Crank or Champion?

"Prince Street belongs to me. I’m sorry—it’s turf.”

Sean Sweeney, president of the Soho Alliance, was talking in late March about bike lanes. He could’ve been talking about political races. Restaurants. Condo-hotels. The thing doesn’t matter so much as the location: the blocks just below Houston. “I don’t go above 14th Street,” he said in late March. “I get hives.”

From his Greene Street loft—bought for around $100,000 in the early 1980s—Mr. Sweeney,...

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