Return to Main Street: The Bowery

Monday, November 09, 2009


Last Spring our Main Street NYC series traveled along the Bowery checking in on the health of local businesses and institutions. We visited the Bowery Mission, a decades-old pizza supply shop, and a new eco-friendly home goods store, the Green Depot. We ended our trip at 250 Bowery, a huge hole where a luxury hotel was supposed to go up. Back in March, site manager Joesef Ayoub said that the problem with the project was financing. Its building permits expired in April and the site remains empty. But that’s not the only hotel development changing life along this main street.

You can listen to a conversation with reporter Brigid Bergin and WNYC's Richard Hake about this story here:

(Brigid Bergin)

(Brigid Bergin)

Roberta Degnore (above) is standing across the street from 187 Bowery, the apartment building she agreed to leave after her landlord sold it over a year ago. Degnore lived on the second floor above a restaurant furniture store for close to 30 years. As a writer and filmmaker the massive 1,500 square foot loft was Degnore's living and working space. She received a financial settlement in exchange for moving, but Degnore says all she really wanted was help finding a comparable space in the neighborhood.

(Stephen Nessen)

(Stephen Nessen)

Brack Capital Real Estate purchased 187 Bowery Street, the building where Degnore lived, for over $7.5 million in the summer of 2008. This building, along with those on either side of it, was expected to be demolished. The company lists vague details on its website about a 'boutique hotel' project slated for the site. For now, scaffolding is the only sign of activity at the site. No one from Brack returned repeated calls requesting an update on the project's status.

(Brigid Bergin)

(Brigid Bergin)

In December 2008, the Cooper Square Hotel did open. The 21-story hotel is located at on the corner of East 5th Street and the Bowery.

Some local residents who opposed the building's construction formed a grassroots preservation organization, the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, or BAN. The group drafted a plan to rezone the east side of the Bowery, which would include height caps and provisions to protect buildings of special significance. The Bowery was not included in last year's rezoning of the East Village and Lower East Side.

Officials at City Planning says they are aware of the community's concerns and are willing to meet with residents on proposed solutions. No date for that meeting had been set at the time of this report.
(Stephen Nessen)

(Stephen Nessen)

Battered blue plywood surrounds a 30-foot hole at 250 Bowery. Construction at the site has been suspended for over a year. It was slated to become a luxury, green hotel. Currently, several court cases related to the project are pending against the developer Peter Moore Associates. For now, garbage collects around the edges of the site.

(Brigid Bergin)

(Brigid Bergin)

Further south at 91 Bowery, a new luxury hotel is going up on the corner of Bowery and Hester Street. The construction there destabilized the neighboring buildings and ultimately led to the demolition of 128 Hester Street.

(Brigid Bergin)

(Brigid Bergin)

Chris Kui (center) is the head of Asian Americans for Equality. He was joined by Susan Stetzer (left) the district manager for Community District 3, who held a protest with several long-term residents outside 128 Hester in late October. The building was demolished two weeks later.


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Comments [5]

Louise Millmann

Why nothing about NYU?

Nov. 12 2009 08:03 PM
Gilda Pervin

Thank you to WNYC and everyone connected with this broadcast about the Bowery and its community.

Nov. 12 2009 01:02 PM
David Mulkins

When the 18-story luxury hotel construction site at 91 Bowery destabilized the adjacent
128 Hester Street building,
it was 60 tenants (not 29!) and a restaurant that were forcibly evicted.
Unfortunately, such mass evictions
are happening more and more frequently,
and with little or no coverage in the
mainstream media. Thank you WNYC
for covering this.

Nov. 11 2009 03:35 PM
K Webster

Re: 250 Bowery. The intact buildings that were torn down in 2006 caused the near collapse of two neighboring buildings. Two small businesses were forced to evacuate. Several large open pits still sit where further erosion of soil could compromise the integrity of the surrounding buildings. The buildings at the rear had bricks rain down on them and rear yards destroyed during the demolition (which was riddled with violations). Garbage collects within the pits and in front of the site. A gap in the plywood invites trespass into the unlit and dangerous large holes.
When developers are given free reign to determine what neighborhoods will be instead of the city working WITH community boards taking that role, this is precisely what results.

Nov. 10 2009 08:25 PM

When you report on the development in the east village and the east Bowery and not mention NYU, it makes the us believe you are in bed with them.

Nov. 10 2009 11:49 AM

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