Volume 22, Number 11 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 31 - August 6, 2009
By Patrick Hedlund
The Soho Alliance neighborhood organization has claimed a victory against the developer of a new hotel on Lafayette St. for successfully beating back the builder’s attempts to secure a liquor license for a pair of planned outdoor spaces.
According to the alliance, the developer of the incoming Mondrian Hotel near Howard St. recently withdrew an application with the State Liquor Authority to serve booze in the hotel’s courtyard and second-story patio space facing Crosby St. The alliance had previously expressed its concerns with “the outdoor party space” and its sought-after closing times, arguing that the racket brought on by patrons would negatively impact neighbors across the street. (The 25-story building, care of the Morgans Hotel Group, also contains restaurants on the rooftop and inside the hotel, the latter able to accommodate up to 400 people.)
“Not satisfied at the profits generated from having such spectacular views, the developer decided to double-dip, exploiting the outdoor Crosby space for late-night entertainment use,” the alliance’s statement read, adding, “What were they thinking? Did they really think they were going to be allowed to destroy this part of Soho?”
And while Community Board 2’s S.L.A. Licensing Committee compromised to permit the outdoor spaces to remain open until 11 p.m., the full board disagreed, voting almost unanimously to recommend denial of the spaces’ use entirely.
“Mondrian may have thought that Soho activists have just fallen off the pumpkin truck,” said alliance director Sean Sweeney. “But we are seasoned organizers who will fight tooth and nail to prevent Soho from becoming a late-night playground. We have learned from the misery these party hotels have caused elsewhere Downtown, and we are determined that it will never — ever — happen in Soho.”
A person with the hotel group said no one was available to comment.
Youngwoo gets pier nod
Advocates have thrown their support behind West Village-based developer Youngwoo and Associates’ proposal to redevelop Pier 57 on the Chelsea waterfront.
Youngwoo — considered the long-shot candidate in bidding against mega-developers The Related Companies and the Durst Organization/C&K Properties for the right to rebuild the pier — received the endorsement of the Pier 57 Community Advisory Working Group and Community Board 4, which authored a letter to the Hudson River Park Trust explaining the reason for its selection.
“CB 4 agrees with the Working Group and the great majority of people in the neighborhood from whom we heard that Young Woo’s proposal for the pier is the most appropriate for the Hudson River Park and the community,” the board’s letter stated. “A market composed of small vendors and artists and artisans will nicely compliment [sic] the Chelsea art gallery district nearby and enrich the identity of the area and the Park while not encouraging large amounts of automobile traffic nor causing a major impact to the parkland in front of the Pier.”
The letter also cites the aesthetic appeal of Youngwoo’s proposal, which would utilize shipping containers to house retail stores and galleries, and also provide for park space on the pier’s roof.
Youngwoo previously received the endorsement of Community Board 2 for the project, following on the heels of the company’s blockbuster purchase of A.I.G.’s twin Financial District high-rises in early June for a reported $140 million in partnership with a Korea-based bank.
“When [Youngwoo] had the public meeting, it was like music was playing when they were describing their proposal, and the other two [developers] were pretty much the same old thing,” said Working Group and Board 4 member Robert Trentlyon. He explained that Yongwoo’s plans for the roof and traffic considerations — as well as its decision not to include a banquet hall, which appeared in both Related’s and Durst’s proposal — pushed them to the top.
However, “On the whole business of saving as much history as possible, [Related was] by far better than anyone else,” Trentlyon added, noting that the Related’s failed bid to redevelop Pier 40 off of W. Houston St. did not contribute to any residual resentment of the developer.
Trentlyon also cited Youngwoo’s environmentally conscious reuse of the shipping containers as “something that’s very much in people’s minds now.”
“This project is so Chelsea,” he continued. “It really fits in with the arts community; it fits in with Chelsea Market; it fits in with the whole dynamism of West Chelsea. I think it will be a great addition.”
The proposal will now come before the Trust’s Advisory Council before being considered by the full Trust.