By Patrick Hedlund
Nolitan going ahead
The under-construction Little Italy hotel that the city determined violates zoning regulations by exceeding its allowable height intends to open by the spring, according to its general manager.
Despite the fact that the hotel, called the Nolitan and located at the southwest corner of Kenmare and Elizabeth Sts., does not conform to height limits in the Special Little Italy District, the operators nonetheless plan open the 55-room boutique with a ground-floor restaurant in May.
The city Department of Buildings ruled last month that the nine-story-plus building rises above set limits in the historic district, which only allows for structures up to 85 feet, or about eight floors. The developer’s original plans did not count the hotel’s “mezzanine level,” as one of the stories, but a subsequent D.O.B. audit deemed the mezzanine a story and therefore in violation of zoning regulations.
But that ruling, which the developer is free to challenge with the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, has not stopped hotel management publicly stating its intentions to move forward.
According to HotelChatter.com, Nolitan G.M. Patrik Horstmann said he plans to open the hotel in May, with reservations starting to be accepted in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, Community Board 2’s Traffic and Transportation Committee decided to postpone hearing a Feb. 3 agenda item regarding the hotel’s sought-after changes to parking and signage due to the D.O.B.’s recent determination.
Eagle swoops in
Popular teen clothing company American Eagle recently inked a lease for 20,000 square feet of prime retail space on Broadway in Soho.
The 15-year deal, reportedly worth more than $120 million, includes space for the outfitter on the first, second and basement floors of 599 Broadway at the southwest corner of Houston St., according to the New York Post. American Eagle currently operates a store at 575 Broadway near Prince St., just down the street for its new location.
The retailer, reportedly emboldened by the success of its Times Square store, will pay rents in the high $500s per square foot for the 7,000-square-foot ground-floor space.
The Soho building’s owner, Jeff Sutton, who also co-owns the Times Square space, handled the transaction himself but declined to comment on the deal.
American Eagle will now more directly square off for shoppers’ attentions with Hollister Co., the Abercrombie & Fitch-owned teen clothier that opened its flagship store across the street at 600 Broadway last year.
Boost for shul
Efforts to protect the East Village’s last operating “tenement synagogue” got a boost recently when the state Historic Preservation Office deemed the E. Sixth St. property eligible for inclusion in the State and National Register of Historic Places.
The building, a three-story tenement that houses Congregation Mezritch Synagogue, between First Ave. and Avenue A, had been threatened with demolition in 2008 when the owner floated a plan to redevelop the site with a six-story condo building. The plan would have included a restored shul in the new building, but it ultimately fell through.
The register’s recognition of the synagogue, a k a the Adas Le Israel Anshei Meseritz, would afford the property owner certain economic incentives for preservation, like tax breaks and special grants for religious institutions, but would not prohibit demolition.
Meanwhile, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which submitted the synagogue’s application to the State and National Register, continues to push the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the building to preserve it.
“The good news is there’s no new plan to tear down the building,” said G.V.S.H.P. Director Andrew Berman. “The bad news,” he added, “is there’s no new plan to preserve the building.”
G.V.S.H.P.’s attempt to landmark the property has been bolstered by testimony from a professor of modern Jewish thought on the historic significance of the building’s original stained-glass windows and its importance to Hasidic Judaism. A direct disciple of the Hasidic movement’s founder hailed from a Polish town from which the synagogue takes its name, “something which may help explain why the immigrants from this town were so intent on creating an elegant little synagogue in a small tenement space,” wrote Professor Jonathan Boyarin, of the University of North Carolina, to L.P.C. “As such, it is a cultural landmark in the history for immigrants and their descendents, and we believe it is the only remaining monument to the [disciple] in New York,” he noted.