CB1 Tribeca Committee: The Unofficial Minutes (July)

Tribeca Trust would like to close off the block of W. Broadway between Franklin and Leonard, as it did last year, for a one-day event on Sept. 19. There will be activities and “voting activities,” presumably about urban planning subjects. The committee was itching for a fight, because certain members still feel like they got hoodwinked regarding Bogardus Plaza (which started out temporary). Many members do not want this stretch to become car-free, ever, and even though the meeting wasn’t about that, they said it anyway, over and over. But this was only a presentation and not a request for approval, so all they could do was sputter and bitch. One thought he had a gotcha moment when the rep from the Department of Transportation—which has a pedestrian plaza program that this could end up being part of—said that sure, they’d be open to it becoming permanently car-free if it met all the requisite criteria, which includes Community Board 1 approval. (“We’re nowhere near a plaza,” she said.) Another member brought up the Holland Tunnel traffic going north on Hudson, although how that relates to W. Broadway remains unclear.

CB1 asked Scott Anderson, BMCC’s vice president for administration and planning, to come discuss rumors that the school could be moved and the land redeveloped. “We don’t have any plans to move!” he said emphatically, adding that they love the area and are invested in it. He did not, however, seem to understand exactly how valuable that land is, instead wondering why “in this market” anyone would want to do such a thing. Moreover, he said straight out that the school wouldn’t be among the first to know. (“We’re downstream on this.”) Agreed: If this happens—and I personally think it’s a question of time—it’ll be done very high up and presented to us as a fait accompli, win-win for everyone. (The tricky question remains, where in Manhattan do you relocate the school?) Interestingly, one committee member said that the impetus to look into this had come from Julie Menin, the former CB1 chair and current commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. (He didn’t actually name her, but it sure sounded like her, and she’s rather connected.) Then CB1’s land-use expert Michael Levine was called on to explain the zoning of that land and the community’s options should it be redeveloped. The land has the highest residential zoning in Tribeca, with a floor area ratio of 10; if the developer adds a public plaza or affordable housing, it would go to 12—and that means buildings around as tall as the towers at Independent Plaza North. The only recourse is to try to get the City Planning Commission to rezone it, but that’s a major undertaking, and as an audience member pointed out, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, which holds the bonds for the land, would be stupid not to fight it tooth and nail.

P.S. “We are going to get the pool reopened,” Anderson said. “It’s been a much larger undertaking that anyone expected.”

Manhattan Yacht Club got booted from North Cove Marina, which means it needs to find a way to get people to its floating clubhouse/bar, the Honorable William Wall, which is moored out by Liberty Island. The organization signed a contract with Liberty Landing, which operates the marina concession at Pier 25, to allow it to use the pier to pick up and drop off guests. But then the Hudson River Park Trust decided that such an agreement violates the terms of its contract with Liberty Landing, which prohibits commercial use of the pier, so Liberty Landing told Manhattan Yacht Club that it had to cancel. All of that happened after Manhattan Yacht Club had applied for a liquor license, which I guess it has to do in relation to its utilization of the pier. The committee decided that the matter needs to be settled between the three parties before it could/should/would weigh in on the liquor license, and there was hope it will get worked out in time for the full CB1 meeting.

The Department of Transportation has a “bike corral” program where they install bike racks on the street instead of the sidewalk, if someone applies for them. In this case, Max restaurant thought it would be a good idea. The application called for five racks to hold 10 bikes—they can be anyone’s bikes, not just the restaurant’s. Because it’s right next to a Citi Bike station, the corral would only take up .75 of a parking space instead of a full space (they managed to reclaim space somehow). And there would be planters to hold trash. The committee opposed it, feeling like the DOT’s human corral across the street at Laughing Man was enough. (They also mentioned safety as an issue, which I don’t get. Go stand outside Max and tell me whether you fell at risk of being run over by a car.) The rep from Max had a petition signed by local business owners, but it didn’t include Madeline Lanciani at Duane Park Patisserie, which members thought was telling. (They should really tell applicants in advance whose names they expect to see on petitions. It’s only fair.) Vote: 2-4.

The rebooted Atera is once again planning on a basement-level bar, but the rep said this one is solely for guests of the restaurant (where previously anyone could go), who might like a tipple or need somewhere to wait (or be moved to) before or after the meal. The room has occupancy for 30, but only seating for 10. Committee members got all frothy about speakers on the ceiling and such, even though it’s in the basement and Atera is far from a noisy spot. Possibly more than ever before, certain members hijacked the discussion with concerns that were miniscule, irrelevant, and absurd, made worse by their being wildly uninformed about the matter. (Just one example: Nearly two hours into this grueling marathon of a meeting, one member raised his hand to inform the applicant that the word “commercial” was misspelled on the application.) If I sound more angry than amused, it’s not only because they wasting my time and all of the applicants’ time; they have actual authority over liquor licenses, so what you can shrug off at, say, the Landmarks Committee, you have to take seriously here. (I should mention that many members are both informed and constructive.)

The Rosa Mexicano branch opening in the former Washington Market Tavern space will have capacity for 175 at 44 tables, including in the basement. The folks who live in that building and adjacent buildings have been bedeviled by noise for many years, and while they’re happy about the idea of a tenant who seems like it could survive, they worry about hearing loud music and people screeching, a known effect of tequila. (The ground floor of 41 Murray has a glass atrium in the rear, and noise goes right through those.) There was lots of back-and-forth about whether to allow closing hours of 1 a.m. (Sunday through Thursday) and 2 a.m. (Friday and Saturday), or insist on midnight/1 a.m., as per the committee’s recently devised guidelines. Why bother having the guidelines, you might wonder, if they’re just going to debate them every time? I don’t have an answer to that. The folks from Rosa Mexicano pleaded economic hardship, but eventually the committee decided on midnight/1 a.m., with the stipulation that the restaurant hire a sound engineer to come up with a sound mitigation plan that then gets put into place; in which case, they can come back immediately and try for later hours. The vote was 6-0, but the restaurant’s co-owner and his lawyer said they’d have to “give it some thought” before agreeing to the stipulations.

Discussed here.


1 Comment

  1. An excellent, accurate and well-commented summary of an, at times, excruciating meeting. Some of the questions and discussions reached the level of bizarre. Your stamina was greater than mine. Sticking to the agenda would help both members and the public.