In the News: The Battle for Franklin Place

••• “The 2009 documentary, directed by Ondi Timoner, was titled We Live In Public. The story is this: in the mid ’90s, a dot-com millionaire and son of a CIA agent named Josh Harris became increasingly disgruntled with the buttoned-up business world, and quit his job. He devoted himself to a strange series of projects, which culminated in the year 2000 with the art piece and anthropological experiment Quiet: We Live in Public, in which he turned an underground bunker in Manhattan into a capsule hotel, and filled it with nearly 150 people. For a month, they did everything together—ate, slept, showered, and had sex. Harris even set up a gun range, and participants fired semi-automatic weapons deep underground. The entire space was hooked up cameras; everything was broadcast online. It was a precursor to ‘Big Brother,’ the reality TV show about strangers living in a house together on camera. Alanna Heiss—at the time the director of the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens—took part in the experiment, which she refers to in the documentary as ‘one of the most extraordinary activities I’ve ever attended anywhere in the world.’ People managed to live in the bunker for a month—shitting, showering, and firing weapons—before police shut down the project.” Apparently this happened in Tribeca. —Interview

••• “The owners of [53 Beach] jumped the Landmarks Preservation Commission gun last week and installed a handicap lift without the agency’s approval. That has earned them a warning from the LPC and no sympathy from a Community Board 1 committee, now being asked to recommend that the lift be deemed legal, and appropriate for the Tribeca West Historic District. […] The owners [said engineer Jefferson Zamora] ‘have certain deliverables on Oct. 15, which is why they moved aggressively ahead of the presentation, ahead of approvals.'” —Tribeca Trib

••• “At 9 p.m. tonight, some of NYC’s most iconic buildings like the Empire State Building and One World Trade will light up in ‘Amazon Orange,’ as the city’s Economic Development Corporation describes it, in support of the city’s official bid for Amazon’s HQ2.” Shouldn’t it be red, as in a whorehouse? —Curbed

••• “One of the property owners suing the Department of Transportation over an alley in Tribeca is now claiming that the Elad Group may be behind the agency’s sudden regulation of the passageway. Attorneys for the owners of 373-375 Broadway say that the Elad Group wants to use an alleyway between Franklin and White streets—known as Franklin Place—to create access to its condo project at 371 Broadway. Owners of buildings adjacent to the alley are suing the DOT for abruptly regulating it, arguing that the thoroughfare is privately owned. Attorneys David Rosenberg and Michael Contos pointed to the developer’s history of lobbying the DOT as a potential impetus for ‘No Standing’ signs that appeared in the alley over the summer. According to public records, the developer spent $60,000 lobbying the Department of Buildings, the DOT and the mayor’s office in January 2017. Elad also spent $100,000 to lobby the DOT and DOB in 2012, the same year the company went into contract for the development site. Still, it’s not clear why exactly Elad lobbied the agencies.” Sure smells bad. —Real Deal



  1. My assumption is they want the City to regulate the street so their tenants can access the garage they built entering and exiting on Franklin Place.

    • the new building which is actually on broadway, feels entitled to the alleyway which has been around for 200 years. i think the crowns are giving them power trips. rather than come to an agreement with neighbors on how to maintain access for everyone, they are try to use money and influence to get their way. hopefully the alleyway will remain in the private hands it was meant to be in and the building can use broadway for dropoffs.

      • You know what else has been around for 200 years? The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It states in relevant part, “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

        Taking the alley under eminent domain for use as a public street would be a 200-year solution to this 200-year old situation.