The Bowery Begins Major Traffic Face Lift

Traffic on Bowery about to improve

Traffic on Bowery about to improve

The Department of Transportation is bearing down on the stubborn traffic problems faced by motorists trying to negotiate their way through the famed bottleneck at Spring Street and the Bowery. Monday began the upgrade with the tearing up of the median there. Unfortunately, to the worry of residents, a fire hydrant was collateral damage on Thursday, leaking water all over the place. Although the damage has not been remedied yet, at least the water is being held in check.

Traffic improvements to the intersection will be dealt with in the following phased plan:

  • The southbound on Bowery left turn lane will be moved over to make way for an additional through lane. Two dedicated receiving lanes will help reduce congestion.
  • A new “signal phase” will introduce a light system which will have a flashing yellow arrow signaling to drivers to yield to pedestrians. This system is now undergoing testing around town.
  • The island at Delancey will be reshaped for easier turning. The new median will include trees to help make the neighborhood lovelier.

Several other changes are in the plans, including giving northbound pedestrians an 11 second head start to cross Delancey. During those crucial 11 seconds cars turning left from Bowery will be halted, so pedestrians can cross without fear of being crushed by turning cars.

Bowery Presents Seeking Williamsburg Venue for New Music Hall

Building on Frost Street is proposed for new Bowery Presents music space

Building on Frost Street is proposed for new Bowery Presents music space

The minutes from Community Board 1 in Brooklyn’s May 13 meeting includes a presentation for “a proposed new music venue.” The venue, it is hoped, will be at 319 Frost Street, between Morgan and Debevoise Avenues in East Williamsburg, and will hold about 2000 seats.

Bringing the proposal to light are Bowery Presents owner Jim Glancy, proposed manager Brian Harkenrider, and Hal Gold, to be head of operations.

Bowery Presents is currently and independent music promoter which runs the Bowery Ballroom, the Music Hall of Williamsburg, and other sites. The new venue, which, if all goes well will hopefully open in about a year, is using the working title “Brooklyn Classic.” In addition to getting the Community Board’s approval the project, known as FroBro LLC, is also seeking a license from the State Liquor Authority.

Jim Glancy, owner of Bowery Presents stated that “we don’t have a timeline on opening and aren’t doing press right now.”

He added that Brooklyn Classic is just the working name of the venue at the moment and a final decision on a name won’t be made until much closer to the hoped for opening date in about a year.

Bowery’s Salvation Army Retreating to New Headquarters in Brooklyn

the salvation army

Last Bowery outpost of the Salvation Army is no more

A true testament to the times we are living in was the recent closure of the Bowery’s last branch of the helping institution, the Salvation Army. The Army moved in a little over 100 years ago into what was called then “Booth House.” The veteran institution came to the Bowery to help down and out men, a population that has frequented the Bowery for almost as long as the neighborhood existed.

During World War II the country’s economic situation improved and the number of homeless men declined. Services for populations at risk improved. Many of the alcoholics, prostitutes and vagrants who had inhabited the area fled as a result of a concerted effort by the city to remove them.

Through the decades since the war the neighborhood has gone through many changes. The latest upheaval has been the hurried gentrification of the Bowery with an increasing number of renovations, new restaurants and other shops opening up to satisfy a new population of upwardly mobile residents.

As a result institutions like the Salvation Army play a smaller role in the neighborhood’s culture. Perhaps even more of an influence is the real estate boom Manhattan is experiencing now, where even old, dilapidated apartments and buildings are fetching awesome prices.

The building at 223-225 Bowery is one of the tallest along the one-mile stretch of street, its height a symbol of the hope the Salvation offered to the most downtrodden among New Yorkers. Now the building will take on a whole new meaning, as it is turned into a high-end hotel and luxury condominium. The developers paid $30 million for the premises, and will most likely be able to recoup their investment many-fold as apartments in the area are fetching as much as $2,500 per square foot.

The Salvation Army will be setting up their new shop in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. That neighborhood was chosen as it is also has burgeoning ethnic Chinese population similar to that the Bowery.

A Café Idea Which May Cat(ch) On!

This coming weekend, from Thursday, April 24 to Sunday, April 27, cat lovers can share a latte with their feline friends. Be sure to bring your favorite cat on over to 168 Bowery where the country’s first ever cat coffee shop will be open for business. Sponsored by Purina

Purina sponsoring cat cafe on the Bowery this weekend

Purina sponsoring cat cafe on the Bowery this weekend

, a giant US pet food manufacturer, the café will be of the ‘pop-up’ variety.

The ambiance takes its cue from a phenomenon that is common in Japan. Due to the Japanese cultural love of cats combined with strict bans on owning them in apartment buildings, or simply because of the lack of space in crowded Japanese cities, a compromise developed in which customers can enjoy the cats which are allowed to wander freely in an otherwise ordinary a coffee shop.

Cat lovers can enjoy a great cup of coffee or tea while spending time with their favorite domesticated breed, without the cumbersome burden of actually owning a cat. Here in the US however, where if someone wants to own a cat he/she usually simply does, Purina’s cat café has a distinctly different purpose.

The shop will be full of cats enjoying themselves wandering around the shop, but they will be up for adoption. The staff of the café will be available to answer questions about pet care, and as experts can correctly inform prospective owners about how best to care for a cat.

“We hope our cat cafe is one small step toward a greater focus on cat health,” said Purina brand manager Brian Williams. “Our goal for the Cat Cafe is to create a rich, interactive environment that empowers cat owners to learn more about their cat’s health and nutritional needs.”

Enjoy Free Scoop Day in Moderation, Says NY Nutritionist Todd Meister

coneCertainly, almost everyone loves ice cream. And they love free ice cream even more. So, when April rolls around each year, it’s time to perk up and to pay attention the free cone days coming your way. However, as nutritionist Todd Meister will remind us New Yorkers, we should eat everything in moderation.

As Todd Meister explains, “There’s nothing wrong with getting a free scoop today on Free Cone Day, but why not get that scoop and take a walk through the Park? Or park your car far away and walk an extra mile while you eat your scoop. Everything in moderation is fine.

For those of you who want that free scoop, here are the details. On April 8, Ben & Jerry will have its 35th annual Free Cone Day around the world. They will also use this day to roll out some new and exciting flavors including Salted Caramel Blondie, ‘Hazed & Confused,’ made with hazelnut and chocolate ice creams and fudge chips, and Cotton Candy.

If that’s not enough, then from April 22 to 24th, Baskin-Robbins will have a Scoop Fest throughout the United States. They will sell every single scoop of ice cream for $1, a double scoop for $2 and a triple for $3.

San Marzano Pizza Closed for Good

San Marzano Closed for Good

San Marzano Closed for Good

At first we thought the pizza restaurant at 71 Clinton Street (Rivington) was just temporarily closed until their burst water pipe was repaired. Then the closure was prolonged for weeks, and now we have discovered that San Marzano is closed for good. There was a bulletin from Michael Amodeo, auctioneer, that an auction was taking place.

Sold at auction was a “wood fire burning oven,” a walk-in refrigerator, a “four tap beer system,” an espresso machine and dining room furniture.

The restaurant was opened by David Malekan in 2008 and just renewed its liquor license last year. Clinton Street is a rough place for eateries. The old Falai bakery, across the street from San Marzano, just reopened after a long remodeling hiatus. Another restaurant, Alias, was replaced by the Black Crescent on the opposite corner, last year.

Salvation Army Checking Out of the Bowery

The Salvation Army Chinatown Shelter (right) and the Bowery Mission.

The Salvation Army Chinatown Shelter (right) and the Bowery Mission.

As gentrification of Manhattan marches on homeless and other at risk groups will find they have fewer options for support as the Bowery location of the Salvation Army turns to a modern, 180-room Ace Hotel.

The Salvation Army sold its 55,000 square-foot Chinatown shelter for $30 million to developers who will save the outer structure and completely gut the 10-story interior. The center, which not only offered shelter but also a soup kitchen and a gathering place and activity center for anyone from “little kids to 80-year-olds” will instead set up shop in Brooklyn. The premises was underused by the Salvation Army, which only used the lower two floors, leaving the upper eight stories empty for the last 13 years.

Before the upper stories were shut down they were used as an SRO, “single room occupancy” hotel. Each floor had 40 separate rooms and one communal bathroom. The new owners, Omnia Group and North Wind Group, will take about 18 months to renovate the site, located at 223-225 Bowery, which is next door to the Bowery Mission. The location is particularly valuable because it is adjacent to a private street which is closed to cars: Freeman Alley.

The sale is the latest in a series of valuable real estate deals for the Salvation Army. In 2010 the Zeckendorf brothers bought 18 Gramercy Park for $60 million; a transaction that made history when the sale of its penthouse apartment went for $42 million in 2012 to the owner of the Houston Rockets, Leslie Alexander. That building has access to the city’s only private park, Gramercy Park, and was built in 1927 and used as a dorm-type residence for young women since 1963. Also in 2010 the Salvation Army sold property at 347 Bowery for $7.6 million. The new owner flipped it last year for $19.2 million. The broker for the newest deal, Alan Miller of Eastern Consolidated commented on the sale of 347 Bowery, saying it is just one more example of the “crazy, rising, real estate market” in New York.

New Bowery Wall Mural Ready for Viewing

Maya Hayuk Adds Color to the Bowery Wall

Maya Hayuk Adds Color to the Bowery Wall

Despite bad weather and freezing temperatures, Maya Hayuk preserved and finished her artistic contribution to the Bowery Wall, a brightly colored mural, which replaces Swoon’s work which depicted and remembered Hurricane Sandy.

Hayuk is a Brooklyn-based mural artist who is famous for her geometrical designs using fluorescent colors. Her creation for the Bowery Wall, located on Houston Street, is no exception. Hayuk is the third female artist whose work has been commissioned for the Bowery Wall after Swoon and Aiko Nakagawa in 2012.

Bearing a distinct resemblance to her other works of art, this mural uses shocking pink, bold blue, bright yellow and more to create an almost psychedelic, hypnotic, geometric effect which also blends in well with the down-home grittiness of the surrounding neighborhood.

Two Dangerous Intersections Slated for Rehab on Bowery

Intersections improvementsTwo especially dangerous intersections along The Bowery are on the Department of Transportation’s to-do list to improve safety, visibility and congestion. At Delancey Street a seemingly eternal line of cars push into the lanes which lead to the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges, but the few seconds needed to get to the other side of the intersection are often gobbled up when drivers refuse to yield, despite the law which says they must yield. Drivers turning right off of Delancey onto Bowery are also confronted with poor visibility.

At Spring Street pedestrians must curl in and out of cars which are illegally idling in the crosswalks.

In the five years from 2008 to 2012 27 people were hurt at the Spring Street intersection. The danger at Delancey is even worse, with 87 people injured; 14 pedestrians and 10 on bicycles. There was also one fatal accident at this intersection during that time period.

Delancey is well known as a thrilling street enjoyed only by those who partake in extreme sports and other risky behaviors. Since 2012, however, after the DOT made some improvements at some of the intersections along the street, the statistics have improved for pedestrians and drivers.

The plan the DOT proposes includes the installation of two full time receiving lanes and a bus/rush hour lane along the street. They also will be moving the turn lane at Bowery and Delancey.

Both intersections will get better islands for pedestrians, including some greenery. There will be an 11 second head start for crossers to get to the other side of Delancey and Bowery.  Visibility for drivers at these two intersections will also be improved for drivers turning right onto Bowery.

British Street Artist Eine Opens Show on the Bowery

Ben Eine Opening on the Bowery

Ben Eine Opening on the Bowery

The Judith Charles Gallery on the Bowery will be the site of street artist Ben Eine’s first solo show. In anticipation of the opening of the show Eine has put up striking murals around town, including on Riker’s Island. Eine’s calling card is his brightly colored typographic writings.

Eine first became interested in graffiti art in 1984, when he was 14 years old. The next 20 years he spent tagging everything he could, and painting walls and trains. This was about the same time that street art was being recognized as a legitimate artistic undertaking, allowing graffiti artists more freedom to leave their marks without fear of imprisonment.

When picking sites for Eine’s murals around New York before his solo show, he looked for locations that were accessible, easy to view, and prominent. His main mural was painted at the former chocolate factory at 325 West Broadway.

Ben Eine’s first solo show, Heartfelt, will be held at the Judith Charles Gallery at 196 Bowery at Spring Street and will run until March 16, 2014.