Demolition Day at 180 Orchard Street

180 Orchard Street, this afternoon.

It’s demo day at 180 Orchard Street, one of the neighborhood’s most infamous construction sites.  The heavy machinery is making quick word of the two story shell of a building.  The structure is being taken down so crews can begin building a 26-story, 250 room Hotel Indigo. 

It’s been a long haul for residents and local businesses on Orchard Street, who have had to put up with this eyesore since the bottom fell out of the real estate market several years ago.  In 2011, Brack Capital bought the property for $46 million from developer Morris Platt.  As we reported in November, this project is part of a huge hotel building boom on the Lower East Side.  Just based on already-announced projects, the hotel room inventory is expected to triple to more than 1600 rooms in the next couple of years.

Click through for more photos, plus a rendering of the new Orchard Street hotel.

Sugar Cafe on Allen Street Shuttered by Health Department (Updated 2/1 1:16 p.m.)

This afternoon Sugar Cafe, 200 Allen Street (East Houston) was shut down by the New York City Health Department.  The restaurant was pretty much cleared out when we walked by a few moments ago.

Morning Reads: 7-Eleven Backlash, Public Drinking Complaints, Anarchist Love-In

Across the pond, they’re taking note of the 7-Eleven backlash in the East Village/Lower East Side (BBC).

The texture of New York City “would be flattened” if bodegas go the way of the dinosaur (Atlantic Cities).

Surprise surprise! There are a large number of public drinking complaints on the Lower East Side (Gothamist).

“Here We Are,” the final Living Theatre production on Clinton Street is “part examination of historical anarchist movements, part indictment of the current sociopolitical order and part team-building love-in.” (NYT)


126-130 Delancey Street Sold For $21 Million

126-130 Delancey Street.

126-130 Delancey Street, the three story commercial building at Norfolk Street, has been sold for $21 million.  The seller was Angelo Cosentini, better known as the developer of the Blue Building, located just to the north.  The Real Deal reports that the new owner is Carter Management, a real estate firm with holding throughout Manhattan.

Massey Knakal had been marketing the building for $22.7 million.  The 22,875 square foot property is fully leased. Payless Shoe Source and the Children’s Place are on the ground floor.  The Comprehensive Companies, including the Comprehensive Kids School, has nearly 16,000 square feet spread over three floors.  The retail tenants are paying around $100/square foot. Comprehensive pays below-market rent, $43/square foot. All of the leases expire in the year 2021.

The brochure from Massey Knakal highlights the fact that the proerty is right across the street from the Seward Park redevelopment site. The city recently invited developers to bid on the 1.6 million square foot residential and commercial project.

The building is zoned C6-2A, which includes a 180 foot height cap (around 18 stories), but the air rights have already been sold.


Good Morning!

Norfolk Street at East Houston.

A few rain showers this morning, then cloudy and windy for the rest of the day.  Look for a high of 52.

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Watching the Big Game? Here Are Some LES Options

Looking for Super Bowl Sunday options on the Lower East Side? No fear, there are plenty of places to watch the big game this coming weekend.  Here are a few suggestions.  We’ll keep adding to the list, so restaurants/bars, feel free to send along your info.

  • The Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe says they’ve got the biggest screen on the LES — two stories high!  There will be pizza, snacks and drink specials. A $7 ticket includes food.  Click here to make your reservation.
  • At Fontana’s, the big screen in the “Chandelier Room” is nothing to sneeze at!  There will be free buffalo wings at halftime, $3 shots and happy hour prices on a pretty big selection of beers and well drinks. More info on Facebook.
  • Cocktail Bodega is offering all-you-can-eat wings and beer for $35.  They’ll have a DJ before and after the game and during half time. At sister restaurant Sons of Essex, there will be drink specials and wings, plus a “surprise halftime show.” Also Dani Erin will be singing the National Anthem.  Yes, really.
  • Tammany Hall will be serving up drink specials, wings and sliders.  They’ll also have a DJ during half time.
  • Lil’ Frankies, 19 1st Avenue, will be roasting a whole pig plus they’ll have a large screen HD projection.
  • If you choose to hang out in your own apartment and feel like going a few steps beyond the standard wings and nachos fare, Northern Spy is offering a variety of Super Bowl specials.  Among the options: chili and cornbread, pork sticky rolls or, if you’re splurging, a “feast package” for $75.  Click here for details.

Lower East Side Then & Now: Book Signing Tomorrow Night

The LES History Project’s Eric Ferrara and David Bellel are out with a new book.  They’ll be signing copies of “Lower East Side Then & Now” and making a presentation tomorrow night at the Italian American Museum, 155 Mulberry Street, at 6:30 p.m.  The book uses side by side images to compare the dramatic changes that have taken place in the neighborhood in the past century.

The new project also includes a forward by Joyce Mendelsohn, author of “The Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited.”   There are dozens of rare photographs that have not been published before.  Here’s a YouTube preview.  Yes you can buy the book online, but better yet, patronize local businesses! The LES The & Now is available in the Tenement Museum Bookstore, 103 Orchard Street, and E. Rossi, 193 Grand Street.


Reminder: Unity Rally Planned on Lower East Side Tomorrow

We mentioned this more than a week ago, but here’s a reminder. Tomorrow afternoon, residents, community activists and elected officials are planning a Lower East Side Unity Rally.  The “stop the violence” event was planned in the aftermath of the January 4 murder of 16-year old Raphael Ward on Columbia Street.  The rally begins at 5:30 p.m. at Avenue D and 6th Street. Participants will march to Columbia and Delancey, near the location where Ward was shot and killed.


LES Bites: Ivan Ramen Confirmed, Flavor Tripping at Fatta Cuckoo, Shabbat Dinner For Goys

Today’s food/restaurant news:

  • Ivan Orkin, the acclaimed ramen specialist, announces on his twitter feed that “Ivan Ramen” is definitely coming to 25 Clinton.  Last month, in an appearance before Community Board 3, he suggested the Lower East Side location was not a “done deal.”  On twitter today, orkin said he hopes to be open by mid-spring.
  • The Times checks out one of the Bowery’s newest nightlife spots, Cata, which specializes in tapas and gin & tonics (yes, an unusual combination).
  • In-box: Thursday night Fatta Cuckoo, 63 Clinton St. is offering a special dinner prepared by Chicago-based Chef Homaro Cantu, one of the pioneers of the molecular gastronomy movement. He’ll take you “flavor tripping” Cocktails and dinner for $55; call 212-353-0570 for reservations.
  • The Observer takes a look at the young New Yorkers making lobster kugel a Friday night Shabbat tradition.
  • Lunch options at the Essex Street Market, courtesy Serious Eats.


Schools Chancellor Walcott Holds Town Hall on Lower East Side Tonight

NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott will be on the Lower East Side tonight. He’ll be addressing parents at a town hall meeting at P.S. 20, 166 Essex Street.

It’s a particularly active time for the Department of Education.  Just yesterday, the mayor announced the elimination of 700 teaching and counseling jobs this year through attrition and 1800 more positions next year.  The city is losing $250 million in state aid because it failed to negotiate a new teacher evaluation system.

Walcott is also dealing with the school bus strike, which has been going on for two weeks now. According to the Daily News, “security concerns stemming from the bus strike” have prompted the NYPD to provide Walcott with 24-hour police protection.

The town hall meeting at P.S. 20 begins at 6 p.m.  Walcott will be taking questions from the audience.  If you would like to ask a question, you can fill out an index card on site tonight.

Large Student Housing Firm Looking at Former School Building on LES

The New York Times has an interview with Albert Rabil III, head of Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors, which specializes in student housing. Last year the firm sold about half its portfolio, 13,000 beds, for around $860 million.  In the Q&A, there’s a Lower East Side angle:

Q. Are there plans to move into New York City?

A. We would love to have something in New York. We are definitely morphing toward the more urban markets, because we want “very high barrier to entry” markets, and New York is about as high as you get. The trick is being able to build, buy or rehab something that’s affordable.

We’re looking at a deal right now in New York City, on the Lower East Side. It’s a building that’s been vacant for 11 years — it was a former school building. We are now in negotiations.

This property is zoned such that you would have to master-lease the housing to two universities. You couldn’t lease directly to students.

The building is not named but speculation will inevitably be focused on the former Charas/El Bohio Cultural Center/P.S. 64 on East 9th Street.   See EV Grieve for more of this back story.


Morning Reads: Bloomberg Budget, Blackberry Announcement on the LES, Talking “Girls” With AndrewAndrew

Michael Bloomberg’s last budget proposes closing firehouses, cutting child care funding and eliminating teaching positions (NYT)

Blackberry’s big announcement will take place this morning at Pier 36, Basketball City (Barron’s).

Sizing up Seaport residential real estate after Hurricane Sandy (Real Deal).

The Bowery Mission has bought a building on 115th Street (Commercial Observer).

The Meatball Shop is a “breakout brand.” (Nation’s Restaurant News)

Save the New York bagel! (The Forward)

AndrewAndrew talk about their cameo on “Girls.” (Fashionista)

A celebrity-ish screening of zombie movie “Warm Bodies” at the Sunshine (Observer).

Miss Bunny Buxom was among those helping Ray celebrate his 80th birthday (EV Grieve).


Good Morning!

Morning Walk (Lomo)

Morning on Delancey Street. Photo by Roey Ahram.

Morning fog, followed by possible severe thunderstorms and high winds this afternoon.  Look for a high of 55.

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Buke & Gase at Bowery Ballroom Tomorrow Night

Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez.

If you’re in the mood to catch some new music this week, here’s a suggestion.  Buke & Gase, the experimental New York-based duo, will be at Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night to kick off a national tour in support of their new album, “General Dome.”   Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez first attracted attention in 2010 for building their own instruments.  The sophomore effort, which was released today, seems to be convincing at least some critics that there’s a lot more than a gimmick behind Buke and Gase. 

“Contra,” New Restaurant at 138 Orchard St., Goes For Wine & Beer

138 Orchard Street.

If Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske have their way, this storefront at 138 Orchard Street will become “Contra,” a restaurant “inspired by their American, Asian and Mexican roots.”  The pair will go before Community Board 3’s State Liquor Authority Committee next month in support of a wine and beer license.

There will be 18 tables and a bar with seating for six people.  The restaurant will be open for dinner until midnight Wednesdays-Sundays.  In recent months Contra has held some “pop up” dinners at Zoe on Eldridge Street.  The sample menu submitted to the community board looks pretty ambitious.  A $55 summer tasting menu consists of dishes such as “Quinoa with a crudite of summer vegetables, lamb fat and burnt eggplant puree” and “Monkfish tail with squash, nasturtium leaves.”

A spring opening is planned.