CB1 Tribeca Committee: The Unofficial Minutes

cb1-21710-by-tribeca-citizenREVISION OF ZONING TEXT AMENDMENT
Long story short: When an amendment was made to the zoning of a slice of northwesternmost Tribeca, an oversight meant that the maximum height allowed was shortened from 160 feet to 150 or 145. The city wants to fix that, and the board, after much confusion about what was being asked of it, went with the program. Approved.

The project hasn’t been put out to bid yet—that should happen next month or so, with work starting in late summer or early fall—so the specifics aren’t in stone. But basically, over five and a half years, different parts of Hudson and the side streets from Laight down to Worth are going to get ripped up. The various phases were detailed—work might start on West Street first—even though the contractor will have a say in it, so the discussion was a bit premature. The Department of Transportation wasn’t at the meeting, and it will determine the traffic flow during construction, which was most people’s main concern—namely, the Hudson Street traffic bound for the Holland Tunnel. The man from the DDC said that the plan was for there to always be a minimum of two lanes open on Hudson, which made some people scoff until they heard about the disaster headed Chambers Street’s way. (I’m getting ahead of myself.) The committee decided that it needed another meeting, ideally next week, with the DDC, the DOT, and the Port Authority, to go over all the details. By the way: At night, the DDC rep said, the work would get plated so traffic could proceed unimpeded.

For three and a half years, Chambers Street from Broadway to West Street will most likely—it depends on the DOT—be closed to eastbound traffic while it undergoes a major reconstruction, including water main work, sewer work, utility upgrades, resurfacing, lighting, and so on. Traffic will only be allowed in the westbound direction, in one lane. Work will be done here and there, so the DDC rep said that it can’t leave parts of Chambers open while other parts get worked on. What this means: Warren Street will bear the brunt of eastbound traffic. Again, the committee decided that an extended meeting was needed on the matter, ASAP. P.S. The DDC rep said that work on Harrison and Greenwich would be completed by late spring. However, he also called the work being done on Fulton “the gold standard,” which made everyone very nervous, seeing as what an intrusion that has been for that area.

Jasmit Chadha apparently said he’d be at the meeting to defend his desire for a liquor license for 50 Lispenard (Broadway/Church), but he wasn’t, so 20 or so of his neighbors ripped him a new one. From what they said, he took a vacant building and is converting it to high-end apartments, but the construction has had numerous violations and a partial stop-work order has been issued. The application requested a 4 a.m. closing for every day of the week, and it’s a 4,000-square-foot space (half on the ground floor, half in the basement), leaving everyone convinced he’s envisioning a nightclub of some kind. The committee decided unanimously to write a letter to the State Liquor Authority recommending that the SLA turn down the application if and when the application is made (because it hasn’t, officially, been made just yet).

The Tribeca Film Festival wants to take over Greenwich between Hubert and Duane, along with various side streets, on Saturday, May 1, for its street fair. (The TFF’s creative director, Peter Downing, also said that someone from the DOT told him that the work on Harrison Street wouldn’t be done by May 1, although to be fair, that isn’t late spring.) Approved.

Who knew? CB1 raises funds by sponsoring street fairs, one of which will be in Tribeca—on West Broadway between Beach and Leonard—on Friday, June 11. Approved, obviously.

Restaurateur Frederick Lesort came to talk about the “classic French” “neighborhood bar and restaurant” he’s opening in the Smyth hotel in the last week of March or the first week of April. It’ll be 5,600 square feet: 1,800 square feet of kitchen, 2,000 square feet of restaurant on the ground level, and 1,800 square feet of bar in the basement. Background music only, and it’ll be called a restaurant and “bar vin,” or wine bar (though it also serves cocktails). There will be seating capacity for 90 people both upstairs and down. The restaurant will be accessed via a the hotel entrance on West Broadway as well as through a door on Chambers; the staircase down to the bar is near the hotel entrance, so when the restaurant closes at 1 a.m. the Chambers door will be closed, too. Lesort wanted 4 a.m. closing on weekends—because it’s nice to have “a place to have a drink after dinner”—and he compared it to Smith & Mills (which is, what, 250 square feet?). Luckily for him, the committee was under the impression that hotel bars don’t draw New Yorkers—neverminding the Gansevoort, Hotel on Rivington, Jane, Maritime, Ace, Standard, etc., etc. One member even compared it to Bar Artisanal because that establishment is in a hotel. Ultimately, the board went for 2 a.m. closing all week—with the understanding that he can come back in a year and ask for extended hours—if only to be consistent with recent rulings. P.S. It was mentioned that the Duane Street Hotel will be requesting its liquor license at next month’s meeting.


Finally, some sense of what Walker’s is doing next door on Varick: The restaurant is taking over what used to be a grocer’s, adding 34 seats—including a six-seat bar—and a brick oven for pizzas. It’ll all be called Walker’s. And there will be a total of five bathrooms. One committee member complained that the restaurant’s planters were too big, but everyone else brushed him off. Approved.

Neighbors came complaining of noise and other rowdy behavior—fights! vomit!—but owner Hussein insisted his establishment wasn’t to blame. He pointed a finger at Brick—which has been up to no good—as well as at private parties. The board seemed unsure of whom to back, given that 20/20 closes at 11 p.m. on Tuesdays through Thursday, 1 :30 a.m. on Fridays, and is only open one Saturday a month, when it hosts a party for lesbians. (My two cents, as someone who lives nearby: You can drink a hell of a lot by 11 p.m. if you start at 5 p.m., and lesbians can be as noisy as anyone.) In any event, it was determined that Hussein was making a genuine effort to reach out, and besides, the committee can’t really do anything unless there’s criminal behavior, because that’s what it takes to stop renewals.

And then the committee discussed its accomplishments for 2009 and its goals for 2010, but I was already gone. Hey! If you haven’t signed up for the Tribeca Citizen newsletter yet, please do. Look for the gray box on the right.


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