mayor’s not moving to Washington, so I’ve got to be nice to him,” Spitzer said.


On the Lam
Wing Lam, founder and eminence grise of a militant labor-rights group that has mounted a series of demonstrations and lawsuits against upscale Asian eateries, says he doesn’t believe that 28 immigrant delivery workers sacked last year by the owner of the Saigon Grill mini-chain will get their jobs back any time soon. This despite a Feb. 20 National Labor Relations Board ruling that Saigon Grill’s owner rehire the workers with full back pay.

“He’s dragging it out and still playing the game,” Lam, executive director of Chinese Staff and Workers Association, said of the owner, Simon Nget. The lawyer for Nget, a Chinese-Cambondian immigrant, has expressed plans to appeal the N.L.R.B. ruling.

“He thinks he’s above the law. But he’s under obligation to take them back and he’ll pay a lot more” in a court case, Lam predicted. The Chinatown activist was speaking on Sunday during his group’s celebration of the Year of the Rat at 122 Henry St. in Chinatown. One of Nget’s managers noted that delivery service remains suspended at Saigon Grill’s restaurant at 12th St. and University Pl. in the Village and also at their West Side location, at 90th St. and Amsterdam Ave.



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