Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Chinatown frontier

As plans to rezone the East Village and Lower East Side currently wend their way through City Planning, local activists are now pushing for even further zoning action to cover Chinatown.

Community organizer Rob Hollander, who has thus far lobbied unsuccessfully for the inclusion of the Bowery in the city’s zoning plan, now sees Chinatown as the next sought-after neighborhood with the rapid pace of development Downtown.

“Time has come again for wisdom, this time the wisdom of forethought,” Hollander said in a letter to Mixed Use, adding that Community Board 3 is currently reviewing another zoning proposal for the fast-changing Bowery, which City Planning initially shot down to focus on the areas most under threat in the East Village and L.E.S. “If the Bowery and the L.E.S. are both rezoned to limit development, Chinatown will be placed at even greater risk as the last frontier for development and gentrification,” Hollander warned.

City Planning did not directly respond to any future plans to rezone Chinatown, only acknowledging that the department’s “door is always open to discuss community priorities,” according to spokesperson Jennifer Torres. “As the city works to balance population growth with overdevelopment concerns, this administration recognizes that New York’s neighborhoods are vital to the city’s health.”

Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corp., said the area needs planning for affordable housing, rather than less development.

“I always tell people, don’t think that the developers are not looking,” Chen said, citing an “unnecessary level of anxiety” about the neighborhood’s future. “Don’t you think they would have scooped it up?”

Selling Avalon

Two of the Lower East Side’s more auspicious new developments —Avalon Bowery Place and Avalon Chrystie Place — were almost completely occupied as of this week, proving the neighborhood’s growing pull as a residential destination.

The two-building Avalon Bowery Place — with 206 total units on nine floors at 11 E. First St., and 90 total units on seven floors at 22 E. First St. — is currently more than 99 percent filled, said leasing manager Jacqueline Sim. Two studio and two one-bedroom rental units remain at 11 E. First St., with the 450-square-foot studios starting at $2,945 per month and 520-square-foot one-bedrooms with outdoor space starting at $3,795.

The 14-story, 361-unit Avalon Chrystie Place at 229 Chrystie St., with Whole Foods on the ground floor, is currently about 97 percent filled, with more studio, one- and two-bedroom units all opening by February and March, said leasing manager Gina Falco. Two studio units, about six one-bedrooms and three two-bedroom units will be opening; with the 500-square-foot studios starting at $2,850 per month, 700-square-foot one-bedrooms starting at $3,750 and 1,000-square-foot two-bedrooms starting at $5,300.

“I don’t find us to be as slow as we normally are this [time of] year,” Falco noted of the typical winter real estate slowdown.

Critical decision

A pair of media companies — the New York Review of Books and Lowe & Partners Worldwide — recently announced plans to take space on opposite ends of Hudson Square, joining the burgeoning roster of tenants relocating there from Midtown.

The New York Review of Books will take over 15,000 square feet of space at 435 Hudson St., occupying the third floor of the Trinity Real Estate-owned building near the West Village border. Asking rents in the building, between Morton and Leroy Sts., were in the low-$50s-per-square-foot range.

Advertising agency Lowe & Partners Worldwide agreed to a lease for 40,000 square feet of space at 250 Hudson St., taking over the entire second floor and portions of the third at the 15-story, Jack Resnick & Sons-owned building near the Tribeca border. Rents in that building also run in the low-$50s-per-square-foot range.

Lowe, a subsidiary of global communications conglomerate Interpublic, plans to move into the building between Dominick and Broome Sts. by summer, according to company spokesperson Carrie Welch.

Eye on site safety

The City Council will hold a special hearing to discuss building-site safety next month after a partial collapse at the Trump Soho condo-hotel last week caused the death of a construction worker.

The Feb. 4 hearing, announced by Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Housing and Buildings Committee chairperson Erik Martin Dilan, seeks to examine “if we need to enhance worker training, whether city regulations around high-rises are sufficient, if we have a large enough workforce to keep pace with development demands and whether the timeframe for the development of high-rises is appropriate.”

Bovis Lend Lease, which was called on the Council carpet Wednesday to talk about the aftermath of the deadly Deutsche Bank fire, may be called again to explain its actions at Trump.

Borough President Scott Stringer also called this week for the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, which is staffed by police, fire and building inspectors, to now oversee construction-site safety. The office already provides enforcement across the city agencies to address quality-of-life issues, including illegal building conversions.

“Right now, if no one complains, there’s no inspection, which is obviously too little too late,” Stringer said in a statement. “With the flood of mega-development going on in New York City, instead of asking the community to be the eyes and ears of construction safety, we need independent inspection teams whose only job is to go out and actively monitor these sites.”

Housing bucks

Governor Eliot Spitzer this week proposed a $400 million Housing Opportunity Fund to bolster affordable and supportive housing statewide, with $300 million of that to be funneled Downstate.

The funds will be used to provide housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers, as well as those in need of supportive services, and administered by the State of New York Mortgage Agency.

According to a statement, proceeds from the sale of property at the Jacob Javits Convention Center will finance the $300 million in Downstate housing.