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Apartment Building Caught Behaving Like a Hotel BY EILEEN STUKANE Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen residents have been alerted by the Community & Residents Protection Working Group (CRP) that across the city, landlords — using false information about the occupancy of their buildings — are applying to the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) for construction permits. Owners falsely state that their occupied buildings are “unoccupied” so that the required Tenant Protection Plan is not instatContinued on page 2

Her Chance to See Again Comes at a Cost BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Alexandra Hobbs is grateful. That is the word she kept using while talking to Chelsea Now last week at her VISIONS at Selis Manor residence (135 23rd St. btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves). The happily married mother to two daughters — three-year-old Destiny and one-year-old Faith — Hobbs, 28, is optimistic about her latest endeavor: raising money for a medical Continued on page 6


Ultimate Marvel Marathon survivor Sean Egan dives deep into the ever-expanding universe of comic book cinema. See page 17.

Photo by Scott Stiffler


It’s a good thing we didn’t buy any dairy, because this eye-popping addition to W. 21st St. made us linger on the way home from Trader Joe’s. The commissioned work is by artist Lexi Bella, who told us she wanted to create something “beautiful and mysterious” for the neighborhood. There’s certainly beauty in those enigmatic eyes. As for mystery, Bella says there may be more things to come at 117-119 W. 21st St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.).

Gansevoort Brick a Blight Upon the Landscape? BY YANNIC RACK Construction on a large-scale redevelopment in the landmarked Meatpacking District could start as soon as next spring, according to the developer who plans to demolish and replace some of the historic brick buildings on the south side of Gansevoort St. Concerned residents living in and near the district packed a room above the Gansevoort Market food court on the evening of Aug. 18, to hear the developer’s proposal for a row of new buildings that will reach up to eight stories and replace some of the oneand two-story market buildings that currently line the block, between Greenwich and Washington Sts. “I think Gansevoort Street has been a blight for the community,” Jared Epstein, vice president and principal at Aurora Capital Associates, told the meeting. The remark, meant to illustrate that large portions


of the buildings on the street currently sit empty or have housed nightclubs unpopular with the community, was met with outcries from the audience. Most of the locals present were concerned, if not enraged, about the plans, which they fear would destroy the character of the neighborhood and even lower property values. In addition, the buildings are all located within the Gansevoort Market Historic District, which was designated in 2003 after years of campaigning from community activists. “This developer will have an enormous fight on their hands if they seek to move ahead with this proposal,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “This is not why we fought for years to get the

Continued on page 4

VOLUME 07, ISSUE VOLUME 27 | 07, AUGUST ISSUE27 22-|SEPTEMBER JULY 16 - 02, 22, 2015

14 Stories, Two Identities: Residence, Hotel Continued from page 1 ed during construction — that is, unless the application is brought to the DOB’s attention. In Hell’s Kitchen, at the 14-story Metro Apartments building (440 W. 41st St. btw. 9th & 10th Aves.), tenants of this occupied-cited-as-unoccupied building transformed into activists when they noticed that their building had a permit posted for construction that would fulfill the hotel wishes of their landlord. Their vigilance changed the course of those wishes. When residents of Metro Apartments saw apartments in their building advertised on Priceline, Orbitz, and other hotel booking services, they became alarmed. Tenants contacted Councilmember Corey Johnson’s office to report that tourists were coming and going in their building. As a result, the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement investigated, and in Jan. 2015 the city sued the owner, Ben Zion Suky, for operating an illegal hotel in what was considered a building of 96 residential micro-apart-

ments. The DOB also issued numerous violations for fire and building code violations. This story at this address comes right out of the files of the CRP, because in February 2015, Suky, the building owner sued by the city, filed a DOB application for a permit to convert the building into a legal hotel of 117 units, and in his application stated that this building, which was still occupied by 10 rent-regulated tenants, was unoccupied. Many tenants had already accepted buyouts from the owner and moved, but the remaining 10 reached out to Housing Conservation Coordinators (HCC) and Johnson’s office. The DOB permit was approved because the application noted a vacant building that already had floors designated for commercial use. It took the work of HCC, which notified the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), which along with Johnson’s office, alerted the DOB. Responding to this outside pressure, the DOB sent inspectors to audit the building and the result was a Stop Work Order — which is still in place. However, the approved permit also remains in place.

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WRONGLY ISSUED PERMITS CAN REMAIN ACTIVE As Alex Schnell, DOB press secretary explains, “It is not automatic to have a permit rescinded when there is a Stop Work Order. To have a permit rescinded we have to issue an intent to revoke, which is essentially a letter that gives the respondent fifteen days to come into compliance with whatever the issue is we have at the site. With a Stop Work Order, the permit is still in place, but you [the owner] cannot work on the building until the violation is addressed.” The initial plan may have been to convert Metro Apartments into a hotel,

but the building now has violations related to egress, emergency light, and occupancy contrary to its Certificate of Occupancy. The permit to convert 440 W. 41st St. into a 117-room hotel is therefore active and an underlying concern, but one resident notes that the physical permit has been removed from display at the scaffolded building. Perhaps that is because zoning in the Special Clinton District does not allow a hotel to exist on or above floors in a building with residents. At this address residents live on the third floor, which means that hotel rooms could only legally exist on floors one and two. Also, the building

Continued on page 13 .com



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Gasps Over Gansevoort: Developer Calls Historic Street ‘Blighted’ Continued from page 1 Meatpacking District landmarked,” he added. “Frankly, I think the proposal is crazy and I cannot imagine that anybody at the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), who is charged with preserving the character of historic neighborhoods, would do anything but reject this proposal outright.” Aurora is developing the project together with William Gottlieb Real Estate. The two companies are also currently building a “glass cube” addition atop 9-19 Ninth Ave., the former site of Keith McNally’s popular French bistro, Pastis. As our sister publication, The Villager, reported three weeks ago, the plan for their latest project — situated right across the street from the southern end of the High Line and the new Whitney Museum of American Art — is split into three separate zoning lots. “This is a real labor of love for us,” said Harry Kendall, one of the

two architects from BKSK Architects who presented the proposal. “I know you’re all here because you’re concerned, but we hope that this presentation will alleviate some of your concerns.” He explained that the easternmost part of the site, the two-story building at 46-48 Gansevoort St. at the corner of Greenwich St., would be kept as is, but “cleaned up” — meaning extraneous signage and piping would be removed, and the brick facade would be restored. The building would also receive two marquees extending over the sidewalk. “It’s quirky things like that we want to incorporate into the design,” Kendall noted. The fi rst lot also includes 50 Gansevoort St., a lower two-story building that currently houses The Griffin nightclub. Todd Poisson, also of BKSK, said the existing building would be demolished and replaced with a three-story one instead, raising the height to about 45 feet, not counting an additional 10 feet of rooftop mechanicals.



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Courtesy BKSK Architects

An architect’s rendering of how the landlord and developer envision the south side of Gansevoort St. (btw. Greenwich & Washington Sts.) under their rebuilding plan. The view is looking east from the High Line.

Immediately west of 50 Gansevoort St., the second lot is currently occupied by the Gansevoort Market, an indoor food court that opened last year. On Tues., Aug. 18, Epstein revealed that Keith McNally’s Pastis restaurant would take over most of that space, and is currently eyeing a reopening date in early 2017. He later added that the Market, whose lease will expire in time, will potentially reopen at a different location in the area. The third lot, from 60-74 Gansevoort St., is split in two under the proposal: Numbers 60-68 would receive an additional three floors on top of their existing two stories, plus another fourth floor that would be set back 20 feet. The one-story building at 70-74 Gansevoort St. would be demolished completely and replaced by a six-story building with a two-story setback, raising the total heights at the block’s western end to 78 and 111 feet, respectively. While this is still lower than the old Manhattan Refrigerating Company building across the street — which was converted years ago into the West Coast Apartments — the sentiment during and after the meeting was unanimous. “I was very disappointed. It’s grossly out of scale and completely lacks historical context,” said Zack Winestine, the co-chairperson of the Greenwich Village Community Task Force, who lives nearby on Horatio St. “It looks like a short Madison Avenue,” agreed Elaine Young, a

member of Community Board 2 who lives just south of the Meat Market. “I think their history justifi cations are very shaky. They’re grasping for a reason, it doesn’t actually make sense,” she added, referring to the architects’ claim that the block’s existing buildings actually used to be higher than they presently are. Vincent Inconiglios, who moved to the area in 1969 and is one of the few grandfathered residents actually living on Gansevoort St., did appreciate one aspect of the proposal. “I like what they’ve done in terms of trying to tier the buildings,” he said. “I think the reality is that this is not the Meatpacking District any longer.” Inconiglios still remembers when racks of meat would be a common sight on the block and there was “fat in the street.” “It’s changed dramatically,” he said. “I’ve seen so much of it change and the concern of the people here, I think, is very real.” Charles Portelli lives on Horatio St., whose backyards are adjacent to the Gansevoort St. buildings. “Building a larger building that shadows and cuts off views suddenly lowers the value of other people’s property, so you’re going against zoning,” he said, echoing the concerns of many residents on his street who were present at the meeting. “You’re blocking off the right to light,” he said. “You’re blocking off views.” Portelli also said he would like to see the character of the stores on the

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Childhood Domestic Violence Victim Seeks Funding for Sight-Restoring Surgery Continued from page 1 procedure that could potentially restore her sight. At the age of three, Hobbs lost her sight after she was beaten by her teenage parents. “My parents were young kids themselves,” she said. “They didn’t know how to raise kids.” Her large family was crammed into two rooms and her parents were worried about food. “I was little and I climbed on top of a chair because I saw cereal,” she recalled. “I reached up to grab the cereal and it fell. It went everywhere — it was Kix. And I got into serious trouble for that. I remember being beaten severely for wasting cereal all over the place.” Hobbs was taken away from her parents and later adopted by her foster mother. Her father ended up serving six years in prison, she said. “With my own kids, I couldn’t dream about doing anything to harm them,” she said. “But also I do understand the frustration that comes when you have generational poverty.”

Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

Alexandra Hobbs, seen here with her family, has a 60 to 70 percent chance of having her vision restored, if she can raise $10,000. Donations are being accepted through a GoFundMe page.

Hobbs lights up when talking about her daughters, calling them “the best present in the world to me,” and they are one of the main motivations for the procedure.

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“I want to do better for them,” she said. “Better than what I was exposed to.” Hobbs went on to explain what she meant by “better,” and why the operation is important: “Blindness is like a suit, a body suit. When you have a body suit on, it’s a little restrictive. You can move still, you can operate, but it restricts your movements. It’s just harder to move around and do things. It doesn’t mean that you can’t, it’s just much harder.” She and her husband, Elijah Hobbs, 32, work to “to raise these girls in a different environment than what we’re used to.” Although Elijah is legally blind, he does have some vision, and does computer programming. “We don’t make a lot of money but we do really well with what we have,” she said. “I’m grateful that I’ve made it. I feel like I’ve made it past my generational curse of abuse.” They met in 2007 in Rockland County, at a convention about technology for those without vision, or with a limited amount. “I didn’t want to go,” she said. “It was my birthday and I wanted to hang out in the city with my friends.” She reluctantly attended the convention, and while hopping from table to table talking to people, she stopped at one where Elijah was sitting.

“At the table, he reached out to me and I noticed his really long muscular arms. I think that moment of admiration has cost me,” she said with a laugh. “He wouldn’t leave me alone.” “He’s my biggest supporter,” she added. “He’s always been in my corner.” They were married in 2008, and then along came Destiny and Faith. She hopes when Faith is a little older, she will be able to return to John Jay College and study humanities and criminal justice. She is also seriously considering law school. Hobbs recalled how she began the research journey about stem cell therapy: her husband had talked to a friend at church about it. She had done research before, but had been unable to find a procedure that pertained to her condition, which is optic nerve atrophy. This means that the nerve in the back of the brain that connects to the eye isn’t really transmitting, she explained. She found the Stem Cell Rejuvenation Center in Phoenix, Arizona. She liked that the center was transparent when answering questions, and had a set price for the operation: $7,100. They also didn’t make any guarantees, she said. The treatment offers a 60 to 70 percent chance of restoration of vision. Hobbs is trying to raise $10,000, which includes travel and childcare costs, so that she can have the procedure done. At gofundme. com, people can contribute to her campaign, called “My chance to see the sun.” As Chelsea Now went to press, $910 had been raised. “There are simple things in life that people take for granted,” she said. Her husband concurred saying, “Us people who have sight, we forget, we take it for granted how sight fulfills us.” Hobbs wants to be able to see her daughters and to discover the world with them. “Everyone tells me how beautiful my daughters are and I believe them,” she said. “But I would like the chance to be able to experience that myself.” To donate to Alexandra Hobbs’ fundraising campaign to pay for the procedure, go to To-See-The-Sun. .com

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Park Association opposes beer garden land grab To The Editor: Re: “Mixed Buzz on Pier 62 Beer Garden” (news, July 30, 2015): The Chelsea Waterside Park Association is adamantly opposed to the proposal by Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) to remove approximately 10,800 square feet of public park space to be used for a commercial enterprise at Pier 62 — which currently affords residents and visitors the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of the Hudson River (our square footage estimate is based on measurements taken at the site from a plan provided by HRPT’s proposal, which did not have any measurements and includes the planting areas as part of the proposed site). Multiple venues exist for eating and drinking along the waterfront. The Frying Pan has been serving food and drinks at Pier 66 for almost 21 years. Chelsea Piers has its venue, and Pier 57 will provide people multiple opportunities to sample many different cuisines and drinks, and will also have outdoor seating along the river. Hudson River Cafe/Pier 45 offers a beautiful setting. All of these venues are directly accessible from the main promenade. Patrons do not need to walk through the park to reach the site. The eastern entrance to the proposed Biergarten is approximately 550 feet from the main entrance to Chelsea Piers. Patrons will have to navigate their way back passing the Children’s Carousel (which is only 25 feet away), as well as the skateboard rink and the Great Lawn, which are heavily used by families (both approximately 200 feet away). Are the monetary gains really worth closing off this space to the many visitors not inclined to the “Biergarten Experience,” who will no longer be

able to enjoy this space? Is having more places to eat and drink what the Hudson River Park was established for? Will sections of the park now be made available only to paying customers? We strongly urge that CB4 vote to deny HRPT’s proposed plan to take away a cherished and unique public space and convert it to a drinking and eating establishment for paying customers. The Chelsea Association



Beer is a ‘sorry excuse for a financial plan’ To The Editor: Re: “Mixed Buzz on Pier 62 Beer Garden” (news, July 30, 2015): Let’s just call this what it is: a hard-liquor bar in a park. Next to a merry-go-round. From Munich to Astoria, beer gardens are open spaces in city blocks, not bars in parks. Madelyn Wils’ piece should be titled “Public Investment, Private Enjoyment.” It’s really about commercial exploitation of publicly created parkland. Remember Jamestown Properties’ deal to change zoning so it could build an office tower right over the High Line, robbing open space and sunlight from park visitors? As sad as it is to see private businesses muscling their way into parks like hogs to a trough, it’s sadder yet to see park officials like Joshua David or Madelyn Wils beating a path for them. What a sorry excuse for a financial plan! A small minority may prefer a bar in the park. There are those who like to take a boombox to the beach, too. The city’s a giant machine for making money. How lovely to go to its edge and escape all that! How lovely it was. David Holowka

Feedback from Facebook Re: “Tenants Turn the Corner at W. 23rd & 11th (news, Aug. 20, 2015): The tenants clearly do not trust their landlord’s hollow promises. And they do not want to depend on government agencies or the judicial system to dispense justice in a timely fashion...if at all. While the project sounds alright, the landlord’s past untrustworthy actions and heavy handed tactics have created suspicion and resistance, and rightly so. New watchdog era, indeed. Annette Evans

Re: Possible NYCHA Privatization Riles Residents (news, Aug. 13, 2015): Don’t ever allow any kind of privatization to bleed public property and its beneficiaries to death. Who owns the land determines its use and future. It is also the most potent tool for City planning and for providing an inclusive environment for its citizens. The problem of the Housing Authority is simply one of incompetence and political corruption. That is what needs to be changed. Umberto Dindo

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to Scott@ or fax to 212-2292790 or mail to Chelsea Now, Letters to the Editor, NYC Community Media, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. Chelsea Now reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Chelsea Now does not publish anonymous letters.


Member of the New York Press Association Chelsea Now is published weekly by NYC Community Media

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August 27 - September 02, 2015


POLICE BLOTTER someone left a hose running at the site located on the 600 block of W. 42nd St. (btw. 11th & 12th Aves.), resulting in significant damage spanning the 8th through 54th floors, according to a police report.

The FBI is looking for this man, who robbed a Seventh Ave. Santander Bank on Aug. 19.

ROBBERY: Rhinestones — But No Cowboy A bandit donning a white hat with rhinestones robbed a Santander Bank (169 Seventh Ave. btw. W. 19th & W. 20th Sts.) at 11:35 a.m. on Wed., Aug. 19. The perpetrator, believed to be in his late 30s, passed a note to a teller demanding cash and claiming possession of a firearm. The bank employee complied and handed over an undisclosed amount of cash, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The suspect was last seen driving a New York City taxi as a getaway car. An FBI statement noted that he is suspected to be involved with five previous bank robberies in the New York area. He is described as a black male, six-feet, two inches tall and 200 pounds, with a moustache. Authorities are offering a reward for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the suspect. Tipsters can call the FBI at 212-384-1000.

DEAD ON ARRIVAL: Bus Crash Kills Pedestrian Police say an MTA bus fatally struck a 69-year-old female pedestrian on Thurs., Aug. 20. The incident occurred just before 9:40 a.m. when the vehicle hit the woman midblock on W. 57th St. (btw. Broadway & Eighth Ave.). She was taken to Cornell Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The driver remained on scene. A police statement indicated that the crash remains under investigation.

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: Inside Job Makes Big Splash A disgruntled employee is suspected to be connected in some way to the intentional clogging of a drain — a felony caper which remains a mystery. The incident damaged a construction site on Sat., Aug. 15. Police say that .com

HARASSMENT: Chelsea Art Argument Two visitors on the High Line incurred the wrath of an art vendor at about 3 p.m. on Sun., Aug. 23. The Hell’s Kitchen husband and wife were having a gander at canvasses in the park near the northwest corner of 10th Ave. and W. 16th St., when the vendor claimed that the wife damaged one of the works. An argument ensued, police said. At one paint, the vendor allegedly stepped on the 33-year-old husband’s foot. Police arrived on scene and examined the artwork in question, describing it in a report as undamaged. The vendor, meanwhile, “displayed aggressive, discourteous behavior” toward fellow citizens, the report added. The 55-year-old vendor, who is an upstate resident, was ultimately not arrested.

PETIT LARCENY: Hot Suds No-Go Store security stopped a 56-year-old man’s effort to score some free beer on Fri., Aug. 21. The perpetrator grabbed $11 worth of Budweiser and $18 worth of Heineken from the fridge of a CVS located near W. 23rd St. and Seventh Ave., at about 4:20 p.m. that afternoon. But an astute 25-year-old security guard prevented the prospective shoplifter from leaving the premises, police said. The witness called in the heavies, NYPD officers who arrested the Chelsea resident and charged him with petit larceny, a misdemeanor.


THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Deputy Inspector Michele Irizarry. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-741-8210. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7 p.m., at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced. The council is on summer break, to resume on Sept. 30.

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Go Ahead, Park Your Kid in a Car! BY LENORE SKENAZY It pains me to say it, but New Jersey is suddenly a light unto us all. Last week, its Supreme Court there ruled that it isn’t automatically child abuse to let your kid wait in the car while you pick up the dry cleaning. Hallelujah! We’ve been warned these past 10 years that kids are in danger any time we leave them in the car. Public service announcements say, “Never leave your child in the car — not even for a minute!” Onlookers who spot a child in a car go crazy with rage. One mom I know had just buckled her child into the car seat and went to return her shopping cart. When she got back maybe 30 seconds later, a woman was screaming at her, “She could have died!” But this is bunk. Most of us spent part of our childhood waiting in the car while our moms ran errands, and no one called it abuse. Hardly! I had one friend who looked forward to the car waits with her sister because they’d tilt the passenger seat all the way back and play “dentist.”

We refuse to concede there’s a difference between waiting in the car for 10 minutes on a mild afternoon and waiting in the car for 10 hours in the Mojave Dessert. This obtuseness explains why, back in 2009, a mom who let her 19-month-old wait in the car, during a 5–10 minute errand at a dollar store in South Plainfield, was found guilty of child abuse by the state’s Department of Children and Families. The law there states parents cannot “recklessly create a risk of severe injury.” But somehow it didn’t matter that it was 55 degrees that day, or that the child slept peacefully through this whole “ordeal.” The mere act of letting a kid wait in the car was enough for the department to place the mom on New Jersey’s Child Abuse and Neglect Registry. Every state has one — it is like the Sex Offender Registry, just not public. Once you’re

officially a “child abuser,” good luck getting a job in teaching, day care, or nursing. This mom asked the child protection agency for a hearing in which she could try to defend herself and get off the registry. When this was denied, she appealed, but New Jersey’s appellate court denied her, too. The three-judge panel said there was no way she deserved a hearing, because what was there to hear? She’d left her kid in the car, which automatically made her a child abuser because something bad could have happened. That’s true — but also highly unlikely. Of the 30 to 40 kids who die in hot cars every year, 80 percent were forgotten there for hours, or climbed in when no one was looking and couldn’t get out. They were not waiting in the car while mom ran into the store to pick up the pizza. What’s more, law professor David Pimentel points out that anything could

also happen when the child was being walked through the parking lot. In fact, more kids die each year in parking lots and driveways than waiting in cars. And if you want to talk about a bigger risk to children, it isn’t waiting in the car, it is riding in one. The number one way children die in America is as car passengers. So if we really want to crack down on parents who put their kids in danger, we’d have to scream things like, “How dare you drive that child to her piano lesson? She could die!” We don’t do that because we are not constantly warned, “Never let a child ride in a car, not even for a minute!” So last week, the court agreed with the mom’s lawyer, Sean Marotta, that we cannot expect parents to ensure a zero-risk childhood. No option is ever completely safe. And no parent is ever completely perfect. And being imperfect is not the same as being abusive. So ruled the court, by a vote of 7–0. Which is why New Jersey is now a beacon of sanity in our parent-shaming and blaming country. Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog FreeRange Kids (

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Tenants: ‘This is Our Home, Not a Hotel!’ plan filed, placing these tenants and the affordable housing units at risk.” The CRP has sounded the important alarm about falsified permits in order to correct a situation that should not exist. It is a sad commentary that residents have to become activists, and community groups and elected officials have to step forward to force landlords to do the right thing. In addition, CRP told Chelsea Now that with the attention being given to permit applications, owners are coming forward to request that their applications be amended. In other words, owners have the opportunity to correct falsified information with impunity. DOB’s Alex Schnell says the department is aware of these requests. “We’ve been working with our borough offices for times when these amendment requests come in front of plan examiners, to refer cases to the Tenant Harassment Task Force,” he says. “The code does not provide a mechanism by which to discipline individuals, because essentially all they’re doing is amending an existing form. If we catch them doing construction in an occupied building without the Tenant Protection Plan in place, then it becomes a relatively clear falsified filing. The act of amending, in and of itself, is not illegal, which is why we’re referring to the Tenant Harassment Task Force for follow-up as necessary.” As the DOB improves both its electronic review system and its ability to cross-check data with other agencies, “There will be a lot more transparency and accountability,” says Schnell. Meanwhile, tenants are remaining vigilant.

Continued from page 2 was sold to a new owner, Sholom Jacobs of Jacobs Real Estate Advisors, who did not return phone calls for comment. Speculation also exists as to whether ties to Suky have been completely severed. Currently, there is no construction going on at 440 W. 41st St., but the building is being utilized as an extended stay hotel. It is legal to rent to people staying 30 or more days in a residence, and that is what is happening. The building is no longer advertised on hotel websites, but somehow word is spreading that it is available for longterm visitors. Here is a case where the city says “no” and even sues, and a determined landlord still finds a legal way to have a functioning hotel, albeit an extended-stay one. The permanent residents of 440 W. 41st St. are taking a wait-and-see approach to their new landlord — but why do residents who only want to live peacefully in their homes have to be so actively vigilant in New York City? As Councilmember Johnson stated in an email to Chelsea Now: “For too long, the operator of Metro Apartments has flagrantly violated the law, endangering the health and safety of building residents and visitors alike. Illegal hotel rooms are eroding our affordable housing stock. The owner is currently seeking a permit to convert this building to a legal hotel. I have notified the DOB that there are rent regulated tenants in this building. I am angered by the fact that the DOB permit states that the building is unoccupied and the permit application falsely claims no tenants are in place. There is no protection

Photo by Scott Stiffler

Councilmember Corey Johnson says Metro Apartments is an example of illegal hotel rooms “eroding our affordable housing stock.”

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Residents Face Off With Developer



Photo by Yannic Rack

The south side of Gansevoort St. as it appears today.

Continued from page 4 street preserved, for example, mentioning a carpentry shop that used to be there. “There were actual tradespeople in the neighborhood,” he said. “Now it turned into pretty expensive shops, which the people who live in this area can’t actually afford.” In addition to landmark protection, a restrictive declaration is in place for the buildings on Gansevoort St., prohibiting their use as residential apartments, hotels or office space. Asked what kind of stores would occupy the street’s ground-floor spaces under their plan, Epstein named luxury retailers like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Hermes. The upper floors on the block could be used as small offices by the ground-floor retailers, which the restrictive declaration allows, or be leased to art galleries or even a fitness center like SoulCycle, he said. Offices not directly associated with the ground-floor retailers would not be allowed under current zoning. Epstein noted that the developers originally wanted to use all the upper floors as general office space — without any restrictions — and claimed that Councilmember Corey Johnson’s office, as well as the City Planning Commission, were on board with

ing the restrictive declaration. “Right now we’re comfortable building the buildings without an office use,” he said, quickly adding a disclaimer. “If we had the restrictive declaration lifted, it would be for offices.” Brooke Schafran, a spokeswoman for Aurora, said the developers were not planning to appear before the LPC until October, citing Oct. 27 as the earliest possible date. “We want to make sure that people have had a chance to look at it and weigh in and be fully informed,” she told the meeting. “We do plan on having probably another meeting in September, or as many meetings as people would like us to have. And then obviously there will be a formal community board presentation before we go to Landmarks.” Three weeks ago, a spokesperson for William Gottlieb Real Estate said the developers planned to start work on the project within the next six months. Last Tuesday, Epstein confirmed that the work could start as early as spring 2016 if LPC gives the green light. Construction would then take 18 months from groundbreaking to completion. Asked whether there was any chance the project would go even higher than currently proposed, he shook his head. “Absolutely not,” he said.

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Will Cinema’s Superhero Universe Implode as it Expands? A primer on America’s favorite subgenre BY SEAN EGAN At the behest of a friend, and against my better judgment, I entered the Lincoln Center AMC on the evening of April 29, 2015 and braced myself for a 29-hour marathon of the 11 movies that comprised the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Resigned to dropping all semblance of adult responsibility and most contact with the outside world, we took our seats amongst Gotham’s most passionate comic book movie fans. People shouted along to their favorite lines, applauded the heroes, booed the baddies, and exchanged fan theories in the brief down time between screenings. The whole thing was created as a lead up to the premiere of Joss Whedon’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the sequel to his 2012 blockbuster, “The Avengers.” Just before the movie was set to begin, the theater of rabidly devoted fans was at a fever pitch, chanting, “AGEof-UL-tron,” and stomping for the film as though it was a sporting event. When the lights went down, I, along with everyone else, gasped, laughed and cheered through all 141 minutes. By the end, I felt pummeled into submission, and kinda cosmically disoriented — but everyone seemed giddy and elated by the film. Words like “awesome” and “amazing” were thrown around liberally. At least for the first few minutes, until the surface pleasures wore off. As the hardcore superhero afcionados regrouped

outside to begin deconstructing what they saw, murmurs of discontent clouded the air. Before long, a consensus formed: the film was jumbled and overstuffed — and this sense of dissatisfaction now seems like a microcosm of the wider viewing public’s dwindling tolerance for comic book creations that make the leap to the big screen. But are these murmurs of discontent a death knell, or just growing pains? Since the May 1 release of “Ultron,” countless pundits have trotted out variations on that old “comic book movies are dying” chestnut, which turned the corner from trite cliché to an annual institution sometime around 2007’s “Spider-Man 3.” But the doomsayers may have a leg to stand on this time around, though, because this summer’s offerings have been met with an underwhelming response from audiences. “Ant-Man” (the 12th installment of the MCU) was a minor critical success despite its troubled production history, but remains one of their lowest grossing outings to date — likely due to its less than marquee-name hero. And Fox’s “Fantastic Four” (a bid to reboot after two poorly received films in 2005 and 2007) crashed and burned like a drunken Human Torch, with everyone pretty much agreeing it got next to nothing right. Not a great harbinger when there are dozens of comic

book movies on the docket through 2020. Therefore, there’s no better time to take stock of what’s been done right, and what’s gone horribly wrong. Despite a less than super-summer, I believe that all hope is not lost for America’s favorite subgenre. I have to, seeing as an amusing calculator designed by Slate predicts 342 more comic movies will be released before I kick the bucket.


Studios had to have done something right to inspire the devotion seen in my Ultimate Marvel Marathon compatriots, and the similar fanatical reactions of DC fans to recently released Comic Con footage. The current crop of comic flicks seems uniquely styled to resonate with this generation of media consumers. In the age of Netflix and Hulu, everything’s designed to be binged, and the MCU has tapped into this increasingly dominant form of consumption exceptionally well. Starting all the way with 2008’s “Iron Man,” Marvel Studios forewent standalone stories in favor of creating an interlocking world of overarching narratives — first culminating in “The Avengers” (the fourth highest grossing movie ever). Instead

of simply having direct sequels, the events of one movie reverberate in others. This style of plotting, and the details within, have made them perfect for repeat viewing and TV-like binging — probably why the Ultimate Marvel Marathon had a sold-out house. Marvel has embraced this serialized style, a move made clear by those they’ve hired. “Thor: The Dark World” was handled by “Game of Thrones” and “Mad Men” director Alan Taylor. Veteran sitcom-directing siblings Joe and Anthony Russo took on “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” and will helm 2018/2019’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” the two-chapter conclusion to this Avengers era. And the king of cult TV himself, Joss Whedon, got the Avengers saga off to its impressive start. In fact, the tendrils of Marvel’s empire now extends to actual TV, with “Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.” and “Agent Carter” enjoying success on ABC. Netflix has gotten in on the action by releasing the popular “Daredevil” earlier this year, and has plans for four more series (including “Jessica Jones” and “Iron Fist”). All promise to enhance and deepen the multi-layered story the MCU has been weaving. Granted, the MCU’s narrative might seem like a labyrinth of jargon-y nonsense to the uninitiated — but for those in the know, it’s exceptionally addictive. Plus, it’s easy to get casual fans hooked when gregarious movie stars like Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson are the ones spouting off dense passages of techno babble and plot points. Marvel (and others) just need to remember to keep that kind

Continued on page 18

20th Century Fox

The first promo picture from 2016’s “Deadpool” shows off the unconventional style of humor audiences should expect.


August 27 - September 02, 2015


Comic Book (Movie) Logic Continued from page 17 of stuff in check, lest their films become impenetrable and cluttered (generally acknowledged to be a key reason behind the lukewarm reception of “Age of Ultron”). After being proven successful, a business model that once seemed like a crazy gamble has now become the industry standard everyone’s following — albeit to varying results. Sony found that they were not able to build a universe solely around Spider-Man, and will now be playing ball with Marvel Studios, allow-

ing the character to appear in the MCU — first in “Captain America: Civil War” (2016), then in a 2017 solo feature. Fox managed to retrofit its “X-Men” franchise (ongoing since 2000) into a cinematic universe via the zippy, stylish “First Class” and “Days of Future Past.” Outside of Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed “Dark Knight” trilogy, Marvel’s rival, DC, stumbled out of the gate by offering the tepidly received standalone “Green Lantern.” Now they’re course correcting, with a slate of films that will quickly introduce most of the

Justice League for its own cinematic universe. The first one of which, next summer’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” stars Ben Affleck, and is a follow-up to Zach Snyder’s divisive “Man of Steel.” Its trailer is intriguing, and seems to indicate Snyder will be addressing the criticisms of its predecessor — most specifically, Superman’s reckless and destructive behavior in its climax. Another part of the reason that comic book films remain viable is their ability to vary in tone, from the conspiracy-thriller leanings of

20th Century Fox


“Ant-Man” may have done relatively small business, but shone nonetheless — thanks to star/co-writer Paul Rudd and the creative team behind the camera.

“Winter Soldier” to the space opera of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” This kind malleability draws distinctive filmmakers to work within the genre yet stay true to their own style, yielding exciting and unexpected results. Early on in the MCU, Kenneth Branagh brought spacey visuals and canted angles to “Thor.” Later, Shane Black employed his signature sharp wit in “Iron Man 3,” and the distinct comedic flavors of screenwriters Edgar Wright and Adam McKay and director Peyton Reed were recognizable in the hilarious, underrated “Ant-Man.” Faring best was the surprise smash “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which James Gunn brought his dark and goofy Troma-influenced humor to. Even lesser-tier properties like 2018’s “Aquaman” can inspire excitement, with populist auteur James Wan signed on to direct.

Josh Trank’s “Fantastic Four” got clobbered by critics and audiences alike.


Continued on page 19

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Rx For Comic Book Cinema Continued from page 18

GET DIVERSE, GET WEIRD, GET HYPED The question going forward is, how can Hollywood build off of the groundwork they’ve laid for their franchises, other than simply making sequels (Thor, Cap, and the Guardians already have theirs confirmed) and going bigger? One of the most common complaints about comic book movies (and rightfully so) is their profound white, maleness, with characters like MCU’s Nick Fury, Black Widow and Falcon relegated strictly to supporting roles. For their part, Marvel is looking to diversify their roster. In 2018, Chadwick Boseman will star in “Black Panther,” the first MCU movie to be led by a black superhero, with a “Captain Marvel” adaptation to follow later in the year, the first female-led MCU movie. DC will release

a solo “Wonder Woman” movie in 2017, prior to the first “Justice League” movie. This is a good first step in order to make comic book movies more diverse, inclusive and interesting. In addition, if the success of “Guardians of the Galaxy” (and to a lesser extent, “Ant-Man”) has proven anything, it’s that studios should be willing to embrace the quirks and oddities of their source material. One of the most promising upcoming Marvel properties is the supernatural-tinged “Doctor Strange” (2016), which will see Benedict Cumberbatch play the prickly, titular surgeon, who also happens to be a so-called Sorcerer Supreme. The film will reportedly be “dark” and “psychedelic,” according to its cinematographer, Ben Davis, and it’s exciting to imagine what the adaptation of this trippy, magic-filled comic will look like on the big screen. Elsewhere, Fox’s upcoming “Deadpool” (2016) is a movie that would only be a pipe dream just a few years ago — an R-rated, fourth-wall breaking action comedy starring a foul-mouthed mercenary on the periphery of the

X-Men universe. It’s a testament to the fact that the longer this genre makes money, the more it can afford to twist and contort itself. The current darling of the Internet hype train is DC’s “Suicide Squad,” whose forward momentum has continued to escalate with the release of its masterfully cut trailer. Set to drop next summer, the film boasts the novel premise of supervillains from DC’s rogues’ gallery working on, appropriately enough, a suicide mission for the government. Its diverse and talented cast has Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jared Leto as the Joker, and Will Smith playing against type as the grizzled assassin Deadshot. With David Ayer (“Fury”) directing, fans can expect a gritty, intense and thrilling flick — and quite a bit of twisted humor, if the trailer is any indication. With this much promise, there’s no reason studios can’t maintain the kind of quality their best comic book movies have achieved, and maybe even surpass them. If that’s the case, I’m sure I won’t be the only one crazy enough to sign up for the next mammoth movie marathon — even if it lasts a whole week.

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August 27 - September 02, 2015


Surf and Turf and Art Open Studios work on the wall, before the ‘Walk’




Gay City News is proud to present the second annual ‘Best of Gay City,’ highlighting the very best our city has to offer. Readers will vote for their ‘best of’ through an online voting portal via


August 27 - September 02, 2015

Courtesy of the artist

Satoshi Okada’s “View of Harlem” is one of the Art Month works on view at Burger & Lobster.

BY SCOTT STIFFLER Vegans will go hungry, but art collectors can nourish body and soul. London-based chain Burger & Lobster — where the menu is that and nothing more, at $20 a pop — has entered the US market with a Flatiron location that offers a playlist created in Soho (the one across the pond) and a program that showcases available-for-purchase work from local artists. The inaugural installment of their Art Month series was curated in partnership with West Chelsea Artists Open Studios. Rodney Durso and Susan De Castro have already shown their work, and the month ends with a weeklong display of paintings from Satoshi Okada. The native of Japan has been creating work inspired by the “people, nature and varied cultures in New York City” he’s seen since moving here in 2004. Okada says the Art Month collection, all from works in his “Reportage” series, came from observing urban scenes that “appear differently on different days. An unanticipated change, one of the ideas I wrestle with and explore, is a crucial

Courtesy of the artist

Satoshi Okada’s “Milano.”

part of my work. Creating affords me the opportunity to express my belief that every moment in the life we live is unpredictable. My subjects emerge from the circumstances and conditions, which make up my life.” Thurs. Aug. 27–Thurs. Sept. 3. Reception Mon. Aug. 31, 6–7 p.m. At Burger & Lobster (39 W. 19 St. btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves.). Artist and venue info at and The West Chelsea Open Studios Art Walk, a self-guided tour, happens Oct. 17–18. Visit for info. .com

Pen Parentis Turns 14 by Turning to Crime Salon’s season opener has mystery, intrigue, light snacks BY SCOTT STIFFLER Today’s youth could pick up a few tips about personal growth and social grace in the teen years by attending a Pen Parentis Literary Salon. Too bad they’re ineligible for this 21+ event, where you can mingle with authors equally dedicated to their biological and creative progeny. The launch of season 14 finds the Salon entering a new partnership with Posman Books, whose third location just opened at Brookfield Place. “You’ll see their bright green storefront on the second floor in that section of lovely new boutiques that used to be the food court,” says longtime Downtowner and Parentis founder M. M. De Voe, adding, “Pen Parentis loves indie booksellers and we’re delighted that such a friendly, and well-curated neighborhood shop will be vending books for signings at our salons.” That generous quote is par for the course for Pen Parentis, a tireless nonprofit champion of strategies and resources for authors like Orli Van Mourik. New to Brooklyn by way of Portland, Oregon, the mother of two young daughters will read from “Waushakum Pond” — which won her a $1,000 Pen Parentis Writing Fellowship for New Parents award. With the kids safe at home and set to call it an early night (public schools start the next morning), Sept. 8’s event has trouble in mind. The three panelists, who immerse themselves in the gritty realm of crime fiction when they’re not tending to the juice box set or contemplating the appeal of tween music choices, will begin the night by reading from their work. In lock step with the Pen Parentis dedi-

cation to multitasking, Tim O’Mara’s “Raymond Donne Mysteries” series has the former Brooklyn cop working as a schoolteacher, and still finding time to solve murders. Ed Lin, the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards, might get to the gig by trekking through the home turf of his 1970s Chinatown cop character Robert Chow, whose series started with 2007’s “This Is a Bust.” Also on the panel is Boston area short fiction and poetry writer Jack Miller, whose connection to the crime theme we’ll leave as a mystery to be unearthed by the audience.

Tues. Sept. 8, 7 p.m. at the Photos courtesy Pen Parentis Andaz Wall Street (75 Wall St. Pen Parentis Writing Fellowship for New Parents winner Orli Van Enter on Water or Pearl Sts.). Mourik will accept her award at the Sept. 8 event. This 21+ event, with wine and light snacks provided by the host venue, is free (RSVP via recommended). Pen Parentis Literary Salons are held on the second Tues. of each month, through May. October’s theme is “Literary Horror,” with John Langan, Sarah Langan and Veronica Shanoes.

Posman Books will be on site this season, to sell the work of featured authors.


Guest reader and panelist Ed Lin began his Robert Chow series with “This Is a Bust,” set in 1970s Chinatown. August 27 - September 02, 2015



August 27 - September 02, 2015


Buhmann on Art

Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN ( This is the first New York museum exhibition of Albert Oehlen, a pioneering German painter who can be linked to several of the best known post-war artists of that country. Having studied with Sigmar Polke and associated closely with Jörg Immendorff in the 1970s, he also collaborated with Martin Kippenberger in the 1980s. Born in 1954, Oehlen has focused on the exploration of painting, its many forms, structures and experiences. Like Gerhard Richter, he has gone back and forth between figuration and abstraction. In fact, he continuously sets up different rules for himself, embracing a process that is rooted in constant change and various styles. Portraiture, collage, and gestural abstraction are among the many different genres Oehlen has covered — and his democratic oeuvre entails haunting interiors, mutating self-portraits, archaic and digital landscapes, cryptic fragments of language and abstractions, among others. Rather than adhering to a chronological timeline, the exhibition showcases Oehlen’s diversity by looking at the contrasts between interior and exterior; nature and culture; irony and sincerity. It includes

Photo by Maris Hutchinson

a selection of the artist’s early self-portraits, his “post-non-objective” canvases, his computer paintings and switch paintings from the 1990s, and more recent works fusing appropriated advertising signage and abstract marks. Overall, it succeeds in revealing

Photo by Maris Hutchinson


Oehlen’s impressive commitment to the expansion of the language of painting in unexpected ways. “Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden” is on view through Sept. 13 at the New Museum (235 Bowery btw. Stanton & Rivington Sts.).

Hours: Wed.–Sun. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Extended Thurs. hours, until 9 p.m. Tickets: $16 for adults, $14 for ages 65+, $10 for students with valid ID, free for ages 18 and under. Paywhat-you-wish (suggested donation, $2) Thurs. from 7–9 p.m. Call 212219-1222 or visit

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