SoHo Alliance – January 2017

We are your neighborhood watchdogs.  We work with elected officials and city agencies to ensure our community thrives.  Our hotline (212-353-8466) is available seven days a week to assist residents and businesses alike when a problem arises or questions need answered.
Our work over the years controlling inappropriate development pressures has helped contribute to the phenomenal  rise in our neighborhood’s property values.  Our achievements in historic preservation have turned SoHo into one of the most renowned landmarked districts in the city.  Our success at curtailing nightclubs and late-night bars have ensured a quiet neighborhood in the evening once the shoppers and tourists depart.  We monitor and curtail aggressive retailers who put their profits ahead of our quality of like.  We serve on the community board, giving you a voice in city government.
We shall continue our mission in 2017 but we need you to invest in SoHo and in your own well-being.
Click here to contribute online.  Or mail you check to SoHo Alliance, PO Box 429, New York, NY 10012.  If you wish a reply envelope to mail your donation, email us at info@sohoalliance.org and we’ll get one off to you immediately.
Wishing you and yours all the best in 2017,
Regards,
Sean Sweeney, Director
SoHo Alliance

SoHo News Update – Solstice Edition

– Sullivan-Thompson Historic District Designated!
– Pier 40 / St. John’s Agreement Approved – Community Comes Out Ahead
– NYU’s Behemoth Revealed = Ugh!

First, we wish you and yours all the best for the holidays and the new year ahead.

At this time, we also ask you to help us in our efforts to maintain our neighborhood’s integrity and sustainability in 2017.

Please make a contribution to the SoHo Alliance at http://www.sohoalliance.org/join.html or mail your check to us at PO Box 429, New York, NY 10012.  
We only ask once a year, so please be generous.
This is a gift that will benefit you for years to come.

– Sullivan-Thompson Historic District Designated
On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to designate a new historic district on SoHo’s western side, the South Village’s Sullivan-Thompson Historic District. Click here for a map and images of the new historic district.

The City had long refused to consider landmark protections for the area, until the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation mobilized the local community to oppose a proposed rezoning of the nearby three-block-long St. John’s Building site in West SoHo (Houston Street between Washington and West Streets), as well as to demand landmark protections for the South Village.

GVSHP, SoHo Alliance, Community Board 2  and community leaders argued that the proposed rezoning, supported by the City, would increase development pressure on the nearby historic and endangered South Village.  City Councilmember Corey Johnson championed this cause, securing a commitment from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to consider designation.

Historic designation protects 160 buildings from demolition and possible replacement with high-rise towers not unlike Trump SoHo, which the SoHo Alliance fought hard against.  Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, owns one such property, the large empty lot and adjacent tenement building on the southwest corner of Houston and Sullivan Street.  Local residents have repeatedly contacted the SoHo Alliance, expressing their fears that Kushner would want to build a tower there to rival his father-in-law’s.  This landmarking designation greatly relieves those and other concerns.

– Pier 40 / St. John’s Agreement Approved
In another extraordinary victory for our community this past week, the City Council approved the Pier 40/St. John’s rezoning plan, negotiated by our Councilmember Corey Johnson.  (Johnson’s district starts on the west side of Thompson Street and extends to the Hudson River; Margaret Chin’s district starts on the east side of Thompson and extends to the East River)

Bouyed by a widespread community effort again spearheaded by GVSHP and the community board, Johnson was able to secure many protections and benefits that the Greenwich Village and SoHo communities have been fighting for years to attain.

Because this struggle extends almost half a century, having its genesis in the failed Westway controversy of the 70s and 80s, we won’t fill you in all details here, but refer you to this comprehensive article in The Villager.

Basically, the deal consists of rezoning the St. John’s site from manufacturing to residential use, while transferring 200,000 square feet of Pier 40 air rights into the new project.   In turn, Pier 40 will get an infusion of $100 million in exchange for the air rights, with the money being used to shore up the 15-acre pier’s badly corroded pilings.  Johnson also secured $14 million in City funding to ensure the pier’s sustainability.

The existing three-block-long St. John’s building will be demolished and replaced with a 43-story building.  Yes, this is a very tall building on our low-rise waterfront.  However, what could have been built there without this deal would have been much worse, e.g., a hotel, a big box store, offices, or event spaces that would have drawn loads of people through our neighborhood, but add not one resident or a single unit of affordable housing, or any community amenity.

There will be 1,586 residential units, 476 of them permanently affordable.  Of these, 175 units will be for low-income seniors; the rest for low- and moderate-income families.  After this one-time air-rights transfer, the deal prohibits any future transfers, ensuring that no more high rises will be constructed along our community’s waterfront.

Seven street-level retail stores and a 10,000 square-foot gym to be shared with the building residents and the public are part of the settlement.  A much-needed supermarket will be also included.  Big box stores over 10,000 square-feet will not be permitted.

– NYU’s Behemoth Revealed = Ugh!
Not everything went so well for us this week.  NYU finally revealed the drawings for its so-called Zipper Building that the SoHo Alliance and other community groups fought so hard for years to prevent.  Comprised mostly of student dorms and containing 735,000 square feet of floor area, about one-third the bulk of the Empire State Building, the 300-foot structure is worse than anyone could imagine.  See below for yourself.

During the Bloomberg administration, NYU had the area rezoned to midtown standards —  but this awkward building would be an atrocity even in midtown.  Considering that the SoHo, NoHo, Greenwich Village and South Village Historic Districts – as well as several Individual Landmarks – encircle this all-glass modernist structure, NYU’s building is a further affront to our community.

Interestingly, notice how much of the bulk of the building is located on SoHo’s doorstep, on Houston Street at Mercer.  And see how the NYU drawings do not actually show the entire height of this monstrous tower.  We can thank Councilmember Margaret Chin for that abomination, when she inexplicably asked NYU to shift much of the original bulk of the building from Bleecker Street to Houston Street.

For a more detailed description, we refer you to the story in this week Villager. http://thevillager.com/2016/12/15/close-encounters-of-n-y-u-kind-massive-mercer-design-revealed/

Again asking you to be generous and contribute to our annual fund drive at  http://www.sohoalliance.org/join.html or PO Box 429, NY, NY 10012,

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Regards,
Sean Sweeney, Director
SoHo Alliance
212-353-8466
sohoalliance.org
PO Box 429
NY, NY 10012

You’re fired! Stars shun Trump Soho Hotel

You’re fired! Stars shun Trump Soho Hotel

BY DENNIS LYNCH | The Trump Soho Hotel is not the place to be anymore, at least for members of the New York paparazzi. Sightings — of both the “shooters” and their celebrity prey — have sharply decreased since Donald Trump rose to the top of the Republican Party and won this year’s presidential election, according to pavement-pounding pap.

“Almost nobody has stayed there for the last six months at least,” said the photographer, who hasn’t snapped pictures of any celebs there since around April. “Most A-listers now stay at the Greenwich Hotel owned by [Robert] De Niro, or the Bowery Hotel or the Mercer Hotel, some Uptown at the Ritz [Carlton] or London [NYC]. It’s possible some celebs are staying [at the Trump Soho], but not the usual numbers who were before.”

Paparazzi have not been seen hanging around the front of the Trump Soho Hotel for the past six months — because their favorite subject, celebrities, are reportedly no longer staying there. In the past, paparazzi could frequently be seen standing to either side of the front door waiting for stars — like singers Rihanna or Chris Brown or TV actors — to enter and exit. Photos by Jonathan Alpeyrie

Paparazzi have not been seen hanging around the front of the Trump Soho Hotel for the past six months — because their favorite subject, celebrities, are reportedly no longer staying there. In the past, paparazzi could frequently be seen standing to either side of the front door waiting for stars — like singers Rihanna or Chris Brown or TV actors — to enter and exit. Photos by Jonathan Alpeyrie

The photographer speculated that many entertainment stars are avoiding the Trump Soho because of its connection to the president-elect, or that a booker with connections to the many network TV morning shows and studios Uptown possibly left the organization at some point for unknown reasons, as well.

The decrease in sightings confirms the findings from some data scientists who track the hotel bookings of famous and common folk alike. Hipmunk, a San Francisco-based travel company, found that the share of Trump-branded bookings on its site fell around 58 percent in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.

The data scientists over at the discovery-focused mobile app Foursquare also noted that foot traffic to Trump’s U.S. hotels, casinos and golf courses was down every month of 2016 compared to those same months in 2015, except in January and February, when they increased by 4 and 5 percent, respectively. Between March and July of this year, traffic was down between 14 and 17 percent compared to those same months in 2015.

Doormen at the Trump Soho Hotel, at Varick and Spring Sts., don’t have to keep paparazzi at bay much lately, since the stars aren’t staying there anymore.

Doormen at the Trump Soho Hotel, at Varick and Spring Sts., don’t have to keep paparazzi at bay much lately, since the stars aren’t staying there anymore.

Cleveland Cavaliers hoops superstar LeBron James and “several” of his teammates made headlines earlier this month when they decided to lay their heads elsewhere during a trip to the Big Apple for a game against the hometown Knicks. James was diplomatic about the choice, telling reporters during a shootaround at Madison Square Garden that it was just his “personal preference.”

“At the end of the day, I hope he’s one of the best presidents ever for all of our sake, my family, for all of us,” the three-time NBA champ said, according to CNN. “But [it’s] just not my personal preference. It would be the same if I went to a restaurant and decided to eat chicken and not steak.”

The Los Angeles Lakers organization also chose to stay elsewhere during a trip to face the Brooklyn Nets following the election. A source told the Los Angeles Times that the basketball team’s decision was motivated by security concerns surrounding the protests that cropped up at President-elect Trump’s many properties since his November victory, not politics.

The Trump Soho Hotel did not return requests for comment.

Landmarks Preservation Commission to Vote Tuesday on Designating Thompson-Sullivan Historic District

Please Attend LPC Hearing or Email the Commissioners to Vote “Yes”
After a ten-year struggle, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has listened to the pleas of our community and will hold a public hearing this Tuesday to decide whether to landmark the proposed Sullivan-Thompson Historic District, also known as the South Village, on SoHo’s western flank.
The district extends roughly from Houston Street to Watts Street and from Sixth Avenue to the east side of Thompson Street.  It will be the third and final stage of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s remarkable effort to landmark the entire South Village.
Besides fine architectural examples of both Italianate-style tenements and Federal-style homes and townhouses, the area has a rich cultural heritage, being the center of a large Italian-American immigrant community for over a century, as well as a world-renowned incubator for countless musicians, artists, poets and bohemians who have made a lasting impact on both American and world culture.
However, current zoning allows historic buildings to be demolished and replaced by 300-feet towers.  Developers such as Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner have recently bought properties in the proposed historic district, such as 156 Sullivan Street and the adjacent private parking lot on Houston Street.
HOW TO HELP:
  • Attend the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on Tuesday, November 29 starting at 9 am at the LPC Hearing Room in the Municipal Building, One Centre Street (at Chambers Street), 9th floor.  Bring photo ID.  Sign up to testify when you arrive.  Written testimony is limited to three minutes, but written testimony of any length can be submitted.  Use letter here as sample testimony. Or just come to show support.
  • If you cannot attend, please write the Landmarks Preservation Commission urging them to vote ‘Yes’ on the third phase of GVSHP’s proposed South Village Historic District as soon as possible.  Click here for a link and a Sample Letter, or simply write to comments@lpc.nyc.gov
    Regards,
    Sean Sweeney, Director
    SoHo Alliance