The Real Deal New York

Big wave of condos washes over little Bond Street

November 01, 2007
By Lauren Elkies

In the world of celebrity gossip, there are actually two Bonds causing buzz this year.

For every bit of hype about Daniel Craig as the new (and shockingly blond) 007, there are tongues wagging about development on Bond Street in Noho.

You’ve even got celebrities — Chuck Close and Ian Schrager — weighing in on opposite sides of the fence over development as the short street north of Houston is transformed with a critical mass of new condo projects.

One of the most high-profile projects on the street — which is just two blocks long — is 40 Bond, an 11-story luxury condominium being developed by Schrager with partner Aby Rosen.

The building contains 23 apartments, which have price tags starting at approximately $3 million. There are also five townhouses, which run upward of about $7 million.

The building, which will offer hotel services, is scheduled to open in June 2007. Sales are already strong, said Kirk Rundhaug of Corcoran Group Marketing, who, along with broker Jill Mangone, is selling at the development.

Schrager, the hotelier and co-founder of Studio 54, is planning to snag a duplex penthouse apartment in the building for himself and his two daughters.

“I guess I’m putting my money where my mouth is,” Schrager says. While he enjoys living in his current Nolita apartment, Schrager said, “I feel I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live on Bond Street and in this building. I think the building on Bond Street is very flamboyant and very unique, [but] it will keep the rhythm of the architecture on the block.”

Chuck Close, the painter who has been given a retrospective at MoMA, owns a 2,500-square-foot co-op at 20 Bond Street. The loft is wheelchair accessible, a necessity for Close, who became a quadriplegic after a spinal artery collapse in 1988.

While not singling out Schrager’s project, Close argues new developments in the area are threatening to shut the sunlight out of his loft. The multi-million dollar buildings “would virtually make my studio unusable,” says Close.

His current space allows his staff to drop canvasses from above so he can reach them with a brush strapped to his hand.

“I can’t move to any old space and make it work,” the painter noted.

Zella Jones, a neighborhood preservationist and chair of the Noho Neighborhood Association, praises 40 Bond but is also not as positive about all the changes to the area.

“Their construction has been a model of careful planning,” says Jones. “Ian got a terrific designer and what’s going up there will be an attribute to the community. It will be a landmark-able building in my opinion.”

But she does not feel that way about all of the development in Noho.

“The intent for Noho to stay a primarily art-based community is constantly compromised,” Jones said.

Another proposed project in the area is at 48 Bond Street. Romy Goldman, owner of Gold Development, says her firm wants to build an 11-story residential building with 17 apartments to be designed by Deborah Berke & Partners Architects. Fourteen of the units would be 1,550-square-foot two-bedrooms with two baths, she said. The rest would be penthouse units.

The city has yet to approve the proposal.

Just up the street at 21-23 Bond Street, an application was filed with the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals for a seven-story building with a retail storefront.

Joanna Sherman, artistic director of the Bond Street Theater at 2 Bond Street, who also takes an anti-development stance, said the new projects, up to 11-stories tall, will be a big change for the area.

“In general, they’re building glass and steel and getting variances to build buildings higher than what is normally allowed in this area,” she says.

City Council member Alan Gerson, whose district includes Bond Street, says that “Bond Street is pretty much emblematic of what is happening in Noho and Soho and that is the continuation of the trend of development of luxury residential premises.” Gerson is working to preserve the artistic character and low-rise buildings in the area. If both disappear, he said, the streets will ultimately become less desirable.

“Bond Street is our jewel of the BID,” adds Harriet Fields, director of NOHO NY Business Improvement District, which includes Bond Street from Broadway to Lafayette Street.

The blocks are home to two trendy restaurants — Bond Street and Il Buco — as well as the Gene Frankel Theater, Bouwerie Lane Theater and other stores.

“It’s just got a little bit of a lot of things,” she said adding, “It’s just a lovely, lovely street and we’re very proud of it.”

But long-time residents like Close fear what Bond Street could become in the future.

“I expect that if the city doesn’t maintain some of the quality of the neighborhood that it’s going to be kind of a mess,” he says.

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