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VOLUME 26, NUMbER 15

DECEMbER 18-JANUARY 15, 2014

DE bLASIO’S RIGHT HAND KNOWS DOWNTOWN P. 7

construction continues, But command center gets readY to close

W

tioning in France this summer when two doctors there discovered a “dark shadow” on the babies’ sonogram. A third French doctor diagnosed Georgia’s condition as duodenal atresia and warned that there was a danger she would be born with Down syndrome. Roccos said she was not worried about Down since the babies had genetic testing as

BY SAM SPOKONY ith less than two weeks to go before the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center is scheduled to be phased out of existence, it’s still unclear exactly what that transition will look like, or even if it will actually have to take place. The command center, which was established in 2004 through executive orders issued by thenGovernor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, oversees and coordinates all public and private construction projects worth more than $25 million that take place south of Canal St. At the behest of local leaders, those orders were continued in 2011 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg, although the size of the command center’s staff has gradually dwindled over the years. The organization, which over the years had received funding from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the Port Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, currently employs only three fulltime workers, along with six consultants, and its state-financed budget is about $1.8 million.

Continued on page 22

Continued on page 8

Cecilia and her twin sister Georgia, right, were born last month but Georgia needed major surgery two days later and was expected to stay in the hospital for at least a month. She’ll be celebrating Christmas with her family next week.

Doubly grateful for Christmas

t

BY J O S H R O G E R S hey’ll be home for Christmas. Actually, Georgia and Cecilia Roccos Smithmyer, two of the youngest residents of the Financial District, are home now. Cecilia, born with her twin sister Nov. 12, hadn’t prompted any more worry than expectant parents usually have, but Georgia, formerly known as Baby B, was facing major surgery and a long recovery right after her birth.

Doctors at Mount Sinai operated on Georgia two days later, and much to their surprise, she recovered fully in a week and came home for a last-minute Thanksgiving celebration. “Wow, what a Thanksgiving,” their mother, Christina Roccos, said this week. “How can we be any more thankful than to have two healthy babies?” Roccos, her husband Martin Smithmyer, and their daughter Antonia, 6, were vaca-

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December 18 - January 15, 2013 Board 1 Chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes, probably the committee’s most frequent witness. But it’s still unclear who will be the next Council speaker, so there’s been no official word yet on the committee’s end.

RAJKUMAR NEWS

KNOW WHEN TO FOLD?

It’s beginning to look more and more like the close of the City Council’s legislative session this year will bring with it the end of the Council’s Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee. The committee, which formed in 2002 to help revitalize the area following the 9/11 attacks, has been led by Councilmember Margaret Chin ever since she took office in 2010, following her defeat of Alan Gerson, who had been the committee’s only other chairperson. Chin said during her reelection campaign earlier this year that she thought the committee should fold at the end of the year, and during the committee’s Dec. 11 oversight hearing on the status of the Fulton Center, Chin said that it would “most likely” be the committee’s final one, in response to a question from Community

Speaking of Margaret Chin’s campaign, the name of her primary opponent, Jenifer Rajkumar, resurfaced last week as a possible candidate to run for a hypothetical open seat now held by State Sen. Daniel Squadron. No one has talked openly — and for that matter privately as far as we know — about challenging Squadron, but Downtown politicos have been eyeing the seat for at least a year with the hope and expectation that he would be changing jobs, and then he lost this year’s Public Advocate’s race to Tish James. Squadron’s name was floated more recently as a possible parks commissioner for the incoming de Blasio administration, but if he did have interest or a chance at that job, that apparently is no longer the case. Amy Spitalnick, Squadron’s chief of staff, categorically shot down the possibility last week telling various outlets “anyone expecting a vacancy will be disappointed.” Rajkumar, who filed paperwork to run for the seat, told us this week she wanted to be able to “hit the ground running,” but she would not challenge Squadron,

and she was not dissuaded by Spitalnick’s statement either. If Rajkumar does end up hitting and running, she’s likely to bump into her friend, ally and fellow Democratic district leader Paul Newell, who told us about his interest in Squadron’s seat a year ago. “I think the world of Paul Newell,” Rajkumar said, ignoring the potential conflict. She said she’s keeping her feet in the political fires, recently joining a new coalition of labor groups called SWEAT, to aid Assemblymember Linda Ronsenthal’s effort to make it easier for workers cheated out of wages to actually collect awards won in court.

vital role” in Panama City coordinating a Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit shoot last year, as well as the filming in the city of “The Bachelor” reality show.

JOYOUS COINCIDENCE

Funny postscript to Milo Hess’ page 1 photo of a little girl reaching up to an oversized play penguin in our last issue: The girl’s name is Joy, whose mother got an extra kick because one of the other headlines on the page read, “Four Seasons of Joy As Hotel Work Resumes.” We got one too, and wish her and the rest of you a joy-filled New Year and a Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.

INBOX SALIVATION

It’s a safe bet we were not the only ones whose eyes lit up Tuesday when we saw the email with the subject ”Danna DeBlasio to Lead PLA’s New York City Council Lobbying.” Undoubtedly, former Shelly Silver aide Patricia Lynch and her staff at Patricia Lynch Associates, scored a high open email rate among journalists either anxious for transition news from Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, or on the lookout for an easy nepotism scandal story. As the release makes clear, DeBlasio is not related to the Gracie Mansion bound family. So the notice is not at all politically sexy, although it does have a little of the traditional kind since “Danna played a

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Won’t be business as usual when Fulton Center opens BY SAM SPOKONY The M.T.A. said last week that Downtown small businesses that were displaced in 2005 by construction on the Fulton Center will not have first dibs on any of the transit hub’s retail space before it opens next year. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has said it will announce the master lease holder for the Fulton Center’s 65,000 square feet of retail space within the next month. The winner will take charge of offering the market-rate rentals for retailers who want to open up shop in what the agency says will become the “Grand Central Terminal of Lower Manhattan.” “We’re not forcing the master lessee to take [the displaced businesses] back, and they’ll have to go through the same process as anyone else,” said Michael Horodniceanu, president of the M.T.A.’s Capital Construction program, in response to a question from Councilmember Margaret Chin at a Council oversight hearing Dec. 11. About 150 small businesses were displaced — or evicted, as Community Board 1 Chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes later said in her testimony at the hearing — by construction on the Fulton Center, which is expected to open in June 2014. “Many of those businesses had longstanding, deep ties to local residents and workers,” said Hughes, who added that C.B. 1 hopes whatever new retailers open up in the transit hub will be able to meet the needs of those residents and workers. Horodniceanu said he wasn’t yet sure what the rent prices would be for the center’s retail spaces. But it’s likely that they will be much higher than what the displaced businesses were paying there before 2005, keeping many

Rendering courtesy of the MTA

The Fulton Center is expected to open in June, although it’s not yet clear if any shops that had to leave for construction in 2005 will return.

of them out of contention for a spot. Billy Baldwin, who owned a shop called Cookie Island at 189 Broadway until the Fulton Center construction

pushed him out of that location, said in a phone interview last week that the forced move bankrupted his business, which had officially opened on Sept. 11, 2001. “We spent over $400,000 on that store, and we basically lost everything,” said Baldwin, adding that the business was particularly vulnerable because they were still paying off construction costs at the time of the displacement. He is currently trying to restart the business near his home on Long Island. He said he understands that the M.T.A. had the legal right to push him out in 2005, and that it now has no legal obligation to help his business return to its previous location, but, upon hearing that the M.T.A. would not be providing any further assistance to his and other displaced businesses, he said he thinks the agency should have done more. “Come on, they should at least give us some help — at least help us relocate to somewhere we can make a buck,” said Baldwin. “Honestly, they couldn’t have screwed someone over more than they screwed us [and the other displaced businesses] over.” Several times at the Wednesday hearing, Horodniceanu stressed that the M.T.A. is now “on time, and on budget” for the Fulton Center’s June opening, which had been delayed several times since it was originally estimated to be completed in 2007 at a cost of $750 million out of the post-9/11 federal transportation fund. The total cost for construction of the center — which will connect 11 subway lines with an underground pathway to the World Trade Center PATH station, serving an estimated 300,000 daily passengers — is now $1.4 billion, according to the M.T.A.

Spread some holiday cheer! Email us your favorite seasonal photos of Lower Manhattan to holiday@downtownny.com

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December 18 - January 15, 2013 about two hours later, after he’d gotten home. He tried calling the gym to see if it was still there, and later returned to the scene to look for it — but by that time, the timepiece was long gone.

— reportedly not one of the previous four — pulled the same act, quickly grabbing $1,100 worth of underwear and dashing out the door. Employees of the store never saw the shoplifters, but realized that multiple items were missing during an end-of-day inventory. Cops were then called in to check the video surveillance tapes, after which they spotted the two separate incidents.

PANTY RAIDS

LATE NIGHT BURGLAR

Police are searching for an unidentified man they believe is responsible for a string of overnight burglaries in the Downtown area. Two of the incidents took place between the night of Dec. 1 and the morning of Dec. 2, at two restaurants located in the same Financial District building. The man, who was wearing a tag around his neck and carrying a flashing, according to video surveillance footage, broke into Dave’s Hoagies at 26 Cedar St. and rifled through several file cabinets, but apparently took nothing, police said. That same night, he also attempted to gain access, on the other side of the building, to Ise, a Japanese restaurant at 56 Pine St., but was unsuccessful. Then, the burglar struck again between the night of Dec. 5 and the morning of Dec. 6, this time at a Soho restaurant. Employees of the Aurora Soho, at 510 Broome St., told cops that $3,000 in cash was missing when they opened shop that morning, although there were no signs of forced entry. Video footage revealed that it was the same man, still with the tag around his neck, that had gained unauthorized access to the restaurant.

MEATY THIEF

A hungry thief stole around 150 pounds of meat from a delivery truck that was parked in the Financial District early on Dec. 6, police said. The driver told cops he was parked on Liberty St., between Nassau and William Sts., around 6 a.m. while making a delivery to a nearby store. While its doors were unlocked, a thief apparently took advantage and swiped the five boxes of cold cuts, valued at $800, from the back of the truck. The driver never got a look at the beef burglar, and police say they don’t have an video footage of the incident, so the whereabouts of the cold cuts remain a mystery.

ROLEX STOLEN

An unfortunate man paid the price for his forgetfulness on Dec. 8, after he lost his $8,000 watch at a gym in the Financial District. The man, 29, was playing squash at New York Health and Raquet Club, at 39 Whitehall St., around noon that day, and placed his gold and silver Rolex in cubbyhole to keep it away from the action, police said. But when he packed up and went home, he left the pricey watch behind. The squash player, who is a Downtown resident, didn’t realize the Rolex was missing until

Underwear thieves struck twice in one day at a Victoria’s Secret outlet in Soho, police said. Around 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 8, a man and four women strolled into the store at 591 Broadway, snatched up $3,700 worth of bras and panties, and walked right back out, according to cops. And then, around 4:30 p.m., a woman

— Sam Spokony

Hard copy holiday for Downtown Express Downtown Express is taking a break for the holidays, skipping one hard copy issue, but we are not going on vacation. We will continue to post articles on our web site and send out our weekly email blasts. To get our latest news or to sign up for email updates, go to downtownexpress.com, follow us on Twitter and friend us on Facebook. We are also changing our print day to Thursday so our next hard copy will be distributed Jan. 16, 2014.

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

City bullish, but West Thames Bridge project still a work in progress

Rendering ofORIGINAL the West Thames Bridge. SLIDE PRESENTED

Corporation. The estimated $27.5 million BY CYN THIA M AGNUS Planners for the proposed West Thames construction cost for the project is to be CONCEPT – Aerial View NYC EDC West Thames Street Pedestrian Bridge Street Pedestrian Bridge want the projectNTS shared by the two agencies. WXY/ WEIDLINGER 12/09/2013 4/23/2013 A spokesperson for the city’s Economic 22 to start next fall and end late 2016. It includes a 220-foot-long steel and concrete Development Corporation said the design span, with open-air metal mesh sides, and funds have been released, and construction funds are anticipated to be available suma glass roof. “We’re full steam ahead,” Matt Best of mer 2014. Lower Manhattan Development Corthe mayor’s capital project development office said at the Dec. 3 meeting of Com- poration President David Emil pointed munity Board 1’s Battery Park City Com- out that the final design has not yet been mittee, where the design got the group’s approved and but said on Dec. 9 that the federally-funded corporation does want to support. But other agencies involved with the see the project completed. Once the design is set, there will be an project are being more cautious about the project’s steam level. The city and the environmental review followed by a conproject’s architects showed the designs to struction cost estimate. Best told C.B. 1 the Public Design Commission at a private that the bridge will be owned by the city, meeting on Dec. 9 and officials are not under the purview of the Department of commenting on the discussion. The bridge Transportation, which will be responsible would rise 18 feet above West Street and for all its structural elements. He said the feature a 12-foot-wide walkway with a Battery Park City Authority will be responglass-roofed staircase and 9-person eleva- sible for its routine maintenance, and said tor at each end. The “green” features would “it is understood that the Battery Park City include LED lighting and a bioswale that Authority will maintain the elevators, and will capture rainwater from the roof and will be involved “in talk down to cleaning the glass.” divert it to a planting area on the ground. Kevin McCabe, the authority’s spokesSome C.B. 1 members voiced concern over the absence of ramps, and said hey person, said on Dec. 10 that the B.PC.A. need the new bridge’s elevators to be reli- has set aside $7.5 million of its 2014 capiable, and have emergency phones and cam- tal budget toward the project, but that “the contractual commitment has not been deeras. Tom Goodkind told the planners, “If termined.” He said the authority’s mainteyou’ve been around this neighborhood, nance post-completion of the project is “to you see that elevators are always out, so if be determined, subject to further negotiayou’re going to spend money on something, tion.” Len Greco of the Economic Developplease spend it on the elevators, it’s very ment Corporation said that the Rector important to us.” Adding to that problem is that mainte- Bridge will stay in service until the West nance responsibility differs for each of the Thames Street Bridge is up. Anthony Notaro, chairperson of C.B. 1’s Battery Park neighborhood’s bridge elevators. The cost for the project’s design phase City Committee, said the group will require is $2.02 million, to be paid for by the Bat- regular updates once the construction tery Park City Authority through a grant schedule is announced and a construction from the Lower Manhattan Development manager is appointed.

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

De Blasio’s right hand man knows Downtown well B Y J OS H R O G E R S When Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio takes over City Hall in two weeks, the man he will rely on most to help him run the city is a former Downtown Little League parent whose son attended Tribeca’s P.S. 234. Anthony Shorris, who will be de Blasio’s first deputy mayor, will be coming back to government with deep personal and professional ties to Lower Manhattan. “He’s a very thoughtful guy who loves neighborhoods,” said Mark Costello, former president of the Downtown Little League, who spoke often with Shorris five to eight years ago when their children’s class and sports schedules coincided. Costello, who has long advocated for more park space Downtown, said he often sought out Shorris’ expertise in urban planning. Costello said Shorris, 56, believes in “Jane Jacobs humane scale growth…. “We have so much new development [in Lower Manhattan] and so much growth and it’s a huge challenge to make sure the community has the community infrastructure to keep pace with that — parks, fields, school seats, supermarkets,” Costello said. He had not heard of Shorris’ appointment, but said “it’s a wonderful family that sat in the bleachers at ball games and made cookies at school events.” But not everyone Downtown was thrilled to hear about the appointment.

Anthony Shorris, who will be first deputy mayor, with Mayor-elect De Blasio.

Community Board 1 member Pat Moore, had also not heard of Shorris’ new job, but she immediately remembered the name. “I have bad, bad, bad ill will memories of him,” Moore said, recalling the near round-the-clock construction noise at the W.T.C. at the end of 2007. Moore, who lives across the street from the site, said it was impossible to get answers or a meeting with Shorris or any other Port officials. At the time, the Port was racing to prepare the W.T.C. Tower 3 and 4 sites for Silverstein Properties in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid late fees of $300,000 a day. De Blasio’s transition team did not respond to an interview request for Shorris. Catherine Mcvay Hughes, Community

Board1’s chairperson, said it was unfair to criticize him for the noise problems at the end of 2007. “Shorris actually approved [the Port’s] policy to provide soundproof windows for residents that were within 100 feet of the WTC perimeter,” Hughes wrote in an email to Downtown Express. “Some can argue that they wished that it was sooner, but these transactions are complicated. This is an example that he had an approach to be mindful of the quality of life of residents.” When former Gov. David Paterson took over for Spitzer in 2008, one of his first acts was to replace Shorris with Chris Ward, who also missed some expensive Silverstein deadlines, but is often credited with finally

ending the chronic W.T.C. delays that began under Shorris’ predecessors. Before Shorris joined the Port he was deputy schools chancellor and he backed C.B. 1 in a key decision involving Millennium High School. While the school was under construction in 2003, the community board threatened to withhold funds it had raised for the school unless the Dept. of Education agreed to give Downtown students admissions priority. Shorris wrote a letter to the board agreeing to the demand on the grounds that the school was being funded in large part by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., whose federal funds were targeted to help the area south of Houston St. recover from 9/11. When de Blasio announced Shorris’ appointment on Dec. 4 he made it clear that Shorris would be the highest ranking official under him and that most of the aministration’s commissioners would be reporting to the first deputy mayor. “This will be the person who will have my imprimatur to help make sure that our agenda is implemented each and every day in the government,” de Blasio said. Shorris said, “I do think Bill brings an extraordinary vision of a progressive and a fairer and a more just New York City, and that’s one I have shared my whole life.”


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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Construction center appears set to close this month Continued from page 1

Now, the executive orders sustaining the command center are once again set to expire on Dec. 31. And if they are allowed to expire, oversight and coordination of 87 unfinished construction projects — including 1 World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, the Fulton Center transit hub and the fouryear Broadway Reconstruction Project — will likely fall back entirely into the hands of city and state agencies. Many at the community level see the center as a vital resource that has allowed them to stay informed about the major projects, as well as giving them a greater voice in regulatory matters and helping to generally keep the projects on track for timely completion. In an October resolution, Community Board 1 called on Cuomo and Bloomberg to once again extend the center’s operations of for at least three years. “The termination of L.M.C.C.C. would be devastating for residents, local businesses, property owners and developers,” the resolution stated. But it seems likely that the termination will in fact take place. In an interview following a C.B. 1 meeting on Dec. 16, Joseph Simenic, the command center’s acting executive director, said he has already spent the past several months planning for the phasing-out of his organization.

The so-called transition plan which has also had input from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as well as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office and those of the governor and mayor ― would allow for certain functions to be taken over by other existing agencies. “I’m not especially concerned about it being a smooth transition, because I know it will be,” said Simenic. However, he also said that the transition plan has not yet been finalized, and he added that it may not even be completed until the first week of January which would be a week after the center is officially terminated. “We’re in ongoing negotiations with the city and state agencies, and we still need to figure out which agencies are going to take the lead,”said Simenic. In addition, he pointed out that, even if the construction center has technically been terminated by the start of the New Year, his organization will still hold its regularly scheduled project coordination meeting ― at which information is received regarding construction permits and any updates on the Downtown projects on Jan. 7. And he stressed that those meetings will continue, in some form, after that, even if they are handled by other groups rather than his center. “We know which functions need to continue,” said Simenic. “Obviously, project coordination needs to continue, and of course

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L.M.C.C.C acting executive director Joseph Simenic speaking at a C.B. 1 meeting on Dec. 16.

our community meetings which is where we take the information from the project coordination meeting and put that in terms that are meaningful to local businesses and residents need to continue as well.” During Monday’s C.B. 1 meeting, board members expressed concern about the fact that even if those functions were to continue in a different form it will likely be more difficult for community members to have an open and effective dialogue with typical city and state agencies, such as the Buildings or Transportation Departments. Simenic declined to disclose any specific details about the talks with the mayor’s and governors offices, or with the city and state agencies. The Port Authority, which owns the W.T.C., was similarly tight-lipped about the situation in a prepared statement, saying only that it is“working with the governor’s office and Speaker Silver to finalize the plan.” Cuomo’s office did not respond to requests for comment. And for his part, Silver is still fighting for the continuation of the command center, holding out hope that new executive orders could be granted. “L.M.C.C.C. is a vital resource for our community and I am advocating for its continuation,” Silver said in a Dec. 12 emailed statement. In a November statement, Silver had specifically called on Cuomo and Bloomberg to

renew their executive orders. “Since our rebuilding began after 9/11, [the command center] has worked to ensure that the many ongoing construction projects in Lower Manhattan are safe and that steps are taken to mitigate their impact on the quality of life for the hundreds of thousands of people who live, work and visit this vibrant neighborhood,”Silver said in the November statement. Simenic told Downtown Express Monday that from his perspective — even though he has primarily been working on the transition plan — an option to continue the existence of L.M.C.C.C. is still on the table. “I’ve been planning for two things,”he said, once of which is the transition plan, and the other of which is “a course of action that allows [L.M.C.C.C] to continue in some way, but in maybe a more condensed form.” Simenic declined to say how likely he thought it was the center would continue. And when asked what would have to happen for the center to continue — whether or not the lack of new executive orders is the only thing standing in the way of an extension Simenic was uncertain. “I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know that I have a clear answer to that question...I don’t have an easy answer to that question. What I can say is that I know that the negotiations for our transition are ongoing. And that’s all I can say about what’s going on with the mayor’s and governor’s office.”


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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Knickerbocker tenants to get rent credits for Sandy outages By SAM SPOKONY

Residents of a Lower East Side low- and middle-income housing complex will receive rent credits for the time they spent without heat and electricity during Superstorm Sandy, elected officials announced on Dec. 17. The private owner of Knickerbocker Village — a 1,600-unit Mitchell-Lama development on Monroe St. — will provide the residents with nine days’ worth of credits, according to the announcement, which was made jointly by State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Councilmember Margaret Chin. “I have worked tirelessly to help deliver this rent credit to the tenants of Knickerbocker Village and I am enormously pleased that they will now receive it,” Silver said in the release. “Residents of this complex suffered in cold and darkness after Superstorm Sandy and they deserve to be compensated for their hardship.” The credits will come in the form of a 15 percent reduction in the residents’ January and February rent bills. Average monthly rents at Knickerbocker Village are around $800 for a one-bedroom apartment, around $1,100 for a two-bedroom apartment and around $1,350 for a three-bedroom apartment, according to Bob Wilson, a longtime tenant leader at the complex.

Ares Management, the development’s owner, had originally promised the rent credits just days after Sandy struck last year on Oct. 29, under pressure from Silver and the other electeds. As time went on, however, some were concerned that under MitchellLama, funding for credits would have had

Rent bills will be cut by 15 percent for two months and more aid may also be coming to compensate Knickerbocker residents for the loss of power and heat in 2012. to eventually come out of the pockets of tenants, through later rent increases. But that situation has now been avoided, since Ares will be able to pay for the credits with money received in an insurance settlement, according to the Dec. 17 announcement. That settlement was made possible after Silver brought in the state’s Department of Financial Services to facilitate discussions between Ares and its insurance company. “This is a huge victory for tenants of Knickerbocker Village,” said Wilson, who just two months ago had said he was worried about the potential infeasibility of the rent credits. In their Dec. 17 announcement, the elect-

Pols push D.O.E. to fund new school at Seward Park B y SAM S P O K O N Y The city’s Department of Education is not planning to fund a public school within the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, until at least 2020. But local politicians and Lower East Side school advocates say the commitment should be made right now. A recent D.O.E. statement on the issue came in response to this newspaper’s question about why funding for the future school was not included in the agency’s proposed 2015-2019 capital budget, which will be finalized next summer. SPURA is mentioned in the capital budget, but that is as far as D.O.E. has gone, with regard to the potential school. “Based on our understanding of the housing to be built in the SPURA redevelopment area, and the existing school capacity in that area, we believe a new school will not be needed until the 2020-2024 Capital Plan period,” said D.O.E. in the Dec. 3 statement. “As noted in the Capital Plan, we are watching this development closely, and update our projections annually.” However hesitant D.O.E. may be to fund a school as part of the development project, a 15,000-square-foot space at the corner of Clinton and Grand Sts. was, in fact, set aside for a new school when the city announced the overall SPURA development proposal earlier this year. Along with various retail and commercial

ed officials said residents of the complex may also receive more credits in the future, if Ares is able to get additional insurance money. More specifically, there could eventually be enough funding for nine more days’ worth of credits, according to a source close to the situation. That source further stated that the

components, a total of 1,000 new residential units are planned to be built at SPURA, a 1.65 million-square-foot swath of land around Delancey St. near the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. More than half of those residential units are expected to be completed by summer 2018, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation. Out of the total number of new housing units, 100 will be designated solely for senior citizens — a factor that may have contributed to D.O.E.’s views on the potential need for a new school within the development. In fact, the current text of D.O.E.’s proposed budget for 2015-2019 states that cityowned land at the SPURA site has been reserved for future school construction “should it be deemed necessary.” But many local school advocates and elected officials believe that a school within SPURA is not only necessary, but should be funded as soon as possible. “Smart development means anticipating and addressing projected community impacts before they reach a critical point,” said Councilmember Margaret Chin. “That is why I worked with the SPURA Task Force to strongly advocate for a public school as part of the project — to serve the hundreds of working families that will make this comContinued on page 10

parties are “pretty sure” the additional funding will come, based on knowledge of talks between Ares and the insurance company. Another point stressed by the politicians in their announcement was that, since the rent credits are being paid for with funding from the insurance settlement, they will not come at the expense of the development’s much-needed building repairs. In October, the city agreed to provide $1.46 million from its post-Sandy Build it Back program to fund repairs on all the elevators at Knickerbocker Village. The city has also committed to helping fund the replacement of the entire electrical and heating systems for the complex.

This building is being constructed through the Inclusionary Housing Program and 421-a Tax Incentive Program of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. NYC Housing Connect

Affordable Housing For Rent 30 NEWLY CONSTRUCTED UNITS Alphabet Plaza, 310 East 2nd Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan Amenities: 24-hour Doorman, Valet Services (laundry drop-off and pick-up), Fitness Center*, Residents Lounge, Courtyards, Landscaped Roof decks with Barbeque Area, Bike Storage*, Washer/Dryer, and On-Site Parking Garage* (*additional fees may apply)

Who Should Apply?

Individual or households who meet the income and household size requirements listed in the table below may apply. Only qualified applicants will be eligible for apartments. Applicants who live in New York City receive a general preference for apartments.

Transit: J/M/Z/F to Delancey St - Essex St, F to st Lower East Side - 2nd Ave, L- 1 Ave, B/D to Grand St, 6 to Bleecker Street More Info: www.housingpartnership.com/alphabetplaza www.kahenproperties.com No application fee. No broker’s fee Preferences for a percentage of units goes to: - applicants with mobility impairments (5%) - applicants with visual or hearing impairments (2%) - residents of Manhattan community district 3 (50%) - municipal employees (5%)

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2. See Unit Requirements…

Unit Size

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1 person

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2 person

$33,155 - $41,280

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3 person

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4 person

$45,943 - $51,540

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** Household size includes everyone who will live with you, including parents and children. Subject to occupancy criteria.

*** Household earnings includes salary, hourly wages, tips, Social Secutiy, child support, and other income for household members, income guidelines subject to change.

How Do You Apply?

Apply online or through mail. To apply online, please go to: www.nyc.gov/housingconnect. To request an application by mail, mail a self-addressed and stamped envelope with .66 cents postage to: Alphabet Plaza Apartments, c/o Housing Partnership Development Corporation, 242 West 36th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10018. Only send one application per development. Don’t submit duplicate applications. Do not apply online and also send in a paper application. Applicants who submit more than one application will be disqualified.

When Is the Deadline?

Applications must be postmarked or submitted online no later than February 18, 2014 Late applications will not be considered.

What Happens After You Submit an Application

After the deadline, applications are selected for review through a lottery process. If yours is selected and you appear to qualify, you will be invited to an interview to continue the process of determining your eligibility. Interviews are usually scehduled from 2 to 10 months after the appplication deadline. You will be asked to bring documents that verify your household size, identity of members of your household, and your household income.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas

www.nyc.gov/housingconnect

IN PRINT OR ONLINE

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10

December 18 - January 15, 2013

Cooper, community team up to create emergency system B Y SA M S P O K O N Y A group of Cooper Union students will soon work to develop a unique new tool to help residents of the Lower East Side — and perhaps, someday, people all over the world — cope with the destructive impact of future storms like Hurricane Sandy. Under the direction of a longtime Cooper professor, and in association with Lower East Side neighborhood organizations, students from the university’s schools of art, architecture and engineering will collaborate to design a solar-powered product that can simultaneously provide public wireless Internet, emergency lighting and a charging station for computers or cell phones. Community leaders supporting the project hope to install the innovative, three-inone power stations around public spaces — starting near the East River waterfront, where so many people suffered after losing power when Sandy struck. “It’s really a fantastic opportunity for the students,” said Dr. Toby Cumberbatch, who teaches the interdisciplinary class, titled “Sustainable Engineering and Development,” that will host the project once the next semester begins in mid-January. “It presents a lot of stimulating challenges,” Cumberbatch added. “But the big thing is that this involves real people and a real need on the Lower East Side, and it’ll push students to provide a great benefit to

the neighborhood.” The project — which has been named the Cooper Lumen Design Challenge — was conceived by Paul Garrin, an East Village resident and Cooper alumnus who in 2003 created WiFi-NY, a member-supported, noncommercial Internet provider that has grown to serve the East Village, Lower East Side and western Brooklyn. Back in 2010, Garrin reached out to the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council in order to bring his wireless Internet service to their community. After Sandy struck last year and left many Two Bridges residents stranded, without power or access to vital online information, he also began working with them to develop the WiFi-NY People’s Emergency Network, which aims to connect people in case of a devastating storm that knocks out service from major corporate Internet providers. Garrin explained that when he recently began thinking of the possibilities for a new three-in-one product that could provide lighting and a charging station, as well as Internet access, he decided to bridge a gap, and brought Cooper and T.B.N.C. together. “I feel it’s important for me, as an alum, to offer the students the chance to do something unique, while also allowing Cooper to engage the local community more than they have in the past,” Garrin said. Now, he’s serving as a mentor and com-

Fighting to make Lower Manhattan the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.

munity liaison for the Cooper Lumen Design Challenge, while T.B.N.C. acts as the primary fundraiser. The neighborhood group has set up a Web site — indiegogo.com/projects/supportthe-cooper-lumen-design-challenge — to collect donations that will go toward purchas-

‘It’ll push students to provide a great benefit to the neighborhood.’ ing supplies for students as they design and eventually produce the triple-feature power station. They hope to raise at least $10,000 by Jan. 15. “Paul’s a genius, and rather than being motivated by profit, he’s just totally commit-

ted to this idea, and so we’re glad to fully support him on it,” said T.B.N.C. President Victor Papa. Garrin said he hopes to show off a prototype of the students’ work by the end of the coming semester, at Cooper’s Founders Day event next April. Once the design is perfected and more products can be made, he plans to work with T.B.N.C. and other community groups to place them in vulnerable Lower East Side areas. Cumberbatch noted that, beyond serving a local need, the innovative Cooper Lumen power station could eventually be used by people in other places that are underserved or heavily affected by natural disasters. “If it turns out to be really good, you could take it to a place like the Philippines, which has been destroyed by an even bigger natural disaster [than Sandy],” he said, “and, really, I could imagine someone taking this out to remote villages all over the world.”

Seward Park School Continued on page 10

munity their home in the coming years. It is important that the city develop these new school seats in the SPURA site now, rather than waiting until school overcrowding is at a crisis.” Chin had previously signed on to a Nov. 27 letter to D.O.E. — along with state Senator Daniel Squadron (who organized the letter), Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Borough President Scott Stringer and Councilmember Rosie Mendez — urging the agency to include funding for the SPURA school in its 2015-2019 budget. Lisa Donlan, president of the District 1 Community Education Council, summed up the collective frustration of school advocates by stating that they simply don’t trust D.O.E.’s decisions on this — or practically any — issue of new school construction. “D.O.E. has been wrong on so many of their projections in so many neighborhoods,

regardless of what kind of data parents have shown them, so it’s just hard to have any confidence at all in what they’re stating in this case,” she said. While explaining her fears of future overcrowding for Lower East Side schools, Donlan alluded to another Lower Manhattan neighborhood that has already suffered from a lack of school seats while its residential population quickly swelled. “We keep telling D.O.E., ‘Don’t make us the next Tribeca,’ ” she said. With all this in mind, the fact remains that, by the time D.O.E.’s budget is finalized next summer, Bill de Blasio will already have taken office as the city’s next mayor. At that point, he — and whoever he may choose to replace current Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott — will have the final say on the plan that is sent to the City Council for approval. However, de Blasio is already taking some heat for not being open enough about who he’s considering to appoint chancellor.

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Parents fight city as students fight traffic to get to school B Y sa m s P o K o nY Some parents of children attending P.S./I.S. 276 in Battery Park City are calling on the city’s Department of Education to provide bus service to the school’s third-to-eighth-graders, who are currently denied the service based on technicalities. According to guidelines laid out by D.O.E’s Office of Pupil Transportation students above second grade, and who also live less than one mile from their school, cannot ride the bus unless they are granted a hazard variance due to safety concerns. The group of 30 parents currently zoned for the 55 Battery Pl. school, live in the Fincancial District, and the majority would utilize the school bus stop at Wall and William Sts. Students coming from the west side of the Financial District must cross, amid rush hour traffic, both the exit of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and the busy north and southbound lanes on West St. on their way to P.S./I.S. 276 each morning. “Third- to eighth-grade should be provided the same safe transportation of general education bus as their younger siblings and school peers who do not reside in Battery Park City,”

S W I M

Image from a youube video showing the traffic hazards of walking from the Financial District to P.S/IS. 276 in Battery Park City.

wrote P.S./I.S. 276 Katherine Godici, a representative of the parents, to the city in a Sept. 30 request for the hazard variances. But all 30 variances were denied by the agency, due to an opinion that “no hazards” existed on the walking route,

S P O R T S

according to October response letters sent by O.P.T. to the families. “I couldn’t believe that they deemed it safe,” Godici, who lives on Broad St. and whose children are currently in first and second grade at the school, said in a phone interview on Dec. 16.

F I T N E S S

She’s worried about the hazards her own kids will face when they age out of the bus requirement. Godici explained that the Pupil Transportation office also suggested an alternate walking route for the students. But she objected to that as well, saying that the proposed route added an unnecessarily long detour for the children, and pointing out that it still required them to cross traffic entering and exiting West St., a state roadway also known as Route 9A. She posted a youtube video documenting the walk’s hazards, which so far has drawn over 800 views. Parents argue that the variance would not require additional funds since they say the bus is now mostly empty. The group has continued to press the issue, and has since begun working with State Senator Daniel Squadron’s office in hopes of convincing O.P.T. to reconsider the decision. And now, it looks like they may get another chance at being granted the hazard variances. “We will be re-evaluating the walking route during the holiday break and review the decision,” a D.O.E. spokesperson said in a Dec. 16 email.

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Lawns, marshes and playground planned for East River pier

B YNYC SA M S P O K O NofY Parks and Recreation Department Pier 42 and Adjacent Landscape The city’s plan for aNielsen new park at Pier Architects 42 Mathews Landscape 12/5/2013 focuses heavily on wide open lawn space, waterfront marshes and near-complete removal of the large shed that currently stands on the Lower East Side pier. Community Board 3’s Parks Committee on Dec. 5 approved the master plan — which is estimated to cost $94 million — and also approved the proposed Phase 1 plan for construction on the pier, which could begin as early as the start of 2016. Phase 1 — which is already funded and will cost $9.8 million — includes demolishing the majority of the shed, planting lawns and trees along the eight-acre pier’s upland portion (which is currently a parking lot), creating walking paths, providing interim of the proposed new look of Pier 42 park lighting and adding a garden near the Renderings NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Pier 42 and Adjacent Landscape Entrance Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects pier’s main entrance at the intersection of 12/5/2013 terms of producing a resilient shoreline,” That removal would leave a tiny inlet of Montgomery and South Sts. During the Dec. 5 presentation, Signe said Nielsen, alluding to widespread con- water between the remaining deck — which Nielsen, of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Ar- cerns of storm surge flooding after Hurricane would be covered by a lawn — and proposed chitects, stressed similarities between flood- Sandy. “I think this is the poster child for all waterfront marshes, creating a “soft edge” resistant, eco-friendly aspects of her firm’s these proposals that say what we should be along that part of the river. Green infrastructure advocates have long said that the includesign and Borough President Scott String- doing along the East River.” Her Downtown firm has also designed sion of marshes and other soft edges will er’s East River Blueway Plan, which was prohelp to protect the waterfront from adverse posed earlier this year and would transform parts of Hudson River Park. The ambitious Pier 42 master plan also impacts of future storms like Sandy. the waterfront between the Brooklyn Bridge includes removal of an interior portion of the The planned inlet would also be bridged and E. 38th St. “I feel that this park is doing exactly what pier’s deck, which sits directly on the river by two small pedestrian paths, which would the Blueway Plan is doing, and that it ad- and needs to be overhauled anyway, since it connect the deck lawn and the park’s upland dresses what everyone is thinking about in is currently in a state of severe deterioration, green spaces. according to the Parks Department. 49

“It’ll almost feel like you’re walking on an Tidal Marsh island out in the river,” said Nielsen. In addition to more lawns along the 50 upland area, the master plan calls for a portion of raised land, just east of the waterfront’s longstanding bikeway, that Nielsen said would serve as a buffer to the noise and sight of cars on the busy F.D.R. drive, in addition to helping prevent storm surges. The master plan also includes a new playground near the entrance at Montgomery and South Sts., as well as a concession stand and restroom facilities in the same area of the park. A more uncertain part of the plan relates to the portion of Pier 42, also near that entrance, that is currently used for operations by the city’s Department of Transportation. “Our first job as part of this master plan is to find a new home for the D.O.T. site, although that may not be very easy,” said William Mauro, of the Parks Department. If the current D.O.T. space can be incorporated into the park, Nielsen’s design calls for both a seasonal fountain plaza and a small swath of artificial turf to be placed on that site. Nielsen later explained that, as an alternative option for the space currently occupied by D.O.T., her firm is considering placing a docking station for small boats and kayaks Continued on page 13


13

December 18 - January 15, 2013

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at that site. But after the presentation, Rob Buchanan of the New York City Water Trail Association — which is representing various boating groups interested in Pier 42 — told the architect he believed that the pier’s planned inlet, rather than the current D.O.T. space, would be a much more accommodating location for boats or kayaks. “We agree with you,” said Nielsen, though she added that her firm is now doing studies of the riverfront waters, and has found the currents around the proposed inlet to be higher and potentially unsafe. “So let’s wait and see what the rest of those studies show,” she said. It’s still unclear how the remaining esti-

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Continued from page 12

Bridge & Habitat Restoration

mated total of around $85 million will be raised to fund all of these elements of the master plan, beyond the lawns and relatively simple aspects of Phase 1 of construction. After the presentation, Mauro acknowledged that the cost of the full plan is “a good amount more than we thought it would be,” mainly because so much money will have to be spent tearing down and replacing the structurally unsafe pier deck. All of the funding for Pier 42 to date — which will pay for Phase 1, and has already paid for community outreach, site inspections and other elements — was secured in November 2011 by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and State Sen. Daniel Squadron. After the meeting, Mauro said that the Parks Department has continued to meet with Squadron about securing more money.

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Governors Isle changes: 7-day ferries with fares, & a spa B Y SA M S P O K O NY For the first time, Governors Island will be open seven days a week during its 2014 season. The expansion of public access — from the end of May through the end of September — will be funded, in part, by new fares for both Brooklyn and Manhattan ferries to the island. The ferries were previously free of charge. The Trust for Governors Island, which operates the land, announced the expansion and the planned ferry fares two weeks ago. Round trip ferry rides will cost $2 for adults on weekdays and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, while seniors will pay $1. Children under 12 will still ride free of charge, and morning ferries on the weekend will also remain free. The ferries will run hourly weekdays and every half hour for most of the day on weekends. In the past, Governors Island has been open to visitors for 40 days each year. The planned increase in operation will triple that to 120 days for next year. In addition to the new cash that will come from those fares, the city has increased its funding of the Trust’s operating budget by $1.88 million to help support the seven-days-a-week schedule, according to Trust spokesperson Eliza-

Downtown Express file photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Art exhibit on Governors Island last summer.

beth Rapuano. The Trust’s operating budget is now $13.4 million, nearly 90 percent of which comes from the city, said Rapuano. When the island opens next May, visitors will also have access to 30 acres of new park and public spaces being built

now. Construction on another 10 acres of park space is also underway, and that work is expected to be done in 2015. The additional city funding is also contributing to operation and construction of the new spaces. The Trust also announced that it has designated its first-ever commer-

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cial tenant, following a rezoning of Governors Island that was completed in July. That tenant will be a day spa, which will be housed in three former residential buildings along the northern edge of the island, and which eventually will be open year-round to the public. Quadratec Spa will offer a broad range of spa services, with indoor facilities, and an outdoor terrace and a café, according to the Trust. In additon, the island’s two other current tenants — the New York Harbor School and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council — will be expanding. The Harbor School will expand into a new, 25,000-square-foot building adjacent to its main location, and L.M.C.C. will expand its current Arts Center to include additional studio spaces, a media lab, exhibition spaces and a screening room, according to the Trust. “These organizations will make important investments in the Island and its historic buildings,” Leslie Koch, president of the Trust, said in a statement Dec. 5. “With increased activity in the Historic District and more visitors than ever before able to use the island and the new park spaces, Governors Island is becoming an ever more vibrant part of New York City.”

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

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A nasty car crash at the corner of Chambers and Church Sts. Sat., Dec. 7 almost hit exposed gas and electrical lines, but luckily the utilities survived unscathed, officials said. The black pickup truck apparently went out of control around 11:40 a.m. and ended up in a construction site near the intersection, a Fire Department spokesperson said. Minutes later, firefighters, police and Con Edison workers arrived on the scene to investigate the crash, fearing an impact on the utilities that had been exposed by the construction work. The driver of the vehicle, Moises Benitez, 39, of Brooklyn, was not injured, but was arrested for driving without a license, police said. A Con Ed spokesperson said that there was no damage to either the gas or electrical mains, calling it a “very fortunate situation.” — SAM SPOKONY


17

December 18 - January 15, 2013

transit sam ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING IS IN EFFECT ALL WEEK Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all my readers! ‘Tis the season for major gridlock: The city has announced Gridlock Alert Days on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Traffic volumes will be higher all over the city, especially at crossings in Lower Manhattan: the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and the Battery and Holland tunnels. Last-minute Christmas shoppers are going to be out in full force this weekend. Shopping areas throughout Lower Manhattan will be completely jammed from now through the New Year including the shopping rows along Broadway and West Broadway in Soho as well as Century 21 on Church St. Why mention the 26th? Thursday the 26th is the biggest return and exchange day of the year. The Jets take on the Browns 1 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Fan traffic will make for slow going in the Lincoln Tunnel, sending drivers down to the Holland Tunnel. Expect inbound delays after the game. Public schools kick off their winter recess Friday, and return to school Thurs., Jan. 2. The morning commute

should lighten up a bit, but will be offset by extra holiday traffic. All Manhattan-bound lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge will close 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Monday nights, as well as midnight Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday and midnight Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday. Additionally, one of three Brooklyn-bound lanes will close 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. During the overnight closures, drivers out late or up early will instead use the Battery Tunnel, Manhattan Bridge, or Williamsburg Bridge, meaning more cars on West, Canal, and Delancey Sts., respectively. In the Holland Tunnel, one of two inbound tunnel lane will close 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday nights. That means back-ups from the New Jersey side of the tunnel all the way through to Canal St. Chambers St. will fully close between Broadway and Church St., and between West Broadway and Church St. 9 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday. It will also fully close between Broadway and Church St. 7 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday. Varick St. will close between York St. and St. Johns Lane 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Thursday. Final words of advice: Give yourself 90 minutes of extra time if you’re catching a flight — roads leading to our three airports are going to be completely snarled with traffic — and also consider transit. Safe travels everyone! The New Year is just around the

tcorner! Prepare yourself for traffic in 2014 with Gridlock Sam’s 2014 Parking Calendar. Twitter followers and e-Newsletter subscribers get access to a free download link. Follow me on Twitter @ gridlocksam and visit gridlocksam.com to sign up for my e-Newsletter. You can also get a hard copy at gridlocksam.com by paying $3 shipping/handling.

Seaport town hall meeting Community Board 1 will be hosting a town hall meeting Jan. 13 to discuss Howard Hughes Corporation’s plans to redevelop the South Street Seaport area with a 600-foot mixed use building, a marina and food market at the sites of the New Market and Tin buildings. Catherine McVay Hughes, the board’s chairperson, said it was important to get the public’s views on the plans before the formal land use process begins. “This is a pivotal point in the revitalization and restoration of the historic Seaport and we want to make sure that

it is done right — our waterfront history is just too precious,” Hughes, who has no ties to the firm, wrote in an email to Downtown Express. The corporation’s executives have been invited to listen and comment with the rest of the attendees, but they will not have any time set aside to present their preliminary plans, which they did last month. The meeting will go from 6 to 8 p.m. on Mon., Jan. 13, and will be held at Pace University’s student union, One Pace Plaza.

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Flea Theater breaks ground on bigger digs as well as dance and music performances, and winning numerous Obies and other awards — but those who backed the move financially believe it will give a new and valuable boost to the Downtown arts scene. “This little Flea is going to help make big dreams come true for a lot of young artists,” said Scott Stringer, Manhattan’s borough president. “The cultural life of the city will really be defined by how many young people get an opportunity to come here from all over the world, just because they want to

sing and dance and express themselves.” Stringer, who will take office as the city’s next comptroller in January, said he had hoped to find a new home for the Flea ever since he became borough president eight years ago. “So I’m glad that, with 27 days left as borough president, we finally got this thing done,” he quipped. Continued on page 19

Downtown Express photo by Sam Spokony

Actress Sigourney Weaver, a founding partner of Flea Theater, left, with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Dept. of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin, helped bust down a ceremonial wall at the Dec. 5 groundbreaking event the Flea Theater’s new home at 20 Thomas St. BY SAM SPOKONY One of Downtown’s leading Off-Off Broadway theaters is moving to a space that’s nearly double the size of its old one. Directors and supporters of Tribeca’s Flea Theater celebrated the groundbreaking of their new 20 Thomas St. home on Dec. 5, and jubilantly announced that — thanks to city, state and private funding — they now own the building. “This is truly a most thrilling step in our story,” artistic director Jim Simpson said at the Dec. 5 cer-

ns o i t w lica t. o N pp en a g llm in nro t p e ce for c a

emony, “and I could not be happier to be at the helm of the Flea right now.” Since it was founded in 1996, the Flea has rented its 7,400-square-foot space at 41 White St., which has two theaters. Once the company moves a few blocks to 20 Thomas St. — construction is expected to be completed by fall of 2014 — the Flea will enjoy an 11,500-square-foot space that will include three theaters, as well as a rehearsal room. The Flea was certainly able to thrive in the smaller facility — presenting more than 100 plays,

Image courtesy of Flea Theater

Good art works on many levels: A rendering of the new Flea Theater depicts its three performance spaces.

Proven Method. Two Campuses. Welcome to The Montessori Schools in Flatiron and Soho. We pride ourselves on providing a classic Montessori curriculum, offering children an environment to learn and gain self-confidence during their most formative years. Go to our website to learn more about our philosophy or Google it. In fact, the founders of Google were students of Montessori as are the founders of Amazon, Wikipedia and The Sims. We hope to welcome your family soon. State–of–the–art facility ~ Children ages 2–5 Morning and full day programs Early drop off and extended day options For information, please contact admissions@themontessori.org

Tel. 212 633 0600 www.themontessorischools.org Flatiron – 5 West 22nd Street SoHo (Opening Fall 2014) – 75 Sullivan Street (between Spring and Broome) MAF+MIS_GPM Ad_9.875x5.63.indd 1

11/4/13 12:04 PM


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December 18 - January 15, 2013

What’s new, at the Flea’s old digs Continued from page 1

Keeping with the lightheartedness of the ceremony, Kate Levin, commissioner of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, proclaimed the Flea’s new space to be “groovy doovy” — a phrase she said Simpson had taught her years ago. “The Flea really has been a key part of transforming Lower Manhattan,” said Levin, “and in making sure that it is a cultural hub as well as a vibrant business destination, not to mention the fastest-growing residential neighborhood in New York.” Funding for the purchase and renovation of 20 Thomas St. came nearly equally from public and private sources — $5 million from the city and $3.75 million from the state, with $8.15 million coming from private donors, according to Ron Lasko, the theater’s spokesperson. He added that the Flea is still hoping to raise an additional $2 million in private money to finish renovating the building, and to fund an endowment to cover future operating expenses. Film star Sigourney Weaver, who is married to Simpson and was a partner in founding the Flea 17 years ago, also spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony. In addition to co-starring in two productions at the Flea, she had played a vital role in lobbying for the theater’s public funding in recent years. “The Flea has renewed and energized established artists like myself, sustained emerging artists in theater and dance and showcased the next very talented generations,” said Weaver. “We couldn’t be more proud, or more grateful to the city, the state and the countless individuals who have made this dream come true for all of us.”

BY SCOTT STIFFLER Family Furniture” is playwright A.R. Gurney’s eighth world premiere at The Flea. Thomas Kail, a 2008 Tony nominee for “In The Heights,” directs a cast whose familiar ranks include Peter Scolari (“Girls” and “Newhart” on TV, and recently seen on Broadway in “Lucky Guy”). The play is described by the Flea as a return to “home territory” for Gurney — whose coming of age tale, set in Buffalo, happens over the course of a decisive summer during which an upper class WASP tribe girds themselves with gin and tonic, to navigate “tennis doubles with the Baldwins, vichyssoise and so much more, in this heartfelt tale about parents and children.” In 2014, the Bats will be busy bees while their new three-theater hive is under construction. Back at the Flea’s “classic” White St. location, its resident acting company (named for those sleek, nocturnal, winged cave-dwellers) is prepping for a January world premiere from Brooklyn’s Brian Watkins. Helmed by resident director Danya Taymor and featuring members of the Bats, “My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer” finds Sarah, Hannah and their needy mother stuck in a forgotten prairie town with Vicky — lone survivor of the family’s formerly robust flock of sheep. Tasked with housebreaking the woolly beast, the sisters face a similar challenge: learn to behave civilly, or sacrifice their future. “We haven’t heard the howls of the prairie — that vast expanse of America — since the early days of Sam Shepard,” says Producing Director Carol Ostrow of the playwright. “Watkins,” she asserts, “is an original, and he is a real find.

Photo by Juan Marcus

A Tried and true WASP, in a ‘Bats’ cave: A.R. Gurney’s “Family Furniture” is the playwrights eigth world premiere, at the Flea. “Family Furniture” plays through Dec. 22. Tues.-Sat. at 7pm, Sun. at 3pm. Tickets are $15-$70 (Pay-What-You-Can Tuesdays, at the door). Previews for “My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer” begin Jan. 15, with the run from

Jan. 25-Feb. 15, Wed.-Sun., at 7pm. Tickets are $15-$35. Both plays take place at The Flea, 41 White St. (btw. Broadway & Church). For reservations, call 212-352-3101 or visit theflea.org.

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Editorial Publisher

Jennifer Goodstein

Nelson Mandela, an inspiration to us all

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The world lost a towering figure this month

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with the passing of Nelson Mandela at age 95. The father of a free South Africa, the great humanitarian leader endured more than a quarter century in prison, most of it under extremely harsh and cruel conditions. His ability to leave prison without hatred, and to focus on peaceful reconciliation in his country is an inspirational example that may never be matched. It is one that no doubt has particular resonance for Christians preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ, but it is a universal message that is also embraced by many people of all faiths, as well as atheists. Mandela’s struggle became the symbol of the fight to end South Africa’s racist apartheid system.

Many of us remember the South African divestment campaigns that swept American college campuses in the 1980s. The divestment effort definitely contributed to bringing an end to apartheid and to Mandela’s finally being released from prison in 1990. Today, students at New York University, The New School and elsewhere across the country advocating for their schools to divest from major fossil fuel companies take inspiration from Mandela and the antiapartheid divestment campaign that occurred during a previous generation. Mandela was a profound figure. President Obama has cited his transformative influence on his life. Even arch conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Ted Cruz recognize the importance of Mandela, and what his struggle and what he stood for mean for all of mankind.

It’s a welcome change for mainstream conservatives, who attacked Mandela three decades ago. Mandela embodied humility, and also forgiveness. After his liberation from prison, he remarkably found it within him to befriend his former jail guard. Thankfully, Mandela never gave up — during his long incarceration on Robben Island or afterward, and his steadfastness, fortitude and courage helped forever change South Africa…and our world. And, thankfully, it was Mandela upon whose strong shoulders such an inhumane burden, and then, after his release — as he became his country’s leader — such great responsibility, was thrust. Very few others could have done it. As they used to say during the struggle, power to the people: Amandla! Awethu.”

Posted To “State lets landlords benefit from illegal activity, advocates say” (posted, Nov. 27):

The cure to the affordable housing problem is simple: build more housing. Regulating the existing housing just causes landlords not to invest or to turn it into condos, hotels, or other non-residential uses. Like it or not, the 93 new apartments on the market are, in fact, helping to defuse the housing crisis. NY Renters Alliance

Stuyvesant Community Center saved from closing” (Posted, Nov. 25, updated Nov. 26):

Happy the people who created Tribeca, (the working class), finally won something in this neighborhood. We keep getting kicked out because we can no longer afford an area that WE fought for. Independence Plaza, Food Emporium, PS 234. Everyone seems to forget about us. The kids in the area are not only from the wealthy, they are from hard working people. They need a place that they can afford to stay at. Jen

Sooner or later all the original people who rented in the area will be kicked out of their apartments. the landlords are full of greed. no more families need more people to fight for us! MarcFranco

On the Spot: Martin Luther King Addo (posted, Dec. 4):

What a blessing it is to have Addo in the neighborhood! He has gifts far beyond his ability as a fitness trainer, and he shares them with generosity and love. Diane HB He is a pleasure to follow. I love

his stories of Africa and how much he enjoys being in the States. He really knows his stuff!!!!! Much luck and much love. Jane M. Addo is a true asset to the Southbridge community. He’s such a warm and compassionate person…. The way in which Addo personalizes each session to my specific needs has been a true benefit to my health and the way I feel on a daily basis. Thank you Addo, you are a true blessing!!!! Diana R


December 18 - January 15, 2013

21

White Christmas Downtown

Downtown Express photos by Milo Hess

Tuesday’s snow gave Tribeca’s Pier 25 a definite holiday look, but Lower Manhattan shops have been in the spirit for almost a month as recent sightings of Santa in Little Italy and Frosty in Tribeca indicate.


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December 18 - January 15, 2013

After surgery, baby twin is home for Christmas Continued from page 1

part of I.V.F. (in vitro fertilization), but was still scared because of the pending surgery. Duodenal atresia is a rare condition in which the small bowel is blocked. Many Down syndrome babies have the blockage, but there is no causal relationship between the conditions. Roccos said the excess fluid created by the atresia meant she was carrying the equivalent of triplets. Because her first birth was at Mt. Sinai, Roccos was already planning to deliver there again. Even before Georgia’s diagnosis, Roccos’ pregnancy was classified as high risk because of her age, 48, and the fact that she was carrying twins. Her condition made her unable to take the subway to the Upper East Side hospital, so Roccos took taxis for weekly exams the last few months of her pregnancy. Dr. Aaron Lipskar, who performed the surgery with Dr. Peter Midulla, said it was a particularly tricky procedure because Georgia was born at only five-and-halfpounds, “so everything is smaller.” Because of the baby’s size, the doctors were unable to do a laparscopic incision, which means the Georgia has a larger scar – Roccos joked that her baby inherited her mother’s C-section mark. Lipskar had thought it would be at least a few weeks if not months for Georgia to recover, but “she really did quite well.” She doesn’t have the bloated stomach or the vomiting common after surgery. In fact, Roccos said right now Georgia appears slightly healthier than Cecilia, who has a little acid reflux, a common condition for

Christina Roccos with her daughter Georgia, who recovered quickly from surgery.

newborns. Dr. Lipskar said Mount Sinai performs about five to ten surgeries a year for duodenal atresia out of perhaps two dozen done in the city, but most are done laparscopically. Roccos calls Lipskar and Midulla “my rock star surgeons,” and has been struggling with what to do for them. “What do we do — send them a box of chocolates or flowers,” she asked. “How do we thank them.” In a separate phone interview Lipskar laughed when told of Roccos’ words. “They’re the ones who are rock stars,” he said. “It’s very scary to have your baby born and not be perfect, we had to emphasize Georgia was perfect— she just had a little defect. I’d hate to think of myself as a rock star.” Nevertheless, Roccos, who volunteers her time for needy children, is thinking of doing something more — perhaps making a donation to help babies with duodenal atresia. She’s not particularly religious, but her happy ending at Christmas time is not lost on her. “It makes us more appreciative this time of year,” she said. “It makes us want to give something back. It’s not a fair world — some people have so much and some have so little and we never take that for granted.” Like past years for the family, presents will be opened in FiDi Christmas morning before they drive to Maryland to spend part of the day with Smithmyer’s family. This year though, the parents will be taking a rental. “Our little S.U.V.”, Roccos said, “is not going to hold this big family.”


December 18 - January 15, 2013

A Visit from the Mayor-Elect (with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore — definitely founding father of Chelsea, and probably author of the original)

BY SCOTT STIFFLER

With the promise of change, for our five-borough zoo! And then, in a twinkling, I knew I had proof, That the man with a mandate was up on my roof! As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney de Blasio came with a bound.

'Twas the twilight of Bloomberg, when in Gracie Mansion, No next tenant was stirring; he had yet to be sworn in. Four stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes the de Blasios soon would be there.

He was dressed in middle-class duds, dude, you dig? His clothes, from a store for the Tall and the Big. A progressive agenda was carefully stacked, In a bag that was bursting and flung ’crossed his back.

Throughout New York City, children slept in their beds; While visions of Universal Pre-K danced in their heads. And I, keeping vigil for the next morning’s oath, Knew we’d soon have a new guy — for two terms, at the most!

He quickly unpacked all these overdue gifts, And he didn’t stop once (not even to frisk). Education, infrastructure, income equality! A budget that’s balanced, and participatory! Affordable housing through inclusionary zoning, And more public plazas, for leg-stretching strolling! And just for today, here’s a styrofoam container, Plus trans fats and cigs and a soda, sized major!

When out on the street there arose such a clatter, I nearly called 311 to complain of the matter. Instead, to the window I flew like a flash, To scold the noise-makers and settle their hash. The moonlight was twerking on the new-fallen snow, Giving a fresh perspective to the objects below. When what to my wonkish eyes it did seem, To be a Pedicab pulled by a transition team. With a liberal leader at the reigns of the ride, Who was swept into office by historic landslide! More rapid than refunds his coursers they came, And he played that song, “Royals,” and he called them by name: “Now, Brooklyn! Now, Bratton! Now, Cuba! Now, Castro! On, Tax! On, Spend! On, Vote-Getting Afro! To the left of the porch! To the left of the wall! To the far left, and further! Now, dash away all!" As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with storm barriers, mount to the sky; So up to the housetop the coursers they flew,

Oh calm down, he was joking, this jolly old elf. Even Bloomy’s scowl broadened, in spite of himself. Said the new to the old, there’s no need to be glum, You’ve improved public health, with your war on our fun. Now I’ll take what you’ve done and I’ll build on that work. Then he had no more words, but his actions they spoke. He beckoned me close, and we snapped us a selfie, Then posted on Facebook, and everywhere-elsie! He sprang to his Pedicab, then up with his thumbs, To face every future challenge that comes. And I loudly exclaimed, ere he drove out of sight — “A new day has dawned, after five terms of night!”

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

A (Downtown) room of one’s own

Workspace Residency gives artists new focus in FiDi spaces

Photo by Carl Skutsch

LMCC resident artist Aya Ogawa’s past work as a playwright and director includes 2008’s “oph3lia” — an examination of themes emerging from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” character. BY SAM SPOKONY It’s tough to write and direct a play that explores modern technology, nuclear disasters and the prospect of some future world war — and it’s even tougher when you have a couple of screaming kids running around. “It’s basically impossible for me to get any work done at home,” said Aya Ogawa, 39, the mother of two who’s currently drafting said play, “Ludic Proxy,” on a commission from Off-Broadway powerhouse The Play Company. “And it’s just not fun to be working in a café all the time,” she added.

But Ogawa got a reprieve from the dreaded, crowded café in September, when she joined 30 other artists in Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace studio residency program. The selective, nine-month program provides each winning artist with an individual space in which they can truly devote themselves to new work. The residency began in 2006, and for the second straight year it’s taking place on the temporarily vacant 12th floor of One Liberty Plaza — in the heart of the Financial District, and steps away from the World Trade Center — on property do-

nated by banking giant Goldman Sachs. “To have that dedicated space in which to write and think is such a precious commodity,” said Ogawa, who added that she also utilizes a dance floor in the program’s common area to test out and rehearse her forthcoming play’s themes and choreography. The Workspace residency has granted a different kind of freedom to Hector Arce-Espasas, a painter and sculptor who was having trouble with the landlord at his Bushwick studio while preparing for an important gallery showing in Torino, Italy next March. “Right now I’m not worried about paying

rent, or any of those other issues, so it’s a fresh new start in which I can focus solely on the work with a clear mind,” said ArceEspasas, 31, who is attempting to expand the multi-dimensional medium of clay, by not only sculpting but also painting with it. “Honestly,” he added, “I couldn’t imagine being able to produce this upcoming show while having to deal with my landlord back in Brooklyn.” Arce-Espasas explained he was initially concerned about being limited by a small, isolated room at the residency. But those worries were gone once he settled in at the


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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Just Do Art! B Y SCO T T S T IF F L E R

“A SWINGING BIRDLAND CHRISTMAS”

Timing isn’t everything in the world of entertainment — but it’s definitely on a short list that includes skill, sincerity and a keen sense of showmanship. So it’s appropriate that our review copy of “A Swinging Birdland Christmas” arrived just a few hours before cable channel AMC ran back-to-back screenings of “White Christmas.” With a score by Irving Berlin and its polished take on the old let’s-puton-a-show plot, the 1954 crowd-pleaser has the precise kind of irony-free sentiment and glitzy presentation that makes the “Birdland” CD a natural selection for repeat listening. Citing beloved holiday TV specials of yore as the inspiration for their collection of recorded songs (and annual stage show), the sweet and cheeky trio with world-class pipes — Klea Blackhurst, Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch — tear into searing arrangements of classics like “It’s The Holiday Season,” “The Man With The Bag” and “Let It Snow” with enough charm and verve to rescue these chestnuts from the fire of a million lesser interpretations. Happily, the trio is home for the holidays — poised to land at West 44th Street’s Birdland Jazz Club for five live performances of “A Swinging Birdland Christmas” (the 10-track CD is from last year’s Christmas Eve show).

If you can’t make these upcoming gigs, the Stritch/Caruso charisma is on display throughout the year, at Birdland’s weekly Monday night “Cast Party” — where crooners, Broadway legends and virtuoso musicians gather for a raucous open mic night that’s pure cabaret bliss. The CD is available for purchase at birdlandjazz.com. “A Swinging Birdland Christmas” is performed Dec. 21-25, at Birdland Jazz Club (315 W. 44th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). All shows 6pm, except Sat., at 5:30pm. Cover: $30, plus $10 food or beverage minimum. For reservations, call 212-581-3080 or visit birdlandjazz.com. Jim Caruso’s “Cast Party” happens every Monday night at Birdland Jazz Club. Doors open at 9pm, show at 9:30pm. $25 cover, $10 food/drink minimum. For info, visit jim-caruso.com and birdlandjazz.com.

THE PINK ROOM: DAVID LYNCH BURLESQUE

It began in February of 2011 as a tonguein-cheek, hand-in-pants way for Downtown burlesque performers weaned on “Twin Peaks” to mark the anniversary Laura Palmer’s death. It quickly earned a cult following of its own, for onstage antics every bit as strange and compelling as the “she’s filled with secrets” prom queen whose murder sparked a national obsession when the surreal soap opera premiered in Continued on page 26

Photo by Bill Westmoreland, Graphic by Todd Johnson

Cabaret’s Christmas Dream Team, live on the Birdland stage.


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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Just Do art! Toddler/Adult Preschool Afterschool Arts Academy Rock the House Foundations of Fine Art 72 Teen Program Private & Group Instrumental Senior Chorus Birthday Parties

Continued from page 25

1990. Part tribute and part satire, with a sexual vibe all its own, host Francine “The Lucid Dream” has since broadened the horizons of her “Pink Room” show to include nights whose themes echo, reflect and riff on everything from “Wild at Heart” and “Lost Highway” to “Inland Empire” and “Dune.” For one show only on Dec. 27, the “David Lynch Burlesque” crew relocates from their usual haunt (the Twin Peaks Roadhouse & Bookhouse, aka the Parkside Lounge) to the Kraine Theater (transformed into a sultry venue reminiscent of Club Silencio in “Mulholland Drive”). A featured evening in Horse Trade Theater Group’s Winter Burlesque Blitz, this installment is all about mood — as Francine channels “Blue Velvet” nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens, for a celebration of Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting musical contributions to the Lynch canon. Matt Knife does hosting duties, welcoming to the stage Amelia Bareparts, Anja Keister, Iris Explosion and Satanica. Fri., Dec. 27, at 11pm. At The Kraine Theater (85 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). For advance tickets ($20), visit smarttix.com. For info: francineburlesque.com.

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Francine “The Lucid Dream” and friends focus on the powerful presence of music, in the work of David Lynch (Dec. 27, at The Kraine Theater).


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December 18 - January 15, 2013

LMCC program provides community for creatives

Continued from page 26 building and realized that he had more than enough room to set up his canvases and freely move around the space. “Now, I think I like it more than my old studio,” he said, with a laugh. Another major element of the program, Arce-Espasas noted, is the exposure he and other artists receive when they’re periodically visited by curators — in his case, from places like the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art — or other leading industry professionals. “These are people I never would have expected to meet on my own, so it’s a huge opportunity just to have them see my work,” he said. And besides the purely individual benefits, there’s a special kind of growth and communication that develops when a group of talented artists are working side-by-side for nine months. LMCC has tapped into that aspect of the residency by including weekly salon gatherings for the artists, at which they can share ideas, ask for feedback or just mingle. “It’s a great sense of community,” said Desirée Alvarez, who entered the residency this year as a poet but also works as a visual artist. “[LMCC] has really maximized the potential for what the program can be, because the whole environment really fosters getting to know one another — we even had a Thanksgiving dinner a few days before the holiday.” Alvarez, 50, didn’t have to come very far to get to One Liberty Plaza, since she’s lived for two decades on the west end of Canal Street. But like many of her fellow artistsin-residence, she’s finding that the change of setting is having a powerful impact on a new project — in her case, a series of poems exploring the origins and nature of violence, while using the 16th-century Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire to unpack feelings about her own mix of Spanish and Mexican

Photo courtesy of the artist and LMCC

Hector Arce-Espasas’ past work includes 2011’s “No, These Are Not Paintings They Are Pineapple Déco.”

Photo by Michel Franck

Desirée Alvarez’s past work includes “Odalique,” featuring letter woodcuts printed on fabric, with Alvarez herself posing as the model.

heritage. “I don’t think I’d be halfway through the manuscript right now if it weren’t for this program,” she said. This year’s Workspace residency also provides writers like Alvarez with a chance to get portions of their work out into the public sphere before the program ends next June. She’ll be participating in an LMCC-sponsored reading at Poets House — also located Downtown, at 10 River Terrace — on Feb. 24. In addition, those who want to fully immerse themselves in the work of the artists-

in-residence can attend the culminating Workspace Open Studios event, which, following an initial May 31 reception, will take place on the 12th floor of One Liberty Plaza on June 1 and 2. Until then, it’s back to business for the visual artists, performing artists and writers of the program. And as Lower Manhattan takes shape once again — as those artists look out their windows and see 4 World Trade Center finally open, with the flagship Tower 1 on the way — there seems to be no limit to what can be accomplished when the framework of an idea is given the focus it truly deserves.

“It’s like a hive here,” said Alvarez of the residency spaces. “It’s a buzz of activity among all the artists, and it’s contagious, and it’s wonderful.”

Artists interested in applying for LMCC’s 2014-2015 Workspace program can attend an informational session on January 15. The deadline for applications is January 30. For more details on the program, the informational session or how to apply, visit www. lmcc.net/residencies/workspace


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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Have yourself a darkly odd Christmas Essential viewings balance the treacly and the treacherous BY T RAV S.D . (tr a v s d .wo r d p r e s s. c o m )

SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964)

Christmas is usually associated with brightness: the North Star over Bethlehem, the lights on a Christmas tree, the whiteness of snow, the silver of tinsel. Fairy tales, on the other hand, are notoriously dark, with their stories about lost children and the wolves, witches, ogres, giants and trolls out to get them — unconscious maps of the anxieties that lie just underneath every human psyche. In any good yarn, the characters need to get into trouble. For the most part, the best Christmas stories walk a fine balance between the treacly and the treacherous: the Abominable Snowman, the Winter Warlock, the Mayor of Sombertown, the Grinch and that evil magician who harasses Frosty for his top hat are all fine villains. Yet all are redeemed and transformed by the Christmas spirit. The psychologies of some people who make Christmas movies and television specials, however, are apparently so badly wired or damaged that they unconsciously produce nightmarish effects far beyond the normally accepted bounds of the genre. Those are the shows I like to watch again and again and again and again and again.

Back in the day, people used to laugh at the kind of “cheap production values” evinced by movies like this. On the contrary. From where I sit, it’s more like an example of the kind of magic you can make on a shoestring. Everything you need to know is in the title. The leaders of Mars are concerned about the growing apathy and depression of their children (one of whom is a very young Pia Zadora). To bring them joy, they kidnap Santa Claus, and (by accident) two stowaway earth children. Some of the Martians are good, some are evil. The evil ones are dispatched by an army of Santa’s wind-up toys, in a scene that is truly a triumph of early psychedelia. I find the colors in this movie beautiful to look at.

THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS (1974) This popular Rankin/Bass show premiered when I was nine years old, and I can’t tell you the unspeakable excitement with which we fourth graders greeted the event. All the previous Rankin/Bass specials

Continued on page 30

Rankin/Bass

Snow Miser’s the real star of 1974’s “The Year Without a Santa Claus.”

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Bizarre but festive seasonal must-sees Continued from page 28

“SANTA CLAUS” (1959)

This is a bizarre film, no two ways about it. In this Mexican-made Christmas story, Santa and one “Pitch,” a devil, battle for the

“BABES IN TOYLAND” a.k.a. “MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS” (1934)

I’d never heard of this movie until they began to show it on cable television in the 1980s. It rapidly became my favorite holiday film, for it is every bit as bizarre and dark as it is charming and festive. For some reason, Hal Roach liked to experiment with starring Laurel and Hardy in operas and operettas (he’d done the same with “The Bohemian Girl” and “Fra Diavolo”). Here of course, the team adapted the popular 1903 Broadway show by Victor

Embassy Pictures Corporation

had premiered before our time (“Rudolph the Red-Nosed” in 1964, “The Little Drummer Boy” in 1968, “Frosty the Snow Man” in 1969, and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in 1970). And while we gave this new one high marks (especially the Heat and Snow Miser songs), something was different. In modern parlance, it seems to me that with this special, the series jumped the shark. How many holiday angles can you hit? Eventually you have to go downbeat. “What if, one year, there was no Christmas?” Though this show was based on a book written in 1956, it certainly feels very much in tune with the spirit of 1974, with its soaring divorce rates and cynicism. It was perhaps inevitable that given the tenor of the times, we would be given a Santa who is clinically depressed, who is having some kind of nervous breakdown or identity crisis. “I don’t know, maw,” he mutters, “There just doesn’t seem to be any reason to bother any more.” My favorite part is during the show’s closing number, when Santa shouts to the heavens: “I dreamed unpleasant things!”

souls of several children on Christmas Eve. On Santa’s side are Merlin the Magician and contingents of child labor from all over the world. The first 20 minutes of the film are eaten up by a concert featuring songs from each nation. It gets quite preposterous after a while, and I must say the delegates from the USA make a pretty poor showing indeed. Don’t forget to keep an eye peeled for the “Dance of the Giant Dolls” nightmare. At any rate, this is the NEW classic around my house. I’ll need to watch it many more dozens of times until I get it out of my system. There is no more perfect film to watch on a double bill with “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.”

This 1964 cheapo has shoestring magic — and Pia Zadora!

Herbert. Much is changed from the stage version, however. The film is set in a land populated by all the characters from nursery rhymes and other children’s literature (Stan and Ollie are versions of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, two toymakers who live in the Old Woman’s Shoe). Much more enjoyable than the conventional plot about young lovers and a rapacious landlord/suitor are the film’s memorable details: a guy in a cat costume and a live monkey inexplicably dressed as Mickey Mouse; little people (or children?) costumed as the Three Little Pigs; the army of hairy little bogeymen — and then there’s the scene where Oliver Hardy, nabbed for burglary, is made to receive a medieval dunking punishment while Old King Cole laughs merrily at the spectacle. My favorite line is “Oh, help! I’m smothering!” The whole thing is both sweet and unsettling and I can never get enough of it.

IT NEARLY WASN’T CHRISTMAS (1989)

I lied when I said I watched all of these shows over and over. I’ve only watched this one two or three times, and it was at least three times too much. My substitute name for this made-for-TV holiday movie is “The Worst Christmas Special Ever.” Some may take umbrage (given entries number one and three), but I stand by it. Those movies at least have entertainment value. They provide a spectacle and entertainment, however

bizarre. That sort of thing is never “bad” in my eyes, although that’s the word people often resort to. Much worse than that in my eyes is bland mediocrity. The only true sin in cinema is to be boring. This one has almost the identical plot to “The Year Without a Santa Claus.” Charles Durning’s Santa is so depressed he does everything but drink whiskey and smoke cigarettes. “I don’t know why I’m knockin’ myself out,” he sighs, as though Santa were some under-paid, under-appreciated civil servant. Fortunately (or unfortunately), he is accosted by a very disturbing, over-sized elf creature who tries to stir him back into action. The day will be saved by none other than Wayne Osmond (not even Donny or Jimmy), who plays piano at the mall, and his wide-eyed little daughter. Wayne Osmond, as you have already surmised, is not a towering paragon of thespianism. One only hopes that Santa will leave a coupon for acting lessons in his stocking!

Trav S.D. has been producing the American Vaudeville Theatre since 1995, and periodically trots it out in new incarnations. Stay in the loop at travsd.wordpress. com, and also catch up with him at Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, et al. His books include “No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous” and “Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and its Legacies from Nickelodeons to YouTube.”


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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Live auction not too lively, but, hey, there’s still online BY Bo b Krasner Despite the help of mainstream press (Wall Street Journal), radio (“All Things Considered”) and local outlets (such as this paper), the live benefit auction held by St. Mark’s Bookshop last Thursday was not an auspicious start to its campaign to fund the shop’s upcoming move. Eleven signed, first-edition books were offered, but hands stayed down, with only one exception — Anne Waldman’s “First Baby Poems,” which sold for $100. Peter Straub, Sam Shepard and Richard Hell were a few of the authors whose works were returned to the shelf. These and many others, however, are still part of the online auction, which continues until Dec. 15. Bob Contant, the bookshop’s co-owner, was not bemoaning the results. “Expectations were not high to begin with” for the live portion of the ongoing auction, he noted. “We are happy that people showed up. At least the word is out and attention is being paid.” East Village resident Brittney

Ingarra, an auctioneer from Swann Galleries who provided her services pro bono, gracefully sailed through the lack of action as one lot after another failed to generate any interest. Her participation was the result of a connection to Swann through former St. Mark’s Bookshop employee John Larson, who is now a book specialist at the auction house. Many of the people involved in the project were not paid, having donated their services to the cause. Erica Hunt, a consultant who specializes in nonprofit organizations, is one one of them. Hunt actually came up with the idea for the auction and is seeing it through without compensation. She is optimistic about both the outcome of the project and the future of the store. “We are fortunate that the auction will continue online,” she said, adding, “This is the right community to support the store — highly educated and cultured.” Bidding continues online through Sun., Dec. 15, at 10 p.m. at http://benefitevents. com/auctions/stmarksbooks.

Downtown Express photo by Bob Krasner

An unsold work — an autobiography by Richard Hell — being presented for inspection before the bookstore’s auction.

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December 18 - January 15, 2013

Home for the Holidays! Party Platters

Cocktail Sandwich or Wrap Platter

An elegant selection of bite size gourmet sandwich or wraps, freshly prepared with an array of cold cuts and assorted cheese from around the world on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes. (served with mayonnaise, mustard and honey mustard on the side)

Sm $50.00 (35 pcs) Md $65.00 (45 pcs) Lg $80.00 (65 pcs)

Large Shrimp Cocktail Platter

Chips and Salsa Platter

The perfect platter for any occasion. Choose one of the following homemade fresh salsas: mild, medium or hot, plus complimentary guacamole.

Sm $30.00 (6-8p) Md $45.00 (10-12p) Lg $55.00 (15-18p)

Crudité Platter

A wide variety of crispy fresh vegetables. Complimentary with the platter is a choice of two dips.

Sushi

Finger Food

20 pcs rolls- California Rolls

(Chicken or beef) $8.99 p/p

California Roll Platter $35.00

Chicken fingers

Amish Sushi Platter

70 pcs rolls- Tuna, salmon, ebi, eel, yellowtail, avocado and cucumber

$85.00

Sushi Delight Platter

Poached large shrimp beautifully arranged and garnished with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce.

Sm $50.00 (8-10p) Md $65.00 (12-14p) Lg $85.00 (16-18p)

35 pcs rolls- Tuna, salmon, eel, avocado, cucumber. 10 pcs nigiri- Tuna, salmon yellowtail, shrimp, octopus, squid.

Sm $70.00 (6-8p) Md $90.00 (10-12p) Lg $130.00 (15-20p)

Heroes By Foot

$65.00

Fresh Mozzarella Platter

The perfect appetizer: homemade mozzarella cheese, sliced Holland stem tomato, sun dried tomato, fresh basil with olive oil and balsamic vinegar elegantly designed in a floral display.

Pick from these delicious options; Amish Style, American, Vegetarian and Italian (served with mayonnaise, mustard and honey mustard on the side). Chicken Cutlets, grilled or fried (served with roasted vegetables and fresh mozzarella).

Sm $45.00 (8-10p) Md $55.00 (10-12p) Lg $70.00 (14-18p)

2 foot $45.00 (6-8p) 4 foot $90.00 (12-14p) 6 foot $130.00 (18-20p)

Assorted Cheese Platter

Royal Sandwich or Wrap Platter

A unique selection of imported and domestic cheeses garnished with fresh fruits or a gourmet selection of olives with assorted crackers or sliced bread on the side.

X-Sm $40.00 (4-6p) Sm $60.00 (8-10p) Md $80.00 (12-14p) Lg $100.00 (16-18p)

Oven Baked Hors D’oeuvres

A delightful selection of bite size, handmade hors d’oeuvres, including potato puffs, spinach turnover, mini meatballs, mushroom crowns and pigs in a blanket.

Md $55.00 (50 pcs, 8-10p) Lg $110.00 (100 pcs, 16-20p)

An endless array of fresh cold cuts and wraps, all made with assorted cheeses served on a variety of artisan breads and wraps with lettuce and tomato. (served with mayonnaise, mustard and honey mustard on the side)

$8.49 (p/p)

Dessert Platter

A delicious assortment of brownies, cookies, and chocolate garnished with fresh berries.

X-Sm $35.00 (4-6p) Sm $50.00 (8-10p) Md $65.00 (12-14p) Lg $85.00 (16-18p)

Mini Kebab

Salmon Platter

Served chilled or poached with dill sauce, or grilled with teriyaki glaze.

Sm $60 (6-8p) Lg $100 (10-15p)

Meat Entrees

Stuffed Turkey or Chicken Breast with Spinach and Feta Cheese

Chicken Parmigiana Chicken Franchese in Lemon Sauce Chicken Marsala Swedish Meatballs Italian Meatballs

For all meat entrees please choose one side dish: mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, white or yellow rice.

Half Tray $55.00 (8-10p) Full Tray $100.00 (18-20p)

with special house sauce $8.99 p/p

Mini shrimp kebab $11.99 p/p Stuffed chicken breast

with spinach and feta cheese $8.99 p/p

Mini meatballs $8.99 p/p Buffalo chicken wings with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing $7.99 p/p

Eggplant rollatini $7.99 p/p

Hot Pasta Trays

Marinara, Ala Vodka, Alfredo Siciliana, Milanese Suggested with penne

Baked Ziti

Ziti Baked with Ricotta, Mozzarella, Romano Cheese, Spices with Red Sauce

Half Tray $40.00 (8-10p) Full Tray $80.00 (20-30p)

Meat Lasagna

Half Tray $50.00 (8-12p) Full Tray $100.00 (18-25p)

Salads

Arugula Salad

Mushroom, Cherry Tomato, Parmesan Cheese

Mediterranean Salad

Romaine, Onion, Olives, Cucumber, Tomato, Feta

Fancy Mesclun Salad Cucumber, Tomato, Mixed Bell Peppers.

Md $40.00 (10-12p) Lg $50.00 (15-18p)

10% OFF any in-store purchase excludes catering with this ad. Expires 1/11/14

Please check out our full Holiday Menu at www.amishintribeca.com. Amish Market Tribeca 53 Park Place, New York, NY 10007 | T: (212) 608-3863 • F: (212) 608-3864 • amishcatering@gmail.com


DOWNTOWN EXPRESS, DEC. 18, 2013