Development and Events Firm Looks to Take Over Allen Street Bathhouse

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Correction: This story was modified on 8/15/2017 to reflect that Upsilon Ventures does not currently operate the facilities at Bryant Park. 

It looks like the city has settled on an operator for the long-shuttered comfort station at Allen and Delancey streets. The Parks Department is hoping to sign a 20-year lease with the company that runs restaurants and event spaces in parks and other public facilities across the city.

According to a memo sent to the Manhattan Borough President and Community Board 3, the city is preparing to make a deal with Upsilon Ventures, a development and production firm located on Madison Avenue.

The memo, provided to us by the Parks Department, stated that the city is, “seeking Franchise Concession Review Committee approval… to negotiate a Sole Source License Agreement with Bryant Park Market Events, LLC / Upsilon Ventures for the renovation, operation and maintenance of a food service facility (inside the vacant Allen Street comfort station).” The lease is not considered a “major concession,” which apparently means that no public hearing will be required. The committee must give the go-ahead to begin formal negotiations.

[If you want to read more about the city’s Franchise Concession Review Committee, and how concessions of this type are handled, click here.]

In July of 2016, the city issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Allen Street bathhouse, which was abandoned 60 years ago when the elevated train was dismantled. It called for a food service operation in the space. The city earmarked $2 million in public funds to renovate the pedestrian mall between Delancey Street and Rivington Street. The RFP called for the future operator to be responsible for renovating the old building, and to reopen the public bathrooms. Those renovation costs have been estimated at $1 million.

The Parks Department received quite a bit of pushback from the community board. Some community members said there is clearly no need for another food/beverage business in an area already saturated with nightlife options. Others noted that a local visioning process several years ago called for the comfort station to be activated as a community space, perhaps for bicycle repair and educational programs. Some language about bicycle repair did make its way into the RFP.

On its website, Upsilon Ventures says it, “is a project development, marketing, hospitality, and production firm specializing in public-private partnerships and the use of public spaces and real estate for iconic attractions, sponsor activations, events, consumer engagement, temporary retail, and other revenue generating opportunities.”  It formerly operated the Winter Village and ice rink in Bryant Park. It was awarded a contract for the ice rink at Prospect Park and is a consultant for the events space at the World Trade Center. Upsilon Ventures is also behind the Big Apple BBQ Block Party, among other projects.

City and Upsilon Ventures representatives will appear for Community Board 3’s parks committee in September of October. A request for more details from the company went unanswered. So it remains to be seen exactly what the firm has in mind on the Lower East Side.

City Solicits Proposals For Restaurant in Allen Street Bathhouse Building

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The Parks Department last week put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a food service operation in the old bathhouse on Allen Street at Delancey Street.

The city is looking for a vendor to renovate the dilapidated building and set up an “attractive and affordable food service facility” for the public. According to the RFP, the operator will be financially responsible for all improvements made to the 1200 square foot building and surrounding area. The vendor will also be required to provide working bathrooms in the facility, which will be open to the general public. The city will allow alcohol to be served as long as the vendor has the approval of the State Liquor Authority.

The Parks Department will be looking favorably on applicants who propose services for cyclists, such as a bike repair operation. This provision is a nod to community members, who complained about a lack of local input in the future plans for the bathhouse. Concerns were voiced at a community board meeting this past winter.

The application deadline is Sept. 15. You can view the complete document below. DNA Info first reported about the release of the Allen Street RFP yesterday.

Allen/Pike Mall Seating Destroyed and, Oh Yeah, Most of the Project is Unfinished

Pike Street Pedestrian Malls: Still in Limbo

Here’s a photo we shot last October, as Parks Department crews began to transform the pedestrian malls on Pike Street, near the East River. How much progress has been made in the past five months?

Followup: Funding for Allen/Pike Pedestrian Plazas

A particularly bleak stretch of Pike Street, near Madison Street.

Last week, we reported on Mall-terations, a temporary art installation to beautify the crumbling Allen/Pike Street pedestrian walkways and focus attention on the need for improvements.  The project was spearheaded by Hester Street Collaborative, a non-profit organization which helped lead a neighborhood visioning process to rehabilitate 13 center islands along this neglected street. In the past few months there has been some progress. But because there’s not enough money to get the whole job done, it’s been slow going.  This afternoon, we have an update from the Parks Department.

Volunteers Transform Stretch of Allen Street

Photo by Jac Zagoory

Yesterday Lo-Down reader Jac Zagoory sent us this photo, showing volunteers hard at work on a temporary art installation on the Allen Street pedestrian malls (between Delancey and Houston). The Hester Street Collaborative has gotten three artists and a group of student interns together for the project. Today from 11-3, they’ll be continuing to paint and assemble benches, and they’d love to have your help.

No Funds to Finish Allen Street Mall Project

It seems like every day we hear about another public program or project endangered by the city and state budget crisis. It appears the unfinished Allen Street pedestrian mall face-lift can now be added to the growing list.

Earlier this week, city officials updated members of Community Board 3 on the project. Randy Wade of the Department of Transportation said her agency has completed the reconfiguration of Allen and Pike Streets, redesigning automobile and bicycle lanes, closing selected intersections and tinkering with traffic signals. Now it’s up to the Parks Department to finish the job – adding landscaping, seating and other enhancements meant to transform 13 blocks below Houston Street into the Lower East Side’s “Champs-Elysees.”

Good Morning!

Allen Street Mall

Today looks to be mostly sunny and a perfect 72 degrees.  Look for some rain tomorrow and then a cooler but lovely day on Mother’s Day. We’ll be posting our Weekend Guide with plenty of L.E.S. activities to do with (or without) Mom, and we’ll  preview a few art gallery openings coming up next week.

City Briefs Community Board on Allen Street Mall Project

City officials updated members of Community Board 3 last night on the ongoing transformation of the Allen Street pedestrian malls. The Parks and Transportation Departments are in the process of installing new benches, landscaping, bike lanes and turn signals. The project spans from Houston Street all the way to the East River.

DOT spokesperson Colleen Chattergoon said new signals are being installed this week – and that it would take about two weeks to finish that part of the job. Members of CB3’s transportation committee agreed that it didn’t make much sense to evaluate the effectiveness of the changes now – they asked the city to come back six months from now for a full review.

Some CB3 members and LES residents did express concerns about the project. Among the complaints: the planters that have been moved into place between the islands, preventing some streets from automobiles seeking to make turns. One CB3 member was concerned that these mall “connectors” make it impossible for emergency vehicles to get through. Chattergoon countered that firetrucks and ambulances are permitted to cross Allen by driving up on the curb. Saying “we have revisited this issue again and again,” she declared “the mall connectors will remain.”

There was also some discussion about changing the hours in which trucks are allowed to make deliveries to businesses, especially in the vicinity of Hester Street. Some business owners have said trucks have no room to unload because the expanded bike lanes have reduced the amount of room they have to maneuver.

Chattergoon dismissed the suggestion that the DOT has not done enough to communicate the changes to the community. A check of the DOT’s web site turns up a rather confusing document (Download Allenpike-1), outlining the project’s details. There’s a somewhat less bewildering explanation accessible on the community board’s web site.

It should be noted that some speakers showed up last night to express support for the Allen Street Mall revamp, including the Hester Street Collaborative and the LES Business Improvement District.

Gerson’s “Lame” Amendment, Little Steven on SPURA, Bike Lane Wars and More

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District 2 City Council member Rosie Mendez plans on making an endorsement in the First District City Council race soon. But she doesn't seem to be too pleased with the incumbent, Alan Gerson. Speaking of Gerson's failed amendment to hold a referendum on extending term limits, Mendez says, “Alan…all I can say about that amendment is it was lame — and everyone knew it.” After the proposal failed in the Council, Gerson voted to extend the limits. Mendez voted "no."  Some good news for Gerson: he'll be endorsed by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer this afternoon.

SPURA update via The Villager: "Steven Van Zandt, a.k.a. Little Steven of the E Street Band,
a.k.a. Silvio Dante of “The Sopranos” fame, recently toured part of the
site, specifically the old market buildings along Essex St. south of
Delancey St. (City Council member Alan) Gerson said Van Zandt was interested in creating a 'recording-studio complex' at the location, but then the stock market
crashed, and everything got put on hold. Gerson said, in addition to
eying the renewal area for cultural uses, he’s pitched the area to the
garment industry as a place for fashion manufacturing, design and
retail…"

A man died in the aftermath of a fight that broke out at a homeless shelter on the Bowery.

Work is progressing on the Allen Street Mall. This from Curbed: "Yes, friends, that's a brand spanking new protected bike lane that's coming to life… a bike lane that's going to reduce Allen Street to a mere two lanes, a move planners hope
will curb excessive driver speed through Chinatown and the LES. To
follow: "higher curbs, permanent planting beds, and post and chain
fencing."

NYC's non-profits are continuing to struggle, even as there are new signs of life in other parts of the city's economy. Danny Rosenthal of the Educational Alliance says its hasn't been easy absorbing cuts in the organization's city contract to provide childcare services.

The New York Post takes a look at the Howl Festival.

Coalition Gears Up to Defend Allen Street Mall Project

A coalition of community groups is stepping in to defend the beautification of the Allen and Pike Street corridors below Delancey Street. Led by the LES Business Improvement District, the coalition is responding to concerns raised about the project during a CB3 committee meeting. The issue is expected to come up again at tonight’s full Community Board 3 meeting.

The city is making improvements to the center islands on both streets, as well as reconfiguring bike lanes and making other changes. In recent weeks, questions have been raised about how traffic will be re-routed, whether the modifications will snarl automobile traffic on Allen Street and whether the new bike lane configuration is safe.

The Lower East Side BID has prepared a document, responding to the community concerns. You can read it after the jump. They have also been circulating a petition, to be presented this evening.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 630pm, at IS 131, 100 Hester Street. More information on CB3’s web site.