Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Moving On.

The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived.
--Oscar Wilde,

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.

While news pieces have been probing the Deutsche Bank fiasco, some of the subterranean activities are more relevant to Downtown people - including the Community Board and who's who in local politics.

One thing is for sure, two firemen died as a result of a questionable clean-up contract which was awarded by LMDC to Bovis Lend Lease which then subcontracted the asbestos removal job out to the John Galt Corp., a company reputed to have mob ties.

Whatever the truth is as to why the contract was awarded to a questionable company, it is well-known that LMDC is a rubber stamp entity. The protestations that are coming from some of that Board's members, that certain individuals sought to nix that contract choice - are coming a little too late. There are also rumors that anonymous threats have also been made to keep this whole thing quiet.

Morgenthau is rumored to be very involved in this case personally and that he may, in fact, be the guy in the Operations room making sure it goes well.

The fact that the Corporation Counsel is still meeting with people and before they get to the D.A.'s office - is not being appreciated. It's the kind of pre-interview "trial run" that creates the possibility of suborning perjury.

It is also known that the Mayor's Office has hired criminal counsel, should things not go well.

Apparently, Douglas Durst, the developer/head of Friends of Hudson River Park has seen fit to give Al Butzel his walking papers. Within the last six months or so, things have not been hunky-dory at FOHRP and there has been some gnashing of teeth at the community response to Butzel's particular charms.

There is no doubt that Al is one of the most knowledgeable people downtown when it comes to Waterfront issues. He has been liked and disliked by many an activist and bureaucrat but he did know his stuff.

However, a few public verbal fisticuffs have tarnished his usually charming patina, particularly at a recent Board #1 meeting where he and David Reck had "words."

What is being discussed in lieu of his present position as President is a "consulting" role.

The Truth Will Out is essentially the message from Andrew Berman of GVSHP in his commentary on an interview over the Trump SoHo project.

Apparently, contrary to the party line by politicians downtown that the project was going to be built whether it was a "condo-hotel" or a hotel -which could have been built as of right - was not what the developer planned.

As Steve Cutler asks in his interview with Julius Schwarz, the developer:

"So why not a straight luxury hotel? "It's a financing mechanism," said Schwarz, who added that financing is tough to come by. "You can't model it out 10 years. Right now, there's a shortage of hotels, so people are going to be building hotels, and the rates will eventually come down." Hotel rooms will always be in high demand, said Schwarz, "but you can't rely on the $1,200 a night rates. Even with a very high-end luxury hotel like this, where rates are going to stay high, you have to convince a lender. That's the most important thing; otherwise, the deal doesn't get done (emphasis added)."

Schwartz also says "I had to fight for so long against the notion that this is somehow a disguised residence...It was never a residence." And yet it was he who the Villager in 2006 said described the project as "more pied-a-terre than short-term stay hotel...every unit ...will be sold individually to buyers who might live there year-round, from time to time or seasonally. All owners will be free to offer up their Rockwell Group-designed units as hotel rooms, if they so choose (emphasis added)"

What the Mayor's Office, including Bloomberg and Doctoroff, the Buildings Department and Speaker Quinn's office -- would have us all believe that there was no way that this Project could have been stopped.

And, here we have the developer telling us himself that without the special treatment by the City - it would not have made sense to be built.

Remember that the next time you go to the polls.

So, is Trump SoHo really in SoHo after all?

Well, look at it this way.

According to the Friends of Hudson Square, the organization behind the "charrette" or vision for Hudson Square whose title of "unofficial Mayor" is claimed by David Reck, Hudson Square begins at the River and ends at Hudson Street - from Houston to Canal Streets. With several condo owners, St John's and the apparent support of Christine Quinn, the Friends have essentially established their turf and no one appears to disagree.

Trump SoHo seems to feel that Spring and Varick Streets are part of SoHo. The fact that their sales office is on Wooster Street does not preclude them from claiming SoHo residence for a project on Varick Street.

And, the SoHo Alliance under the tutelage of Sean Sweeney recently commented that people as far west as Greenwich Street used to consider themselves SoHo residents.

His view is that from 6th Avenue to the eastern side of Hudson Street is really SoHo West, or western SoHo. Several restaurants have touted their SoHo presence at locations as far north as Carmine Street and Varick.

Of course, those who live below Houston Street and west of 6th Avenue have been known to claim this area as part of the South Village.

Given the fact that the Hudson Square residents have by choice cut off their territory at Hudson Street - partly to limit their expectations and expenses (presumably also not to piss off Trinity Church who owns a lot of Varick Street) - Sweeney may have a point.

It may be one of the few times the Donald and Sean Sweeney agree.

We'll see how this plays out.