Illusions of Grandeur for Main Street Retail Implode

Hudson Related's Mess at 503 Main Street

Updated 9 weeks ago David Stone

 

Full Stop Work Order posted on August 9th, 2019, still in effect.
Full Stop Work Order posted on August 9th, 2019, still in effect.

We heard about it first in 2016, the wine bar gearing up to open at 503 Main Street. Owner David Nasser made his case for a liquor license at Community Board 8 in October, that year. And subsequently, Hudson Related repeatedly touted its opening on the near horizon, most recently when Hudson president David Kramer performed a ridiculous medley of claims in front of RIOC's ultra passive Board in September. But like much of Main Street Retail, the truth is nothing like that and is, in fact, far worse.

In September, 2018, the Roosevelt Islander reported being told that the 503 Main Street wine and/or snack bar would be opening in a couple of months. Concerned about the impact on the still struggling, recently reopened Nisi nearby, I stopped for a look.

And, not surprisingly in light of Main Street Retail's history of inflated promises, found that 503 was gutted, nowhere near opening.

A sign posted on 503's doors sends deliveries to Wholesome Factory, another Nasser business.
A sign posted on 503's doors sends deliveries to Wholesome Factory, another Nasser business.

A year later, after witnessing scarcely any activity in the meantime and spurred by Kramer's bragging, I took a closer look.

It was shocking.

The City's Department of Buildings had slapped a full stop work order on them way back in August.

Kramer neglected to mention that detail when he told RIOC's Board about its imminent opening, and the Board did what it's been doing since Fay Christian and Margie Smith stepped down, i.e., nothing. It was as if they never walked by the place or dozed through this nonsense before.

The full stop work order remains in place under threat of criminal action if restarted without DOB approval.

But the situation may be worsening.

The Department of Buildings has summoned 503's owners to a hearing on December 5th to determine the amount of civil penalties to be assessed. Standard is $1,600 per day with an $8,000 maximum.

Yet, that's not the last shock.

Summons issued to the State Urban Development Corporation to answer for civil fines. Someone opened its plastic envelope, but no one appears to have taken any action, leaving the summons hanging in place.
Summons issued to the State Urban Development Corporation to answer for civil fines. Someone opened its plastic envelope, but no one appears to have taken any action, leaving the summons hanging in place.

According to the City, the owner of the space isn't David Nasser. It isn't RIOC, and it isn't Hudson Related. It's the New York State's Urban Development Corporation, RIOC's predecessor in developing Roosevelt Island as a modern community.

Unclear about how to untangle that convoluted trail, I asked RIOC about it, but did not get an answer or even acknowledgement that the question was asked.

RIOC's spokesman Terrence McCauley did promptly respond to our question about the stop work order.

"Thank you for forwarding the notice to us," he wrote. "We have sent your email to Hudson Related to make sure they are aware of the situation and respond accordingly."

Aside from ignoring my question about 503's parentage, this struck me as odd for another reason... they weren't aware of the public notice visible to anyone walking by since August?

My follow up question, "As UDC’s partner, what responsibilities does RIOC recognize in contacting them and/or in terms of the contract with Hudson which surely includes a requirement to abide by applicable laws?" didn't get me much more.

"We have made sure that Hudson Related is aware of the Stop Work Order you forwarded to us," McCauley reiterated. "They are investigating the matter and will respond to the proper authorities. As RIOC has said in the past, all work must follow applicable laws and must have necessary permits."

Good enough, as far as it goes.

But as we've seen with The Sanctuary dumped into our park system, Hudson Related takes a Treasure of Sierra Madre style "Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges." approach to rules and regulations and RIOC looks the other way.

Similarly, recent Hudson Related signings at the Hot Pot Chinese restaurant and Jupioca didn't trouble themselves with building permits (or never posted them if they did) nor is either in compliance with Department of Health requirements for posting food safety grade ratings. 

(For the record, according to DOH's website, the Hot Pot is a Grade Pending after two inspections found multiple critical violations and Jupioca's never been inspected after being open for six months.)

Of course, we also reached out to Hudson for comment.

Here is their response in full...

        "

On November 18th, Hudson's Alex Kaplan responded, "No comment."

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