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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.