RIOC and CB8 Committees Take Up Roosevelt Island Issues

Next Week: The Sanctuary, Main Street Retail, Last Shot at the RI Sign and more...

Updated 1 week ago David Stone
The Sanctuary dressed up as an event space for the first time, this week.
The Sanctuary dressed up as an event space for the first time, this week.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

In public meetings next week, Roosevelt Islanders get a first chance to make their feelings known about converting the historic Dayspring Church into a speakeasy and outdoor beer garden, interrupting long established park space. But there's more. Hudson spills on Main Street Retail, and a final vote's likely on  the big red RI Monument parked in the Tram Plaza.

Monday: RIOC Committee Takes on Hudson Related

Monday at 4:30, RIOC's Real Estate Advisory Committee (REDAC) meets in public session, and the agenda is packed with hot button issues.

UPDATE: The location for this meeting has been relocated to: RIOC’s Operations Office, 680 Main Street. That's along the East Promenade beneath the Motorgate parking garage.

First up is a discussion about the transfer of ownership for Roosevelt Landings. It's a big deal because the new owners, L+M and Invesco, want to return market rate apartments to affordability standards, a big boost for traditional community values. They've been negotiating with the State on terms.

But it's the second item that may set the room buzzing: Hudson Related Retail Presentation Regarding Main Street Commercial Spaces.

It's been a decade since David Kramer, in a Wall Street Journal article, promised to "shock and awe" with retail developments on Main Street. There's been plenty of shock, not the kind intended, and more "aw" than "awe" as storefronts remain empty and businesses open and fail without altering the unpleasant balance.

It's not known whether Kramer will own up to sneaking a speakeasy and outdoor beer garden into the historic church in park space along the West Promenade. Hudson has opened up, so far, only to the New York Post and refuses to answer questions posed locally about multiple negative impacts on the quality of life here. So far, RIOC's given them a free pass on apparent violations.

The RI Icon gets attention from visitors but is disliked by most residents.
The RI Icon gets attention from visitors but is disliked by most residents.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

You might, also, want to strap on your seat belts for item #4: Discussion of “RI” Sign. REDAC has stay or go authority over the sign/icon/monument, whatever it's being promoted as these days. In essence, it's a simple pair of 8-foot tall Helvetica fonts, lacking all imagination, that a majority or residents have rejected. 

RIOC president Susan Rosenthal claims there's been no vote, but that's not true. RIOC didn't have one, but The Daily did. Over 50% wanted the sign removed. And dozens of emails were sent to RIOC executives, a preponderance of which requested removal. Efforts to bury the emails without registering them was unmasked by historian Judy Berdy.

Kramer promised to remove the sign if residents "hate it."

Thursday: Community Board 8's Street Life Committee

New York's Community Boards promote direct democracy. They look for street level input on issues and use it to make recommendations to the City.

A significant responsibility rests in acting as reviewer for applications to the State Liquor Control Board. The Sanctuary's owner's desire for a license to operate a speakeasy and alfresco beer garden on Roosevelt Island is on the agenda for CB8's Street Life Committee on the 10th.

The meeting will be at Marymount Manhattan College, Regina Peruggi Room, 221 E 71st Street (bet. 2nd and 3rd) starting at 6:30 p.m. It's open to the public.

"Event spaces have been significant issues at CB 8," a resident with extensive relevant experience tells The Daily

"I call special attention to the use as an event space of the Third  Church of Christ the Scientist on the n/e corner of Park and 63rd which generated considerable opposition form the nearby community because of noise and traffic."

With The Sanctuary, it's way more than "event space," here. It's a proposed "speakeasy and alfresco beer garden," and the owners opened it already without a license, Department of Buildings Permit, Occupancy Permit or FDNY inspection, under the apparent protection of Hudson Related coordinating with RIOC executives.

CB8 Roosevelt Island representative Lynne Strong-Shinozaki has been made aware of concerns. She can be reached by email for comments or questions: lynnestrong@hotmail.com

A show of community interest helps CB8 make responsive decisions.

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