Neighbors fight to save the Bowery

Amato Opera
Designed in 1899 Julius Bockwell, the Amato Opera House was first a cigar rolling factory. In 1926, it became the Holy Name Mission, serving the homeless until 1962, when it re-opened as the Amato Opera House. It sold in 2009, and according to Curbed, the owners have now filed a Department of Buildings application to designate the building live/work and add 10 feet on top of the structure for three residential units. (Credit: Aaron Adler.)

Martin Scorcese is the latest addition to a long list of old-school New Yorkers and artists fighting to protect the Bowery.

In a recent letter to the City Planning Commission, Scorcese credited “the grittiness, the ambience, the vivid atmosphere” of the neighborhood with inspiring his best work.

“Having grown up in Elizabeth Street, the neighborhood and residents of the Bowery became clear catalysts for turning me into a storyteller,” Scorcese wrote in a plea to acknowledge a plan from the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors to preserve the east side of the Bowery.

The area has been on the State Registry of Historic Places since October 2011, and cause for new celebration arose just a month ago, when the Bowery was added to the National Registry, joining such American historical institutions as Beacon Hill in Boston and New Orleans’ French Quarter.

But the National Registry is only honorific: it merely recognizes the value of a place, but does not instate any development restrictions or protections, which is why some residents of the neighborhood continue to plead with the City Planning Commission to review their East Bowery Preservation Plan.

The Plan stipulates that all buildings would have a maximum height of 85 feet, or eight stories, to remain in line with the late 18th and early 19th century buildings.

The wide street has significance dating as far back as 1626, with a rich history encompassing everything from tap dance and vaudeville to abstract expressionism and punk music. Once the home of a rich Yiddish Theater scene, some say the only remnant of the once vibrant arts community is the Bowery Poetry Club.

A letter from Bruce Lee Gallanter of Downtown Music Gallery, a quirky record store that was once located on the street, mourned the loss of CBGB’s, the Bouwerie Theatre, and his own displaced shop, insisting, “Something must be done in order to preserve the creative spirit that once defined this historic area.”

Lou DiGennaro, a Brooklyn resident who has been visiting the Bowery area frequently since childhood, noted that while the area is safer and cleaner, and the buildings taller, “some of the character is lost.”

“It’s lost a little energy,” DiGennaro said. “It’s pushing out a lot of people who are more creative.”

Mark Nourieli, 57, has owned a restaurant equipment store on the Bowery for 20 years, and said he and other restaurant equipment businesses along the block will have to relocate within a year to a year and a half.

Nourieli didn’t mince words: “The millionaires came in and they bought all the real estate,” he said. “They sold the building and we have to move.”

“They destroyed us,” Nourieli added. “The Bowery is finished.”

 

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MIT fraternity suspended for 'inappropriate behavior'

Officials have suspended the MIT chapter of its fraternity for what it said was "inappropriate behavior."

Local

Brighton women indicted in scam involving care of…

A pair of Brighton women were due in Suffolk Superior Court Thursday morning after being indicted for allegedly stealing from an elderly woman whose trust…

Local

Florida man tied to Aaron Hernandez charged with…

Oscar Hernandez, a man tied to former New England Patriots Player Aaron Hernandez, was arrested Wednesday evening in Florida on federal charges out of Boston for obstruction of justice, witness…

International

Putin fields question from NSA fugitive Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked details of intelligence eavesdropping, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin a question on Thursday during…

Television

Way to go, guys: 'Game of Thrones' broke…

Proving that not everyone has parents who subscribe to HBO and are generous with their HBO Go logins, the latest episode of "Game of Thrones"…

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

The Word

Lawsuit accuses 'X-Men' director Bryan Singer of raping…

A new lawsuit accuses director Bryan Singer of sexual assault against a minor.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

NBA

Rondo on rebuild: Count me in

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo fielded questions from reporters last night after his team dropped a 118-102 decision to the Washington Wizards (44-38), which finally…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox beat White Sox…

Red Sox walk 15 times in extra innings win

NBA

Kris Humphries on free agency, future with Celtics:…

Kris Humphries on free agency, future with Celtics: 'I hope to be back'

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.

Parenting

Star-studded summer camps

Give your child the star treatment this summer with a celebrity-endorsed camp.

Comments

1

  1. If Scorcese wants to “preserve the architecture” he is free to buy a building.

    Nourielle chose to rent, not buy. He could have bought, but didn’t. After 20 years in business one would hope that he could come up with a 20% down payment for an owner-occupied commercial condo. He chose to rent – to NOT take a risk, to NOT bet on the neighborhood – to NOT take a stake in the neighborhood. He has no legitimate complaint now.