Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Norten Bowery bound?

The latest Bowery development buzz has a 10-story condo building designed by revered “starchitect” Enrique Norten rising at 180 Bowery, according to Mixed Use tipsters. A previous item in this space speculated that a 16-story building could be on its way at the site, located between Spring and Kenmare Sts., after a rendering mysteriously surfaced, fueling fears from area activists of another incoming high-rise.

The rendering first came to light at a Bowery Alliance of Neighbors meeting early last month, said BAN member Anna Sawaryn, noting the person who brought it forward had inside knowledge of the project.

The former tenant at 180-182 Bowery, Empire Restaurant Supply, did recently merge with restaurant supplier Balter Sales Company farther north on the stretch, confirmed a Balter employee, although no records currently exist of planned new development at the site.

A spokesperson at Norten’s architecture firm Ten Arquitectos would neither confirm nor deny the building as of press time, citing the developer’s hesitance to publicize the project.

Downtown architect and developer Peter Moore of Peter Moore Associates — who himself is finalizing plans for an as-of-right, eight-story luxury hotel for the Bowery between Houston and Prince Sts. — cautioned that recent development in the neighborhood has been “chaotic and opportunistic,” and called on the Landmarks Preservation Commission to take a more active role in the area.

“It’s a more fragile piece of the urban fabric,” Moore said, equating the Bowery’s built environment to that of the Meatpacking District. “The aesthetic nature of these new developments has to be carefully considered. … It’s a huge missed opportunity.”

Hudson Square on ‘Rise’

Community members who undertook the “Envisioning Hudson Square” design project last fall to imagine the future of the fledgling neighborhood just received a nod for their work in soliciting ambitious architectural renderings for the area: One of the firms hired to look at Hudson Square’s development future — Zakrzewski + Hyde Architects, in association with Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners — last week won the American Institute of Architects’ annual Design Award for its conceptual take on neighborhood.

The firm’s vision, “Hudson Square Rise,” featured functional, elevated, open green space linking the area’s large industrial holdovers, including the massive St. John’s Center, to the Hudson River Park and nearby Pier 40.

Community opposition to a proposed three-district sanitation facility in Hudson Square originally spurred the project “charrette,” which included four other architectural firms’ designs.

“We are hopeful that some or all of this award-winning ‘Hudson Rise’ design will be incorporated in the final design process” for the neighborhood, said charrette project manager Michael Kramer, noting the need for a “better way” to integrate the sanitation facility. “The charrette was designed to be a conversation-starter. Hopefully the city is listening and will allow for a ‘consensus-building’ solution.”

South Village survey

The initial move toward designation of a South Village Historic District could begin as early as spring after the community spent years lobbying the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Following efforts of the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation, which held a large town hall meeting on the proposed district in December, Landmarks Chairperson Robert Tierney responded in a letter to G.V.S.H.P. director Andrew Berman that the agency plans to survey the area west of Sixth Ave. “as a potential historic district, or possible extension to the existing Greenwich Village Historic District.” Tierney added that the 38-block, 800-building study area for the proposed district “is very large,” which is why the survey will initially only start west of Sixth Ave.

“I am appreciative of both the amount of research that has been done and for the outreach for support that the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has undertaken for this effort,” Tierney noted.

“Considering that the full district is about three times the size of any district the commission has designated in more than 15 years, this is about as good of a first step as we could have hoped for,” Berman said. “And considering how recently we submitted the proposal, many would say it is again record time.”

Dot-com dreamin’

Bobby Weiss wants to help you find your way around the Meatpacking District, East Village and Lower East Side, and now the virtual tour guide has the tools to do it on a worldwide platform.

The real estate broker/online entrepreneur, who purchased the Web site eastvillage.com last year from longtime neighborhood artist Jim “Mosaic Man” Power, also lays claim to meatpackingdistrict.com and lowereastside.net after scooping up the domain names in a bid to turn them into premier neighborhood directories.

Weiss had already operated the Meatpacking site before ponying up $10,000 for Power’s dot-com last year, then purchased lowereastside.net after failing to settle on terms for the purchase of lowereastside.com. (He noted he only had to plunk down a paltry $800 for meatpackingdistrict.com and $600 for lowereastside.net, and that the owner of lowereastside.com was asking too high a price.)

“I literally have to walk the streets,” Weiss said of culling information for his nascent Web sites, on which he plans to offer retail, service, cultural and real estate listings, among others. “It’s going to take me two years to really get them to top performance level.”

Weiss also wants to implement a Craigslist-style classified section on the sites, as well as a networking option allowing users to create their own profiles in the vein of MySpace and Facebook. A longer-term goal, Weiss added, would be a feature for artists to post and sell their original work online.

For now, though, meatpackingdistrict.com is the only fully functioning site.