Friday, September 16, 2011

And developers win again

Yesterday, a City Council subcommittee voted down by a 4-1 count a landmarking proposal for 135 Bowery, an 1817 federal style row house. First American International Bank, who owns the property, plans to tear down the house, which, granted, isn't in the best shape, to toss up a seven-story commercial building. District 1 City Councilmember Margaret Chin was the deciding factor. She was initially for landmarking the building, but later changed her mind because she was "swayed by [the owner's] offer to create affordable commercial space for small businesses in Chinatown," as The Lo-Down noted.

City Council votes on the issue next Wednesday, but there's no chance without Chin's support.

And has anyone actually seen the bank's plans?

Per Save the Lower East Side:

The bank that owns 135 Bowery hasn't submitted its affordable intention in writing. The bank hasn't shown any affordable rent rates; the bank hasn't produced any legally binding contract for this promised affordable commercial space or any indication how long the leases would remain affordable, or even any binding document whatsoever showing their intent. All we have is the word of the bank. (What do you think that's worth?)

Any bets that 135 Bowery becomes luxury housing?

The Lo-Down


blue glass said...

and would the tenant be a member of chin's family?
why would she disregard the neighborhood for one affordable (supposedly) store?
:She was initially for landmarking the building, but later changed her mind because she was "swayed by [the owner's] offer to create affordable commercial space for small businesses in Chinatown"

give me a break!
what you can trust is that the bank will not lose a penny. whatever they "give" they will take back triple with the residential tenant or new fees. rest assured, banks do not give. if you make one regulation against their anti-people credit policies they will find another way to overcharge. and it will take regulators and attorneys forever to figure the new charges out. and by that time banks will have prospered once again.
it is a sad state of affairs.

Goggla said...

I can't tell you how awful and disgusted this makes me feel. Shame on Margaret Chin and the LPC!

Affordable commercial space? Ha, don't be on it. It's likely they'll just tear it down and build yet another forgettable godforsaken medicine cabinet of a building with no cultural significance whatsoever.

Jeremiah Moss said...

we live in a fresh Hell.

glamma said...

just disgusting. margaret chin should be ashamed of herself.

Uncle Waltie said...

Margaret Chin only gives a rat's ass about Chin(a)town. Next time she tries to run as a progressive on the LES above CT, let's give her the boot. Anybody so easily snookered by the RE Lobby (Banks) does not deserve to call herself a representative of the LES.

Anonymous said...

Cases like this make me wish that NYC had a more nuanced approach to landmarking. As far as I know, this building is not wildly historic on its own but, of course, it's a rare building now and it contributes to the overall character/history of the neighborhood. In these cases, I wish Landmarks had a stronger history of working with owners/developers to come up with development strategies that preserve some/most of the original building but can develop significantly more space by building over/under/around/through the original building. Yes, doing such things might not be 101% efficient but done with verve it enables historical continuity _and_ development. Perhaps Landmarks should be able, say, to encourage mixed historical/new development with tax abatements or other enticements. You see this kind of mixed building in other cities, even cities with extreme real estate pressures like SF or Toronto, but in NYC, historic buildings seem to usually face near museum status or death. There should be more middle ground to encourage saving buildings that are more important in the context of their neighbors than they are by themselves.

----------m said...

CM Chin
In my testimony at the land-use subcommittee hearing yesterday I stated that I am a native New Yorker, long time resident of The Bowery, property owner and voter. I am, as you may know, your constituent.
What I neglected to point out at this hearing is that I was representing not only myself, but many, many of my neighbor voters who could not attend and trusted in me to stand for them.
I have been a community organizer/activist for many years. I am well known and respected in my community. My neighbors tell me of their concerns and ask my advice on matters concerning local issues.
The matter of 135 Bowery has left us all disillusioned
..........and disgusted.
My community feels extremely betrayed that a commercial venture (without any written agreement as to actual benefits to the community &/or a written agreement not to resell/flip the propertyl!) was given preference over our desires and requests. The discontent caused by your actions is quite palpable.
Notice is hereby given that you, Margaret, will have to do something quite remarkable to rectify this situation, and repair this disconnect.

BaHa said...

Incredibly disheartening. The bankers and the woo-woos (or is that woot-woots?) win again.

Anonymous said...

This is disgusting, what can we do????

Chin Up, Chin Down said...

From Chinatown to SoHo, from East side to West side, Chin is fast developing a reputation for being a tool of the developers.

Didn't her organization, AAFE, evict Hispanic residents, to convert to hi-priced coops? This is whom we have representing us?

Isn't she in bed with Wellington Chen, known in Flushing for selling out the community there to big developers in his role there as the developer of the Flushing Mall, which forced out scores of small Asian businesses?

Community activists in Queens call him "Welfare Wellington" for the govt funding he supplies to those who side with him.

We need a real advocate in the First Council District. Not a landlord stooge. Not a lackey of Wellington Chen. Not a tool of developers who would destroy NYC's cultural and architectural heritage.

Anonymous said...

I'm just envisioning the glass, ceramic tile, and chrome monstrosity that will soon take its place. *shudder*

Uncle Waltie said...

Friends, East Villagers and countrymen: We DO have a voice in this matter. Even though we lost this particular battle, Chin will have to stand for re-election. Next time that sell-out asks for our votes it'll be payback time.

Anonymous said...

1. Something needs to be done about getting out to vote. Pretty sure the guy replacing Weiner was elected because very few people by DESIGN were made aware of the special election.

For whatever reason, the League of Women voters are not doing the good work they used to in regards to voter awareness.

2. Now that we have computerized vote-counting, it makes elections all that more open to fraud and vote-tampering. Americans as a whole need to find ways to verify vote counts are accurate.

Bowery Boy said...

This house is 200 years old. There are only a few places in Manhattan where we can preserve a 200 year old anything. It's history that you can't get back. What a shame. Add this to the Broadway BID and the Chinatown BID, and one this is clear: Chin has got to go! Please, if anyone is planning to oppose her in the Demo' primary, just let me know. I have a donation to make.