When it comes to stalled construction site 179 Ludlow, we’d believe just about anything. After all, this would-be luxury apartment building, with heated balconies, was (allegedly) being eyed by Madonna back in 2007 as a possible location for her New York Kabbalah Center. It was once owned by feuding and litigious brothers Steven and Peter Salvesen, otherwise known as “Two Funny Guys, LLC.” In later years it became one of the neighborhood’s most exclusive “rat castles.”
Earlier this year, the Post reported that current owner Michael Goldberg intended to finish 179 Ludlow by the end of the summer, turning it into a rental building. Tonight, he appeared before Community Board 3 with a different idea — going back to the original plan — selling condos on the top five floors and leasing the two lower levels to commercial tenants. There’s only one problem. The project, if completed, would be in violation of the Lower East Side’s 2008 rezoning regulations.
Goldberg’s attorney, Jessica Loeser, explained to members of CB3′s land use committee that the 7-story structure would exceed the maximum square footage limits on the lot in question, a sliver located between Katz’s Deli and the Earth Matters’ natural foods store. In order to comply with the zoning requirements, the developer would have to lop off the top one and -one-half floors of the building. It would be cheaper to demo the entire building and start from scratch, she said. Goldberg has applied to the Board of Standards and Appeals for a variance. This evening he sought the community board’s blessing.
I took a walk down the street to the 7th Precinct last night to satisfy my curiosity about the monthly community council meetings. Here's what I learned. While crime in the 7th is down overall, there was a homicide recently near Clinton and Cherry Streets. Apparently a couple of friends, or at least two guys who knew each other, got into a fight. And Police Officer Denis Schmidt was honored for his arrest of a suspect near Henry and Montgomery Streets, which they believe put a stop to a rash of robberies in the neighborhood. Somehow the suspect and Officer Schmidt ended up on the ground in some sort of tussle, but eventually took the suspect into custody. Since the arrest, there have been no more robberies in the area. Overall, crime in the 7th is up slightly over last year, but still very low compared to recent history. The last rape in the neighborhood was about six months ago.
Zach Bommer from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's office said his boss is very pleased that just yesterday he and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith reached a deal with Governor Paterson to back away from a series of unpopular new fees Paterson had proposed to narrow the state's projected $14 billion budget shortfall. Bommer did not specify how Speaker Silver wants to make up the difference. The New York Times has details of the budget deadlock.
Bommer was also asked about a proposal in Albany to allow grocery stores to sell wine, to the chagrin of a lot of liquor store owners. He says Silver does not have a position on the bill but has met with advocates and opponents of the idea (more on this later).
A representative from State Rep. Daniel Squadron's office encouraged anyone who's interested to attend his "Community Convention" this weekend. See the details here.
Community Council President Don West asked for a show of hands in support of new elections for the precinct board (very few hands went up in the air). Apparently, an election is not required. West said he didn't oppose elections but did not see the point if no one was interested in running. West said he would raise the subject again at the next meeting.
A representative of Community Board 3 followed up on an apparently controversial episode from last month's meeting, in which the owners of the rat-infested 179 Ludlow came to ask for the community's support in their quest for a liquor license. CB3 has rejected them once. The owners have apparently sought to portray CB3 as unreasonable. They want the liquor license in order to attract a ground floor restaurant to the troubled building. CB3 contends there is already a glut of bars and clubs on this stretch of Ludlow. The building also has an infamous past. Read about the saga of 179 Ludlow here, here and here. Let's just say Madonna has shelved plans to put a Kabballah Center in this gem of a building.