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Freeman Alley May Be Jeopardized By Ace Hotel Conversion

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The conversion of the former Salvation Army Chinatown Shelter at 225 Bowery into a 180-room Ace Hotel is well underway, but its construction may threaten the character of Freeman Alley, which runs behind the hotel project and the Bowery Mission Chapel. Bowery Boogie reports that one of the hotel's developers, Omnia Group, is eyeing the properties overlooking the alleyway, and that planned changes may change the character of the very short street.

Omnia, which partnered with North Wind Group on the $30 million project, is already running into problems with construction. The plan is to add four more stories to the top of the building, an addition Bowery Boogie referred to as a "60-foot tumor." In order to do that, they must reduce the structure's floor area through "two demolished buildings at first floor," according to the DOB, and the team's work in the basement has caused some stop-work orders.

Although documents haven't confirmed it yet, Bowery Boogie suspects the excavation of the building will go 20 feet below-ground to create a sub-basement for the hotel. That's got folks worried about the integrity of the alley and what will remain of it post-construction. According to Bowery Boogie, Omnia "reportedly claimed ownership to the center line of of the alley," although previous rulings listed Port Authority as the owner.

That's not the only rumor swirling around the site: the developers are also allegedly looking to acquire air rights for 187 Chrystie Street, located directly behind 225 Bowery. Omnia Group doesn't own the building (though it has a retail presence there) but if they do get air rights, word is they may work with the building's owner and eventually construct a 12-story residential building with a rear entrance on Freeman Alley.

Of course, this is all conjecture at this point, but there's now a fear that the completed Ace Hotel, as well as a potential residential project on Chrystie, will alter this side street for the worse or completely cut it off from the public.
· Freeman Alley Threatened by Ace Hotel and Rumored Development by Omnia Group [Bowery Boogie]
· All 225 Bowery coverage [Curbed]