Trump Admits SoHo Alliance Caused Him “Unnecessary Anxiety”

-Trump Admits SoHo Alliance Caused Him “Unnecessary Anxiety

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-ACE Leaves SoHo
Trump Admits SoHo Alliance Caused Him “Unnecessary Anxiety
Love him or hate him, you must admit Donald Trump is not shy to admit that he loves a good fight and never gives up.
In his book, Never Give Upthe presidential candidate discusses his “Biggest Challenges”, devoting an entire chapter, I Love A Good Fight, to his battle with the SoHo Alliance when he attempted to build a new residential building here, the Trump SoHo.  
 
He explains how “zoning laws and local residents, together, created formidable obstacles”.   New residential buildings in SoHo require a zoning variance or special permit but hotels do not.  So Trump instead labeled his building a “condo hotel” in order to avoid this inconvenience.  Additionally, had he gone through the proper route, the building would not have been able to be built so tall.
 
Trump concedes, “Alliances made it clear that I would not be receiving a warm welcome.”  To say the least. 
 
He goes on, “The hits kept coming, and it felt like being in the eye of the hurricane…Every adversity served as fuel in what had become a fight of city-sized proportions.”   In his characteristic sanguinity, he declares, “I can guarantee you that my SoHo neighbors are going to love it – eventually.”
 
The concluding paragraph sums it up well, “SoHo caused perhaps a few more problems than expected…and we are big enough to handle it.  Be sure you have the same attitude – it will save you a lot of unnecessary anxiety.”
 
Due to several lawsuits and other legal roadblocks from the SoHo Alliance, Trump never got to operate his building as a residential condo.  In fact, it went into foreclosure when Trump failed to sell a single residential unit.  Who wants to buy into a lawsuit? 
 
It is now operating as a hotel, which is what the zoning laws permit and which is what we wanted him to do all along.  Too bad he didn’t listen to us.
 
 
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Despite our differences with Donald on zoning issues, the SoHo Alliance is non-partisan.  Whoever is your choice for president, be sure to vote on Tuesday.  Polls open 6am to 9pm.  If you are unsure of your voting site, you can find it here:  https://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/search
ACE Leaving SoHo
ACE, formerly known as the SoHo Partnership, has informed us that it is moving its operations out of SoHo.  
 
The organization started here in 1992 and helps to rehabilitate recovering homeless while sweeping our streets.  Unfortunately. it can no longer cut it financially here.  The new multinational businesses are reluctant to contribute to this charity and rising wages added to its burden.
 
As a result, last week ACE’s workers ceased cleaning our sidewalks.  Worse, the Sanitation Department is refusing to empty the special trash bins that ACE used, claiming it slowed their crews down.  So those bins have been removed and you may notice the remaining city trash bins overflow at times.
 
Another sad development is that ACE can no longer afford the rising commercial rents in SoHo and is locating its offices from Broadway to Long Island City.  The charity has been receiving city funding from the Transportation  Department to maintain several public plazas throughout the city, so at least its worthwhile mission will continue.
 
ACE served SoHo for a quarter of a century and it will be sorely missed.
 
Regards,
Sean Sweeney, Director
SoHo Alliance

August News Update: Street Closing & Mega-Development on the West Side

1) Regarding the proposed Fashion Week event seeking to close Greene Street to traffic, in order to allow a retailer to conduct an amplified, outdoor ‘fashion show’ for 750 people on our sidewalk:

The Community Board recommended denial of the permits that the applicant requested.  It now goes to the Mayor’s Streets Activities Permit Office for review.  We are unsure how the agency will respond; but at the hearing last week, the applicants stated they are paying the city $25,000 to get the permit.

The way things have been going at City Hall recently, we are not sure whether the community board’s advice will be heeded.  Stay tuned.

2) We are joining with our friends at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation to demand protection from a huge development project planned for the three-block long St. John’s Terminal Building site at Houston and West Streets.

There will be a public hearing on the proposal at City Planning Commission this Tuesday, August 24.

Some 200,000-300,000 square feet of ‘Big Box’ stores and ‘destination retail’ are proposed, which will draw enormous amounts of traffic from all over the metropolitan area.  View the renderings here.

The plan will also open the door to vastly increased development up and down the West SoHo and Greenwich Village waterfront using ‘air rights’ from the nearby Hudson River Park, and leave our nearby South Village community vulnerable to intensified development pressure with no protections for its historic, low-rise residential buildings.

WE NEED A HUGE TURNOUT TO DEMAND PROTECTIONS FOR THE NEARBY SOUTH VILLAGE AND WEST SOHO!

Join us in calling for

  • A ban on any future air rights transfers from the Hudson River Park within Community Board #2
  • An elimination of any ‘Big Box’ stores or ‘destination retail’ from the plan, with only moderately sized, locally oriented stores and a supermarket allowed

HOW TO HELP:

  • Come to the City Planning Commission public hearing on Wednesday, August 24 at 22 Reade Street (Broadway/Lafayette) starting at 10 a.m. (It should last for hours, so you can still come late and testify).

Testify or just show support.  Use letter here for sample testimony; click here for more details.

You can check the GVSHP twitter feed at twitter.com/gvshp starting at 10 am on the 24th for status updates about the hearing, when public testimony will begin and end, etc.

For more information, click here.

Regards,

Sean Sweeney, Director

SoHo Alliance

IMPORTANT MEETING: Elizabeth St Garden Update

– ATTEND COMMUNITY BOARD MEETING TO PREVENT DESTRUCTION OF OUR GARDEN!
Wednesday, January 20, 6:30 pm at Scholastic Auditorium, 557 Broadway between Prince & Spring WEAR GREEN
We face a real danger that our beautiful Elizabeth Street Garden could be razed for development – but we can stop it with your help!
The NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development on Wednesday will present its plans for housing on the garden site, an invitation to developers to destroy our urban oasis.
If you support our efforts for a community garden in our park-starved neighborhood, please attend this meeting to let the HPD and the deBlasio Administration know we need less development and more green space in lower Manhattan
For more information on the garden, please click: http://elizabethstreetgarden.org/
Regards,
Sean Sweeney
Executive Director

NY Times Reports on SoHo BID Controversy

 

Critics of SoHo Proposal Ask, You Call This Improvement?

Pedestrian traffic is part of the fight over a plan for a business improvement district along Broadway in SoHo. By

  

Sean Sweeney, who leads a neighborhood group and worries about the crowds in SoHo, said, “We’re packed.”

Living in SoHo for decades has taught Sean Sweeney how to urge people to hurry up in several languages, though not without his blood pressure shooting up.“Rápido! Vite! Mach schnell!” he hisses as visiting crowds of shoppers shuffle along at a crawl. On weekends he sometimes barrels through packs of dawdlers like a bowling ball through pins. Once, when a group of people, coffees in hand, refused to move off his building’s stoop, the ensuing standoff nearly escalated into a fistfight.

Now there are plans to bring in a business improvement district — a public-private partnership that collects assessments to pay for local improvements like better sanitation, marketing and beautification — and Mr. Sweeney and many of his neighbors are not pleased.

“We don’t need a business improvement district; we need a resident improvement district,” said Mr. Sweeney, who moved into a loft on Greene Street in the early 1980s, during the hard-to-imagine days when SoHo’s soaring factory spaces were vacant and its streets desolate. “We’re packed.”

SoHo, the Lower Manhattan neighborhood so named because it is south of Houston Street, has in the past four decades been transformed from a hard-bitten haven for artists into a magnet for such luxury retailers as Prada and Chanel. Partly as a result, the neighborhood’s residents are in the unusual position of fighting a plan designed to improve conditions in their area, even though the method has been widely embraced throughout the city and is overwhelmingly viewed as helpful, and benign.

The controversy is in its second year and nearing a likely climax this March with a public hearing before the City Council. Not only has it tapped a primal fear among some in SoHo, it has also laid bare a neighborhood schism.

The artists who colonized the neighborhood decades ago may have secured castles in the sky, but they also find themselves surrounded by streets that are clogged by tourists and lined with giant retailers and luxury stores. For them, having a business improvement district formed with the help of real estate giants means ceding more ground to invaders who, they believe, want to increase pedestrian flow to be able to charge more for retail space.

“In SoHo, there’s always a concern that this neighborhood built by pioneers will be further eroded,” said State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, a Democrat who represents the area and opposes the plan.

Brad Hoylman, the chairman of the local community board, which rejected the plan because of a lack of community support, was struck by the outcry.

“I can recall few issues where there has been as much vociferous opposition as the SoHo BID,” he said, referring to the district by its acronym.

But those who support the district say Mr. Sweeney, who himself leads a neighborhood activist group called the SoHo Alliance, and other opponents are fear-mongering and have got it all wrong.

The district, they say, would be formed largely to deal with the effects of the masses that fuel SoHo’s runaway retail success.

Every weekend, the garbage cans on Broadway overflow to the point where people resort to laying trash around them in rings, in what one local politician calls “a sort of tribute to the garbage pail.”

The Sanitation Department cannot keep up. Retailers have repeatedly been fined for messy sidewalks out front. Meanwhile, street vendors gobble up precious sidewalk space, choking pedestrian traffic. Supporters of the district say a full-time staff member could urge illegal vendors and food trucks to leave or could alert the police. Besides, proponents note, the proposed district itself would be only along Broadway between Houston and Canal Streets — and many dissenters live outside that zone.

“There’s no big, bad boogeyman; I don’t want more tourists on Broadway,” said Katy Rice, who supports the new district and who has lived on Broadway for nine years. “As a resident, I don’t want to step on trash, and I don’t want vendors selling hash pipes outside my door.”

The first stirrings of a proposal for the district came three or four years ago.

For nearly two decades, the nonprofit group ACE had supplied the area with street cleaners through a vocational program that provides transitional work experience for formerly homeless men and women.

But in the past five years, the group, which was founded by the philanthropist Henry Buhl, received fewer and fewer donations from residents and retailers along Broadway between Houston and Canal. Sometimes the budget shortfalls exceeded $100,000, and the group found itself diverting money from other programs.

“We were doing this for multinational corporations making billions, and this tiny nonprofit is shouldering this load for nothing,” said Jim Martin, ACE’s executive director.

So last summer, ACE stopped cleaning the Broadway stretch, and the garbage began piling up.

Mr. Buhl and some property owners had been floating the idea of creating the business improvement district by collecting regular assessments from property owners along Broadway to finance an agency that would have an executive director, organize regular street cleanings and tackle longtime thorny issues like illegal vending and food cart jams.

After the community outcry at the organizers’ initial plan, they rejiggered some aspects, including decreasing the district’s proposed budget to $550,000 and ensuring that owners of residential co-ops and condos would pay only nominal assessment fees.

Brian Steinwurtzel, who is on the district plan’s steering committee and whose family owns two buildings on the strip, said his group had been reaching out to residents along Broadway and had slowly but steadily won broad support.

“This is about sweeping the sidewalks, cleaning the intersections and crosswalks, especially when it’s snowing, and it’s about taking the garbage and providing more garbage cans,” Mr. Steinwurtzel said. “The people who are part of ‘SoHo No BID,’ I would love it if they would help participate in this,” he added, referring to a group of the plan’s critics.

Meanwhile, several residents on Broadway who initially opposed the plan said they found themselves supporting it.

“There’s a lot of misinformation about the BID,” said Cheryl Klauss, a photographer who has lived on Broadway for 30 years. “I think it’s going to take care of the ramifications of having so many tourists here.”

But many residents remain entrenched in their opposition. They worry that the district would give the upper hand to real estate titans with properties in the neighborhood and that it would eventually be expanded.

They also argue that the proposed budget, now set at roughly $550,000, remains excessive, and that SoHo might find itself festooned with holiday lights and signs that would drive in yet more tourists.

“BIDs & not-for-profits are carving up NYC and claiming those areas as their fiefdoms, bankrolled by taxpayer money,” Pete Davies, of the SoHo No BID committee, wrote in an e-mail.

Another critic, Jamie Johnson, said the plan was an overly expensive solution to a terrible trash problem. “It’s ‘Let’s put in a chandelier when we only need a light bulb,’ ” she said.

SoHo to NYU: Don’t Overwhelm Our Neighborhoods!

Community to University: Don’t Overwhelm Our Neighborhoods!
Written by AlanKrawitz on February 16, 2012.

In so many ways, New York University has been a good neighbor and an integral, if not vital, part of the Downtown community.

But, when it comes to the venerable school’s ambitious, super-sized building plans, dubbed NYU 2031, which would add four new buildings covering several million square feet within the Washington Square core, many longtime residents of the Village are beginning to see the school in a less-than-neighborly light.

“We love the school, hate the plan,” said Brad Hoylman, chairman of Community Board 2, who attended Saturday’s rally at Judson Church, where hundreds turned out to protest NYU’s massive building plans.

Holding signs with slogans that read, “Flowers, not towers,” and “Condemned by NYU: Gardens going, going, gone,” a crowd of nearly 500 that included village residents, community activists and politicians expressed their disapproval of the scale and scope of NYU’s 20-year building plan that would effectively remake the face of Greenwich Village and the surrounding area.

“NYU’s position is to change the area zoning from its current residential/institutional character to one that emulates the center of Manhattan,” said Janet Hayes, a Republican district leader who attended the rally and lives on LaGuardia Place, near a Morton Williams Supermarket that is the site of a proposed school. “The 20-year plan allows for a high-rise, 40-story, block-long building and large commercial tenancies.”

Hayes added that many villagers see the NYU plan as self-serving, as opposed to the neighborhoods’ aspirations to preserve the character of the area. She also pointed out that the school had received—and declined—numerous offers to expand in Lower Manhattan below Canal Street.

Assembly Member Deborah Glick said that the plan in its current form would “severely alter” the low-rise character and quality of the Village. “In addition,” Glick said, “the four new towers would cast shadows where there were previously none.”

Hoylman called the rally at Judson Church a “call to action” as the board nears its Thursday, Feb. 23 deadline to consider a resolution on this issue and then send it on to the Department of City Planning on March 11. “Our recommendation, while advisory,” said Hoylman, “packs a punch.”

The NYU 2031 Plan is only a month into the lengthy, 7-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure that involves approvals and recommendations from the Community Board, the borough president, Department of City Planning, City Council and the mayor.

While many in the community are already calling for the NYU plan to be scaled back, Hoylman says that the plan is too concentrated in a very small, dense area and will ultimately bring thousands of new residents, students and faculty members to an already overpopulated and vulnerable neighborhood that includes seniors and rent-stabilized residents.

“At the moment, there is really no flexibility on NYU’s part,” he said.

In response to the rally, NYU spokesman John Beckman issued the following statement: “As NYU continues to move through the city’s mandated public review process, we look forward to continuing our discussions with all stakeholders involved.”

Older residents have talked to me that the NYU 2031 plan resonates with Occupy Wall Street. Here we do not have a large financial institution but a financially well-endowed institution where elite interests and political dealings have likely trumped the people’s voice,” Jeanne Wilcke, president of the Downtown Independent Democrats.

Sean Sweeney, a member of CB2 and the SoHo Alliance, sees the NYU plan as having even more far-reaching effects.

“Although many say that this NYU plan will affect the Village only, in fact it will severely impact Soho, Noho and Tribeca much more than most of the Village, since the plans for construction are focused on Houston Street and the two blocks north of that [Bleecker and West 3rd streets],” Sweeney said.

“As a result, we would expect to get the ill effects of construction in Soho as well as hordes of students from the dorms proposed just across the street from our community…Think more beer pong bars and fewer fine dining establishments.”

– Alan Krawitz

SAFER STREETS SOHO – SCOTT STRINGER NEWS CONFERENCE

– Monday: Press Conference for Safer SoHo Streets & Crosswalks 
After years of futilely trying to persuade the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) to mitigate the horrendous rush-hour congestion, gridlock and horn-honking along Broome Street, as well as numerous appeals to repair the myriad cracked and broken crosswalks along Greene and Mercer Streets, the SoHo Alliance has begun working with the office of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to get some results.
Consequently, Stringer has called a press conference for tomorrow, Monday, January 23, at 12:30 at Broome and Mercer to request DOT to install “Don’t Block The Box” warning signage as well as painted zebra-striping in the intersection.  We believe this will alert drivers to keep the Broome Street intersections clear and prevent gridlock, thus enabling pedestrians and north/south traffic to move safely and freely.
But as a further deterrent, Stringer will call on both the NYS Senate and NYS Assembly Transportation Committees to install traffic cameras at crucial Broome Street intersections so that Don’t Block the Box violators will face stiff fines.
Additionally, Borough President Stringer will request DOT to repair the pavers on the crosswalks along the length of Greene and Mercer Streets, which have deteriorated so badly since they were installed in the mid-90s that deep fissures and cracks create a hazardous condition to pedestrians and cyclists crossing these intersections.

Trump Soho developers to auction hotel, condos

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20120118/REAL_ESTATE/120119884/1033

(Bloomberg) – The developers of Manhattan’s Trump Soho will put the hotel and its unsold condominium units up for sale, said Alex Sapir, one of the property’s builders.

The Sapir Organization, which developed the property with Bayrock Group, has hired brokers Eastdil Secured and Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. to hold an auction for the unspecified number of unsold condominium units and the hotel’s common areas, said Alex Sapir, president of the Sapir Organization.

Sales of the Trump luxury units come as the city’s supply of for-sale condos shrinks. There were 3,382 units listed for sale in the fourth quarter, down 4.6% from a year earlier, according to Jonathan Miller, president of New York real estate appraiser Miller Samuel Inc.

“This is a real trophy property,” Mr. Sapir said. “An asset like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The 46-story Trump Soho, managed by the Trump Organization, offers condos for sale that may only be used by their owners for 120 days of a calendar year. For the rest of the time, they’re offered as hotel rooms, with owners sharing in the rental revenue.

The decision to hold the auction comes after the group received unsolicited offers for the hotel, Mr. Sapir said. “They were numbers that we would be very happy selling at,” he said.

The firm chose to sell by auction to gauge the depth of the buyer pool and to probe how much investors might pay for a hotel asset in Manhattan, Mr. Sapir said.

Prospective buyers will receive preliminary information about the sale as early as Wednesday and the auction probably will be held in March or April, he said.

New York City hotel room rates rose 2.6% in November from a year earlier to an average $279 a night, according to Smith Travel Research Inc. of Hendersonville, Tenn. Revenue per available room climbed 6.1% to $230, as occupancies climbed by 3.5% over the year.

The property is being marketed to would-be buyers in Asia, Russia and the Middle East, Mr. Sapir said.

Mr. Sapir and Bayrock paid down $100 million of debt on the property owed to iStar Financial Inc. in 2010. Donald Trump characterized the deal as a “major paydown of the existing mortgage,” which at the time stood at $295 million.

The 391-unit Trump Soho development has recorded at least 90 sales, according to property-data website StreetEasy.com. Forty-two units are currently listed for sale, with prices ranging between $995,000 for a 425-square foot studio to $8.74 million for a 2,331-square-foot two-bedroom, according to StreetEasy.

The Sapir Organization, based in New York, owns office and apartment buildings in Manhattan including 11 Madison Ave., home to Credit Suisse Group AG, and 2 Broadway, where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is based. It also owns about 515 apartment units in TriBeCa.

The firm is in talks to acquire a parcel of land near the World Trade Center where it plans to build a hotel, Mr. Sapir said.

Video of NYU meeting

Tensions High at NYU Expansion Meeting

Updated: Monday, 09 Jan 2012, 10:47 PM EST
Published : Monday, 09 Jan 2012, 10:47 PM EST

Read more:

By JOHN HUDDY

MYFOXNY.COM – A public hearing on Monday about NYU’s expansion plans quickly turned into a shouting match when people outside couldn’t get in.

The meeting was eventually stopped and moved to a nearby church to accommodate the large crowd, which was largely against NYU’s 2031 Core Initiative: A 20-year, 2.4-million-square-foot expansion plan to include four new buildings and an overhaul of the area’s zoning laws. It has drawn fire from many local community groups and many NYU neighbors.

One of the groups fighting NYU’s plans is the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Andrew Berman, the executive director, said that NYU’s plan to shoehorn new buildings into existing space would clog up an already densely populated area.

But NYU Vice President Alicia Hurley said the plan would be an economic benefit to the area, bringing money and jobs.