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Sunday, June 18, 2006
Cars Give Way to People in SoHo

The Tunnel Garage and its 188 parking spaces, built just as the Holland Tunnel and the automobile were first offering their promise of a quick exit from the city, is ancient history. In its place will rise an 8-story apartment building with 48 apartments, 7,340 square feet for stores (and 117 parking spaces). Because of this land use change, a net of 71 motorists each day will find it harder to park in SoHo, more or less removing that many cars from the roads. Meanwhile, households and businesses will find space in the building, further enlivening this pedestrian-oriented neighborhood.

I've been glad to see automobile-related uses vanishing from Manhattan, including many West Side gas stations and this garage, at the corner of Broome and Thompson Streets. In this case, there was an argument to save the garage on aesthetic reasons. Actually, there was something to be said for that old, pleasantly rounded facade and its "proto-Art-Deco" Model T medallion at the corner (pictured). But the traffic decongestion and strenghtened neighborhood fabric easily outweigh the loss.

- Landmark Status Sought, For This? [S&F]
- See Ya! [S&F]
- Posted at 9:20 PM | Permalink | Comments: 6 | Post a Comment |  

I'm happy that there will be fewer parking spots, but it's a shame they didn't just convert the garage to apartments. This City is incredibly near-sighted.

And of course, as we all know, those apartments will not be affordable.

By mike, at 6/19/2006 8:33 AM  

Converting the low-rise garage into apartments without expanding upward wouldn't have netted as many apartments, and I'm not sure it would have been economically worth while for a developer to go through all that trouble, since he or she already would have been getting some income out of the parking.

However, I'll agree that it would have been great if they could have kept the facade somehow and incorporated it into the planned building.

As for the apartments not being affordable, it's a fair criticism. But it's only temporary. In describing the need for a district with a mixture of aged and new buildings, Jane Jacobs described the process where highly profitable businesses took space in new buildings while less profitable businesses took space in old buildings. To an extent, the same is true for residences. The Bronx is filled with buildings that were built for the middle class but now are doing duty as low-income housing.

That's why for the long term, the first objective for creating affordable housing ought to be to build a lot of housing. Characteristics about the population served by individual buildings are subject to change.

By AD, at 6/19/2006 9:45 PM  

Aaron,

Sounds good in theory. But is that reality?

By Anonymous, at 6/19/2006 10:16 PM  

If there are flaws in that argument, let me know. Maybe there's something I'm overlooking... but I'm just trying to think about this with a very long-term perspective.

By AD, at 6/19/2006 10:57 PM  

I agree there should be fewer cars in NYC, especially Manhattan, but I don't agree that building a lot of housing will solve the problems of escalating rents and prices. Not in Manhattan with the kinds of housing that's being built. And, as for middle-class Bronx housing now serving low-income residents, I think you're probably right. But the reason for that, imo, is because of Robert Moses' gutting neighborhoods to building highways and the fiscal crisis of the '70s which eliminated millions of jobs that the middle class counted on. Also, Jane Jacobs description of different rents in different buildings seems quaint in the 21st century now that big-box retailers have arrived in the city. I think the garage would've made a nice museum.

By ka, at 6/20/2006 9:08 AM  

The new building will have just about as many, if not more, parking spots.

By Anonymous, at 6/20/2006 3:43 PM  


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