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Feds moVe on ParKInG scoFFLaws aFter exPress InQUIrY B Y N I CO L AS F E r NA N d E S wo veh icles that reg ularly blocked the sidewalk behind the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian were moved after an inquiry was made by Downtown Express. A black Ford Excursion with a Texas license plate and a green Ford pickup from Maryland, typically parked on the Bridge St. sidewalk in front of the museum’s rear loading zone from Monday to Friday and sometimes on weekends,

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readInG the Pre-K tea LeaVes Downtown Notebook BY JOSH rOgErS I used to make fun of people who bought lottery tickets, but about four years ago I started playing occasionally when the jackpots were big. I soon learned my reason was quite common: my wife was pregnant. In the next few weeks I’ll join a few hundred thousand other parents in the city to play a different sort of lottery. The ticket is free and there’s no chance at a big payoff, but losing will cost my family too many thousands of dollars. I’m hoping to win a public, full-day pre-K slot close to home for my son. So I’ve been closely following and reporting on what the mayor and governor say about funding pre-K expansion this September with two eyes — one on how it Continued on page 16

Downtown Express photo by Scot Surbeck

HAPPY MALFUNCTION... Battery Park City’s playgrounds receive near universal praise, but sometimes accidents are even more fun. The B.P.C. Parks Conservancy ended up creating a temporary discovery area last Saturday when it drained Lily Pond because of a broken pipe. Kevin McCabe, a conservancy spokesperson, said the pond will be refilled March 27, the fish are safe and no ducks were harmed during the process.

High rent in Soho building: Is it legal? BY SAM SPOKON Y ould you like to pay $4,200 a month to live in an apartment that might actually be rent-stabilized? Probably not. In fact, you might be pretty upset with the landlord and real estate broker who tried to sell you on that deal. And that could be why the broker who was advertising two Soho apartments at market

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rate prices hastily removed those listings on the afternoon of March 24 — just hours after this newspaper started asking about claims that both units are being unlawfully deregulated from rent-stabilization. The apartments in question are units 1C and 3A of 19 Cleveland Place, a 16-unit building next to Petrosino Square — and they’re just two of a dozen units that some of the build-

ing’s longtime tenants, along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, believe have been illegally deregulated by their landlord, Fontana Realty, since the landlord took over the building in 2000. And, as has already been the case with many residential buildings across the city, the dereguContinued on page 27

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Boost for Tribeca artists in danger of losing their homes B Y SA M S P O K O N Y Fearing the demolition of their 118-year-old building as a developer now seeks to replace it, residents of 67 Vestry St. in Tribeca have mounted an effort to protect the site by calling on the city to landmark it. Developer Aby Rosen, who bought the nine-story building in 2005, filed plans in February to construct a new 11-story, 42-unit building on the site, which is located at the corner of Vestry and West Sts. And since it lies — by mere feet — outside the bounds of the Tribeca North Historic District, which was designated in 1992, it’s unlikely that the city would prevent the building from being demolished under current circumstances. But residents of the building, aside from their strong personal attachments, believe there is a solid case for it to be named a landmark, due to its pre-1900 historical and architectural significance, as well as the role it later played during the 1970s as a keystone of the Tribeca arts community. “It would be a loss for everyone, not just us, because we’re all affected when a part of the fabric of our city is lost,” said Jaime Vinas, who has lived at 67 Vestry St. for the past 20 years. The 1896 building was originally

seven stories tall, and was designed by noted architect Frederick P. Dinkelberg, who would go on, several years later, to aid Chicago’s Daniel Burnham in designing the iconic — and landmarked — Flatiron Building, according to a researched report recently compiled by Tribeca Trust, a preservationist group which is backing the residents. For years, the building served as one of the first warehouses for the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (which is now commonly known as the A&P). And although that element of the building’s history may not be widely known, the significance of such early A&P warehouses seems to be generally accepted by many experts. A similar warehouse located in Jersey City, N.J. — which was built in 1900, four years after the one at Vestry St. — was named a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1978, along with being placed on both the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. The final two stories were added to the top of the building in 1910, according to the Tribeca Trust report, and were designed by another noted architect, Frank J. Helme, who also designed Brooklyn’s Tracy Mansion, which lies within what is now the Park Slope Historic District.

Downtown Express photo by Sam Spokony

Preservation advocates hope to get landmark protection for 67 Vestry St.

Later, in the 1960s and ‘70s, the Vestry St. building began to comprise artist lofts as the arts community blossomed within Tribeca, and it later gained a legal certificate of occupancy for residential use in 1977, according to city records. During that period of time, those moving into the building included famed sculptor Marisol Escobar and multi-disciplinary artist Robert Wilson, who famously directed the composer Philip Glass’ 1976 opera “Einstein on the Beach.” (After living there for 34 years, Wilson was controversially evicted from his loft by Aby Rosen in 2007, two years after the developer bought the building and began drawing up his potential plans for it.) Ironically, in addition to his work as a developer, Rosen is also currently the chair of the New York State Council on the Arts, after being appointed to by Governor Andrew Cuomo. In fact, Rosen’s bio on the N.Y.S.C.A. website states he was given the position partially because of his “commitment to the preservation and restoration of landmark buildings.” There are still a number of artists living at 67 Vestry St. today, and they maintain strong ties to that element of the building’s history. “I’m just so proud to live here,” said Paul Pagk, a visual artist who moved into the building in 1988, when he was

26 years old. “And the idea of protecting this place is, in many ways, about recognizing those who helped make this neighborhood great, who created a community that helped start the Tribeca arts renaissance.” He and many of his fellow residents believe that losing 67 Vestry St. would just be another step toward forgetting the character of that past era, and trading it for the “generic” atmosphere of today’s high-end development. And the artists in particular have very personal connections to their studio spaces within the building, where they have painted or sculpted for so long. “If I were to see this place demolished, it would be like seeing 25 years of my life demolished,” said Pagk. Jacqueline Miro, an architect and urbanist (as well as a longtime 67 Vestry St. resident) who has worked on renovations at a number of buildings within Tribeca’s landmarked districts, also told Downtown Express that she believes 67 Vestry St. is “equal to, if not superior” to any of the neighborhood’s alreadyprotected buildings. So now, residents and Tribeca Trust have joined forces to spread their message — and effectively build support — through numerous outlets, on their way to attempting to convince the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to protect their building. The Trust on March 8 started an online petition that calls for landmarking the building, gaining 1,426 signatures by press time. The residents have created a website — weare67vestry.com — to promote the cause, as well as a Facebook group also titled “Weare67Vestry.” As a result of those efforts, they have also gained a resolution of support from Community Board 1, approved at the March 25 full board meeting, which called on L.P.C. to either individually landmark the building or include it in the North Tribeca Historic District. Meanwhile, Tribeca Trust has submitted for mal application to L.P.C. — a Request for Evaluation, or R.F.E. — which the commission will have to consider to see if they believe the site is worth protecting with landmark status. T hat R .F.E . is cu r rently bei ng rev iewed, an L.P.C. spokesperson said. Landmarks is currently headed by Robert Tier ney, a Bloomberg appointe e, although M ayor de Blasio is reportedly close to appointing a new chairperson. Rosen’s development fi rm did not respond to a request for comment.

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A GOOD KIND OF MUSIC

BREWER OFF-SCRIPT

Manhattan Beep Gale Brewer is pushing to allow community boards to “plug in” to more digital resources, but at a meeting last week with us and other community news folks, it was somewhat refreshing to see she is still not afraid to go unplugged, as in off-script. Here are two tidbits: She met with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on St. Patrick’s Day whom she was told “has been in office as long as [Assemblymember] Dick Gottfried.” Impressed with Kenny’s charm she added, “Now I love Dick Gottfried, but ‘charming’ is not…” Perhaps she would have completed the sentence had Gottfried not endorsed her in last year’s primary. Brewer also broke the classic advice from “The West Wing” to never accept the premise of a reporter’s question. She told us that she anticipated reappointing almost all community board members who did not have attendance problems, but when Carl Glassman, editor of the Tribeca Trib, asked if she would consider whether or not a member is obnoxious, she said, “We are going to look at it. Some of them in your area are very obnoxious.” But a few seconds later, she added that board members who have taken the time to understand complicated land use issues deserve a little leeway. “Maybe you can be obnoxious and know a lot about zoning.” Before any Community Board 1 members go too up in arms (or did that already happen two paragraphs ago), we’re not at all sure Brewer was singling out Board 1, and the comments at the time sounded to us more like Brewer’s to-the-point charm. We didn’t sense animus.

DECISION DAY COMING TO SOUTHBRIDGE

After past false starts and years of back-and-forth discussions with the state, it’s starting to look like the long debate over the privatization of Southbridge Towers could come to a vote as early as June. The 1,651-unit complex has been part

Photo courtesy of Manhattan Borough President’s office

Gale Brewer met with community newspapers last week.

of the state’s Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program for all of its 53 years. Leaving the program would allow residents to sell their apartments at market rate or use it as a borrowing asset, potentially yielding profits of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Going private would require a twothirds majority vote — but before that can take place, the state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman must approve the printing of a “black book” that will be submitted to the residents, listing all of the elements of privatization. Since 2009, Southbridge’s board of directors, which is the official sponsor of the current push to privatize, has been revising the plan based on the attorney general’s past decisions that various risks of privatization — including the possibility of city and state property transfer taxes totaling up to $30 million — were not being fully explained. However, those kinks seem to have been worked out, and approval of the black book now seems to be imminent. The Southbridge board’s plan received an acceptance letter from the attorney general’s office on March 4, with only a few minor clarifications needed before the A.G. signs off on the printing of the book, according to a report sent to residents by Wally Dimson, the board president. Dimson’s report stated that the board is “hopeful” that the plan will be put to vote on June 8, 9 and 10. And sources on the other side of privatization agree a June vote is likely. Once the book is approved, the pro-

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cess requires an informational meeting at which residents can discuss it, after which a month must go by before a vote can take place. Southbridge’s board is not allowed, by law, to discuss the plan publicly before it’s actually approved and printed.

If you happen to see Tom Goodkind around Battery Park City or at a community board meeting, we highly recommend asking him for a copy his band’s new album. Along with being a C.B. 1 member and working one of those boring day jobs, Goodkind — an ex-punk rocker — still kindles the musical flame as conductor of the TriBattery Pops, an orchestra made up Downtown residents. The B.P.C. resident passed out some free copies of his group’s new release, “Pops Art,” at C.B. 1’s March 25 full board meeting, and we were lucky enough to take one home. The album features some great interpretations of quality pieces by the composers Philip Glass, Charles Ives and Karel Husa, along with two originals by Goodkind himself (one of which is rather interestingly avant-garde exploration called “Superstorm Sandy,” which recreates the chaos and confusion of the storm with the help of some spoken word by the maestro’s daughter and her friends). So check it out! And if you’re really up for something fun, go on Youtube and search for a band called The Washington Squares. You might find within that group a young folkpunk musician, circa 1985, who just, um, happens to look like Tom Goodkind...

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March 27 - April 9, 2014

TRIBECA BURGLARIES

Two Tribeca restaurants were recently hit with overnight burglaries, police said. The first took place at Little Italy Pizza, 11 Park Place, sometime between the evening of March 21 and the morning of March 22, according to the business owner. The burglar clipped the restaurant’s front gate and then broke in through the front door, making off with a $1,500 Dell laptop computer and $300 in cash from the register, police said. Video surveillance footage showed the burglar to be a white Hispanic male, around 5-foot-11, according to report, but police canvasses have so far come up negative. The next incident took place inside Los Americanos, at 305 Church St., sometime between the evening of March 23 and the morning of March 24, police said. An employee told cops that when he walked in that morning he noticed that the door to the restaurant’s basement office was already open, and he then realized that the business’ safe — containing $4,000 in cash — had been stolen. Three business-related documents were also missing, according to the employee. Upon investigating, cops saw that whoever burgled the goods had covered their tracks by placing a piece of clothing over the basement office’s security camera, leaving investigators with no video footage of the crime. There were no signs of forced entry to either the basement door or the restaurant’s main door, so it looked as though someone had picked the locks, police said.

MORE BURGLARIES

Another Tribeca burglary took place in a drug store early on March 16 — but there were no questions about how the thief got inside for that one, according to police. Video footage taken from the Prime Essentials drug store, at 345 Broadway, showed a man using a piece of metal pipe to

smash the bottom of the shop’s glass front door around 1:30 a.m., police said. The burglar then kicked out the rest of the lower portion of the glass and crawled inside, after which he jumped over a counter and hit three cash registers, according to the footage. The perp made off with a total of $540 before fleeing the scene and running north on Broadway, and he has still not been identified although an investigation is ongoing, police said.

CAR BREAK-IN

A brazen thief stole a laptop by breaking into a car parked near City Hall on March 19, police said. The victim, 37, told cops he parked his 2012 Mercedes Benz on Barclay St., between Broadway and Church St., around 6:30 p.m. When he returned an hour later, he saw that his rear driver’s side window was smashed out, and the MacBook Air he’d left on the back seat was gone. There were no witnesses, police said.

THIEVES TAKE THE A TRAIN

Sometimes, it only takes one subway stop for a thief to strike — and that’s what one woman learned after her wallet was snatched during a short trip on the A train on March 24. The woman, 33, told cops that she boarded the southbound train at Chambers St. around 6:30 p.m., and noticed along ride that someone was touching her handbag. When she got off at Fulton St. and walked out of the station, she then realized that her bag had in fact been unzipped, and the wallet — containing her debit and credit cards and her driver’s license — was gone. And prior to that more recent theft, riders were also targeted by sneaky thieves while taking the A train past the Canal St. station — but one of the suspects was

caught and arrested, police said. One incident was on March 7, which took place after a woman initially got on a northbound train at Jay St. in Brooklyn, heading back to her home in Harlem. She told cops that she’d sat down and placed her purse on her lap — and once the train reached Canal St., she felt a tug on the bag, although she never actually saw anyone rifle through it. It was only when she exited the train at W. 145th St. that she realized that her wallet — containing her debit card, her daughter’s Social Security card, her work payroll check for $871 and another $20 in cash — was gone. The woman told cops that she later learned from her employer that the payroll check was cashed by an unauthorized person on March 17. The next incident took place on March 12, when another woman got on a southbound A train at W. 42nd St., police said. During the ride, she was holding her cell phone and texting — and as the train pulled into Canal St. and the doors opened, a 17-year-old male reportedly snatched the phone, dashed out and jumped onto an E train that had just arrived across the platform, police said. But the victim, aided by two bystanders — a young man and woman — chased the teen onto the other train, where they were able to corner him and alert transit employees of the crime. Moments later, the incident was reported to police, and the suspect was apprehended at the next stop. He was charged with grand larceny.

GYM LOCKER THEFT

A woman lost her pricey purse to a sneaky thief after leaving her open gym locker unattended at a Financial District gym on March 19, police said. The victim, 26, told cops she finished her workout at Equinox, located at 14 Wall St., around 6:15 p.m., after which she returned to the locker room. After opening the locker, which contained the $1,500 leather purse, she went to the bathroom — but left the belongings unlocked. When she came back minutes later, the purse — containing her

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iPad, Blackberry, debit card, Louis Vuitton makeup bag and various makeup items — was gone, with no sign of the thief.

JEWEL BURGLAR

A burglar hit a Tribeca jewelry store overnight between March 13 and 14 and made off with nearly $20,000 worth of merchandise — and it may have been due to a faulty door, police said. The owner of Cass Lilien jewelry, at 24 Harrison St., discovered the crime after opening up the store — which sits below three stories of residential units — around noon on March 14. Nine items — including a $15,000 bangle, necklaces and other pieces — were gone, she told cops. The woman also said that both her store’s front door and the door to the rest of the building were locked when she arrived, and police who responded to the scene said there were no signs of forced entry. But during the investigation, residents of the building told police that the building’s main door “doesn’t always close properly.” Cops said they dusted for fingerprints at the scene but couldn’t make any identification, and no video is available from the store itself, although they may be able to use footage from a camera located outside a building across the street.

UNATTENDED BAG WOES

One woman had to learn the hard way about the dangers of leaving property unattended, after her wallet was reportedly stolen from a Financial District bar on March 15. The victim, 24, told cops that she was was having a drink inside Ulysses’, at 59 Pearl St., around 4 p.m., and had placed her handbag on top of the bar. She later got up to use the bathroom, but left the bag behind, and when she returned minutes later, she found that the wallet — containing her debit and credit cards and Social Security card, among other items — had been snatched up. There were no witnesses, and no descriptions of a suspect, police said.

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8 Spruce St., scene of the alleged crime.

Thieves sweet-talk teen, then take jewelry, police say B Y SA M S P O K O N Y Here’s one way to be welcomed home after a weekend away with your husband — your daughter let an alleged felon and gang member come over, and he and his pals stole your jewelry. That was apparently the case at a posh, 30th-floor apartment in the iconic 8 Spruce St. tower on Sunday night, March 16, when police say Jamar Allah, 21, teamed up with five others to prey on the mistaken hospitality of the 19-yearold woman, making off with more than $36,000 worth of diamond and gold rings, necklaces, watches and other items, police said. But Allah, who’s currently on trial for multiple charges of gang assault and weapons possession stemming from a September 2013 attack, will have to face the music all over again. He was arrested on Wednesday afternoon, March 19 in connection with the theft, police said — the same day he was supposed to appear for his latest court date. The young woman told cops that this all started after she’d met Allah at her job, where the alleged felon may have recently gained employment after posting bond and being released from police custody following his previous court date on Feb. 26, according to court records. Once he found out where she and her parents lived, Allah told the 19-year-old he wanted to come over to the apartment and

“visit,” according to her explanations to police. So she reportedly agreed and let him come over to the Spruce St. home on Sunday — but was shocked when he showed up, around 10 p.m., alongside five other men whom she’d never seen before. The group of men lingered there for six hours, according to the young woman’s account of the incident, leaving her feeling “scared and uneasy” until they finally decided to leave around 4 a.m. Fearing theft, she reportedly tried to take some action by asking Allah to open up his backpack before he and his cronies left the scene. But they refused to let her search the bag, and instead simply turned and walked out, police said. It was later on Monday, around 6:30 p.m., when the 19-year-old’s parents returned home, and her mother immediately saw that her dresser drawer had been “tampered with,” according to the police report. Moments later, she realized that the 30 pieces of her jewelry were gone. It was unclear exactly how and where cops apprehended Allah on Wednesday, but since the teen had given his name to police last Monday, it seemed like only a matter of time until he ended up in cuffs. And now that he’s back in police custody, Allah will face yet another felony charge — this time it’ll be grand larceny. But his five alleged accomplices remain unidentified, police said.

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March 27 - April 9, 2014

Police set Wall Street’s ‘Charging Bull’ free B Y J O SEP H M . C A LIS I The cage surrounding the famed and iconic Wall Street Bull was removed March 25. The famous Charging Bull statue by Italian artist Arturo DiModica, stands alone, albeit with uniformed New York City Police standing watch at Bowling Green. The two-year long struggle to remove the barricades under the command of former police Commissioner Ray Kelly, has been won, apparently under orders of his successor, William Bratton. This year is the 25th anniversary of the arrival of the statue, and the removal of the barricades has been hailed a wonderful way to begin the 25th anniversary celebration. Arthur Piccolo, chairperson of the Bowling Green Association, said, “I am so proud we finally have a mayor in Bill de Blasio that all New Yorkers and especially Italians can be proud.” He added, “What was done to this great work of sculpture by Italian artist Arturo DiModica … by the last administration is a disgrace that cannot be justified.” The N.Y.P.D. put up the barricades in 2011 after the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations began, citing security concerns that someone would do it harm.

Downtown Express photo by Joseph M. Calisi

The barricades that surrounded “Charging Bull” for over two years were gone March 25.

Once pressed, feds clear sidewalk for walkers Continued from page 1

forcing pedestrians to step into the street to go around the trucks, said Gustavo Suarez, a neighborhood resident. “It does not matter if I go by at 6 a.m. or 8 or 9 a.m. — it’s the same thing,” Suarez said. The vehicles indeed were blocking the way when Downtown Express visited the site March 18. Suarez had seen the trucks since July, when he started walking his dog in the neighborhood. After a few weeks of seeing them, he asked the museum guards why they were always there and they said they did not know. After another few weeks, he filed a complaint to 311. They told him that police did not see any vehicles parked on the sidewalk, but since it was not an emergency, the police could have waited until evening to check the location. Suarez also notified the First Precinct through their community web channel, but never received a response. He then complained to 311 a second time, but never heard from them again. His partner also reported it to 311 and never got a response. “No one should have the right to commandeer public property in this way all the more in an area that is increasingly residential,” he said.  “Bad enough I have to step around them daily on the street with my dog.  What about someone with an infant in a stroller or carriage or someone that is disabled?” The Excursion’s dashboard had a temporary parking permit issued by the U.S. General Services Administration, which

Downtown Express photo by Nicolas Fernandes

These vehicles were still blocking the sidewalk March 18 before Downtown Express called to find out why.

manages federal office buildings, but the pickup had no permit or parking sticker. Renee Miscione, G.S.A.’s spokesperson, told Downtown Express March 20 that, “We are going to alert the guards to keep an eye on any vehicles that are parked there for a long

period of time.” On March 25, the trucks were gone. “This morning I walked my dog when I got home from the airport,” Suarez wrote in an email to Downtown Express.  “For the first time in 9 months on a week day— with

virtually no exceptions — no trucks were blocking the sidewalk.  Amazing! “It is a great illustration of the critical role community newspapers play in addressing local issues that would otherwise be ignored.”


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Developer moves on Hudson Square & Tribeca properties B Y SA M S P O K O N Y Last month, saw the first proposal for affordable housing within the new Hudson Square Special District, when Extell brought its plans for 68 Charlton St. to Community Board 2. The developer has applied for an inclusionary housing bonus — offered within Hudson Square as part of its rezoning last year — which will allow them to build higher than zoning regs typically allow as of right, in exchange for including those affordable units (in Extell’s case, 25 of them) along with luxury units. Now it looks like another big developer, Related Companies, is taking advantage of the same kind of bonus — but they’re proposing to do it through a site that lies just outside the special district. The site is 261 Hudson St. (by the corner of Dominick St.), where Related demolished a one-story building last year to make way for a future 12-story residential building. Although no construction has yet begun, that building is currently planned to include a total of 201 apartments — 160 market rate and 41 affordable — according to a spokesperson for the developer.

Along with getting a 421a tax break, since the building would be 20 percent affordable, Related has also submitted an inclusionary housing application to the city in order to get a big floor area bonus, according to a spokesperson for the Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development, the city agency which handles the inclusionary program. Since the site lies outside the rezoned

St., and while it’s not yet clear exactly how big those units will be, it’ll be tens of thousands of square feet that could eventually be tacked onto some mega luxury development nearby, or perhaps split up among multiple sites. Related presented its plans for 261 Hudson St. to C.B. 2’s Land Use Committee on March 12, but no vote was taken because, as committee chairperson Tobi

Related Companies looks north and south of Canal St. Hudson Square district — in fact, it’s just across the street from the boundary line, in a separate zoning district that doesn’t allow inclusionary housing — that bonus can’t be used at 261 Hudson St. Instead, Related would be able to transfer or sell the bonus to a nearby site, most likely within Hudson Square. That bonus would be equivalent to the total square footage of the 41 affordable units at 261 Hudson

Bergman said afterwards, there were some “unresolved discussions” that will have to be continued at the committee’s meeting next month. Since then, the developer has not responded questions about their plans for using the bonus, if it’s approved by the city. In any case, that possibility of a sizable floor area bonus to be transferred or sold within Hudson Square is certainly

something worth keeping an eye on, especially as the new district continues to draw attention from big developers in the coming years. “Related are the masters of working the system,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which has opposed many Downtown development projects. “They definitely know how to work the system to get to the maximum advantage.” Meanwhile, Related made a big purchase two weeks ago just south of Hudson Square, in Tribeca. The developer bought six parcels — 264-270 West St. and 3335 Desbrosses St. — from their longtime owner, Ponte Equities, for a total of $115.3 million, according to city records. Real estate publications have reported that those buildings, which lie just a few blocks below Canal St., have at least 171,000 square feet of development rights, although “insiders” cited in The Real Deal said the true air rights could be greater than that. Related has not yet filed any new demolition or construction plans with the city for those lots, but new development there could be coming soon.

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March 27 - April 9, 2014

Push to extend Rockaway ferry service to summer weekends B Y SA M S P O K O N Y A group of Queens residents are calling on the city to continue a ferry service linking the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan, and to expand it to include weekend service this summer. The Rockaway Ferry, which was launched by the city in November 2012 as an emergency transportation measure after Hurricane Sandy damaged the A train subway serving southern Queens, has grown to become a key fixture in the recovery of that waterfront area, which was devastated by the storm. Now operated by the Seastreak ferry company, the city has extended the temporary service four times in response to the high demand that has seen it carry more than 200,000 passengers since it began. The service, which costs $3.50 per trip, runs from Beach 108th St. in the Rockaways to Manhattan’s Pier 11 near South and Wall Sts., with a stop in between at Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. Along with providing a more scenic route, the

ferry’s 45-minute trip, from start to finish, is twice as fast as the now-repaired A train’s average of 90 minutes for the same journey. Mayor Bill de Blasio most recently announced an extension of the service shortly after taking office in January, agreeing to keep it going through April 31. The mayor also provided an option to additionally extend it until August, pending responses to a Request for Proposals, or R.F.P., issued in February by the city’s Economic Development Corporation in order to determine the potential for longterm operation. Hank Iori, a Queens resident and president of the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association, which has advocated for continued ferry service said he believes it will in fact continue, not only up to August but through the summer. “We’ve gotten some promising comments from the mayor’s office that it’ll be extended into the summer, so we feel that it’s very likely it will keep going,”

Iori told Downtown Express. A spokesperson for the mayor said his administration is currently reviewing the viability of such continued service. But a key issue now, for Iori and his group, is the fact that the ferry currently only operates on weekdays — and the R.F.P. put out by the city only required proposals for weekday service. The Queens residents are calling for weekend Rockaway Ferry service this summer — from May 31 to Sept. 7 — asserting it will further aid in post-Sandy revitalization of their beaches and local businesses, as well as those in Lower Manhattan (minus the beaches), like the still-recovering shops and eateries around the South Street Seaport. “I feel like many people in Lower Manhattan aren’t yet aware that this ferry even exists, but it’s such a mutually beneficial service for our communities, and weekend service would make that connection even stronger,” said Iori, adding that, along with the obvi-

ous weekday use for commuting to work, many of his neighbors already utilize the ferry just to come to Manhattan for dinner on a weekday evening. “[Weekend service] would definitely improve commerce and tourism,” he said, “and it’ll really help to show the world that we’re back after the storm, growing bigger, better and stronger, through collaboration and creative thinking.” An online petition created by the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association, urging the mayor to include weekend service, gained 1,463 signatures as of press time — the vast majority from southern Queens residents, but also some from those in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. In her response to a question about the potential for weekend service, the de Blasio spokesperson didn’t directly comment on that issue. But an E.D.C. spokesperson said the city is aware of the residents’ petition.

9/11 Museum to open in May The 9/11 Memorial Museum officially opens May 21, but a week before that, there will be a special preview period allowing 9/11 family members, rescue and recovery workers, local residents and business owners (below Canal St.) and other stakeholders to get free access to tour the museum. The special dedication period will take place from May 15 to May 20, and requires ticket reservations that can be secured by visiting 911memorial.org/dedication. During that time, the museum will be open 24 hours a day to those with reservations. The preview is also open to active-duty first responders whose agencies lost members in the 9/11 attacks, as well as rescue and recovery volunteers and survivors of the attacks. Speaking at Community Board 1’s full board meeting on March 25, Museum President Joe Daniels said the preview to the community is “our tribute to the men and women who were involved in rescue and recovery efforts, as well as the Lower

Manhattan businesses and residents who helped sustain those workers.” Those who reserve tickets for that pre-opening dedication can also enter a lottery, through the same website, for the chance to attend a limited-access ceremony that will kick off the preview period on May 15. The museum also announced on March 26 that media giant Conde Nast will sponsor free admission for all visitors on its official May 21 public opening. That sponsorship precedes the media company’s moving of its headquarters into One World Trade Center, where it will become the tower’s corporate anchor tenant. After that initial day of free admission, tickets to the museum will cost $24, according to previous announcements. But there will also be a brief no-charge period each week, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday evenings. Photo courtesy of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum

—Sam Spokony

Working on the 9/11 Museum.

A talk about getting rid of Downtown rats The Department of Health’s “NYC Rodent Academy” will hold a training session on how to safely and effectively manage rats and mice on a property or in the neighborhood at Independence Plaza on Thursday, April 17, from 6 to 8 p.m., 310 Greenwich St. The session is for anyone with rodents or excessive garbage in their area. It is free and open to building or business owners, managers, supers, and residents. The session is organized by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilmember Margaret Chin, State Sen.r Daniel Squadron, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick, and Manhattan Community Board 1 Registration is required. Contact Community Board 1 at man01@cb.nyc.gov. For more information about rat management, visit nyc.gov/rats.


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March 27 - April 9, 2014

Treasures of family histories at National Archives Center

let’s do something together at TRINITY WALL STREET

All Are Welcome All events are free, unless noted. 212.602.0800

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TRINITY CHURCH Broadway at Wall Street 74 TRINITY PLACE is located in the office building behind Trinity Church

ST. PAUL’S CHAPEL Broadway and Fulton Street CHARLOTTE’S PLACE 107 Greenwich Street btwn Rector & Carlisle Streets The Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, Rector The Rev. Canon Anne Mallonee, Vicar

an Episcopal parish in the city of New York

The National Archives and Records’ New York office is at Bowling Green.

trove of genealogy information, with immigration records for the Port of New York including Castle Garden and Ellis Island. So many immigrants, from so many places, settled in the city and metro area. The office holds naturalization records with photos and personal details found nowhere else,” The Archives, located at One Bowling Green, is a federal agency that keeps public records and provides genealogy research. It is the holder of federal records from New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands dating back to 1685. Anyone who can identify what specific

music SUNDAY, MARCH 30, 5pm Lamentatio NOVUS NY, conducted by Julian Wachner, performs music by Peter Togni, Philip Glass, and Dmitri Shostakovich. Tickets $25 at trinitywallstreet.org/lamentatio. Trinity Church

community SUNDAYS IN LENT, 12-5pm MARCH 30 AND APRIL 6 Lenten Labyrinth Walks Come walk the St. Paul’s Chapel labyrinth during Lent. Orientations on: March 16 & 30 at 1:30pm St. Paul’s Chapel SUNDAY, MARCH 30, 1:30-3pm Film Screening: Homage to Chagall All are welcome to this Trinity Visual Arts Committe sponsored film screening. The New York Times called Homage to Chagall “an affectionate and visually beautiful celebration of both the man and his art.” Charlotte’s Place

records they want can order copies online. Volunteers are available for those who need help locating records or researching a specific person. Performing research is free, but certain fees do apply. The organization charges $0.60 for microfilm copies, $0.80 for staff made copies, $15 for certifications, $10 for naturalization records, and $25 for certified naturalization records.  The Archives originated in Washington D.C. in 1935 and has since expanded to over 40 locations. The Washington D.C. branch is the holder of government documents such

FRIDAY, MARCH 28, 6pm Family Friday Yoga and Veggie Night Practice with your children in this familyfocused yoga class! As kids discover the foundations of yoga, adults can stretch away their stresses from the week. Charlotte’s Place SUNDAY, MARCH 30, 5pm The Family Table A guided family supper for families with preschool and elementary age children, of any or no religious affiliation, seeking a spacious spiritual dimension to their family lives. Registration required. $25 per family. Contact (212) 602-9622 or trinityfamily@trinitywallstreet.org 74 Trinity Place WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2, 10am Little Songsters A chance for caregiver (mom, dad, or babysitter) to bond with their 6-8 month old child while learning music together. Limit 15 babies. Register by emailing trinityfamily@trinitywallstreet.org. Charlotte’s Place

as the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. The New York branch has more than 140,000 cubic feet of records specifically immigrant, naturalization, court, and National Park service records. The welcome center features two rooms that display famous records in glass cases. These include a photo of refugees registering for the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Camp, Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov’s petition of naturalization, and Dean Martin’s bankruptcy petition.  The research center has computers and collections of photos, drawings, textual records, and sound and video recordings for genealogy research. “I was extremely impressed at how organized and efficient the archives are, and how knowledgeable and helpful the staff were,” said Scottish painter Michael Miller. “The research room is also a great environment in which to work,” Miller is participating in the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Visiting Artist Program. He is developing a series of paintings of Allied ships between the first and second world wars and visited the Archives to research images of ships under construction and being camouflaged at the yard. NARA hosts a monthly Finding Family event, which always features different guest speakers and discussion topics. The Archives is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and one Saturday each month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

worship SUNDAY, 8am & 10am St. Paul’s Chapel · Holy Eucharist 8pm · Compline by Candlelight SUNDAY, 9am & 11:15am Trinity Church · Preaching, music, and Eucharist · Sunday school and child care available MONDAY—FRIDAY, 12:05pm Trinity Church · Holy Eucharist MONDAY—FRIDAY, 5:15pm All Saints’ Chapel, in Trinity Church Evening Prayer Watch online webcast

Leah Reddy

B y N icolas F e r nan d es  After visiting the National Archives and Records Administration in Lower Manhattan, an Italian couple found out that the husband’s grandfather returned to Italy after his arrival in America, so he could get married and bring his wife back to the states. Volunteer Heather Morrison helped the couple by finding the ship manifests and photos for the trips that Angelo, the man’s grandfather, took between Italy and America. They found that he came alone on the first trip and came back with a wife on the second. They also discovered that he began citizenship process when he first came to America, but did not complete it until after coming back. “The couple was excited to leave with a lot more information on the grandfather than they had previously,” Morrison said.   Morrison also helped a woman who had a family heirloom from her aunt’s husband. She knew that he was previously married and wanted to return it to the children from that marriage. They discovered that the daughter was deceased, but found the obituary, which mentioned survivors. She decided to write to one of the survivors and send him the heirloom. Chris Gushman, director of archival operations in New York, said, “Many researchers begin their experience at the National Archives through family history research. The New York office is a particularly rich


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March 27 - April 9, 2014

Get ready to look both ways at Chambers St. again B Y Z A C H W IL L IA MS Two-way traffic on Chambers St. will resume as far east as West Broadway in April as the four-year overhaul of the street continues to move forward. Drivers will have to wait until autumn at the earliest for full access to return to the remaining segment of the project which runs on Chambers from Church St. to Broadway. Construction meanwhile will continue on the final two stages of the more than $24 million effort to improve the street between West St. and Broadway. While unseen delays are plausible, a city official told Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee on March 12 that numerous targets will be reached next month such as the completion of work at the intersection of West Broadway and Chambers St. as well as the installation of bus pads on the latter east to Broadway. Despite an earlier extension of the project beyond an original 2013 end date,

it could finish earlier than a Nov. 26 deadline, according to Shah Jaromi, director of infrastructure-Manhattan for the city’s Dept. of Design and Construction. “We are anticipating (completion) by the end of this year,” he told the committee, adding that work could finish by September. Among tasks still to be done are final paving between West Broadway and Broadway, utility work, water main installation and the relocation of communication facilities, he said during a presentation to the committee. Workers have also addressed issues with traffic signals, water drainage, and pedestrian traffic in addition to reconstructing the street itself. Updating water mains for the 21st century is what initially motivated the city to begin the project in 2010, Jaromi said. “These (water) mains are 135 years old,” he said.

CURRENT UNDERGROUND WORK Utility Work and Water Main Installation Continues

Photo courtesy of the city Dept. of Design and Construction.

Downtown Express photo by Sam Spokony

Photo of Chambers St. work that was part of the city’s presentation to Community Board 1 March 12, left. Sometime in April, two-way traffic will be returning to much of Chambers St. RECONSTRUCTION OF CHAMBERS STREET Project ID: HWMWTCA6B

South side of Chambers St between Broadway and Church St

As Hudson St. work continues, city’s eye turns to Worth B Y Z A C H W IL L IA MS Tribeca residents accustomed since 2010 to the noise and inconveniences of ongoing construction on Hudson St. may get some relief sooner rather than later. The Hudson Street Project — which includes work on N. Moore and Franklin St. — will finish by next year ahead of an original 2016 deadline, according to the N.Y.C. Department of Design and Construction which oversees the effort. As traffic congestion caused by the $59.5 million project begins to ease, plans are underway for a separate undertaking on Worth St. which will also seek to update antiquated water mains in order to keep municipal infrastructure apace with the growing Tribeca community. Shah Jaromi, who oversees construction in Lower Manhattan for the department, explained the difficulty of updating water mains that can dip hundreds of feet into Lower

Manhattan bedrock past “interferences” such as electrical, sewer and telecommunications lines, “Production can be as low as 10 feet per day,” he said as an example of the tediousness of the work during a presentation at the March 12 meeting of the C.B.1 Tribeca Committee Installation of water mains, a 10-inch sewer line and “continuing capital and utility work” on Hudson St. between Leonard and Worth Sts. is expected to finish by the end of April, one of several examples of progress made, despite such obstacles, cited during the presentation. He said the N.Y.P.D. has been asked to assist in an effort to minimize as much as possible additional traffic disruptions such as those caused by delivery trucks operating in an area already prone to serious congestion. “All of a sudden you see two lanes become one lane,” he said of the situation arising

from double-parked Federal Express and U.P.S. trucks. Work though remains to be done, and delays can arise unexpectedly even as the project enters its final stages, department representatives have emphasized. Excavations on the eastern side of the intersection of Hudson and Franklin Sts. were completed last month. The reopening of through traffic at the intersection followed the installment of temporary pavement over the new water main, utility pipes and other structures there. Spring will bring further progress as work on the east side of Hudson St. between N. Moore and Worth Sts. should conclude by May. Construction on the west side of Hudson St. as well as the intersection of Hudson and N. Moore Sts. meanwhile will finish by September. The final cobblestone restoration on the latter is planned for October. The project is part of a broader undertaking

by the city to update the water system in Lower Manhattan, including on Chambers St. where a four-year rehabilitation costing in excess of $24 million will likely finish this fall. At that time, the city will have more details about the expected Worth St. project, Jaromi said. Electrical lines running underground in the area from a telecommunications building at 60 Hudson St. led one participant at the meeting to express concern to Jaromi that this next project could become entangled by unforeseen difficulties and delays. Jaromi responded by noting that it is still too early to accurately comment on how construction conditions on Worth St. would disrupt the daily flow of life for residents. He added that he will return in the autumn to update the committee on the matter. “It’s going through it’s final design stage,” he said of the current status of the Worth St. project.


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March 27 - April 9, 2014

TRANSIT SAM THURS., MARCH 27 – WED., APRIL 2 ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING RULES ARE IN EFFECT ALL WEEK Thursday night traffic turbulence getting to Lower Manhattan once again. Under the Hudson River, the Lincoln Tunnel’s south tube to New York will close 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday, sending inbound traffic south to the Holland Tunnel. No easygoing there either, since one New York-bound lane will close during the same hours. Heading in across the East River? All Manhattan-bound lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge will close 11 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday. That means drivers will take the Manhattan or Williamsburg bridges instead, and traffic will be heavy on Canal and Delancey Sts. On West Street/Route 9A between West Thames and Barclay Sts., one northbound lane will close 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Thursday, Monday,

Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. One southbound lane will close 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays and 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Thursday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. Two northbound lanes will close 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. weeknights and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Two southbound lanes will close midnight to 5 a.m. weeknights and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Rector St. will close between Greenwich and Washington Sts. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Rector will also close between Washington and West Sts. 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Fulton St. will close between Broadway and Nassau St. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. In Soho, Mulberry St. will close between Prince and Jersey Sts. and between Jersey and East Houston Sts. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Jersey St. will close between Lafayette and Mulberry Sts. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Bleecker

St. will close between Mulberry and Mott Sts., and between Mulberry and Lafayette Sts. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Mott and Mulberry Sts. will close between Bleecker and East Houston Sts. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

FROM THE MAILBAG: Dear Transit Sam, I got a parking ticket recently on a residential street where there was a No Parking 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. sign. I have 2 questions: 1. There was only one sign, hidden behind a tree, not so visible, and no second sign where the restriction should end. Is this a valid defense? 2. The ticket was signed only with two letters, like initials, not even one full name. Is this ticket valid? Dave, New York

Dear Dave, The first point might be a supportable defense, but keep this in mind: only one sign is needed to cover an entire block, and that sign is in effect to the next posted sign or the corner of the block. That means there doesn’t need to be a second sign to show the restriction has ended. To try the “one posted sign, not visible’ defense”: submit photos of the entire block, corner to corner, including the address where you parked, as well as photos of all signs on the street (front and back) and the signs showing the street name. Most likely, if you convince the judge, you’ll get a reduced fine. As for signing with initials, everyone signs their name differently. You probably won’t be able to argue the signature successfully. Transit Sam Email your traffic and transit questions to transitsam@downtownexpress.com.

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March 27 - April 9, 2014

Activists create their own Tribeca ‘Slow Zone’ with makeshift signs BY SAM SPOKONY For some people, Slow Zones can’t come fast enough. A street safety advocacy group went guerilla on March 15 and 16, posting signs advocating for 20 milesperhour speed limits in neighborhoods within Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens whose requests for additional traffic safety measures have been denied by the city. Several of the “20 is Plenty” signs, created by the group Right of Way, were posted in Tribeca, along Greenwich St. Organizers of the direct action said they want Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Transportation to move faster on de Blasio’s pledge — as part of his “Vision Zero” initiative to cut down on pedestrian and cyclist traffic deaths — to expedite and expand the Neighborhood Slow Zone program, which would lower the speed limit and install speed bumps or other traffic calming measures in approved Slow Zone areas. The outgoing Bloomberg administration rejected many Slow Zone applications last year, including some proposed for Tribeca and Battery Park City (outside P.S./ I.S. 276), as well as others in the West and East Village (where Right of Way also placed several of its signs). “We’re not trying to turn people against D.O.T.,”Keegan Stephan, a Right of Way organizer, said in a March 17 phone interview. “We’re just applying some pressure to try to make both the politicians and local communities act faster to support the Slow Zone effort Although the signs were taken down by the city within days of being posted, they sparked a buzz in media coverage and comments from community members that made the effort worthwhile, according to the advocates. “The response [was] extraordinarily positive,” said Stephen

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Stuy teens connect to help market profitable toy By Zach Williams Students at Stuyvesant High School are heavily invested in the design, manufacture and marketing of an innovative puzzle collection called Flip ‘N’ Check which is now stocked by Downtown merchants and others along the Eastern Seaboard. The students are not alone though in the enterprise which started three years ago with a collaboration among students, Pam Chmiel, the co-founder of the non-profit Teen Entrepreneur Boot Camp, and Dr. Howard Wexlar, a toy industry leader best known for inventing the popular board game Connect Four. Their products make puzzles such as crosswords and mazes reusable by using a dry erase pen on transparent sheets which allow answer checking after flipping the game page. A direct involvement in readying it for commercial distribution is what has attracted about 70 students to volunteer for the start-up. “After hearing about this I really wanted to get involved,” said LeSi Qu, a junior at the elite public high school in Battery Park City. “It seemed like a good way to explore aspects of the real world.” While the original inspiration for the product emerged 30 years ago, its inventor says it would have never have come so far without the students. “I gave them my invention and the kids developed it under our guidance,” said Wexlar, a Lower East Side resident who also invented more than 120 consumer products. Since then, local professionals and school children alike have also made contributions of their own to the company which seeks to instill among the Stuyvesant High teens a business sense beyond making a quick buck. “The whole purpose of this program is to teach how a business operates,” said Chmiel, a Lower Manhattan resident who owned the former Klatch coffee bar in FiDi. Several dozen students take part through a course at the school while a core group of about ten participants also toil after school and during vacations. All proceeds are reinvested in the business which operates officially as a 501(c) non-profit, Chmiel said. The students meet with potential clients, brainstorm design improvements and run a growing online presence. “My brother wants to start his own business and wants me to help him so I thought through this program I could,” said Qu. Through a process of feedback and refinement, students helped further develop the toy into its current format, including an expansion into additional versions and an initial manufacture of 2,000 copies at a factory in Guangdong, China. The puzzle sells for $7 per unit at wholesale prices, $14 retail. The students have rubbed elbows with Goldman Sachs financiers, Walmart executives, and industry insiders at the recent International Toy Fair held at the Javits Convention Center in February. A Financial District law firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft, worked pro bono to help the teens secure a trademark.

Chmiel said she has learned along with the students how to make the product a reality through an understanding of international shipping and manufacturing processes. “What I’ve learned is so important that I want them to go through this whole process,” she said. Wexlar — who at 76 years-old remains active in the enterprise — has assumed a senior advisory role to the students’ company, counseling both Chmiel and them as distribution expands. He expressed concerns though that the business may be too dependent on Chmiel, potentially undermining the role of the students. She said she works long hours on the projects in hopes that future profits will eventually allow students to further consolidate their involvement outside the classroom where a core group primarily contribute. If successful, the program could expand to additional schools, she added. “It is a very challenging program to keep it hands on,” she said. Local book and toy shops have been among the first to stock Flip ‘N’ Check. A December event at Tribeca’s Barnes & Noble bookstore on Warren allowed the students to showcase the product to local families. Other area shops such as Boomerang Toys and HomsBoms Toys now carry it, among about two dozen stores overall according to Chmiel. Feedback from such merchants has led to the creation of point of sale displays and a snappier name for what was originally called Correct Me If I’m Wrong. Local school children meanwhile have participated in focus groups offering their own unique perspective. It‘s an age group which the teen entrepreneurs often have little interaction with as long commutes, academics and college applications dominate their current lives. “They’re really curious and like to be hands-on,” Qu said of the children who participated in one focus group. Furthering childhood intellectual development through toys was a revolutionary idea, Wexlar said, when he began inventing. His degree as a child psychologist, prominently displayed on some 1960’s products, played a key role he said in selling parents as well as corporate America on the notion that young children should be mentally stimulated in more active ways through consumer products than previously done. He added that his creativity stems from dyslexia which went un-diagnosed until graduate school. Learning how to compensate for the ailment continues to inspire him as much as it did during a rough and tumble youth, which required him to run the family photo business as a teenager following the death of his father. Chmiel said bringing the benefits of such personal business experience to the students is a big part of the program. “Any entrepreneurship program is wonderful to teach kids in high school but if [the students] just follow these steps with me and follow it through A to Z, and they see it then they can go off ten years from now,” she said. “It’s like riding a bike.”

Downtown Express photos by Zach Williams

Kevin Wong, left, William Yen, Kevin Ni, and LeSi Qu, part of the core group of Stuyvesant High School students who are marketing Flip ‘N’ Check puzzles with the help of Pam Chmiel and Dr. Howard Wexler, inventor of Connect Four, below. Wexlar invented the game 30 years ago, but it did not sell until he started working with the Teen Entrepreneur Boot Camp a few years ago. At bottom, a focus test of the game at Taste of Tribeca, 2012.

Photo courtesy of Teen Entrepreneur Boot Camp


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March 27 - April 9, 2014

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March 27 - April 9, 2014

Downtown Notebook Publisher

Jennifer Goodstein

Trying to read the pre-K tea leaves Continued from page 1

Editor

Josh Rogers Arts Editor

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affects me in Chelsea, and the other on how it affects things a few neighborhoods to the south, Lower Manhattan the area I cover for this paper. Citywide news reports the last month have tended to focus inexplicably on the probable “loser” in the pre-K debate, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who will not get his proposed tax increase to pay for expanded pre-K and afterschool programs. It’s a strange analysis. It’s hard to imagine the mayor would have been viewed as a winner if he had gotten the tax without pre-K expansion. As it now stands, he appears likely to get as much as $300 million from Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature, almost the amount the mayor said he needed in order to offer full-day pre-K to over 50,000 families this September. If so, it’ll likely be the kind of “loss” the mayor would take on every issue. Meanwhile, important issues to parents are still flying under the radar. One is, what should parents do if they’ve already applied for pre-K and then more seats become available? The Education Dept. has not addressed that on their website, as far as I can see, and they have been largely silent on any detailed questions regarding pre-K. There was a small crack of info on Wednesday, when a D.O.E. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told me that parents will be able to amend their applications assuming more sites are offered. The official did not say if the new list would take more than a week to prepare. Presumably it could be done even quicker. The de Blasio administration released a report in January saying they had found locations to place 52,000 full-day, pre-K students this September. The state budget is due April 1, and the pre-K deadline is April 23, so the administration won’t have much time to dawdle after the budget passes. Aside from a de Blasio appearance at P.S.130 in Chinatown last month, the city has refused to say where else pre-K would expand if Albany comes through. Marco Carrion, commisioner of the mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, told me and another Downtown reporter last month that he would be happy to let us know about other Lower Manhattan locations, but he did not respond when I contacted him. (I did get an unsolicited email from a second D.O.E. official, who also did not respond to questions.) I had been assuming an all-but certain pre-K expansion site was P.S. 340, a new school that is opening at Sixth Ave. near 17th St., but now I’m much less sure. The D.O.E. tried unsuccessfully to move Tribeca’s P.S. 150 there last year, but even if they had succeeded, there would still have been room the first few years for several pre-K classrooms. Eric Goldberg, a member of District 2’s

Photo courtesy of the Mayor’s Press Office

Mayor de Blasio during a visit last month to P.S. 130 in Chinatown said the school had room for more pre-K seats if Albany approved more funding.

Community Education Council, made up of parents, told me Tuesday he had the same idea and shared it with the de Blasio campaign last year. “In theory, we have 50 to 60 classrooms that will be available for pre-K,” he said. His report calls District 2 — a large area which includes Lower Manhattan, Chelsea,

and the Upper East Side — a ”pre-K desert.” Opening pre-K classrooms in new elementary schools before they fill up would buy the city a few years to find more school space, but Goldberg readily acknowledges it is not a permanent solution, which is why he suspects the de Blasio camp did not embrace his report. His best guess is that in Lower Manhattan — which is starved for kindergarten space — any new pre-K seats will be in private Community Based Organizations not suitable for kindergarten. And even Goldberg, who has been focusing on pre-K for a few years, agrees with the Lower Manhattan advocates that “the greater need Downtown is finding more kindergarten space. It is also the harder problem to solve since a kindergarten seat not only represents a sixyear commitment to each child, it also requires enough space to accommodate the children who will be entering the school in the years to come. So now with few clues, I’ll wait the next few days to see what happens in Albany. For now, our zoned school has a few fullday pre-K seats but those always go — with good reason — to children with siblings already in the school. If no seats are added there, it won’t be my family’s first choice when I submit our application. I’d have a better chance at winning the lottery. Josh Rogers is the editor of Downtown Express.

Posted To “JUNE DATE FOR FULTON SUBWAY PROGRESS REPORT 2014” (POSTED FEB. 27):

Here’s hoping that actual improvements in subway line connectivity have been kept deep under close wraps, to this point. Virtually no significant improvements have yet emerged at “Fulton Center”. PLEASE tell us there’s more to this project than the glass box, some retail, and a ped tunnel to the WFC PATH station. We need significantly improved subway line transfers, or this entire project is a b-u-s-t !!!! JD_Downtown PRESERVATION BOOST FOR TRIBECA ARTISTS IN DANGER OF LOSING THEIR 19th CENTURY HOMES (POSTED, MARCH 20)

I work and live in tribeca since the 1970s. Loft tenant lawyers like myself and many others have represented the residents of 67 Vestry Street for many years. The struggles of the artists tenants have been documented for many years and they have lived despite being denied necessary services and essential repairs by the owners who

only see a potential pot of gold at the end of the rainbow... Tribeca needs to support its artists especially in buildings which have been legalized as they are the most vulnerable. Dan Alterman WITH CONDO PROJECT BACK ON TRACK, SO IS AFFORDABLE HOUSING MONEY…EVENTUALLY (POSTED MARCH 13)

Hopefully not, the last thing FiDi needs is affordable housing. Crime is low, we’re on the cusp of transforming the area — why would anyone want affordable housing here? bdg You are a ranting elitist!! How long have you even lived in “FiDi”, just so you know the locals who have lived here for many years do not even refer to our neighborhood as that. Shame on you, and btw, crime has always been low in this area!!!! NativeNY’er


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March 27 - April 9, 2014

Talking Point

World Trade Center needs Port support, not more delays B y Davi d S tanke The Port Authority is on the brink of ensuring that the World Trade Center will be restored some 17 years after the its complete destruction. This is not a bold accomplishment, and given the history of indecision and misdirection, it should also be no surprise that the Port is about to blink. If the Port provides a loan guarantee to Silverstein Properties Inc., the developer will proceed with the construction of W.T.C. 3 and in a few years, the site will have three completed office buildings, three contiguous blocks of retail attached to an iconic transportation hub, and the economic and spiritual center of Lower Manhattan will be fully operational (although still not complete). If the Port blinks, the W.T.C. will be mired with two stalled buildings and segmented retail. The P.A. is debating whether to expand an existing loan guarantee for S.P.I. on W.T.C. 3 to $1.2 billion, about one half the cost of the building. In exchange, Silverstein would pay interest and fees to the Port, increase equity in the building to $500 million, and give the authority a foreclosure option. Under best circumstances, the P.A. will earn fees for the guarantee and lose nothing. Under worst circumstances, they will get a $2-billion, architecturally-significant building with an anchor tenant in the best location south of 35th Street for 50% of the cost. Silverstein would suffer an intolerable loss of both their equity and $500 million in insurance proceeds, under this scenario. The loan guarantee would ensure that the site would be largely functional within four years, leaving just one office tower and the cultural center on hold. Connections with surrounding buildings and communities, and three blocks of retail would be open. It would ensure that, 17 years after the destruction of the W.T.C., the spiritual center of Lower Manhattan would be back. Better late than never. Often there are divisions at the Port between appointees of New York and those of New Jersey, but in this case, two New York appointees are battling, according to the New York Times. While Scott Rechler, the Port’s vice chairperson, is negotiating these guarantees with S.P.I., another board member, Kenneth Lipper, opposes the plan because of the risk it adds to the authority’s financial position and because he wants the P.A. to invest in a bus terminal modernization in Midtown. And so it is with the Port. Words come out one side, contradictory words come out another. The W.T.C. was the target of a direct attack on the continental U.S. by foreign enemies, but the obligation to restore the

Rendering of the Cortlandt Way retail area planned for 3 World Trade Center.

site is considered by Lipper to be just a “patriotic gesture” and a “vanity project.” Excuse me sir, but to neighbors of the site, rebuilding the W.T.C. is a moral obligation of this country— the Port Authority’s moral obligation. As a residential neighbor of the W.T.C., I am in favor of accelerated completion of the site. The loan backstop is a good financial bet. While there is office space available in surrounding buildings, there are regu-

by 2011, at a time when the rest of the W.T.C. was still a stagnant wasteland. Completion of W.T.C. 3 will remove uncertainty concerning future construction. The Westfield Group has indicated that it will not take the W.T.C. 3 retail space until the tower is complete, delaying another $150 million payment to the P.A. The removal of uncertainty will be a major selling factor for both the P.A. and Silverstein as they market available office space.

A loan guarantee is a low-risk bet that will allow the World Trade Center to function fully in four years. lar announcements of companies interested in making the move Downtown, Time Magazine being the latest. As properties become available, they will fill, because the rents are competitive and the facilities will be first class. W.T.C. 3 will not be available for 4 years, by which time the current space nearing occupancy should be largely occupied: W.T.C. 1 is already 55% occupied while W.T.C. 4 is 60% full. For reference, W.T.C. 7 has 1.7 million square feet and was empty when it was completed in 2006 but was 100% leased at high rates

The loan guarantee benefits New Jersey as well as New York. New Jersey residents will have expanded job opportunities in New York with convenient and efficient transportation. Peripheral businesses, both commercial and residential, will thrive across the Hudson River. The states of New York and New Jersey have already mismanaged the reconstruction of the W.T.C. by approving excessively expensive plans, by delaying action. The governors may not like the current position, but but we are in it because of their predecessors. Getting W.T.C. 3 built

will help cover 13 years of mistakes. Pulling back now will simply expose the P.A. to the full weight of the previous excesses. Government in some way subsidizes all private enterprise; it’s just that some get more subsidies than others. The question is, whose friends are going to get subsidized and how? S.P.I. has operated under the reverse subsidy (i.e. penalty) of P.A. indecision and inaction for too long. The loan guarantee is just balancing the ledger. Perhaps, Gov. Christie is against W.T.C. development because it will compete with projects across the river, or maybe he just wants to punish somebody. The scope of pettiness within the decision-making corridors of the P.A. have been completely exposed by the George Washington Bridge scandal. Ironically, the P.A. was originally given the site because it could accelerate development of a new commercial center to revitalize the then stagnant Downtown. Now, it should be pretty clear to the casual observer that the Port Authority can’t execute in a reliable, predictable, manner. It is the Great Oz. Sounds emanate from behind the smoke and mirrors. But we in the audience never really know who is behind the sound. We are prisoners of obscurity in a Downtown interrupted. David Stanke lives near the World Trade Center and often writes about Downtown.


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March 27 - April 9, 2014

SENIOR HEALTH

Chin at the helm of Committee on Aging B Y SA M S P O K O N Y Having served on the City Council’s Committee on Aging during her first term, Councilmember Margaret Chin was more than happy to take over the committee upon starting her second term in January. “And I think the senior advocates were happy too,” she said, smiling, during a recent interview in her Council office at 250 Broadway. Chin, 60, represents the Council’s First District, which covers the Lower Manhattan neighborhoods of Battery Park City, Tribeca, the Financial District, Chinatown and part of Greenwich Village. As chair of the Aging Committee, she now hopes to bring attention and resources to the fast-growing senior population, which (among those aged 60 and above) is projected to reach 1.84 million people — or around 20 percent of the city’s total population — by 2030, according to a February report by the Council of Senior Centers and Services of NYC. “On any issue that we talk about, whether it’s housing, transportation, health or anything else, seniors need to be at the table,” said Chin. “The effect on seniors has to be heard.” And she’s hit the ground running, already introducing new legislation and resolutions aimed at protecting elderly tenants from bullying landlords and curbing elder abuse. Chin’s new bill, introduced on March 12, would double the maximum fine for tenant harassment — refusing to make necessary repairs or accept rent payment, shutting off services like heat and hot water or threatening force — by increasing the penalties from the current range of $1,000 to $5,000 up to $5,000 to $10,000 per dwelling unit. Since many seniors are long-term residents of rent-regulated apartments — especially Downtown — they are frequent targets of landlords who hope to force them out in order to then sell or lease the units at market rate, the councilmember noted. The legislation would also create a “blacklist” for offending landlords, by requiring the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to post information about the violations — including the building address and owner’s name — whenever properties are found to breach city laws against tenant harassment. “We want to send a strong message that these practices are unacceptable,” said Chin. “We want to protect the residents who helped build up these communities, because they’re the pioneers, the ones who were there 30 or 40 years ago when the market wasn’t that great in certain areas. They’re the ones who invested the time and energy to build up those neighbor-

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Chin’s office.

Councilmember Margaret Chin at the Independence Plaza North Senior Center, in Tribeca.

hoods, to fight for parks and schools, and we can’t let them be forced out now by intimidating landlords.” The councilmember’s two new Council resolutions, which she also introduced on March 12, would call on the State Legislature to pass laws aimed at stopping financial exploitation and physical abuse of seniors.

sent to those controlling their finances. In addition, 64 percent of reported perpetrators of financial exploitation of a senior are actually family members, spouses or significant others, according to a 2013 study by the New York State Bureau of Adult Services. “Financial institutions have a duty to safeguard seniors’ hard-earned savings,

“On any issue that we talk about, whether it’s housing, transportation, health or anything else, seniors need to be at the table. The effect on seniors has to be heard.” — City Councilmember Margaret Chin One of those resolutions focuses on a bill that has already been introduced in the State Assembly and Senate, which would allow banks to refuse payment from an account when there is reason to believe that the account holder is being exploited through a scam, forgery or identity theft. Along with the fact that modern technology has increased the danger of scams, Chin stressed that cases of financial abuse against seniors can be difficult to investigate, since victims are often unaware of the exploitation, reluctant to come forward or incapable of giving proper con-

and that’s why I’m urging the state to authorize banks to fulfill that responsibility,” said Chin. The councilmember’s other new resolution calls on the State Legislature to create and pass a law that would require certain professionals to report suspected elder abuse — physical, psychological, sexual or financial — to authorities. Those falling under that mandate, according to Chin, should include healthcare and social service workers, law enforcement officials, attorneys and investigators at district attorney’s offices and

financial professionals. Currently, New York is one of only four states in the nation that do not have such a mandatory reporting law when it comes to suspected elder abuse. And according to a 2011 report by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, 120,000 seniors in New York City had at that time experienced abuse — but only one out of every 25 cases were officially reported. “Mandatory reporting will shed muchneeded light on a silent epidemic facing older adults in our city,” said Chin. And with the creation of the city’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget well underway — the final Council vote on the budget will take place in June — Chin is also pushing for increased funding for the city’s Department for the Aging (DFTA), which is recovering from heavy budget cuts that took place under ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. Bloomberg had reduced DFTA’s budget by $57 million — a whopping 20 percent of its previous total — over the past seven years. Mayor Bill de Blasio drew cheers from Chin and senior advocates in February, when he pledged to provide $20 million in baseline funding to DFTA as part of his preliminary budget proposal for FY 2015. Many of those advocates were also pleased that, before appointing Donna Corrado his new DFTA commissioner, de Blasio named the Department’s previous commissioner, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, to be his deputy mayor for health and human services. Along with the fact that Barrios-Paoli has been highly critical of Bloomberg’s cuts, Chin said she believes that having an ex-DTFA boss so close to the mayor will help bring senior-related issues to the forefront of many ongoing discussions. But the Aging Committee chair is now focused on the budget fight of today — and one of the priorities, she said, will be to push for additional funding for DFTA’s case management program, which provides direct support to homebound seniors. Currently, each social worker within that program carries a caseload of around 80 seniors, according to the city. “That’s really a large number, when it comes to effectively doing one-on-one assessments and periodically checking in on the seniors,” said Chin. So she hopes to secure an additional $3.5 to 5 million for the case management program, which would cut the social workers’ caseload down to around 60 or 65 seniors per worker. Another key area for Chin, in keeping with some of the action she’s already taken, is to increase funding for education and counseling aimed at preventing elder abuse. The Council has historically set Continued on page 20


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March 27 - April 9, 2014

SENIOR HEALTH

Quality of life forum connects residents with electeds B Y SA M S P O K O N Y Residents are invited to attend a quality of life forum at the Hudson Guild on Monday, April 21 at 7pm, where community leaders and elected officials will discuss neighborhood issues and take questions from audience members. The forum will be hosted by both the Neighborhood Advisory Committee and the Senior Advisory Council of the Hudson Guild, a social services organization that has been helping Chelsea residents with locally based issues for more than 100 years. Seniors are especially welcomed to come and share their concerns about Chelsea’s transforming landscape and their thoughts on what the city administration should focus on for the future. Topics of discussion will include health, housing, safety, traffic, biking, transportation, noise and weather conditions. A panel of officials including

State Senator Brad Hoylman, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and City Councilmember Corey Johnson will open the forum with introductory comments on quality of life, after which they will stay to hear directly from residents. “New York City changes every day. Those changes can affect your quality of life and it is important to know what services are available to you,” said Councilmember Johnson. “The Neighborhood Advisory Committee and Hudson Guild are excellent community resources and I thank them for helping to make sure New Yorkers can make well informed decisions about their lives.” The forum will take place in Hudson Guild’s Elliott Center, located at 441 West 26th Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.

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March 27 - April 9, 2014

SENIOR HEALTH

Council on aging addresses tenant rights, elder abuse Continued from page 18

aside around $800,000 each year for that purpose, the councilmember noted. “But is that enough money to get that program going as effectively as we want it to? No,” she said. Chin explained that she’ll be pushing for enough funding to replicate some smaller programs that have already started taking place in Brooklyn — involving nonprofit groups working with the Brooklyn District Attorney — which provide crosscultural outreach on elder abuse in order to bridge the language gap in Chinese- or Spanish-speaking communities. Another $200,000 in funding would allow those programs to be brought to some other communities, she noted, but a much bigger and more ideal increase — another $3 million, based on current estimates — would allow for more comprehensive outreach citywide. Thinking long term, Chin echoed the sentiments of the new mayor by saying that she plans to push heavily for the preservation and creation of new affordable housing — and in her case, focusing specifically on units for seniors. There has been much speculation

about Mayor de Blasio’s closely guarded — but often referenced — plan to build or preserve 200,000 units, which he has declared he will officially explain in detail on May 1. Meanwhile, the Council of Senior Centers and Services of NYC (CSCS), a major advocacy group, has already put

targeted for the growing senior population. Around three-quarters of that could, according to the report, be preserved by reforming the state’s Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program, which prevents seniors in rent-stabilized apartments from having to pay periodic increases in their rent.

“We want to protect the residents who helped build up these communities, because they’re the pioneers, the ones who were there 30 or 40 years ago when the market wasn’t that great in certain areas.” — City Councilmember Margaret Chin forth its suggestion for what half of those units should look like. In its aforementioned housing report released in February, CSCS called on de Blasio to develop or preserve 100,000 units of affordable housing specifically

Currently, seniors are eligible for SCRIE if their annual income is $29,000 or less. CSCS wants to raise that income limit to at least around $36,000 in order to aid tens of thousands of additional seniors in keeping their homes, according

to the report. Chin said during her interview for this article that she wholeheartedly supports that kind of SCRIE reform (although that amending legislation will, like elder abuse reporting laws, have to pass at the state level). But a spokesperson for the councilmember later said that, while Chin plans to explore the issue of senior affordable housing further, she won’t able to commit to creating or preserving a specific number (such as 100,000) under assessing needs alongside the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings. However, even though Chin has yet to join in the group’s very specific housing call, she received strong words of support from Bobbie Sackman, the CSCS director of public policy. “Having been around for the past 25 years, I think Margaret’s going to be a great chair [of the Aging Committee],” said Sackman in a phone interview. “I feel like she has good energy, and is very committed to help seniors take on issues like housing and DFTA funding. And along with the fact that I think she’s going to be very strong on these things, she’s been open to dialogue so far, and I think that’s very important.”

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March 27 - April 9, 2014

BARNES & NOBLE 97 Warren St. 212-587-5389 Children’s Storytime: Children of all ages. Free. Apr. 5, 11:00 a.m. Ava Dellaira and Stephen Chbosky Author Event: See the two authors speak. Ava Dellaira will discuss her book, Love Letters to the Dead. For teenagers. Free. Apr. 3, 4 p.m. BATTERY PARK CITY LIBRARY 175 North End Ave (at Murray Street) 212-790-3499 nypl.org/locations/battery-park-city Baby Laptime for Pre-Walkers: Babies and their caregivers can enjoy simple stories,

Toddler/Adult Preschool Afterschool Arts Academy Rock the House Foundations of Fine Art 72 Teen Program Private & Group Instrumental Senior Chorus Birthday Parties Spring semester begins Feb. 4th. Register Today! FREE Open house Feb. 9th

lively songs and rhymes, and meet other babies in the neighborhood. Limited to 25 babies and their caregivers; first-come firstserved. Ages 0-18 months. Free. Mar. 27, Apr. 1, 3, 11:30 a.m., Apr. 7, 9:30 a.m., Apr. 8, 11:30 a.m. Toddler Story Time: Lively picture books, finger plays, and action songs with toddlers and their caregivers. Ages 12-36 months. Free. Mar. 29, Apr. 2, 10:30 a.m., Apr. 7, 4 p.m. Picture Book Time: Classic stories and new picture books. Children of all ages. Free. Apr. 1, 8, 4 p.m., Apr. 9, 10:30 a.m. Tween Book Club: Kiki Strike: Join us for the reading of Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kristen Miller. Includes

snacks, trivia, and more. Ages 9 – 12. Free. Apr. 3, 5:30 p.m.

Free, April 2, 6 p.m. online registration required.

BMCC TRIBECA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER 199 Chambers Street 212-220-1460 tribecapac.org “Jim Henson’s ‘Sid the Science Kid’… Live!: Come see a live performance of the PBS kids TV Show, Sid the Science Kid. All ages. $25. Apr. 5, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

NEW AMSTERDAM LIBRARY 9 Murray St. (between Broadway and Church St.) 212-732-8186 nypl.org/locations/new-amsterdam Story Time: Children and their caregivers can enjoy interactive stories, action songs, fingerplays, and spend time with other children in the neighborhood. Ages 18 – 36 months. Free. First come, first served. Mar. 27, 10:30, 11:30 a.m.

CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF THE ARTS 103 Charlton St., 212-274-0986 cmany.org Admission - $11 (seniors and 0-12 months free, from 4-6 p.m.) Comic Books: Learn how to create a comic book. Ages 5 and up. Mar. 27, 3 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. Irish Step Dancing Marionettes: Make a simple marionette that will dance and sounds. Ages 5 and up. Mar. 29, 30, 11 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. Irish Festival: The sixth annual series of Multicultural Festivals. The festivals include Irish dance and folk performances. All ages. Mar. 29, 30, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Super Hero Animal Trading Cards: Create thematic trading cards and trade with other participants. Ages 5 and up. Mar. 31, 3 - 4:45 p.m. Card Catalogues: Examine Penelope Umbrico’s display of the myriad images from the internet and create your own system for cataloging information. Ages 5 and up. Apr. 2, 3 – 5 p.m., Apr. 4, 3 – 6 p.m. Design Your Own Collectible Vehicle: Design and construct civil servant vehicles based on the Hess Truck collection. Ages 5 and up. Apr. 3, 3 – 6 p.m. Recycled Puppet Theatre: Create puppets sing items from the kitchen. Ages 5 and up. Apr. 5, 6, 11 – 5 p.m. Rod Puppet Workshop: Make a simple hand puppet with a rod controlled arm. Ages 5 and up. Apr. 7, 3 – 5 p.m. Collected Collages: Create a collage with collected paper items, based on the artworks of Barton Lidice Benes. Ages 5 and up. Apr. 9, 3 – 5 p.m. MANHATTAN YOUTH 120 Warren St. manhattanyouth.org Parenting Workshop: Discuss healthy habits for teens with Sean Grover, L.C.S.W.,

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POETS HOUSE 10 River Terrace 212-431-7920 www.poetshouse.org Tiny Poets Time: Poetry reading for toddlers. Free. Mar. 27, 10 a.m. SMITHSONIAN’S NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN 1 Bowling Green 1st Floor 212-514-3700 americanindian.si.edu Art of the Great Plains: Self-Guided Ledger Art Activity: Read a brief overview of Plains Indian ledger and create a drawing on ledger paper using crayons, colored pencils, and stencils. For kids and families. Free. (Resource Center – 2nd Floor). Mon. – Sat., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Daily Screenings: Especially For Kids: Family friendly screenings of live action shorts and animations. For kids and families. Free. Mar. 27 – 29, 31, April 1, 3 – 9, 10:30, 11:45 a.m. TRINITY CHURCH 74 Trinity Place 212-602-0800 trinitywallstreet.org Family Veggie and Yoga Night: Bring the family the fourth Friday of every month to learn yoga. Veggie snacks will be served. For families with children under 18. Free. (Charlotte’sPlace - 107 Greenwich St., rear of 74 Trinity Place, between Rector and Carlisle Sts.) March 28, 6 – 7:15 p.m. The Family Table: Gather for a farm-to-table meal and a brief spiritual practice. For each meal purchased, one meal will be donated to urban rooftop farm company Brooklyn Grange’s fresh food distribution programs. For families with children. Suggested donation: $25. RSVP Necessary, Mar. 30, 5 – 6:30 p.m. IN PRINT OR ONLINE w

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Band expands horizons, and lung capacity Senior musicians in tune, on the same page BY MICHAEL LYDON On a grey and snowy Tuesday morning in the East Village, a trickle of senior citizens, bundled up in puffy winter coats, hats pulled over their ears, scarves wrapped around their necks and instrument cases large and small in their gloved hands, made their way to the Third Street Music School (actually on 11th Street, near Second Avenue), stomped the slush off their boots on the door mat then made two left turns into the school’s brightly lit auditorium. Waving hello to friends already there, they doffed their wooly outerwear, sat down in the forest of music stands and got out their instruments, joking and gossiping as they inserted their mouthpieces and blew a few trial bleats and blaats. Then Brandon Tesh, the neat and youthful musical director, tapped gently but firmly on his stand with his baton. “Good morning, everyone!” said Tesh. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, so let’s warm up your breath first. We’ll breathe in for four beats, hold for four beats, then out for four beats. Ready? Let’s open up our lungs!” Tesh’s manner was informal and friendly, and with his jet-black hair he could have been the grandson of many of his players — but all the seniors instantly knew that chat time was over and work time had begun. This wintry Tuesday was a gathering of Third Street’s New Horizons Band — a program founded in 1991 at Rochester’s Eastman School of Music to bring seniors, who had played an instrument as kids, back to music. Local New Horizons groups, like Third Street’s, create their own program to suit their neighborhood and needs. Some are for seniors only, some are for adults of all ages — but all can get band arrangements both simple and sophisticated, as well as guidance and a sense of community, from the New Horizons International Music Association: newhorizonsmusic.org. “Many adults have had music teachers who told them, ‘Move your lips in chorus, but don’t make a sound,’ ” declares a New Horizons mission statement, “but we believe every person has musical potential that can become personally rewarding. New Horizons programs are for adults who haven’t played for years, even for those who have no musical experience.” Third Street offers interested seniors three New Horizons bands: a Beginner’s Group that meets Tuesday evenings at the School, an Advanced Beginner’s Group that meets Monday and Wednesday mornings at Hamilton-Madison House (50 Madison Avenue) and the Advanced Big Band that meets Tuesday and Thursday mornings. At every level, band membership gives seniors challenging mental activity, the mission

Photo by Michael Lydon

Brandon Tesh, standing, directs the New Horizons band

statement goes on, a group of like-minded friends and a way to experience and express “serious thoughts and joyful moments.” One New Horizons member put the benefits in practical terms: “Being old, retired and widowed, I joined the band to have something to do. Now I don’t know what I’d do without it.” “Okay,” said Tesh after the seniors had huffed and puffed through the breathing exercises, “Now let’s see if we are in tune.

make that tone good and strong. Go!” This time the huge boom had a crisp and satisfying clarity, and Tesh grinned widely. “That’s more like it!” For the next fifteen minutes, as the orchestra played long legato tones, short staccato tones, high tones and low tones, Tesh keeping up a flow of helpful suggestions: “Sit up straighter…bigger breath…keep your tone strong all the way to the end.” He focused

the very top of their ranges. The walls of the auditorium vibrated with the band’s tuneful roar. “Yeah!” said Tesh. “Now we’re ready to play some music! Please open your books to Chorale #5.” From shoulder bags slumped on the floor beside them, the players — half-and-half men and women, and every color of the American rainbow — pulled out their bold red and white Third Street folders and arranged their

“I had to retire as a firefighter because of lung damage, but my wife said this could be good for me, and you know what? My lung scans keep getting better. All the breathing helps.”

— tenor sax player Neal King

Everybody play a nice strong A. One, two, three, go!” A mighty but muddy boom of sound arose from the nine flutes, three saxophones, three clarinets, three trumpets, two trombones, two tubas, two bassoons and one French horn. Tesh winced. “We can do better than that. Big breath this time, and

first on each instrumental section, asking the others to sit silent, then he brought the whole orchestra back together to play a monster chord, the tubas plunging to the depths, the bassoons and trombones rumbling just above them, then the saxes, clarinets, flutes and trumpets climbing in ascending order to

sheet music on their stands. The first runthrough of the chorale ended weakly. “Oh, listen to that,” Tesh cried with mock annoyance. “You must give your closing notes full Continued on page 25


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New Horizons Band Continued from page 22

value, even when we slow down for the last few measures. Look, let’s sing the ending.” He counted off, and the players hummed the notes they had been playing. “Lovely,” said Tesh, “now let’s play it from the top.” This time, as if by magic, the harmony of the ensemble had become sweet and clear. First the saxes carried the melody, the flutes flying above, then the trumpets took over — and through their darting counterpoint came the bell-like tinkle of percussionist Linda Brown’s glockenspiel. “Here comes the crescendo!” called Tesh, and his orchestra responded with a sudden blaring push. “No, no,” said Tesh, waving his baton until the players stopped. “We’ve got to reach the climax little by little, poco a poco, as it says on your scores.” “Easy for you to say,” the French horn player muttered to the trombonist beside him. The players sitting nearby chuckled. Tesh wisely acted as if he hadn’t heard, but announced it was time to take five, and the players got up, stretched, sipped from their water bottles and chatted with this visiting reporter. “Oh, I love being in this band,” said tenor sax player Neal King, as he adjusted

Photo by Michael Lydon

Alan Yashin in the background, with tenor sax player Neal King flanked by Judy Bosco (in scarf) and Betty Rounds.

his horn’s reed. “Joined five years ago, had never played an instrument in my life, and would have bet I’d never learn to read music, but here I am! I had to retire as a firefighter because of lung damage, but my wife said this could be good for me, and you know what? My lung scans keep getting better. All

the breathing helps.” “I played clarinet in high school,” said bass clarinetist Judy Bosco, “but until I heard about the New Horizons band, I hadn’t played for years. What I love is: we’re all trying to improve, but there’s no pressure. It’s music for the fun of it.” Pam Pier, who owns the Dinosaur Hill toyshop on East Ninth agreed. “My flute had been in the closet for decades,” she said, “but when someone told me about a senior band that met only two blocks away, I said, ‘That’s for me!’ Like the toy shop, music keeps me young.” Tesh tapped his stand again; time to get back to work. All the warm up exercises now paid off, and the band romped through a half dozen tunes, including the lyrical “Air for Band,” a stomping blues, “Basin Street Barbeque” and the mellow “Samba for Flutes.” The samba had some tricky Brazilian syncopations, but backed up by Linda Brown’s steady beat on snare drum and cymbal, the ensemble kept up a sexy, swaying groove, the flutes leading the way through the playful melody, the two tubas poot-pooting down in the sub-basement. When the bells of St. Mark’s church rang noon, it was time to stop for the day. “That was a good session, everybody,” said Tesh, then asked for comments and questions. “What do we do if we screw up in

a concert like we do when we practice?” someone called out. “Oh, don’t worry about it,” replied Tesh with a grin, “audiences are always kind.” “You know, Brandon, you’re always telling us to count out the tempo,” said one trombonist, “but really we keep on time by watching your body language.” “That’s fine,” said Tesh, then asking a question he’d asked many times before: “What’s the most important thing about tempo?” “Don’t slow down!” the orchestra answered in unison. “And who’s responsible for keeping a steady tempo?” “Everybody!” said everybody. Billy Lyles, a gray-haired flutist, raised his hand. “Yes, Billy?” said Tesh. “Even more important than tempo,” said Billy, “is for us to say a big ‘Thank you’ for all you’ve given us.” The whole orchestra clapped and cheered. Tesh blushed, and the orchestra, chuckling, began putting their instruments back into their cases, pulling their scarves and hats out of their coat sleeves, then headed back out into the cold. For more information, visit thirdstreetmusicschool.org, call 212-777-3240 or stop by 235 East 11th Street and pick up a brochure.


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Buhmann on Art BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN stephaniebuhmann.com

Images courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

Installation views, from “Michelangelo Pistoletto: The Minus Objects 1965-1966” (on view through May 11, at Luhring Augustine, Bushwick).

MICHELANGELO PISTOLETTO: THE MINUS OBJECTS 1965-1966

Born in Biella, Italy, in 1933, Pistoletto is best known for his Mirror Paintings and Minus Objects, which were fundamental to the birth of the Arte Povera movement in

the 1960s. This exhibition focuses on the latter series, which radically upended the prevailing art trends of the time. Exhibited in 1966 in the artist’s studio in Turin, the Minus Objects comprise a group of disparate sculptural objects, striking for their

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individuality as well as their sheer diversity of form, media and means of production. Evolving in a spontaneous and organic manner, these objects seem as fresh as ever. Pistoletto still lives and works in Biella, where he founded the interdisciplinary

laboratory Cittadellarte. Through May 11, at Luhring Augustine, Bushwick (25 Knickerbocker Ave., Bushwick, Brooklyn, corner of Ingraham St.). Hours: Thurs.-Sun., 12-6pm. Call 718-386-2746 or visit luhringaugustine.com.


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Soho broker pulls ad after legal questions raised Continued from page 1

lation of 1C and 3A may have been aided by their use as alleged illegal hotel rooms. Starting several years ago, after they’d spent decades on the state’s rent-stabilization rolls, leases on both of the aforementioned apartments came into the hands of former real estate partners Yaniv Toledano and Pini Azulay, according to information obtained by Downtown Express. The two businessmen, under their co-founded company Staynovo, then apparently rented both units periodically on the home sharing website Airbnb, which is currently in a legal battle with the New York State Attorney General over possible violations of the state’s illegal hotel law (which bans rentals of fewer than 30 days in residential apartments). Those Airbnb rentals created a shady and unsafe atmosphere within the building as tourists and other unidentified people strolled in and out using copies of the front door key, according to two 19 Cleveland Place residents including Georgette Fleischer. Fleischer, a longtime rent-stabilized tenant of the building (and founder of the advocacy group Friends of Petrosino Square) recalled that short-term renters regularly left trash and cigarettes in the hallways, turning the building into what she called a “transient flop house.” And in the summer of 2012, while the Airbnb rentals were taking place, the apartment next to 1C was burglarized by a still-unknown perpetrator. Marna Lawrence, who lives in that rentstabilized apartment and was out of town when it was ransacked in 2012, told this newspaper that, based on the unsuccessful police investigation at that time, she’s still not sure whether the crime was committed by someone connected to an Airbnb rental. But she was sure about the fact that the rentals, brokered by Toledano and Azulay, severely impacted her quality of life. “It was just really disturbing to live next to what was basically a hotel room,” said Lawrence. “I never had any idea who was really living next to me.” A Fontana Realty representative, who refused to identify himself during numerous phone interviews, denied that any illegal hotel use had ever taken place in the building, although he also refused to respond to questions about his alleged association with Staynovo or Toledano and Azulay. In addition, the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, which investigates illegal hotel use, has visited the building but dismissed residents’ complaints regarding such activity, according to city records. Enforcement officials did not respond to a request for comment. In any case, Staynovo’s Airbnb listings for both 1C and 3A became inactive within the past year, according to searches on the website — and during that time, the company’s two founders parted ways, to some degree. In 2013 Azulay founded a boutique real estate firm called the Azulay Group, and Toledano around the same time founded his own new group, Novo International Realty. In a phone interview on March 24, Azulay said he no longer has anything to do with the two units at 19 Cleveland Place. But Toledano’s Novo firm remains linked to both apartments

A currently inactive listing for unit 1C at 19 Cleveland Place, found on the real estate site streeteasy.com, which advertised it at a previous rental rate of $3,300 per month. A box on the bottom right corner of the page shows that it was listed by Yaniv Toledano’s Novo firm. The more recent Novo listing, referred to in this article, was deleted.

as a broker, while Fontana Realty has apparently begun trying to lease both of them to new long term tenants for market rate rents. Last week, 1C (a studio) was being advertised alongside Manhattan rentals on Novo’s website, and was listed at a rate of $3,500 per month. And 3A (a one-bedroom) was listed just below it, at a rate of $4,200 per month. Both prices were clearly thousands of dollars beyond what’s allowed under rent-stabilization, and would be unaffordable for the kind of middleclass tenants aided by rent regulation. The key question is, why were these two

of the country and could not be reached, Novo’s managing director, David Roy Duenias, agreed to meet with the reporter at noon that day to discuss the topic. But when the time came to meet, Duenias was nowhere to be found. And when he was contacted once again, he had apparently changed his mind, nervously saying that he no longer had any interest in discussing the listings or their history. Minutes after that, both listings were entirely removed from the Novo site. The next day, a followup call to Fontana — asking about the landlord’s knowledge of

‘The city and the state have failed to do their jobs, and they’ve failed us.’ units — which were leased under rent-stabilization before their Airbnb period — being advertised at market rate? Did the landlord, Fontana Realty, go through the proper process of deregulation, by doing substantial renovations to the units or allowing the legal, regulated rent to eventually rise to $2,500 per month? It’s unclear — but Fontana Realty continues to refuse to answer questions on the subject, while Fleischer and Lawrence said they believe their landlord has in fact tried to flout state law and illegally deregulate the units. The interesting part came on the morning of March 24, when this reporter called Novo to ask about the listings for 1C and 3A, in order to learn about why they were being advertised at market rate. Since Toledano was reportedly out

the Novo listing — was once again met with a refusal to comment after which the representative hung up on the reporter. Meanwhile, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, the state agency that oversees rent regulation, has remained silent on this particular issue, primarily due to its selfimposed restrictions regarding the investigation of rent history and deregulation. Since only an apartment’s lease holder can ask for the rent history of that unit, only Toledano or Azulay (while they held the leases) would have been able to spark an H.C.R. investigation into the possibly illegal deregulations of 1C and 3A — something they clearly had no financial interest in doing. The exception to that problem is H.C.R.’s

relatively new Tenant Protection Unit, which announced in February that it had returned 28,000 units across the state to rent-stabilization rolls after random audits of building owners who’d engaged in illegal deregulation. But the state agency has, so far, not expressed interest in doing such an investigation at 19 Cleveland Place, after multiple requests from Fleischer have gone unheeded. H.C.R. also did not respond to a request for comment about the possibility of investigating the Cleveland Place deregulations. When it comes to the link between illegal hotels and deregulation — such as at 79 Clinton St. on the Lower East Side and other Downtown buildings as this newspaper previously reported — Borough President Brewer said she believes the city and state need to be more proactive regarding the investigation of situations like this. Since the mayor’s enforcement office is directly responsible for investigating illegal hotels , and H.C.R. is directly responsible for dealing with rent-stabilization, it only makes sense, she noted. “And a big issue is that H.C.R.’s Tenant Protection Unit is very understaffed, so I hope that Mayor de Blasio’s administration will take an interest in playing a greater collaborative role in this,” Brewer told Downtown Express. “The key is that we want more coordination between O.S.E. and H.C.R., because the way the system works right now, everything is stacked against keeping units in rent regulation.” Now, it may only be a matter of time before 1C and 3A — as well as numerous other units at 19 Cleveland Place — are once again listed online at unaffordable rates. And Fleischer still thinks that action from the city, regarding illegal hotels, and the state, regarding deregulation, are long overdue.


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MARCH 27, 2014, DOWNTOWN EXPRESS