UPDATE MAY 14th: at Wednesday’s CB2 hearing, it was revealed that in addition to illegally leasing this space for a restaurant last year, TF Cornerstone also ripped out all of the infrastructure necessary to maintain a meatpacking operation – the freezers, the rails, etc. Without this infrastructure, it would require a prohibitive capital investment for anyone to move a meatpacking business into this space. Thus, at the very time that TF Cornerstone was legally required to make “best efforts” to find a meat market tenant for this space, they in fact did the very opposite and took action that made it impossible to lease the space to a meatpacker.
Anticipating that CB2 would vote to reject their application, TF Cornerstone requested that the vote be postponed for a month, presumably to give them time to attempt to negotiate with the community. Stay tuned!
The owner of the West Coast Apartment building (the entire block bordered by Horatio, West, Gansevoort, and Washington Streets) is applying to change a restrictive declaration that currently limits uses in the northwest corner of the ground floor of that building to meatpacking and light industrial uses only. We believe that meatpacking uses are still viable in this space, which was occupied by Weischel Beef until 2012 – in fact, the meatpacking coop one-half block to the north is currently full up.
However, IF the city concludes that meatpacking uses are no longer appropriate, then it’s essential that any changes to the restrictive declaration work to benefit the community as well as the property owner. Come tell Community Board 2 that if the restrictive declaration is changed, then it should allow only cultural, educational, or community uses by non-profit organizations in this space. Possibilities would include a non-profit art gallery, non-profit theater space, non-profit bookstore, non-profit day care or nursery school, or space for community organizations.
The community doesn’t need more luxury retail or high-end restaurants. The community does need spaces where non-profit arts, educational, and service organizations can flourish. The property owner negotiated this restrictive declaration in return for an extremely lucrative rezoning. The owner has already made a huge profit from this deal, and there’s no reason that he should be now be entitled to get market-rate rents in this space for uses that won’t benefit the community.
The CB2 Land Use Committee will be this coming Wednesday:
Wednesday, May 11th, 6:30 PM
Village Community School, 272 W. 10th St., Auditorium
(between Greenwich and Washington Streets)
The facebook event is here.
Some additional facts:
When Rockrose Development Corporation obtained a 1984 rezoning to allow the conversion of the old Manhattan Refrigeration building complex into the West Coast Apartments , the community negotiated several restrictive declarations in return. One of these declarations mandated that 4700 sq/ft of ground floor space and 3500 sq/ft of basement space at the NW corner of the building (the corner of West Street and Gansevoort Street, now across from the Whitney Museum) be reserved for meat market uses.
Last year, the current owner of the building (TF Cornerstone) tried to ignore the restrictive declaration by illegally leasing this space to a restaurant; we stopped them when they tried to apply for a liquor license. The City should not reward TF Cornerstone for its illegal behavior by now granting them the ability to make unlimited profits from this space. TF Cornerstone still wants to put a giant restaurant into this space; the late-night noise and congestion that such a huge operation would bring to our community would be unacceptable.
The lobbyist that TF Cornerstone has hired to push this application is James Capalino, who has been involved in other attempts to remove property restrictions which were intended to benefit the community. He represented the companies involved in the recent Rivington Street nursing home scandal; he is also the lobbyist for Aurora Capital, which has said that it will apply to change the restrictive declaration limiting uses on the site of its massive Gansevoort development project.
This hearing is an opportunity to send a message that the community must be fully engaged in the process of negotiating any future attempts to change restrictive declarations, such as the one governing Aurora’s Gansevoort site, and that any changes should only be permitted if they benefit the community and the community agrees to them.