As is our wont this time of year, it's time for us to hand out metaphorical hardware to the most deserving and important people, places, and things in the real estate, architecture, and neighborhood universes of New York City this past year. That's right, it's time for the Fifth Annual Curbed Awards! Strap in and enjoy as we finish things off with our neighborhood awards. And check out all of this year's awards here.
I. PRESERVATION AND EXPANSION
Lost Neighborhood Landmarks of the Year
3) Ward Bakery. Though the Coney faithful rightly bemoan the depressing destructoporn that engulfed Astroland as the year wound down, the total destruction of Ward Bakery in the Atlantic Yards footprint saddened us more profoundly, probably because the place will remain an empty lot for the next few eons.
2) Original Washington Square Park Mounds (above). The mounds are probably one of two things to you: ugly masses of asphalt, or the single profound embodiment of all of Greenwhich Village and its central park. So though the Parks Department promises they'll recreate the mounds as part of its ongoing renovation of WSP, count us among the nervous. Mounds now, mounds forever!
1) Florent. In the midst of a Meatpacking District overrun with drunk tourists, the obnoxious MeatBoard outside the Gansevoort Hotel, and a general sense of end-times, there was, pretty much as long as anyone can remember, Florent. That owner Florent Morellet took the demise of his 24/7 eatery with such good grace lessened the blow; that the building's owner attempted, mostly disastrously, to reopen the place with pretty much the same menu, harshened it.
Threatened Neighborhood Landmarks That Are Somehow Still Standing
3) Underground Railroad Houses. The houses, on Duffield Street in Downtown Brooklyn, found themselves the target of the city's eminent domain policy as politicians eyed--er, a parking garage, for the space. Given the economic situation, this one's anyone's call as to how it will end up. Our prediction: Underground Railroad-themed parking garage! Yes? Good?
2) 1964-65 World's Fair Philip Johnson Pavilion. The Queens landmark continues its losing battle with gravity, but hey, it's still hanging in and up for the National Register of Historic Places. A study may determine its fate. Hoo boy.
1) Admiral's Row. For the Fourth Year in Row, Admiral's Row at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which seems to have been on death row forever, still stands. It's in terrible condition, of course, but an obscure Federal agency stepped in to conduct--wait for it--yes!--a study about whether and how the structures can be saved causing officials at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. who would like to see the buildings vaporized to obtain huge Valium prescriptions.
Top 3 Reasons To Keep Hating NYU
3) Provincetown Playhouse 'Preservation'. Is saving the facade and four walls of a building, then constructing something massive and new around it, preservation? We must have missed that class.
2) General Scary Expansion Plans. Because anything named Plan 2031 is worth fearing.
1) Housing Students in Luxurious Irish Condos Against Their Will. Opined one oppressed youth, "Young students like us don't need this quality of living or, at the very least, we don't need it provided by our college." Brah, our hearts/prayers are with you.
II. ART AND URBANITY
Best New Neighborhood Cultural Landmark
Demolition has only just begun and funding concerns remain, but the Whitney Museum's proposed new branch at the base of the High Line in the Meatpacking District has all the signs of a neighborhood game-changer. Anyone got an extra $680 million sitting around?
Runner-Up: Momofuku Ko. And with just a snap of Dave Chang's fingers, the dingy upper reaches of First Avenue in the East Village acquires its own culinary Mecca in a tiny storefront with a wire-mesh door. Somehow, this makes sense.
Most Awesomely Absurd Public Art Project of the Year
3) 'Danish Hoop' Bike Racks. They're going to put these things all over the city soon. Next up: Amsterdam-style free bikes, which will be painted bright pink to discourage picking them apart for parts.
2) The Waterfalls. They engaged some; they bored others; they killed trees with aplomb. All in all, if we were grading them for a New School class, we'd probably give them a B+.
1) Staten Island Lions. Being as it went down on Staten Island and all, the public-art lions received far less coverage than the Waterfalls. And yet, in their own special way, they were at least twice as absurd. Staten Island Renaissance progressing apace? Check!
The Um, WTF? Award for Absurdity in Urban Planning
"New Yorkers will be waiting another year for East River Park to be complete — and maybe more if a state agency succeeds in halting the project. The Department of Environmental Conservation is worried that workers repairing the East River bulkhead are allowing the shoreline to erode into the water, so D.E.C. tried to revoke the construction permit, D.E.C. spokesperson Arturo Garcia-Costas said. D.E.C. first noticed erosion problems last year and fined the city and contractor Pile Foundation Construction Company $200,000, but the problems continued." [source]
Most Outlandish Urban Plan of the Year
3) Hunters Point. More massive, ugly skyscrapers for the east side of the East River? Sign us up!
2) Public Place/Gowanus Green. Plans are seemingly moving ahead for this massive project between Carroll Gardens and the Gowanus Canal, but the cleanup costs are as staggering as the hubris.
1) Willets Point (above). If you build it, they will come.
III. THERE GOES THE...
Massive Projects At Massive Risk Award
3) Governors Island. The Park at the Center of the World will be majorly awesome when complete -- in, uh, 15 years.
2) South Street Seatport Redo. Remember the Tower O' Penthouses slated for 80 South Street? That's how the plans for South Street Seaport will look in a couple of years: awesomely dated, as if from another era.
1) Atlantic Yards/Hudson Yards. We sort of always knew, given all the hype and press and controversy and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth surrounding our twin yards, that neither one of these projects would ever happen in their proposed form. Predictions for 2009: Hudson Yards disappears from the public agenda altogether, while Bruce Ratner brings the Nets to play in a 3,000-seat replica of Ebbets Field. It's called compromise, people!
Top 3 Most Controversial Bike Lanes of the Year
3) Grand Street, Soho (above). Representative quote: "Has anyone noticed that Grand Street has been turned into a rat maze?"
2) Kent Avenue, Williamsburg. RQ: "I have to admit, it's a major issue, women passing through here in that dress code. It bothers me, and it bothers a lot of people."
1) Ninth Avenue, Chelsea. RQ: "The entire travesty ostensibly to benefit bikers . . . who use their special lane ABOUT ONCE EVERY FIVE OR TEN MINUTES DURING THE DAY."
Massive Neighborhood-Transforming Projectwatch for '09
3) World Trade Center Site, Downtown.
2) St. Vincent's, West Village.
1) Manhattanville, West Harlem.
Random Reader Neighborhood Rant of the Year
"The music comes from either 1 OAK or Park Restaurant, which sometimes hosts nightclub-like parties on Sunday nights lasting until 4 am on Monday early mornings. I do not know whether a restaurant is even legally permitted to play such loud music at 4 am on a Monday morning. I have repeatedly called 311 but the situation has not improved. I understand that our building is addressing this with 1 OAK and Park, but the condo association has not yet been formed so the condo owners cannot take collective action. I have lived in this apartment for over one month and have had problems sleeping the entire time." [source]