Here’s the Likely Reason Why Ceci-Cela and Eight Turn Crepe Left 55 Spring Street

Posted on: November 8th, 2016 at 5:00 am by
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When the Renatus Group purchased 55 Spring Street two years ago for $15.5 million, its beloved ground-level business, Ceci-Cela, was given marching orders. There would be no lease renewal for the twenty-five-year old establishment, which officially departed Little Italy last week. So, the patisserie proactively found a new HQ at 14 Delancey Street and reopened there last April.

Guess the same happened to its likeminded former neighbor, Eight Turn Crepe. That store is equally vacant, now with newspaper clippings taped into the windows. So, both commercial spaces at this address are now primed for … something.

Yes, there is seemingly a more sinister backstory behind why Ceci-Cela and Eight Turn Crepe both got the boot (i.e. denied lease renewal). It’s a matter of zoning. Renatus is looking to shake up the Special Little Italy District zoning in which this tenement sits. They will appear before Community Board 2 on Wednesday night to pitch the proposal. Here is the agenda item:

Application for a Zoning Text Amendment  to change the Area of the Special Little Italy District in which the two buildings are located from Area A to Area A1, which is directly to the east, so that their ground floor commercial uses could cover their entire lots.  If the application is approved, a total of approximately 1,750 SF would be added to their ground floors.

Concerned neighbors and preservationists are worried about the implications of chopping up the hard-fought Special District. The fear is that Renatus might seek to build out the backyard, which is not possible in Area A as it stands; or perhaps to combine the two ground floor units.

The matter will go before the Land Use subcommittee of Community Board 2 tomorrow night, 6:30pm at 24 Waverly Place.

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The Special Little Italy District resolution was passed by the city in 1977.  It is a Special Purpose District.  It was a battle fought by the residents of the Little Italy community, with the help of such experts as Doris Diether. Its zoning allows for construction no higher than eighty-five feet, and that the facade (i.e. “front wall”) be composed of “predominantly masonry.”

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