Volume 22, Number 19 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | September 18 - 24, 2009

Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Stuffed Truffles
The luxury North Tribeca rental complex Truffles has leased all of its nearly 300 units in a little more than six months.

The Jack Parker Corporation development, which officially launched sales back in February, has rented out all 291 apartments, made up of studios through three-bedrooms.

In late April, Truffles — located at Washington and Desbrosses Sts.—had leased about half its units only a month after opening, following a reduction in prices by as much as $250 per month for some units.

Grand facade savior
Five years after a residential building in Soho had to be evacuated due to an unstable foundation, owners of the condemned five-story Grand St. structure are planning to demolish it and preserve its historic cast-iron facade for future redevelopment.

Community Board 2’s landmarks committee voted to recommend approving the demolition of 74 Grand St. at its Mon., Sept. 14, meeting, assuming the owners safely dismantle and store the building’s historic features, including the facade, vaults and fires shutters, for future reuse.

“They’re going to take it down piece by piece, and it’s going to be stored somewhere until they get the building down completely,” said Doris Diether, co-chairperson of the landmarks committee, adding that no plan currently exists for future redevelopment of the property.

Residents of 74 Grand St. had to be evacuated back in September of 2004 after heavy rain flooded a neighboring excavation pit, causing extensive structural damage to the building.

Since then, the building, located at the corner of Wooster St., has been supported by steel girders on its western face. Diether noted that the owners will eventually store the building’s historic features on site while considering future construction.

Union Real Estate
The Cooper Union has appointed a new vice president of finance and administration, it announced on Monday.

Theresa C. Westcott, who will be leaving the same position at Polytechnic Institute of New York University, will also be treasurer and oversee the East Village-based school’s real-estate operations.

Before joining what was then Polytechnic University in 2004, Westcott served as senior vice president and C.F.O. at Planned Parenthood of New York City, handling the organization’s financial operations. Prior to that, she spent 11 years as an executive at Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New York. 

N.Y.U. signs skirmish
New York University’s Silver Towers recently got slapped with a violation by the city for illegally installing No Parking placards and other signage throughout the historic South Village complex.

The property, known as University Village and located between Bleecker and W. Houston Sts. from LaGuardia Place to Mercer St., is a city landmark that requires any new work to be approved by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The signage in question includes about a dozen attached and freestanding notices located around the 5-acre complex, as well as a series of “canine hygiene stations” for residents to clean up after their pets.

According to landmarks law, L.P.C. must pre-approve all work at a given site and issue a permit for any construction to move forward. In this case, the work included stand-alone concrete stanchions embedded into the ground, as well as signs attached to fencing throughout the complex and near the property’s notable Picasso sculpture.

“On the N.Y.U. scale of things it’s pretty minor, but it’s a small thing which unfortunately says a lot about N.Y.U.,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation, which has been a vocal watchdog of the university’s development plans. “N.Y.U. knows that once a building is landmarked you can’t install concrete stands for signs without getting landmarks approval. But they did it anyway. N.Y.U. seems to think that landmarking is great, as long as they don’t have to actually obey any rules, or do anything differently than what they would have done anyway.”

Alicia Hurley, N.Y.U.’s vice president of government affairs and community engagement, explained that signage has always been present at the property and that the new placards simply replaced old ones that “everyone ignored.”

“Prior to the landmarking of the site,” Hurley said, “we had set in motion a series of repairs to the roadbeds and the lighting in the area, as well as the removal of old ad-hoc signage with new, nicer signage for the site. Some of the work has stretched to take longer than anticipated. We are working with L.P.C. to ensure we are in compliance.”




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