Spring Street Developer Attempts Override of Special Little Italy District Zoning with Courtyard Addition

Posted on: May 30th, 2017 at 5:00 am by

55 Spring Street, June 2015

One developer in the heart of Little Italy remains committed to overriding the special zoning district for commercial gain. Concerned neighbors are likewise rallied in opposition.

Developer Joseph Brunner purchased 55-57 Spring Street in July 2015 for $15.5 million (from Marolda Properties, sued by the state for tenant harassment). Residents and retail were affected much the same. Ceci Cela moved to Delancey Street after 25 years on the block when their lease allegedly wasn’t renewed; Eight Turn Crepe closed down (but was replaced with a Korilla BBQ outpost); and tenants were allegedly harassed with structural neglect techniques and construction as harassment.

In the same breath, so to speak, the owners seek a Zoning Text Amendment to poke a hole in the Special Little Italy District. The goal is a one-story addition spanning the rear courtyard to enlarge the two existing storefronts. This entails changing 55-57 Spring Street from Area A to Area A1 zoning, which is the designation directly to the east, so that the ground commercial uses could cover the entire lots.  If the application is approved, a total of approximately 1,750 square-feet would be added to their ground floors.

Preservation-minded area residents are worried about the implications of chopping up the hard-fought Special District. The fear is that Brunner might not only build out the backyard, but combine the two ground floor units. These particular tenements were constructed in 1871, and the rear yard common area was meant for natural light and air for tenants. Furthermore, there are structural concerns if heavy machinery would be used to dig out the backyard.

The matter twice came before Community Board 2 in the last couple years and was denied on both occasions.

Now the measure is punted to City Council for final determination. There is a hearing this morning at 9:30am.

“If approved by the City Council, this would set a terrible precedent, and would open the floodgates to overdevelopment in other parts of the Special Little Italy District,” Bowery Alliance of Neighbors chief David Mulkins stated in a desperate plea. “The Special Little Italy District was created by the city in recognition of its historical, cultural and architectural value and significance. The restrictions on height and bulk (85 feet and with frontage mainly of masonry) were created to protect its unique flow and feel, and low-rise sense of historic place.”

Below is a letter from thirty-seven-year resident Penny Jones to Councilwoman Margaret Chin that details the ongoing situation at 55-57 Spring Street.

An Appeal to City Council Regarding the Special Little Italy District by BoweryBoogie on Scribd

Recent Stories

The Bizarre ‘Mumming’ History of Thanksgiving Masking

What follows is a reworking of a post originally published on Bowery Boogie in 2014. There was once a time when Thanksgiving customs more resembled Halloween masquerading than traditional turkey and history lessons. That’s right. So get out your masks, people! Thanksgivoween is upon us. Two key words: masking and mumming. To surmise thousands of […]

Children’s Magical Garden Files Lawsuit Against Developer Over Alleged Intimidation Tactics

The Children’s Magical Garden on Stanton Street is again battling its longtime nemesis, owner-developer of the neighboring parcel, The Horizon Group. Garden advocates led by Kate Temple-West filed a civil rights lawsuit Monday in New York State Supreme Court alleging that principal David Marom, who purchased the adjacent lot from Serge Hoyda in 2013, engaged […]

Pregnant Woman Shot by Parolee Boyfriend on LES Dies

A pregnant woman shot by her parolee boyfriend earlier this month died of her injuries last Thursday. The 27-year-old victim, who was about three months pregnant with the gunman’s baby, had been on life support since the November 11 incident, according to published reports. As previously reported, the perp – Bronx resident Dennis Fredricks, a […]

30-Story Tower at Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Site Takes its Spot in LES Skyline

It’s not enough to have Essex Crossing dominate the Lower East Side skyline around Delancey Street. Now, another. The hulking tower rising from the literal ashes of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol is already halfway to the top, currently sitting at a healthy fifteen stories. This much after the better part of a year under construction. As […]

Uncapped: CAINE ONE Forever

Hey Boogie faithful! Guest writer, Freddy Alva, joins us again to go beneath the paint with us at Uncapped. The following is a stylized excerpt from the Queens Graffiti Legend’s Black Book containing interviews with LADY PINK, ROGER, Martha Cooper, FREEDOM, NOTCH 56, JIMMY 131, ZAR, PHANTOM and CAINE, childhood friend Eileen Galindo. Head over here […]