Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Silver working to save the east side of the Bowery from further towering development

More development is certainly in the works along Cooper Square and the Bowery... Like this newish "for sale" sign that was added to the empty lot at Sixth Street and Cooper Square... While the City Planning Commission voted to approve rezonings in the Third and Fourth Avenue corridors in the East Village last week, one important area wasn't included: The Bowery.

The west side of the Bowery has a height limit of 120 feet. However! On the east side, developers can toss up anything that they'd like, and they have: the Bowery Hotel, the Cooper Square Hotel, New Museum, the new Cooper Union Building, and 52E4.

In The Observer today, Matt Chaban reports that the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors (BAN, if you're nasty) have a powerful ally: Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver.

Despite his persuasive ways, the city doesn't exactly seem to be cowering with fear... Per Chaban's aricle:

Rachaele Raynoff, a department spokeswoman, explained it this way in an email:

The Department of City Planning appreciates the dynamic nature of the historic Bowery, and its enduring strength as a vital, economically thriving corridor, having seen a range of new development activity and investment. The wide, centrally-located street continues to support a mix of commercial, residential, community and cultural uses, and has excellent access to mass transit. As the Department considers citywide policies on rezoning, we work hard to balance the varying needs of a broad and ever-expanding city and continually seek to strike a balance among uses, constituencies and planning strategies.

In other words, were the city to downzone everything, there would be nowhere left to build.


Anonymous said...

If I had the money, I'd put up a 54 story Lyons Hotel.

glamma said...

come on silver... we're counting on you. you can do it! stop the madness!

michele campo said...

-correction - the west side of the Bowery has a height limit of 85 feet, or 8 stories as per 'Special Little Italy District (SLID) zoning.
as for the reference of excellent access to mass transit - apparently ms. raynoff has never been trapped in the traffic congestion nightmare I witness daily. this congestion is mainly due to the fact that the Bowery is a major artery for 3 bridges and an interstate tunnel.
-both sides of a street should have symmetry of height
-the architectural history of new york city is still in evidence on the Bowery
-as City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden has herself stated "once you lose a building, you lose character and history"
michele campo
Bowery Alliance of Neighbors

prodigal son said...

Nowhere left to build? What about Staten Island?

Jean S. said...

During the rezoning of the East Village and Lower East Side, Amanda Burden, Chair of the City Planning Commission, was interviewed by the Daily News ("Walk With NYC planner Amanda Burden as she rezones the Lower East Side, 8/8/08). In this article it was stated, "She (Amanda Burden) looks at each neighborhood block by block, lot by lot. To her, the city is a jewel that needs constant care and safekeeping. 'Each neighborhood has its own personal DNA,' says Burden, '......It's my job to find it and save it.'" The Bowery is one of these jewels that is slowly losing its context as culturally significant buildings are being demolished to make way for outsized luxury buildings. The history of the Bowery begins with the history of New York; to lose this history is a consummate tragedy--like the loss of Penn Station. The DNA of this community is disappearing at the hands of real estate interests, destroying the history and context of this area.

onegun said...

Part of this "development" site contains one of the last remaining houses of the early 1800's. The historical data of this house is constantly updated as new research is discovered. If this site is totally developed it will eradicate almost totally what is left of the Stuyvesant farm area in this location- the house also has significant ties to the 20th century arts movement into the East Village-the early post-war artists, the Beats, and on, all had roots here. This CANNOT be destroyed. The roots of our farms, the roots of our ethnic neighborhood that was to follow, the roots of our artists, and those who stayed when no one else would, because their families settled here, and their roots were here, because their roots were here because this was the only place they could grow their roots, and those who came because they couldn't grow their roots anywhere else. This is the history of our community and it dates back to the 1700's as a place you could grow yourself. A big development is not a place you can grow yourself-in fact it assures that you will stop growing here. Enough already. We and our City and our elected officials need to respect and preserve what we have-"less is more"-we don't need another high rise-we need a little house next to a big hotel that is built and that little house is more popular than that big hotel and it's history has more impact on tourists than the big hotel, and the fact that it bookends with a saved tenement is the only reason this hotel has any popularity at all. The Hotel needs to recognize the advantages of working with the little house, as working against it.

Curt Hoppe said...

Shelly listens but you all have to write and call his offices. Keep the pressure and let him know how you feel.

Jade said...

Yes Silver please leave a semblance of the original Bowerie to survive into the future. As Paul Goldberger has said 'architecture is a conversation between generations'; not much of a conversation if multiple generations are destroyed.

Bowery Boy said...

The Bowery is what's left of NYC's unprotected history, it's very beginning as a City. If it is allowed to go to the highest bidder, it will surely be torn down, building by building. The laws of supply&demand do not account for historical significance and special places like this, so we are left to put our trust in Shelly and his team. (Thanks Mr. Silver!)

Many of the surviving historic buildings on the Bowery were once rural outposts for travelers about to enter the City (when its border was below Chambers St.).

Everything that every happened in NYC happened on the Bowery first... good and bad, and we learn from both.

Today, political-types talk a lot about protecting Small Business... tax cuts for Small Business... save Small Business... Small Businesses are the heart and soul of our country, etc. Well, the Bowery is the Original Home of the Small Business. From butchers, to barbers, to early photographers, to variety performers, to Yiddish actors, to tavern owners, even tattoo artists, to lighting and restaurant suppliers today, the Bowery has been a district center for the kind of small businesses that has kept this City and country thriving and reviving no matter what has been thrown at it.

It's why people from around the country, and the world, make the Bowery a not-to-be-missed place to see (and spend money!) on their trip to NYC. If we make it look more and more like midtown, we will reduce that need and erode that economic engine.

The historic buildings along the Bowery are the physical insight into who we were and where we came from, and how future generations can understand the character, grit, and determination of us city-folk today.

And if the Bowery's buildings are allowed to be destroyed... well, you can't get this kind of history back then... ever!

rob said...

Thank you Sheldon Silver! The Bowery, Walt Whitman's favorite street in the world, America's first theater district and its greatest, everything from the invention of advertising to nightlife as we know it -- the Bowery has lost too much already. Architecture from every decade from 1785 to 1940 is represented on the Bowery. It's the one-and-only -- no other street is named with the definite article. So much happened there, it's so much of the deep history and core of this city, just to trash it, requires a serious lack of historical understanding of this city. Isn't government our caretaker? Is there no foresight and responsibility? Is it just quickest buck for today? There are so many other utterly non historical spaces around to develop, why the most historic place of all?