135 Bowery, Caspi Development.
A building with a controversial past has become the newest New York location for Breather, a startup that provides on-demand meeting rooms in 10 cities worldwide.
Last night, there was a celebration on the fifth floor of 135 Bowery, where Breather has set up four flexible spaces that can be rented by the hour. It’s the Canadian-based firm’s 100th location in New York City. A press release boasts that Breather is “fulfill(ing) a significant demand for flexible and commitment-free workspaces, shared by professionals, tech companies, business travelers, remote workers (and) creatives.”
Last year, Caspi and RWN Real Estate Partners paid 16.2 million for 135 Bowery. The new building replaced a 194 year-old federal row house. City Council member Margaret Chin blocked the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission from designating the property in 2011. The building is being marketed as a tech startup hub. Caspi also purchased 161 Bowery for a similar purpose. The press release said Breather’s debut marks, “the revitalization of the storied address and the shifting face of the neighborhood as a whole.”
A couple of years ago, Patrick Lau of First American International Bank (the former property owner) told The Lo-Down that the new owner would be required to set aside the third floor for use as a community facility, with rents set 20% below market prices. We do not know if that space has been leased.
There are at least two other substantial co-working firms operating on the Lower East Side — Projective Space (where The Lo-Down happens to be based) and The Yard. Those concepts, however, are focused on monthly rentals, rather than Breather’s hourly model.
This morning on Breather’s website, hourly prices for rooms at 135 Bowery range from $45-80.
135 Bowery is the white building on the left; 133 Bowery, next door, is covered by scaffolding.
Here’s an update on 135 Bowery, the 194 year old federal house facing demolition. In September, the City Council reversed the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision to protect the three-story structure. The owner, First American International Bank, plans to redevelop the parcel.
In the last several days, scaffolding has gone up next door, at 133 Bowery. According to Buildings Department records, the owner (Chu & Lee Realty) plans “facade repair.” Preservation groups have unsuccessfully fought to protect the 1814 building, which was originally used as a candle and soap shop. As they continue to hold out hope that First International will agree to save 135 Bowery, they are concerned that repairs to the neighboring building could destabilize an already fragile facade.
Construction permits were recently filed regarding 135 Bowery, as well. The application calls for “emergency repair and partial demolition to stabilize rear and front facades” and to “install shoring.” First International intends to put up a new commercial building, offering at least some office space to neighborhood businesses at below-market rents.
135 Bowery. Photo by Robert K. Chin.
A battle for 135 Bowery has focused new attention on the broader struggle to protect the Bowery from over-development. Yesterday, the New York Times filed a substantial piece on the subject, noting that the state is expected, in a matter of days, to announce its support for adding the thoroughfare to the National Register of Historic Places.
Here’s a followup on the battle for 135 Bowery, the 194 year old federal house that was stripped of its landmark status by the City Council last week.
First American International Bank plans to demolish the 3-story structure, which won protection from the Landmarks Preservation Commission this past summer. District 1 City Councilmember Margaret Chin supported landmarking last year but changed her mind after the bank explained its plan to create affordable office space in a new building on the site.
Photo by Robert K. Chin.
This afternoon, the full City Council voted to reverse a decision by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to protect 135 Bowery, a nearly 200 year old federal row house. City Councilmember Margaret Chin sided with the building owner, a bank that wants to demolish the building and put up a new 7-story commercial structure.
Today, only one Councilmember, Rosie Mendez, voted in favor of landmark status. In a subcommittee hearing last week, most Councilmembers deferred to Chin, saying they trusted her judgment about what was best in her district.
Chin said she was swayed by the bank’s promise to create affordable office space in Chinatown. Numerous preservation groups denounced Chin’s decision and have vowed to keep fighting for the historic building.
File photograph; Council Speaker Quinn and Councilmember Chin at the New Amsterdam Market.
City Councilmember Margaret Chin may well have reason to cheer this afternoon. According to a media advisory released by Speaker Christine Quinn last night, the City Council will vote today on a proposal, sponsored by Chin, to create a Chinatown Business Improvement District.
It’s an idea Chin has been been championing for well over a decade, long before she became Lower Manhattan’s representative at City Hall. Victory looks to finally be in her reach, assuming the Council’s Finance Committee votes in favor of the proposed BID in a morning hearing. The panel’s approval would clear the way for a vote of the full Council in the afternoon.
Not everyone will be cheering the outcome. Many property owners and community activists have voiced strong opposition and vow to keep fighting the BID, even after today’s vote (legal action is one option under consideration).
There’s a possibility another controversial issue, the landmarking of 135 Bowery, will also be voted on by the full Council today. Last week, the Landmarks Subcommittee, acting largely on Chin’s recommendation, overturned the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision to protect the nearly 200-year-old federal house.
Preservation activists are furious with Chin for siding with the owner of the building, Patrick Yau, one of the leaders of the pro-Chinatown BID campaign. Last week, we posted a brief story on the 135 Bowery hearing. This morning, we have a more comprehensive recap:
A short time ago, the Landmarks Subcommittee of the City Council voted 4-1 to disapprove the landmarking of 135 Bowery, an 1817 federal style row house.
Community activists won a rare victory this past summer, when the Landmarks Preservation Commission decided the endangered building was worthy of protection. But today District 1 City Councilmember Margaret Chin explained why she had decided to withdraw her earlier support for preserving 135 Bowery. Most members of the panel deferred to her judgment, with the exception of Rosie Mendez, who represents neighboring District 2 (covering the area above Houston Street).
First American International Bank, the property owner, wants to demolish the historic row house and put up a 7-story commercial building. Chin said she was swayed by their offer to create affordable commercial space for small businesses in Chinatown.
There was a lot of passionate testimony from neighborhood activists today. They argued that saving 135 Bowery is critical to retaining the character and authenticity of the Lower East Side. The full City Council must vote on the committee’s recomendation later in the month.
We’ll have a more detailed report, summarizing all of the testimony, sometime soon.
This morning, the Wall Street Journal files a report on 135 Bowery, an 1817 row house that was declared a New York City landmark in June but now faces a new threat. As we reported last month, City Councilmember Margaret Chin is seeking to overturn the decision by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. An excerpt:
“There is opportunity on the site to build commercial space that is so needed in the Chinatown community for the small businesses,” Ms. Chin said in an interview Wednesday. At a hearing in June, Ms. Chin’s chief of staff expressed support for the designation. A spokeswoman for Ms. Chin said that he hadn’t been authorized to speak her behalf. Ms. Chin said in an interview that she signaled her support initially but she was ultimately impressed by the developer’s plans to use the site, which could include a new seven-story building offering retail and office space at below-market rates.
In late June, neighborhood preservation activists felt they had reason to cheer. They had, after all, just received word that the Landmarks Preservation Commission had voted to protect 135 Bowery, a federal style row house built in 1817. It turns out those celebrations were premature. In the past few days, the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, in partnership with the Historic Districts Council, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Presrvation, the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, has been circulating a petition, urging the City Council to “uphold the landmarking of 135 Bowery.”
The reason for their concern? The building owner, First American International Bank, is reportedly asking for an economic “hardship exemption,” in a bid to demolish the historic row house — or to get the City Council to intervene. Any property owner has the option of seeking an exemption at any time. But activists are particularly concerned in this case because the City Planning Commission and City Council have not yet voted on 135 Bowery’s landmarking.
(The Council’s approval is not required but lawmakers have the power to overrule the LPC or amend any of its decisions).
Photo via Curbed.
The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors (BAN) is sending around a news release in celebration of the Landmarks Preservation Commission voting to protect 135 Bowery, a federal style row house, located between Grand and Broome streets.
“After a process of two years, we are pleased by today’s vote of the Commission, which we anticipate will protect this almost 200 year-old dwelling from demolition or inappropriate alterations,” said BAN’s Mitchell Grubler.