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Action Near Astor: As Building Goes Up, Another Business Bites the Dust

IMG_0080Melvin Felix New signage at the site of 51 Astor Place.

A little over two weeks ago The Local gave an overhaul update on the many changes underway at Astor Place and Cooper Square. It’s already time to check in again.

Norman's Sound & Vision closedMelvin Felix Another record store has shuttered.

A spokesman for Edward J. Minskoff Equities, the developer of 51 Astor Place, said that an announcement regarding tenants in the 12-story office building will be made within the next 45 days. The spokesman also confirmed that “a significant portion” of companies considering moving into the building are in the technology industry, as has been previously reported. The black glass tower is expected to open in spring of next year, as new signage at the construction site indicates. Read more…

Overhaul Update: The Latest on the Transformation of Astor and Cooper Square

IMG_0003Sarah Darville Water main construction at Cooper Square.

The steel beams of 51 Astor Place now loom over the entrance to the 6 train. High school students will soon be attending class at Cooper Square. And city contractors are still tearing up asphalt to repair a vital water main.

Here’s a roundup of the latest news on four projects that will transform the gateway to the neighborhood.

New 51 Astor Place BuildingCourtesy of Sciame Construction Corp A rendering of 51 Astor.

51 Astor Place

In May, Commercial Observer reported that Hult International Business School was negotiating to take the second floor at the black-glass tower being built at the corner of St. Marks Place and Fourth Avenue. But William Lyman, Vice President of Global Development at the school says it is no longer pursuing the space. That deal would have satisfied a requirement that the building host at least one educational institution. Who will occupy the rest of the space remains a mystery. Microsoft and IBM have previously been rumored to be interested in moving in. Read more…

The Day | Gun Bust at Union Square and 13 Other Morning Reads

Found kittenSuzanne Rozdeba
Lost dogSuzanne Rozdeba

Good morning, East Village.

Take note, pet owners: the flyer above and another at right went up around the neighborhood recently.

The Post reports that Kenneth Moreno, the former police officer who was acquitted of raping a woman on duty but fired after being found guilty of official misconduct, is thinking about suing the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for allegedly planting incriminating evidence.

You’ll recall baggies of heroin were found in Mr. Moreno’s locker, and woes at the stationhouse continue: The Post hears from a source that the last of four 9mm pistols stolen from the locker room was swiped after officers were assigned to patrol the room.

Speaking of guns, The Daily News reports that two teens were arrested at the Union Square station when police officers who stopped them for evading the fare found a pair of guns and two bulletproof vests on them. Read more…

The Day | Stream Joey Ramone’s New Album

EAST VILLAGE garden in rainRia Chung

Good morning, East Village.

To kick off your day, dig Joey Ramone’s new posthumous album, currently streaming on Rolling Stone’s site. Pyramid Club and Save the Robots, the legendary after-hours on Avenue B, get shoutouts in a song with the chorus “I’m proud to make my home in New York City.”

Speaking of gritty hangouts, Bowery Boogie has a look at Max Fish’s new Asbury Park outpost. Needless to say, the blog has an opinion about what’s more punk rock, skee ball or pool tables.

Commercial Observer reports that Edward Minskoff, who personally invested over $100 million in equity in his 51 Astor Place office building, is closing in on a deal with its first tenant: “Hult International Business School is in talks to take 51 Astor’s entire second floor, a roughly 55,000-square-foot space. Sources say the school could pay rents that begin in the $60s per square foot but escalate to around $100 per square foot over the life of a long term lease at the roughly 400,000-square-foot property.” Read more…

51 Astor Update

New 51 Astor Place Building

Echoing what The Local reported back in June, Edward Minskoff, the developer of the office building set to go up at 51 Astor Place, tells Real Estate Weekly that the Cooper Union Engineering Building will be demolished by the end of the year so that his futuristic Fumihiko Maki-designed office tower can be built by the end of 2013.

Board Opposes Plaza for 51 Astor

Astor PlaceMeghan Keneally Thomas Balsley at Monday’s meeting.

Members of Community Board 3 voted unanimously Monday night to oppose plans for an outdoor plaza at the new 51 Astor Place because of questions about whether the design provides enough space for the public and fits aesthetically with the surrounding neighborhood.

The board’s Planning and Land Use committee said that it will not endorse the plaza project unless changes are made that take into account the historic nature of the area around 51 Astor and other design issues, including the placement of benches.

Work is set to begin in the next few days, and the construction of the mixed-use commercial tower is set to last for 17 months.

After listening to a presentation by Thomas Balsley, the designer in charge of planning the outdoor space that will accompany the new building on Astor Place, members of the public were given a chance to address the board.

Speakers, many of whom were opposed to the design, raised a range of issues about the project from its look and aesthetics to what some said was its failure to account for the historic nature of the district.

“It’s like it’s from some other city,” said Marilyn Appleberg, who was a part of the group that discussed the initial plans for the building when they were approved in 2002. “I was really disappointed.”

A final discussion on the plaza project will occur at the full community board meeting on July 26.

The Day | On the Open Road

Phillip Kalantzis Cope

Good morning, East Village.

Local skaters can rejoice because Open Road Park officially reopens today. The park closed recently amid reports of drug dealing. The closing forced East Village skaters to go elsewhere to ride, hang out and practice kick-flips. East Side Community High School Principal Mark Federman, who held a public meeting earlier this week about the park’s closing, said he hopes to increase the park’s hours of operation next month.

In other neighborhood news, NY1 reports that the demolition of 51 Astor Place will begin in a few days. Later this year, construction is scheduled to begin on a 13-story, mixed-use office tower; that work is expected to take about 17 months.

The folks at EV Grieve have photos this morning showing that the Yippie Museum Cafe is closed temporarily for renovations. Along with the Chickpea location on 14th Street, many East Village business owners are closing for a few weeks in order to spruce up the interior of their shop. EV Grieve also has photos of boxing promoter Don King smoking a cigar in Tompkins Square Park during the premiere of the free, summer-long film series there. The Local’s Joshua Davis will have a full report on the series later today.

As 51 Astor Falls, A Cafe Will Close

New York Film Academy Cafe at 51 Astor PlaceStephen Rex Brown The New York Film Academy Cafe is expected to close as developers begin demolition work on 51 Astor Place (below) in July.
51 Astor PlaceMeghan Keneally

Last night we told you that the demolition of 51 Astor Place would begin next month. Today, we confirmed what some have speculated: the destruction of the site will require the closure of one of the neighborhood’s only cafes with a large outdoor space.

The New York Film Academy Café at the corner of Astor Place and Third Avenue will be used as a staging ground for workers tearing down the six-story building next door, meaning the business will serve its last cup of coffee on June 30.

“A lot of our customers are really bummed,” said Jennifer Lee, 33, a cook at the café. “It’s a good spot. It’s rare to have a patio where people can lounge outdoors.”

Lee added that the majority of the six or seven employees still on the payroll were planning to go on unemployment.

But she bore her bosses no ill will. In fact, employees were told when the café replaced the Starbucks at that location last year that the job would be short-lived.

“They knew this was going to happen. They told us before the place was open,” Ms. Lee said.

A regular at the café, Lou Stoltz, said that he would miss the space.

New 51 Astor Place BuildingCourtesy of Sciame Construction Corp. A rendering of the planned development.

“It’s a great place to have my coffee, read my paper, do my Sudoku and just keep cool — like I’m doing now,” said Mr. Stolz, who has lived in the neighborhood for 50 years. “There’s an outdoor and an indoor space, even a smoking area. No one rushes you out. I hope they find a comparable location nearby.”

Mr. Stolz, who lives nearby at 10th and Stuyvesant Streets, added that he would even miss the building at 51 Astor Place.

“I’ll miss it, it’s been here since the 1950’s,” he said.

“I wish they’d build something here more along those lines,” Mr. Stolz added, gesturing toward the Cooper Union building. “Something more in keeping with the neighborhood.”

July Demolition Set for 51 Astor

New 51 Astor Place BuildingCourtesy Sciame Construction Corp.An artists conception of how 51 Astor Place will look once development is completed. Demolition of the current site, below, will begin in July.
51 Astor PlaceMeghan Keneally

Construction officials announced tonight that they will begin demolishing the former Cooper Union Engineering Building July 1.

Representatives from Sciame Construction Corp. hosted a public hearing about the demolition of the building at 51 Astor Place, located between Eighth and Ninth Streets. They expect the entire construction process to take 17 months, finishing by December 2012.

Because the building was constructed in the 1950’s, there will be an initial 40-day abatement period where specialists will secure any hazardous materials, like asbestos which covers some pipes in the building. Then, following city demolition procedures, there will be a two week period before any actual demolition of the existing building occurs, meaning that the existing structure will not begin to be taken down until approximately the third week of August.

About 50 people who live near the site attended the meeting, and their biggest complaint was about the city-designated hours of construction which begin at 7 a.m.

Steven Colletta, vice president of Sciame, said that because of the city regulations and workers union hours, construction will generally occur between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and, as of right now, there are no plans to build on weekends, though permits for weekend work may be applied for if needed on a week to week basis.

The plan for the new building, which includes retail space, commercial offices, and a portion dedicated to education use, was completed and approved in 2002, leaving the design of a public outdoor area as the only issue up for debate.

Sciame repMeghan Keneally Construction officials at tonight’s meeting.

The new building, designed by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, will be multi-tiered with the highest point reaching 12 stories, and the lowest being dedicated to retail space and standing 4 stories. The plan for the outdoor space includes benches and area for flower arrangements. The plan will be finalized at an as-yet-undetermined Community Board 3 Land Use meeting in mid-July.