CB1 Tribeca Committee: The Unofficial Minutes (September)

The committee passed a resolution that the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation should use $20 million of its remaining $100 million in unallocated funds to finish the Tribeca section of the Hudson River Park. Vote: 6-0.

The New York City Rescue Mission wants to hold an event on Monday, Nov. 19, on Lafayette between White and Walker. Vote: 6-0.

CityKids, an after-school arts program for inner-city youth, is planning an event on Saturday, Oct. 20, on Leonard between W. Broadway and Church. One member announced that, while he supports the group’s citywide agenda, he thinks that CityKids should expand its efforts with the children of Lower Manhattan. Vote: 6-0.

This was the big one. I’m going to try and summarize the permit renewal request as best I can, but the property’s lawyer was not an organized speaker—I don’t think it was intentional, but you never know. In July of 2008, the property’s then-owners requested—and were granted—a special permit from the City Planning Commission (with CB1 support) to do several things—to convert the building for residential and/or hotel purposes (up to 120 rooms if a hotel), to have retail on the ground floor, to add an eighth floor, and more. The Landmarks Preservation Commission signed off on the plan. But 2008 being 2008—have people forgotten already what an absolute mess the economy was?—the project stalled. This past summer, the property was bought by SGN, a company with Nathan Berman as a principal. (He’s head of Metro Loft Management and sometimes known as the “King of FiDi.”) By now, the permit has lapsed, because there has been no substantial construction in four years. According to the lawyer—a point he should have made more strongly, in my opinion—the basic rules are that if the facts of the permit haven’t substantially changed, the permit is “supposed to be granted renewal.”

In 2010, the city rezoned northwest Tribeca from manufacturing to residential and/or hotel (up to 100 rooms), mooting part of the original permit—or the need to renew it. (This caused much confusion among the committee members.) The rest of the permit, however, needs to be renewed if Berman wants to convert it to to residential, which he most absolutely does—80 to 100 units, averaging 2,500 square feet. The lawyer said that a hotel component was unlikely, but options were being kept open for the time being, although he didn’t think there was much chance of a health club (which I think may have automatically been bundled into the original permit request). There was a lot of talk about two penthouses and how far apart they had to be, but I couldn’t follow it and it struck me as inconsequential—except that it’s good news that the rooftop won’t be communal, particularly if the hotel ends up happening.

The plans for 443 Greenwich as submitted for the special permit.

The neighbors—from 195 Hudson, 181 Hudson, and 47 Vestry—were (a) surprised that no one had run the idea by them, and (b) not pleased. They had gone down to the CB1 office to view the original permit request, even though the details of the plans were presumably in question now that the building has a new owner. Still, there was lots to dislike: The plans not only called for a hotel in the eastern portion of the building, but mentioned gating the alley that runs on the eastern side of the building (even though, said the neighbors, it’s the property of the building next door), putting the mechanicals on the far eastern side of the roof—right by the two residential buildings—and of course any increase in traffic was going to be a nightmare, given all the cars and buses that descend on neighboring Tribeca Rooftop “four nights a week.” The lawyer said he didn’t know much about the alley, although he thought there was an easement for 12 to 14 feet up from ground level.

Cutting to the chase: Berman can do a hotel if he wants, and the additional floor is a done deal. Moving the mechanicals seems like a tough fight, because their position has already received approval from the difficult-to-please Landmarks Preservation Commission (which only cares about sightlines from the street, not from adjacent buildings). The neighbors were urged to write to the City Planning Commission, which is the last stop on this process; the CPC takes into account “cumulative effect” of development, so if there’s already a lot of traffic, it might discourage adding to the problem—especially since the only way to enter the courtyard is through the quiet streets of Desbrosses and Vestry. The committee voted 7-0 to renew the special permit, subject to the property being solely residential, with efforts to mitigate traffic issues and the noise and impact of the mechanicals, and to implore Berman to meet with the neighbors. CB1’s role here is advisory, however.

One last thought: I believe that any retail would now be as-of-right, as per the 2010 rezoning. If the neighbors do get to meet with Berman, I hope they ask about a restaurant, where hundreds of people might come and go each night.

Fitness facilities need a special permit because in the 1970s, dirty things happened at them. Vote: 7-0. Oh! The exciting news: The Barry’s Bootcamp coming to 1 York will have a juice bar!

It would be on the southwest corner, in front of both the Starbucks and the space directly south (the one next to Drybar). The chair had emailed someone who lives nearby if he minded, and the answer was no. Vote: 7-0.

Before the discussion, the committee went over some new paperwork for liquor-license applications. And at that point, I realized that I didn’t have to miss the concert at Joe’s Pub that I had tickets for. We already know a bit about Nish Noosh, and the owner had said they wouldn’t be serving alcohol late, so I foresaw no controversy. So I left. UPDATE: 11 p.m. was approved (and the application was only for beer and wine).

That means I missed the following items. If anyone know if anything interesting happened, let me know.
• Beer/wine license for Church Street Kitchen (178 Church). UPDATE: Approved.
• Application for alteration of liquor license for Tiny’s. (I am curious about this…. I assume Abramcyk wants later hours.)
• Application for alteration of liquor license for Smith & Mills. (See above.)
• Renewal of sidewalk license for Pepolino’s.



  1. Re: SPECIAL PERMIT RENEWAL FOR 443-453 GREENWICH, the following two statements seem at odds:

    “Berman can do a hotel if he wants” and “The committee voted 7-0 to renew the special permit, subject to the property being solely residential.”

    Am i missing something, or do these not jibe?

    Thanks! (And thank you for the comprehensive summary of the meeting)

  2. @DJ: Yes, I suppose that is confusing. At one point, the chair announced that a hotel was as-of-right per 2010 rezoning, and there was nothing the neighbors could do to change that. At some point, it was decided that CB1’s resolution could include a strong recommendation that the use be limited to residential. So the “subject to” in my sentence was a bit strong for what is only really an advisory role.