Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Tribeca’s fresh brew

Lower Manhattanites lacking the time and energy to trek out to the Brooklyn Ikea store for their fix of Swedish wares can at least enjoy the charms of a new Swede-backed coffee shop in Tribeca.

Kaffe 1668, a just-opened bi-level beanery at 275 Greenwich St. near Murray St., is the brainchild of Swedish brothers Mikael and Tomas Tjarnberg, and will feature a rotating selection of specialty coffees, teas and homemade pastries.

The industrial-style space includes imported Siberian wood floors, Scandinavian-influenced dishware, a state-of-the-art brewing machine, and plenty of seating for laptop-toting customers to access the shop’s free Wi-Fi service. Pieces from local artists hang from the cafés walls, and the space’s minimalist aesthetics lends itself nicely to the neighborhood’s decidedly subdued nature. Kaffe 1668 is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

Backing the Box

Owners of a high-profile nightlife mecca, the Box, reached a resolution with nearby residents previously upset over noise and traffic emanating from the Lower East Side space, resulting in a thumbs-up this week from the community board in the club’s bid for a liquor-license renewal.

A vote on the issue by Community Board 3’s S.L.A. Committee had been postponed for a month to allow owners of the Chrystie St. location to meet with disgruntled residents in an effort to assuage concerns regarding the club. The committee gave its recommendation on Monday after the owners agreed to abide by a list of stipulations, including sound mitigation, pedestrian and vehicle traffic control, additional outdoor security and garbage cleanup. Moving forward, the Box will also hold monthly meetings with the residents to discuss ongoing issues, said Board 2 District Manager Susan Stetzer.

“They actually worked very, very hard,” she added of the club’s owners, noting they had been calling her “constantly” to reach an amicable solution. “They spent a lot of time and lot of money.”

Stetzer said additional soundproofing has been installed to contain the noise from inside, and awnings will be added near the entrance to muffle the din of patrons waiting on line.

As for the seemingly endless stream of would-be clubgoers that amasses outside the space in hopes of gaining entry into the elite nightspot — many of whom contribute to the street noise — Stetzer added “it’s not our problem how they keep it quiet.”

“That’s not what the Lower East Side is about,” she elaborated. “The Lower East Side is not supposed to be about being exclusive.”

A shore thing

Mayor Bloomberg signed legislation this week requiring the Department of City Planning to submit a comprehensive plan for the city’s waterfront by the end of 2010 and each decade thereafter.

The bill, introduced by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, calls for City Planning to present its proposal to the council, borough presidents, public advocate and community boards by Dec. 31, 2010, subsequently revisiting the issue every 10 years.

As Bloomberg explained it, “The plan, to be drafted in consultation with other regulatory agencies and stakeholders, shall examine all aspects of the city’s 578-mile waterfront, including public use and access, protecting the environment and natural areas, and pursuing new development opportunities while strengthening existing businesses along the working waterfront. Additionally, it shall contain a statement of planning policy that takes into consideration the city’s 10-year capital strategy and other relevant planning documents and outline proposals for implementing that strategy.” 

Quinn originally announced the plan in late July.

Pols’ legal-ease

A group of politicians announced the introduction of a new bill that would help tenants recoup legal fees in cases where they have been wrongly accused of breaking rent stabilization rules.

The measure, which would extend even more rights to tenants on the heels of the recently implemented Tenant Protection Act, would serve as a strong deterrent for landlords to engage in legal proceedings that are not factually substantiated.

State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh made the announcement Sunday near the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village complex, which has a history of tenant abuses, joining the buildings’ tenant association as well as Councilmember Daniel Gardonick, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and Borough President Scott Stringer.

Under the bill, in instances where landlords knowingly pursue frivolous or baseless legal action using false allegations against tenants, the landlord would be required to pay three times the tenant’s legal fees.

In 339 legal cases at Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village alone, the landlord was found by the courts to be wrong, Garodnick observed.

Said Duane at the press conference: “Tenants who are victims of these scams presently have no financial recourse when they retain legal counsel to determine the meaning of and/or to respond to such notices unless the matter proceeds to court and there is a judgment against the landlord. This is both costly and cruel for those who are wrongly accused, and it is time we stop it.”

The bill is expected to be introduced in the state Senate and Assembly this week.

Gray days

Some of the saddest news to come out of the economic crisis: Gray’s Papaya, the venerable hot-dog purveyor, has been forced to up the price of its always-affordable “Recession Special” by nearly a buck. The meal deal — which has featured two wieners and drink for the thrifty price of $3.50 since 2006 — will increase to $4.45 after founder Nicholas Gray acknowledged rising rents food costs necessitated the hike.

“I’m as suicidal as everyone else,” he told The New York Times last week regarding the souring economy. “Tell them I’m weeping as I do it.”