Giovanni, Downtown restaurateur, 73, dies

By Patrick Hedlund

Volume 21, Number 30 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | DECEMBER 5 – 11, 2008

Mixed Use

Bowery for sale

An eight-building portfolio on the Bowery located across the street from the New Museum has come onto the market, marking one of the largest plots of developable land currently available in the neighborhood.

The mixed-use property, which sits on six lots at the northwest corner of Prince St., contains approximately 11,000 existing square feet with development capabilities of nearly 67,000 square feet of buildable space.

Current owners, the Bari family, have owned restaurant-equipment supply operations at the location since the 1940s and stand to capitalize significantly on the neighborhood’s emergence as a destination for art galleries and luxury development.

Adding to the area’s appeal, the recently implemented rezoning of more than 100 blocks on the Lower East Side/East Village will almost surely increase interest in high-rise development along the formerly gritty stretch.

“With everything else in Downtown Manhattan moving to lower zoning, this one is still a 6 F.A.R. [floor-to-area ratio],” said Nancy Guo, an associate with Massey Knakal Realty Services, which is marketing the property. The corner plot currently holds a mix of one- to three-story properties sitting in the Special Little Italy District, which limits the height of new buildings to eight stories.

Guo added developers have shown great interest in the location since it was put on the market on Nov. 12, with gallery owners also keen on the space as the neighborhood raises its profile as a destination for the arts.

The Bari family also owns the single-room occupancy Sunshine Hotel across the street, the more-than-85-year-old flophouse that the owners failed to develop into new condos after the city found evidence of tenant harassment at the site.

Thrifty Timberlake

Justin Timberlake is bringing sexy back to Lower Manhattan after the pop sensation closed on a three-bedroom condo in Tribeca last month. J.T. reportedly purchased a 3,000-square-foot loft at the Pearline Soap Factory at 414 Washington St. for a cool $4.774 million — nearly half a mil less than the original price tag of $5.25 million.

The airy loft space features 14 floor-to-ceiling arched windows and views of the Hudson River, and is located not far from the Murray St. bar we reported Timberlake had invested in this summer.

The broker on the listing, marketed by Prudential Douglas Elliman, was none other than Raphael DeNiro, son of neighborhood patriarch/hotelier/restaurateur/but not resident Robert DeNiro.

The condo development originally touted itself as containing nine exclusive residences in the $5 millions in early 2008, but now its Web site claims to have 3,000-square-foot properties available for as low as $3.995 million.

With so much activity by J.T. in Lower Manhattan as of late, we smell a community board appointment in his future. Manhattan Beep Scott Stringer just emailed us to say he’s taking applications for C.B. 1.

South Beach North

A new high-rise hotel on Sixth Ave. in Soho will have more than double the number of seats for diners than actual hotel rooms, and operating hours for the most controversial of the three on-site restaurants have yet to be settled.

Soho residents met with developers of the 17-story hotel at the corner of Grand St.— the location of the former Moondance Diner — again last month to discuss details of the space’s trio of dining/drinking venues.

Developer Brack Capital plans to operate three restaurants with a total seating capacity of 340 inside the 114-room hotel: one in the enclosed cellar area near the ground floor; the second on a multilevel open-air plaza area just above street level; and the third on an enclosed rooftop space complete with café and dipping pool.

“It’s a major operation,” said Darlene Lutz, a member of the Soho Alliance, which has met multiple times with the developer regarding the project. “It’s a very Miami Beach-style hotel that’s being built in Soho.”

Members of Alliance were successful in negotiating operating hours for the cellar and rooftop venues — getting the developer to agree to close both restaurants at midnight from Sunday through Wednesday and 1 a.m. from Thursday through Saturday (the rooftop area will open at 9 a.m.).

But the open-air plaza area has proved a thorny issue for the Alliance, which is trying to limit outdoor noise and had hoped to get the developer to agree to close the outdoor area at 8 to 9 p.m.

“This is where the minds are not meeting,” said Lutz, who did note that Brack has been amenable to 90 percent of her organization’s requests. “Residents know how much noise [outdoor areas] can generate, even if they aren’t playing music.”

She added that the lawyer for the developer said it would be willing to close the open-air plaza at the same time as the city is required to shut down sidewalk cafes, around midnight, which is still later than the Alliance prefers. Lutz cited other luxury Downtown hotels like the Hotel Gansevoort and Cooper Square Hotel for their negotiations with the community — with the former ultimately applying for a variance to enclose its open-air area due, in part, to complaints from neighbors, and the latter agreeing to close its outdoor portion at 8 p.m.