Volume 22, Number 51 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | April 30 - May 6, 2010
Trump’s edifice complex
The Trump Soho New York condo hotel opened on April 9 and suddenly a somewhat sleepy corner of Hudson Square became transformed. Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, brought their star power, and of course the paparazzi along with them in tow, to the ribbon-cutting. New Yorkers and out-of-towners alike stood gawking on the corner to get a glimpse of the high-powered The Donald and his glamorous daughter.
Trump was candid in speaking to us about his new building. It’s “a good thing” that it’s a whopping 46 stories tall, he said. It will be a landmark, Soho residents all love it, it will set records, he said bullishly.
Yes, the hotel does bring positives. With its large staff, it’s putting 350 people to work on the site of a former open-air parking lot that probably employed two attendants at most. And the hotel’s guests are already hitting Hudson Square and Soho stores and local restaurants, helping the neighborhood’s and the city’s economy. And all of this is occurring in a recession.
Indeed, another nearby hotel project, at Charlton and Hudson Sts., has been stalled for a year, the historic building that was to be its base, sitting gutted and lifeless.
Tragically, however, a construction worker was killed during the Trump Soho’s construction in what some said was the developers’ rush to put the building up.
The main point, though, is that this building is way too tall. Trump says he and his partners, Alex Sapir and Bayrock, merely took advantage of existing zoning, but that’s the problem — that the zoning ever even allowed this building. This “2001”-like monolith is visible on the skyline all the way from the Lower East Side, sticking up like a sore thumb, dominating the view. It’s completely out of context with the low-rise neighborhoods that surround it, like Hudson Square, Soho and the South Village, and, in fact, with most of the entire Downtown area apart from the Financial District.
The real issue then is why, despite promises from the administration and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the zoning of this strip on the western edge of Soho hasn’t been changed to prevent future behemoths from being built. Activists and preservationists have fought for this zoning change for four years, to no avail. This area’s zoning needs to be addressed to prevent these zoning and planning abominations.
Dropping our gaze from the sky to the street, another glaring problem with the building seems to be its pickup and drop-off situation. Cabs have to quickly turn sharply left onto Spring St. off of fast-moving Varick St. to get to the Trump Soho’s entrance, which is located too close to the corner; this leads to backups into the crosswalk when even only two cars are queued up. It would have been a better idea to put the hotel entrance where its Quattro restaurant’s doorway is, a bit farther east on Spring St.
But as one local activist put it, now that the condo hotel is built, it makes sense to try to get along with Trump et al. and find some ways to work together. Maybe Trump and Co. can bring some of their clout to addressing Hudson Square’s pressing traffic concerns. Former congregants from shuttered Lithuanian church Our Lady of Vilnius, on Broome St., have long said that the church would be in greater demand once the Trump Soho was built.
Who knows? Maybe if Trump got involved, this historic church could be resurrected.
But this should be the last building of this outsized scale to be built in our Downtown neighborhoods, and a zoning change would make that a reality for Hudson Square.