CB1 Tribeca Committee: The Unofficial Minutes

Here’s what went down at last night’s meeting of the Tribeca committee of Community Board 1:

The Port Authority wants to modify the current ban on trucks going eastbound through the Holland Tunnel to allow two- and three-axle, single-unit trucks. (They’re already allowed to pass through westbound.) The committee chair argued that doing so would adversely affect Lower Manhattan air quality; another member told an unrelated story about a traffic accident she had witnessed. Then another member rationally pointed out that forcing trucks to drive the eight or so miles up to the Lincoln Tunnel, and then back down through Manhattan—understanding as well that some of these trucks are going to end up on Canal anyway, en route to the Manhattan Bridge—would probably be just as bad, if not far worse for the environment, than just letting them come on through. Moreover, the current ban really screws local businesses (especially as it includes any cars with commercial license plates). Because there was no consensus, the committee decided not to write a resolution, leaving the change on track for January 3.

No surprise here: The committee cheerfully approved Taste of Tribeca‘s application to close Greenwich (between Reade and Jay) and Duane (between Hudson and Greenwich) for its 16th-annual festival on Saturday, May 15, 2010. Taste of Tribeca is a fundraiser for two schools—P.S. 150 and P.S. 234—and last year it raised $60K for each one.

At last month’s meeting, the owner of Biddy Early’s put on a rather poor show when accused by neighbors of running a violent, boozy bar. He took the committee’s advice, hiring a lawyer who mediated with the neighborhood and came up with a number of ways to ensure the bar is less of a problem: raising prices on alcoholic beverages; closing at 2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. on non-weekend nights; reducing the bar staff by one so that patrons can’t order a drink as easily; limiting beer pong to one table near the bar; enforcing a 22-year-old age limit to enter; and hiring a bonded-and-licensed security team that will have devices to scan IDs. When none of his angry neighbors showed up to speak, the committee agreed that Biddy Early’s seemed to be on the right track, apparently indicating that the bar’s liquor-license application won’t be derailed after all.

cb1-tribeca-dec09-by-tribeca-citizenCOCKTAIL DESPIRITO
Albert Trummer—an “internationally acclaimed cocktail artist,” as described on the website for his Chinatown bar, Apotheke—wants to transform 114 Franklin, the former site of Grace, into a swanky cocktail lounge showcasing a “gourmet cocktail food concept,” as he explained at the meeting. The committe chair was excited, mentioning what fun he had had at Apotheke, but others were dubious about the idea of a bar on a side street, given that such bars usually lead to noise complaints. Trummer (he’s the one clutching the Manila envelope) says he wants to have unamplified live music—jazz trios playing 30s and 40s jazz—which caused consternation until it was learned that Trummer plans on soundproofing the skylight and blocking up the windows in the rear of the space. (He’ll be totally renovating the room, with booths and two-tops in the front, and two short, parallel bars—with barstools for eight patrons total—toward the rear.) The committee finally agreed to approve the application if Trummer agreed to closing hours of 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends; members of the committee also insisted again that he agree not to amplify the live music (even though he said repeatedly he wouldn’t), that he close up the back windows and soundproof the skylight (even  hough he said repeatedly he would), and that he not place speakers on the ceiling (the phrase “speakers on the ceiling” is pretty much destined to come up during every liquor-license hearing—in fact, it could make a lively drinking game!). Trummer is welcome to return six months after opening, at which point the committee will consider extending the hours.

A bunch of wine-and-beer and/or liquor licenses were up for renewal, upgrade, or transfer: Sbarro (415 Broadway), Sate Restaurant/Mangez Avec Moi (71-73 W. Broadway), Two Fish Tales/17 Murray (17 Murray), Turks & Frogs Tribeca (458 Greenwich), and Rosario’s Kitchen (227 West Broadway). I left before any were discussed because there seemed no reason any of them would face a battle.

As I was leaving, a committee member announced that he had spoken to the owner of Square Diner—who didn’t want a fuss made over him—and that if “we wanted Square Diner to survive we needed to patronize it more” (I’m paraphrasing).


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