Volume 21, Number 15 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | August 22 - 28, 2008
Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund


Bad Apple in Soho?
A neighborhood group claiming that Soho’s Apple Store has become a persistent source of aggravation in the community has reached out to the Borough President’s Office for help.

Alluding to what it called the store’s history of overcrowding, questionable construction practices and an overall irresponsible disposition toward the community, the Soho Alliance sent a letter to Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer listing its complaints.

“Since the Apple Soho store moved in six years ago, it has become the worst neighbor in Soho,” read a statement from Alliance director Sean Sweeney. “No bar, nightclub or construction site comes close to ruining continually our quality of life like Apple Soho has.”

The Alliance reported that the last straw was a concert by the Jonas Brothers inside the store last week, drawing “thousands” of fans to the location on Prince St. near Greene St. The statement claimed that a gaggle of screaming teenage girls blocked pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area, as well as filling the space over its capacity without the proper permits.

“These regular music performances by Apple may violate the zoning resolution, the certificate of occupancy and the public-assembly-permit requirement (they have no P.A.),” the statement went on, citing an article that reported 450 people attended the concert. “This is clearly a Pubic Assembly violation as well as a fire-safety hazard,” the letter declared.

The statement also took Apple to task for its construction practices over the years, alleging nonpermitted nighttime work, excessive noise and light from the premises, and regular lines outside the store “giving Soho the appearance of a homeless encampment.”

According to Stringer’s office, “We are requesting a meeting with the Apple Store in Soho to facilitate a dialogue with residents and business owners about their concerns with excessive noise and traffic blockage in the area.”


Making a Splash
Photography resources company Splashlight opened its new headquarters in Hudson Square this week with 60,000 square feet at 1 Hudson Square.

The company’s new address, a.k.a. 75 Varick St., near Canal St., is part of Trinity Real Estate’s portfolio that includes high-profile tenants such as New York magazine, Getty/Wireimage and Porter Novelli, at the building bordering Tribeca.

The opening follows an eight-month gut renovation of the Class-A space by H2 L Design, with Newmark Knight Frank brokering the deal for Splashlight.

The company will still maintain 23,000 square feet of studio space at its former offices on W. 35th St., making it one of the largest photo studios in the city. The move allows Splashlight’s account management team and corporate executives to be based out of the same office, a first for the company.

Splashlight offers a full range of photographic services, including studio rentals, state-of-the-art photographic equipment, digital capture, production, digital asset management, retouching services and event space.


Landlords push back
Landlords are seeking legal recourse against a new city law intended to protect tenants from harassment. On Monday, the city received notice that a lawsuit against Local Law 7, the Tenant Protection Act, had been filed by a group of landlords touting itself as the Rent Stabilization Association.

The lawsuit’s primary argument is that a law enacted by the City Council cannot supersede housing codes. The suit also claims that the Tenant Protection Act violates a landlord’s 14th Amendment right to due process.

The new law was intended to serve as a stopgap against a variety of actions deemed harassment. They include using force or making threats against a tenant, interrupting services, commencing baseless litigation, and removing possessions or changing door locks.

Drafted by Council Speaker Christine Quinn and several councilmembers, and signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg in March, the law empowered tenants to sue their landlord for failure to provide essential services and other cumulative actions that qualify as harassment. Previously, tenants could bring suit only if those services were withheld on a case-by-case basis, oftentimes a lengthy and cumbersome process.

A day after the city received the 34-page lawsuit, dated Aug. 7, tenant organizers gathered on the City Hall steps to join Council members in denouncing the lawsuit.

Speaker Quinn pledged to keep the law in force. “The filing of this lawsuit speaks volumes about the fact that this harassment is a reality,” she said as more than a hundred tenants and tenant advocates cheered her on. “We will win this lawsuit,” Quinn declared.


Mixed Use mix-up
An accidentally misattributed quote in our item a few weeks back about the New York City Housing Authority’s development rights has ticked off L.E.S. tenant activist Anna Sawaryn, who had actually sent us a response from Hell’s Kitchen activist John Fisher criticizing Borough President Scott Stringer’s report on NYCHA’s air rights that we credited to her.

The e-mail Sawaryn sent to Mixed Use was in fact a forwarded message from Fisher, although no name or perceptible e-mail address appeared anywhere in the note, leading us to believe it had come directly from Sawaryn. The only thing that might have tipped us off was the message’s focus on Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, but otherwise it looked to be straight from Sawaryn’s keypad.

The e-mail did feature some harsh language for Stringer—calling his report on the Housing Authority’s abundance of development rights “a perfect scam”—so we understand her frustration and apologize for the error.

mixeduse@communitymediallc.com




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