CB1 Tribeca Committee: The Unofficial Minutes (June)

Downtown Boathouse kayaking looking back toward pierPRESENTATION: DOWNTOWN BOATHOUSE
The Downtown Boathouse, which lets you kayak for free off Pier 26, wants to remind everyone that it’s open for the season.

Covered here. I neglected to mention in that post that the developers weren’t looking for CB1 approval of anything.


Lawyer: This is about the Greenwich Street Tavern.
CB1 member: What’s there now?
Lawyer: The Greenwich Street Tavern.
CB1 member: What’s it called?
Lawyer: The Greenwich Street Tavern.

Once everyone realized we were talking about the bar and restaurant at Greenwich and Beach, and how the manager is buying out the owner (hence the liquor license transfer), the committee could get down to business—which mainly involved one committee member who lives nearby bitching out the new owner for the way the restaurant cleans its equipment around 4 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The new owner promised not to do it anymore. Also of note: The Greenwich Street Tavern will likely be applying for a sidewalk café for next summer. Vote: 7-0-1.

The Hudson River Park Trust and folks from City Winery explained the latter’s plan for a restaurant called City Vineyard at the Pier 25 structure. What we learned: The inside, where there will be “finer dining,” can hold 70 people; they’re going to green up the building with trellises and grapevines; they’ll stay open year-round; they’ll serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a “slant toward seafood”; and the lease is for “over ten years.” There are no plans for live music, except maybe an acoustic trio at brunch, although the HRPT is reserving the right to have musicians play on the plaza in front of the restaurant (and by “front” I mean the side facing the water). Then two members got in a juvenile argument about who had the right to bloviate and who didn’t. “What is this, the seventh grade?” asked the audience member behind me. Alas, the chair didn’t have control over the meeting—which ran at least two and a half hours—so no one stopped them from shouting. After things settled down, a committee member voiced support for the restaurant even if “Tribeca Citizen recently said the food is not that great” at City Winery. Awkward! What I wrote was that “the food and customer experience have never been the main draw,” which I stand by; while City Winery’s food and service is better than one would expect for a concert venue, the bar gets much higher when it’s a pure restaurant.

The second Hudson River Park update regarded the bike path. To discourage pedestrians and joggers from using the bike path along West Street, the HRPT is adding more ugly signs like the one pictured here, and they’re going to get the Park Enforcement Patrol officers to persuade wheel-less people to stay on the esplanade. Because the bike path is legally not a dedicated bike path (there’s a federal distinction), people are still legally allowed to be there.

The community members on the Hudson River Park Advisory Council are concerned about how people are using the area by the Downtown Boathouse as a toilet at night, now that the lights aren’t working, and making the situation worse, the Pier 25 restrooms close at 10 p.m. And kids walk barefoot there the next day! (Actually, the first topic was boat horns, but I totally checked out during the long discussion. There was no takeaway.) The boathouse and the advisory council want security cameras, and they need CB1 to request them from the NYPD. The HRPT suggested a “light tower,” but everyone thought that would be garish, and the HRPT said it’s working on sensor lights but it’s complicated.

This was held over from last month’s meeting because no one knew whether a bus stop was already at 100 Lafayette, and the committee wanted clarification from the Department of Transportation about what exactly it was supposed to be weighing in on. A DOT rep did come to the meeting, but he proved unintelligible. It was determined that 100 Lafayette does indeed have an existing bus stop, which you might think would make the committee more wary—more buses meaning more traffic—but for some reason it had the opposite effect. The company that wants to use the bus stop now, Straight Bus, plans on two trips daily to Philadelphia, but their proposed route—shown in a handout but not projected—got committee members all frothed up. (If there’s one thing that excites middle-aged white guys, it’s traffic and parking.) Eventually they voted 7-0-1 as long as Straight Bus agreed to change the route, as if the drivers aren’t going to do whatever they want. Maybe the big-picture question should be why buses have to come all the way into the center of Manhattan, when they could drop off closer to the tunnel and get the heck out again. I live above a commuter bus stop and those buses are incredibly loud.

Community Board 1 recently created a new set of stipulations for any applicant for a sidewalk café, including one that applicants must be in operation for a year before applying. Last night, the public member on the committee who is also an architect brought in his client, Maison Kayser, to apply for café seating at the former Harrison space even though it hasn’t opened yet. (It’s not a conflict of interest, it’s a confluence!) To her credit, one member was appalled, but the architect just shrugged and said that the client wanted it…. Obviously, the committee threw it out immediately—not! Maison Kayser’s plans were for a café nearly twice the size of the Harrison’s, with 24 tables and 46 chairs (all on Greenwich); the committee insisted on 14 tables and 27 chairs, with two rows of tables instead of three and an aisle, and passed it 5-2-1. Oh, this was news to me: Maison Kayser doesn’t serve alcohol and won’t be pursuing a liquor license.

The agenda mentioned a single street-activity permit for a sukkah structure on Duane between Church and W. Broadway from Sunday, Sept. 27, to Sunday, Oct. 4, but JCP also wants to throw a Sukkot party, which means closing the block to traffic for a day. (I didn’t catch the date, because I only just realized it wasn’t specified on the agenda.) The sukkah will be on a flatbed truck, and the JCP rep thought it’d take up three parking spaces, which was obviously unacceptable, so she gave in and agreed to two parking spaces. Vote: 8-0.

Chabad of Tribeca, meanwhile, has had a sukkah for a few years now, but it doesn’t seem to require a street-activity permit (after all, it never comes before CB1…). So this permit was for a Sukkot block party on Sunday, Sept. 20, closing Reade between Broadway and Church from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Vote: 8-0.

Well, this is exciting! And that’s not sarcasm! The Tribeca Grand is opening an actual jazz club on its basement level, with capacity of around 150 people. Best of all, hotel management has engaged the Silver Lining guys—Joseph Schwartz and Vito Dieterle—to consult on it and “create a similar lounge.” (Schwartz and Dieterle’s new jazz bar in Bed-Stuy should open in a month or so, by the way.) The Tribeca Grand jazz bar, which will take the place of some conference and event space, will be owned and operated by the hotel. Committee members worried that it might turn into something rowdy (the hotel’s liquor license is for a 4 a.m. closing) if the jazz bar concept fails, perhaps not realizing that the hotel is already basically a nightclub with rooms on top. I can’t imagine this ran into trouble, but I left before the vote, because Tribeca Citizen union rules forbid me from staying at a CB1 meeting for longer than two and a half hours. P.S. That bar is not phallic at all.

I was sorry to miss this, because it was bound to involve public urination, and we rarely get two tales of public urination in one meeting. Neighbors were on hand to complain yet again about the patrons of M1-5, but unless their behavior was next-level (i.e., violent), the State Liquor Authority is unlikely to revoke a liquor license. My guess is that the committee once again told them to keep on registering complaints with 311 and CB1. If anyone at the meeting would like to add more info about the discussion, please do.



  1. I am surprised they allowed the sidewalk cafe outside of Little Park. It extends halfway across the sidewalk and then they attached flower boxes to the railings which takes away another foot which puts you walking on the subway grates into the oncoming crowds exiting the subway right there.

  2. Erik: thanks for including the dialogue about the Greenwich Street Tavern transfer of liquor license at the CB1 meeting….classic cb1 !

  3. Erik, I think you deserve a medal to sit through it all.
    BTW there seems to be sidewalk-café-creep all over the place and I am not sure that sidewalks are for pedestrians any more. If it is not construction apparatus it is a sidewalk café. You just can’t get a double-wide stroller around these days.