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Monday, January 5, 2015

Trellis Diner Owner Alex Razaghi On Past, Present And Future Of Roosevelt Island - Big Changes Coming For Renovated Trellis And Predicts Roosevelt Island Will Become A Small Manhattan

Image Of Renovated Trellis Rendering From Hezi Jiang Vimeo Video

Roosevelt Island Trellis Diner owner Alex Razaghi

talks about the past, present and future of Roosevelt Island in this video report from Columbia University Journalism School student Hezi Jiang.

According to Mr. Razaghi:
... Main Street has been very desolate for a  long time. There has been absolutely no commercial presence here. We're one of the very few...

... Trellis has been the only diner on Main Street Roosevelt Island for the last 17 years. I started working at Trellis when I was about 15 years old.

When you are the only diner, every family event, every union of the Islanders, comes to the diner. You become a part of their lives. ... You're not just a business any more, You're part of the Island....

...There is no comparison to what we were and what we will be. Different exteriors, different interiors, different managerial tactics, There will be different food. The sky's the limit. There's nothing to hold us back but our imagination.

My prediction of Main Street is we're going to turn into Manhattan. We're going to be a small Manhattan. It won't be anywhere near as busy but there's alot of changes happening to Roosevelt Island. If you haven't been here, you should come.

Roosevelt Island Gambles on a Brighter Future from Columbia University JSchool on Vimeo.
More from Ms. Jiang on Roosevelt Island retail from this October 2014 NY City Lens article.

As previously reported, the Trellis Diner closed for renovations last September 8. The ongoing renovations were scheduled to take 4-6 months.


CheshireKitty said...

Here's an article on the importance of diners in the US and why they are more important than ever.

CheshireKitty said...

I don't see a let-up to the march of gentrification/luxury development trend anytime soon. As long as there is chaos and disorder in the world, foreign money is going to continue to pour into NY real estate which is viewed as a safe place to park cash. Privatization along Main St will simply bring more of the rich from overseas who want a foothold in a less turbulent part of the world - they'll buy apartments as investments, never live there and then rent them out until they decide to flip them. The entire W side of Main St will go this route, and in that, Razaghi is correct - RI will become more and more like Manhattan/Brooklyn/trendier areas of NYC.

However, for RI's remaining rent regulated residents and market rate residents alike, there has to be new thinking on Main St. The streetscape really does leave a lot to be desired. Why not allow murals - street art - on some of the blank walls? On a regular City street, there is some interest with the stores - but we don't have many stores on Main St. Murals or possibly art installations in the empty store-fronts might supply some street level interest.

There are a serious lack of amenities on Main St - somewhat addressed by the new furniture at GSP. However, mostly these are usable in the warmer months.

There is no equivalent of a Starbucks on Main St. In fact, there's no equivalent north of ST.

I am wondering if H-R couldn't interest if not Starbucks then possibly a non-chain coffee shop to consider establishing an outpost either on NT Main St, then @ MP/Octagon, or possibly on the level of Motorgate that is currently shut-down - the level with the disused office - which would afford wonderful views if of course the structure was cleaned up. People coming and going by car/bus/bike could stop there for a cup of coffee or a healthy juice. Trellis was once that coffee shop or diner but it's not certain the new Trellis will be a coffee shop or diner when it re-opens. Although I'm sure Trellis will be great when it reopens, I'm not sure it will be a coffee shop or diner so there will probably still be a need for a cafe like a Starbucks somewhere on Main St north of ST even after Trellis reopens.

mjmnyc said...

I haven't seen any activity recently at Trellis. Any idea on the progress of the remodeling?

Frank Farance said...

Part of the problem might be: H-R gave permission to take out 8-foot section of structural wall, unbeknownst to building owner - big safety problem. Ongoing problem with H-R not sharing construction docs, communications problems in general with H-R in the middle, who seems to have outsourced everything: Winick for sales, and Lisa for management. The change in Trellis' plans might cause them to go back to the drawing board. I'm sorry for Trellis, but H-R just keeps screwing up on these things.

So aside from the Retail Master Lease being a problem for merchants, and thanks to Cornell (not!) supporting the high rental rates (via partnership with RIVAA gallery), we're not getting much, except for dysfunctional communications that have reached the point of safety hazards ... oh yeah, and then there is the bird poop and dog pee and everything else that H-R touches that turns to dysfunction. After several years of H-R, overall its a net loss of store fronts rented, right?

mjmnyc said...

Thanks Frank! Is there a revised timetable?

Frank Farance said...

mjmnyc: I'm not aware of Trellis' revised schedule, I wish them the best of luck!

Islanderx2 said...

I find it interesting that H-R would be responsible for the demolition and construction taking place ( not that I have any love for them). The architect and/or engineer, who drew up the plans for the renovation, should have had them approved by the NYC Building Dept. before any work was to be done. Taking down a load bearing wall doesn't seem like it was in the approved plans. There has to be more to this story.

CheshireKitty said...

Yes, this really is surprising. That's the first thing I thought too - that the plans for the proposed renovation had to have been filed with the City first in order to obtain a permit. Did the contractor then decide to rip out more of the wall than originally planned - ran it by H-R instead of the City, and then realized or was informed the section of wall now has to be replaced?

If Trellis has gone back to the drawing board, I wonder how long the redesign will take. The design process for the present design took a long time.

CheshireKitty said...

Yes - definitely good luck to Trellis! Maybe a "regular' or standard design should be considered at this point so the redesign process doesn't further delay the renovation. The longer they are closed the more money they lose. I could see reconstructing the 8-foot section of wall and then going for a low-key maybe "pub" look - with regular terrace windows opening onto the plaza. Maybe the theme could be an English pub.

Frank Farance said...

Islanderx2, problem is: H-R signed as if they were the building owner and H-R doesn't share construction documents. Thus, Yes it is possible Dept of Bldg approved plans (because someone signed as the building owner), but in fact that was not the case; AND, had H-R shared construction documents sooner and consistently, then Island House would have objected to it sooner.

Sadly for Trellis, they need to go back to the drawing board on some of this.

Just like last summer when the RIOC Board asked Kramer to nudge Trellis on renovation, Kramer explained the Trellis was delayed on completing some paperwork/permits. What Kramer didn't the RIOC Board was that H-R was dragging their feet on their part of the process, which meant Trellis couldn't get their paperwork/permits done.

So, technically, Kramer was correct that Trellis was delayed, but he didn't reveal that H-R was the entity causing the delay.

Ratso123 said...

Does anyone know the disposition of the Urgent Care Unit that was scheduled for the former location of the Thrift Shop?

Westviewer said...

That would be an appropriate design, complementing Good Shepherd and maybe taking the curse off the backless concrete benches.

CheshireKitty said...

It also has to be a lot less expensive that the custom made glass panels that would need to be fabricated for the pyramidal glass extensions of the current design.

This was an extremely exciting idea - having smoked glass pyramids extend into the street scape from the restaurant. However, now the restaurant has stood empty for quite a while - rather than go through another extended design/approval cycle, which is not the best thing for the owner of the restaurant or the restaurant patrons, a more low-key design might be in order that might not require custom fabrication. Although it isn't as creative or exciting as the original design, in the interest of finishing the renovation, the owner might want to consider a more low-key (standard) design. Yes, I agree - it would also "mesh" better with the GSCS.

Westviewer said...

There are no permits posted on the DOB's website for Trellis. (There are DOB permits on the plywood panels, so something must have been filed.) Has anyone called the DOB?

YetAnotherRIer said...

Another case of 'Closed for renovations...' but never to be reopened again?

Ratso123 said...

To those that are interested: If you go to the Department of Buildings website, and click on the BIS link. it will take you to a BIS menu. Once there, you can go to a Buildings Information Search. You then put in the address of Trellis , go to that and you will find more information, including another menu on the right hand side. You can then go to permits in-process/issued and see a list of their permits. I know this sounds convoluted, but it will get you there. You can then click on the permit number and see what it is for.