A Restaurant in ChiBeCa

The most intriguing item on Community Board 1’s May agendas—annotated rundown to follow—is a proposed restaurant in the micro-neighborhood of ChiBeCa, long a restaurant dead zone.

It’s at 79 Walker (at the southeast corner of Cortlandt Alley), formerly the site of the Art in General gallery. The building was bought in October by Caspi Development (also a partner in the 456 Greenwich hotel project) and RWN Real Estate Partners. According to Caspi’s website, the building will remain commercial, with “full-floor office suites perfectly suited for Tech and Creative companies on the upper floors and world class retail opportunities on the ground floor and in the cellar.”

There’s nothing—not even a corporate registration—online yet for the applicant, 79 Walker Street Restaurant LLC, but the quirky location would seem to be catnip for a certain kind of cool restaurateur (and a turnoff to anyone relying on foot traffic). No matter who’s behind it, residents on Walker, White, and Cortlandt Alley are likely to be concerned, given the effect a secluded alley tends to have on people who have consumed alcohol. The ground floor currently has two entrances—a front door on Walker for the entire building, and a freight entrance on Cortlandt Alley—so unless those “Tech and Creative” workers are going to share an entrance with restaurant patrons, the restaurant door might be on the alley.

And the new establishment might have company: The hotel under construction at 396 Broadway, directly across Cortlandt Alley, once planned to have a restaurant entrance on the alley, although I’m not sure whether that’s still the case.

The CB1 Licensing and Permits meeting is at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10, at the Municipal Building (19th floor). Bring ID to get inside.