Monthly Archives

November 2016


New York Times: West Chelsea: From Industrial to Chic

November 30, 2016

November 30, 2016

Catherine Roggero-Lovisi and her husband, Dr. Bruno Lovisi, both in their 40s, lived on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and in Paris before settling in West Chelsea. In 2014, they rented a one-bedroom apartment in London Terrace Gardens and decided to buy in the area as they grew to love it.

“The neighborhood is very charming, not impersonal,” said Ms. Roggero-Lovisi, the general manager for Christian Louboutin Beauté, a beauty company.

Within five days of looking with a broker, Dr. Lovisi contacted his wife, who was in Paris on business, about a two-bedroom co-op in a brownstone on West 22nd Street west of Ninth Avenue. Was she willing to walk up four flights?

She was. “We snatched it,” she said. The couple paid $1.75 million and moved in last April. Ms. Roggero-Lovisi commutes to Midtown on the E train; her husband gets around on his Harley-Davidson.

On the same block as the Lovisis, Jim Brawders, 63, an associate broker for the Corcoran Group, lives with his husband, Rick Livingston, an interior designer, in a parlor-floor three-bedroom co-op that they bought in the early ‘90s for $645,000. West Chelsea was more of a night life destination back then, he said, and fairly desolate during the day. Clients he took there would reject it as “too far out in the hinterlands.”

A nearby apartment similar to his just sold for $3.37 million, he said. For condominiums bordering the High Line or facing the Hudson River, listings in the $10 million to $20 million range are not unusual. Projects from star architects like Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Annabelle Selldorf and Zaha Hadid have further transformed the formerly industrial landscape.

Marc Levin, a filmmaker in his mid-60s who has an office on West 26th Street and lives nearby, said rezoning in 2005 and the opening of the first section of the High Line in 2009 fueled the land rush. His recent HBO documentary, “Class Divide,” chronicles West Chelsea’s rapid gentrification through the eyes of children from housing projects and a private school across the street. “My film is a microcosm of what’s happening around our country, in London and Hong Kong, where real estate has become like a safety deposit box,” he said.

Corey Johnson, 34, a city councilman representing Chelsea as part of District 3, said redevelopment “has made the neighborhood much less affordable, and small businesses are falling by the wayside — the locksmith, the dry cleaner …”

He added, however, that “even with the challenges that Chelsea faces, it’s still a welcoming place and the epicenter of art, fashion and innovation.”

What You’ll Find

West Chelsea, by popular definition, runs from Ninth Avenue to the Hudson River and from West 14th to West 30th Streets.

Tech and media workers from Google’s New York office, at 76 Ninth Avenue, and the Frank Gehry-designed IAC headquarters, at 555 West 18th Street, have added a youthful dynamic to the streets. Commercial tenants at the massive Starrett-Lehigh building, at 601 West 26th Street, include the architecture and design studio Diller Scofidio & Renfro and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Century-old brick-and-brownstone townhouses have been preserved on some blocks, mostly in the West 20s. The West Chelsea Historic District is tied to the neighborhood’s prestige as a manufacturing center, protecting 30 buildings erected from 1885 to 1930. The 1930s-era London Terrace Gardens — 10 adjoining rental buildings —and the complex’s four co-op buildings, London Terrace Towers, take up the blocks between Ninth and 10th Avenues and 23rd to 24th Streets.

Subsidized housing dominates several blocks, with Robert Fulton Houses between 16th and 19th Streets and Ninth and 10th Avenues. The New York City Housing Authority plans to add an 18-story mixed-income building to the complex on 18th Street, to be built by Artimus Construction. The Chelsea-Elliot Houses, another housing project, run from West 25th to 27th Streets, between Ninth and 10th Avenues.

What You’ll Pay

On Nov. 21, 132 area properties were listed for sale on The New York Times search engine, from a $625,000 studio co-op in London Terrace Towers to a five-bedroom penthouse facing the High Line for $50 million in a 39-unit condo designed by Zaha Hadid, scheduled for occupancy by spring.

The median sales price through the third quarter for a one-bedroom condo or co-op was nearly $1.14 million, a 14 percent increase from the same time last year, according to Gregory J. Heym, the chief economist at Terra Holdings. The median for a two-bedroom, at $2.95 million,was up 40 percent, and for a three-bedroom, at $8 million, up 34 percent, which Mr. Heym said was in large part because of the prices at 551 West 21st Street, a luxury condo designed by Foster & Partners. The median for townhouses was $7.35 million, down 3 percent from last year, he said.

Monthly rentals ranged from $2,500 to $4,000 for studios, $3,500 to $5,000 for one-bedrooms and $4,500 to $7,000 for two-bedrooms, according to Jordan Cooper, a partner of Cooper & Cooper Real Estate.

The Vibe

Tourists from around the globe thread along the High Line park, as well as through Chelsea Market, the nearby Whitney Museum of American Art and some 200 galleries, mostly west of 10th Avenue.

Local restaurants with strong followings include the Red Cat, Cookshop, Del Posto, Bottino and the Half King. An enduring center for the arts and live performance is the Kitchen, at 512 West 19th Street.

The sports complex Chelsea Piers has golf, swimming, ice hockey and tennis, among other pursuits. Pier 63 and Pier 64 offer outdoor recreation and relaxation.

The Schools

Public School 33 Chelsea Prep, 281 Ninth Avenue, serves about 620 students from prekindergarten through Grade 5. According to the city’s 2015-2016 School Quality Snapshot, 64 percent met state standards in English, versus 39 percent citywide; 68 percent did so in math, versus 40 percent.

City Knoll Middle School, 425 West 33rd Street, serves about 250 students in Grades 6 to 8. There, 27 percent met standards in English, versus 37 percent citywide; 28 percent did so in math, versus 32 percent.

The Bayard Rustin Educational Complex, 351 West 18th Street, contains several public high schools, including Landmark, Humanities Preparatory Academy, Manhattan Business Academy, the James Baldwin School and Hudson High School of Learning Technologies. Quest to Learn, with Grades 6 to 12, is also within the campus.

The Commute

Subway stations nearby include 14th Street-Eighth Avenue, where the A, E and L trains stop full time and the C part time. The 23rd Street station has the E full time and the A and C part time. The 7 train stops at 34th Street-Hudson Yards. Buses include the M14A, M14D, M11, M12 and M23.

The History

The writer and theologian Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) was also a developer, subdividing and leasing out land he had inherited, which at one time extended several blocks in the West 20s from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River. By the turn of the 20th century the waterfront was a major port.


Patch: Residents, Politicians Ask Preservation Commission to Save the South Village

November 29, 2016

November 29, 2016

WEST VILLAGE, NY — Residents and politicians in the South Village have seen the demolition of historic landmarks such as an LGBT safe haven, the Tunnel Garage, and the Erza Weeks-Daniel Ludlow House in recent years — and now they are begging the Landmarks Preservation Commission to step in and save more buildings from being destroyed.

Residents urged the preservation commission during a hearing on Tuesday to landmark a third and final part of the 750-building, 40-block South Village Historic District. Roughly two-thirds of the area has already been landmarked, and the final third encompasses 10 blocks and 160 buildings between Houston St. to the North and Watts St. to the south. A full map of the area can be seen here.

The campaign to preserve the area, also known as the Sullivan Thompson Historic District, has been driven by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and City Council Member Corey Johnson.

The many buildings that would be preserved, according to the society, include an early 19th century Federal-style row house at 134 Sullivan St.; a Renaissance Revival-style tenement building at 149-151 Sullivan St., built circa 1906; and a 128-year-old building at 38 MacDougal St., complete with Rich Romanesque Revival brickwork.

The South Village has been recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, but that designation is merely symbolic. The LGBT safe haven, located at 186 Spring St., was known as a civil rights landmark before it was destroyed; the Ezra Weeks-Daniel Ludlow House, located at 54 MacDougal St., was demolished in 2014 despite its historical connection to Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and others; and the Tunnel Garage, built in 1922 and known for its connection to the earliest days of the automobile, was demolished in 2006.

“Compounding the tragic loss of these and many other structures in the area is the fact that current zoning could allow new construction here up to 300 feet in height, which is woefully out of character for this uniformly low-scaled district,” Andrew Berman, the executive director of the historic preservation commission, said during his testimony in front of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. “Developers such as Donald Trump’s son-in- law Jared Kushner have recently bought up properties in the area. Only landmark designation will prevent more such losses and inappropriate development.”

Kushner purchased 156 Sullivan St. in 2012, according to reports, and Berman told Patch that the parking lot next to it is “especially appealing as a potential development site” if Kushner were to purchase it.

“The odious and out of context Trump SoHo is just a block outside of the proposed district, and speaks to what we fear encroaching upon the neighborhood,” he added.

Only about two people of the dozens who testified called for the LPC to hold off on landmarking the area, with those residents arguing that the value of their homes would rise if more development entered the area. But after all was said and done, the consensus was clear: the vast majority of residents at the hearing — often speaking through microphone malfunctions — said they want the legacies of their grandparents, of their ancestors, and of New Yorkers to be preserved.

Christabel Gough, who works with the preservation society, called Tuesday a “historic” day because of the possibility of finalizing the decade-long effort to landmark the area.

“Italian immigrants did so much for New York,” Gough said, referring to the tens of thousands of Italian immigrants who settled in the South Village area at the end of the 19th century. “The present political climate is very distressing to us and now is the time to honor immigrants.”

Longtime local resident Ann Warner Arlen said to the LPC during her testimony that she is counting on them to be a hero and to “right a wrong.”

“With Trump SoHo a residential building masquerading as a hotel a few blocks south, and air rights over piers on the Hudson River concocted by the legislature to benefit projects a few blocks west, is it any wonder that the unprotected Phase III section of South Village Historic District has felt like an animal staked out for the kill?” she asked.

Arlen told Patch that she was previously unsure that this day would ever arrive after the LPC initially held back on considering the area as a landmark.

“There was nothing for 10 years,” she said after the testimonies were complete. “In that time, things have changed. I do hope they’re going to do something.”

Council Member Johnson, who was thanked repeatedly by residents for his efforts on preserving the South Village, used his platform during his testimony to speak of the unique, historical significance of the area that he said cannot be substituted.

“Honoring this history – the story of our immigrants and the waves of South Village residents that came after them – will benefit future generations in enormously profound ways,” Johnson said. “Our ability to comprehend and appreciate their history is tied into the buildings that line Sullivan and Thompson Streets.”

The Landmarks Preservation Committee will review the proposal for landmark designation over the course of the next two weeks before issuing a final vote on Dec. 13, a spokesperson told Patch.


New York 1: Mayor Joins Greenwich Village Crowd to Denounce Still Unclear Trump Agenda

November 21, 2016

November 21, 2016

NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday joined a standing room only crowd in Greenwich Village to discuss their fears about the incoming Trump administration.

They shared ideas on how to limit the President-elect’s agenda.

Many expressed their concerns regarding civil rights, marriage equality, and a woman’s right to choose.

“We can see the dangers, but we should not go to sleep because we think we can’t overcome them because we’ve overcome them so many times before,” De Blasio said.

“I’m afraid of what’s going to happen to us and I needed to find a way to participate and push back,” said one concerned New Yorker.

“Defending our rights which take a long time to acquire can be lost at the stroke of a pen. It’s a part-time job,” noted another.

The mayor is scheduled to deliver a similar speech at Cooper Union Monday morning, and will host a town hall in the Bronx Monday night.

You can also see the mayor on his regular “Mondays with the Mayor” segment on “Inside City Hall”.

That airs at 7 and 10 p.m.



November 3, 2016

The news of an anti-LGBTQ hate crime in the West Village over Halloween weekend is shocking and deeply offensive to all New Yorkers. This disgusting attack is beneath the dignity of our City. New York, and the West Village in particular, is known around the country as a place where people can live openly. When any New Yorker is attacked, particularly when it’s because of his or her identity, we must band together as a City and demonstrate our refusal to tolerate bigotry. I ask that anybody with information about this crime immediately contact the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

To view video footage of the suspects taken moments before the attack, please click here.