Sunday, July 15, 2007

Saving the Bowery

The Community Board zoning task force will meet this Monday, July 16, 6:30, 184 Eldridge Street (between Rivington & Delancey -- University Settlement, Speyer Hall) to discuss rezoning 3rd Avenue as well as the Bowery between 1st and 7th Streets.

I do not know why the rest of the Bowery going south to Canal is not on their agenda: it's much more vulnerable to development than the area north of Houston. There is little left to save on the CB3 side -- the east side -- of the Bowery north of Houston. There are, however, several important men's shelters as well as a couple of remaining historic buildings. But the place is changing so fast that googlemaps' satellite photo may as well be of a different street.

If you go to the meeting: The Bowery is currently zoned commercial, mostly C6-1, just like the area south of Houston where the crazy-huge hotels are being built -- that's why crazy-huge hotels are going up on the Bowery too. And that's why the Bowery needs protection: if the LES south of Houston is rezoned to exclude big hotels, where do you think they're going to be built next? The Bowery.

The Avalon complex that extends from 1st Street to just south of Houston (the Whole Foods building in glass and steel that makes me fear for the future of the world) actually has a special zoning all to itself. It is the face of Inclusionary up-Zoning. This is what happens when government serves the development market first, people second. You get a few units of affordable housing included in the development, but what kind of street-life is a glass wall a block long? And who can afford Whole Foods? What neighborhood is this?

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