Volume 16 • Issue 44 | April 2 - 8, 2004



Downtown local

Downtown Express photos by Milo Hess

There was a stain on the El Teddy’s building on W. Broadway last Friday but it wasn’t from the salsa. The popular Tribeca eatery that closed in January was renamed Stain for a film shoot March 26. Crew members climbed the roof and its Statue of Liberty crown.

Bond building approved
The city Board of Standards and Appeals granted permission to a bond-trading firm to build a nine-story mixed-use building on the corner of Greenwich and Hubert Sts.

Members of Community Board 1 had urged the city to reject the firm’s application for a variance, saying the proposed building would set a dangerous precedent by exceeding the height allowed under city zoning. City regulations effectively restrict construction at 408 Greenwich St. to a six-story building, unless the developer wants to build a very narrow structure.

The building will hold the New York headquarters of Samuel A. Ramirez and Co., with ground-floor retail, four floors of office space, two stories of rental or sale apartments, and two residential stories to be occupied by the firm’s principals.

In a January resolution, C.B. 1 said the building would have a “severe negative impact on the character of the …Tribeca community.”

Ramirez’s attorney called the B.S.A. decision, reached March 30, a vote of confidence in Lower Manhattan after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

“It’s a good project and it sends out a very positive signal, because rather than move across the river, Ramirez decided to stay right there in the city,” said Howard Weiss of Davidoff & Malito, L.L.P. Construction will begin within the year, Weiss said, as soon as the required permits are secured and the garage on the lot is demolished.

Weiss said that the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation wrote a letter in support of the project’s B.S.A variance application.


Gerson knocks Jets-B.P.C. plan
City Councilmember Alan Gerson joined three of his colleagues on the steps of City Hall on Wed. March 31 to protest the Bloomberg administration’s plan to use $350 million of future Battery Park City Authority revenues to finance the proposed Jets stadium and Javits Convention Center expansion.

Over the past 13 years, B.P.C.A. has contributed $600 million in its surplus revenues to a city affordable housing fund, but only $143 million has been spent for that purpose. The mayor last week proposed that B.P.C.A. surplus revenues up to $350 million now go to secure bonds financing the West Side expansion.

“To take this money, which was set aside for affordable housing and Lower Manhattan and use it for a project that is not welcome by the community is inappropriate and wrong,” Gerson said in a statement. The money is needed for the preservation of subsidized housing like Mitchell-Lamas, a new library for B.P.C. residents and for new affordable housing, Gerson said.

Councilmembers Christine Quinn from Manhattan and David Yassky of Brooklyn joined the criticism of the mayor’s plan for B.P.C.A. funds.

Last week, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver issued a statement saying he was adamantly opposed to using B.P.C.A. funds for the West Side project. But James Gill, chairperson of the B.P.C.A., enthusiastically endorsed the project.

The plan to use B.P.C.A. revenues requires the approval of City Comptroller William Thompson as well as the mayor and the authority board of directors. Thompson has not yet given an opinion about the proposal but he expressed doubts last week about the stadium project’s economic benefit to the city.


BID leader bid
The Historic Orchard St. Lower East Side Business Improvement District is looking for a new executive director to replace Andrew Flamm, who left the BID at the end of February. “We’re looking for someone with marketing experience, some finance skills and administration ability,” said Howard Slonim, president of the BID, “We hope to re-enforce the programs that Andrew directed,” Slonim added. The parting with Flamm, who directed the BID for a little more than four years, was amicable. The BID encompasses the area from Houston to Division Sts. between Allen and Orchard Sts. A proposed expansion to Ludlow and parts of Essex Sts. along with some sites on Norfolk, Suffolk and Clinton Sts. has been put on hold, Slonim said.


Learning Southern Comfort
The Millennium Hilton Hotel at 55 Church Street, is offering free cooking lessons, once a month through June. Each class has a different theme, the next being Southern Comforts on April 7, where students will learn to cook New Orleans gumbo and Carolina pulled pork. The classes are taught by American Culinary Institute 2001 winner Joseph Verde, executive chef of the hotel’s Church & Dey restaurant and Albert Vega, Chef de Cuisine at Church & Dey. Spaces are limited to 15 people per class and advanced reservations are required. 212-312-2000.


C.B. 1 meeting
The upcoming week’s schedule of Community Board 1 committee meetings is as follows. Unless otherwise noted, meetings will be held in room 709 of 49-51 Chambers St.

On Wed., April 7, a combined WTC Redevelopment Committee and Landmarks Committee will be held at 6 p.m. to discuss the priorities for the remaining $1.2 billion in federal redevelopment funds, to hear a presentation on disability access to the future W.T.C., and to view a draft report on section 106 of the National Historic Preservation act for the W.T.C. Memorial and Redevelopment Plan.


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