Volume 22, Number 02 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 22 - 28, 2009
By Patrick Hedlund
Soho high-rise D.O.A.
The developer of a Soho office building has backed off its request for a zoning variance to construct a highrise at the corner of West Broadway and Grand St.
The original proposal sought to erect an 11-story building on the corner lot, which represented a 55 percent increase in bulk over what is permitted by the current zoning designation in the light-manufacturing district.
The project had faced opposition from Community Board 2 and the Soho Alliance community organization over its size and the fact that the plan included a ground-floor restaurant tenant. Representatives from the nearby Soho Grand Hotel also feared the building’s height would impede views from its rooms on higher floors.
“This would be the tallest building outside the Sixth Avenue or Broadway corridors and almost as tall as the Soho Grand, but without the setbacks, thus making it much bulkier,” read a note from the alliance. “A large proposed restaurant with liquor license in an area where new liquor-license applications have already been restricted by a 1995 agreement between the Soho Alliance and the S.L.A. [State Liquor Authority] also rallied opposition.”
But thanks to the recession, the deal appears dead on arrival. The site’s owner, John De Lorenzo and Bro. Iron, is currently engaged in litigation with the developer regarding failure to provide payments after initially agreeing to put down a half-million-dollar deposit. The developer, listed as West Broadway 330 L.L.C. on the Department of Buildings’ Web site, has filed a counterclaim charging that De Lorenzo violated the deal’s confidentially agreement after news of the agreement’s collapse became public.
“They certainly were exchanging harsh words, at a minimum,” said Shelly Friedman, a lawyer with the firm Friedman and Gotbaum, L.L.P., who is representing the Soho Grand. “These [Board of Standards and Appeals] applications aren’t cheap,” he added, hinting that the deal could have collapsed completely. “Now, they’d have to start over.”
Burial Ground town hall
The National Park Service will hold three town hall meetings next month to kick off the yearlong planning process for the future of Lower Manhattan’s African Burial Ground National Monument.
The meetings encourage members of the public to share ideas and expectations for the five-block monument, located on Duane St., which is the final resting place for an estimated 20,000 free and enslaved Africans. A General Management Plan is being drafted to recommend how the sacred site can educate and inspire visitors during the next 20 years. The African Burial Ground was discovered in 1991 during construction of the federal building at the edge of the memorial.
The meetings will be held on June 9 and 10 in Brooklyn and Harlem, with the final town hall scheduled for June 11 from noon to 2 p.m., at the federal building at 290 Broadway, 30th floor.