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October 6, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 40
MANHATTAN VERSION Inside: Albee...Elizabeth Garden...Rivington House...Yetis!
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October 6, 2016
The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
October 06, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 40
In Elizabeth St. Garden end around, mayor offers West Side park BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
wo weeks after 300 Little Italy-area residents rallied to save the Elizabeth St. Garden — urging that an affordable housing project slated for it be switched to an alternative West Side site — the de Blasio administration has announced plans to develop the second lot as a park,
throwing a wrench into the hoped-for alternative. Some affordable housing might be built on the West Side site, too. Meanwhile, supporters of the Elizabeth St. Garden just want to keep it simple — and keep their garden: They are asking to put the new housing on Hudson St. and keep the alGarden continued on p. 20
Village years helped shape Albee’s genius as leading playwright BY ANDY HUMM
he artistic achievement of Edward Albee was celebrated and chronicled in lengthy obituaries at his Sept. 16 death at age 88 after a short illness. He was far and away America’s greatest living playwright, and it is hard to say who deserves that title now.
And while his openness about being gay and his early Greenwich Village years have certainly been noted, these factors were arguably the source of much of his genius, something not widely acknowledged. It may be that the significance of both are difficult to appreciate in an age when being out and albee continued on p. 16
Photo by William Alatriste
First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris was on the hot seat at last Thursday’s Cit y Council oversight hearing into the Rivington House mess.
Pike St. project will ‘replace’ Rivington House: De Blasio BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
ast Thursday was definitely one action-packed day in the ongoing saga of Rivington House on the Lower East Side. City councilmembers grilled the first deputy mayor, as well as the corporation counsel and another top administration official, in hopes of somehow getting to the bottom of the murky real estate scandal.
Meanwhile, midway through the lengthy hearing — in fact, right after First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris had mercifully gotten off the hot seat — Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted out a press release, announcing that the city would be building a new senior affordable housing and healthcare facility on the Lower East Side. This new facility, the release said, would “replace shuttered Rivington House,” the former
AIDS hospice that was shockingly lost when the city quietly lifted a deed restriction limiting the property to nonprofit healthcare use. The deed restriction’s lifting, in turn, paved the way for the Forsyth St. property — a handsome former school building — to be sold, and then promptly flipped, at a huge profit, for market-rate Rivington continued on p. 8
9/11 tiles return to Village’s Mulry Square��������p. 6 Does rabbi have a prayer vs. Hoylman?����������� p. 14 Yetis invade Flatiron!������������� p. 19
Sweet spot: Rose and Basil, a new vegan dessert cafe at 107 E. Seventh St., seems to be the place to be for hip performance artists. The spot has already been open a little while, but they threw an open house for media types and others last week. Among those munching on the delicious in-house-made concoctions were Elizabeth Ruf-Maldonado and Angel Eyedealism. What was being served looked like little round towers, but those are just for special events. Usually, the cakes are a little bigger and wider and sell for around 10 bucks. And they’re very good! Varieties range from hazelnut and chocolate to matcha (green tea) and more. The owner, Ioana Holt, incredibly makes everything by herself each morning. As for Angel Eyedealism, she said her astrology business is booming, and she’s going to soon “give birth” to a new book on the Lower East Side’s legendary Rivington School of art, which festooned local gardens with sculptures. However, what she still really wants to know is why did a certain East Village musician decide to pull the plug on her theremin performance at 6 & B Garden a while back? Why? Why? Why? No one seems to know. Perhaps it was a bad experience at a Led Zeppelin concert? Umm...Cancel that: His bronchitis was a bit better this week, so John Quinn was able to explain to us that his wife, Alice Cancel, the current 65th District assemblymember, will indeed be on the ballot on Nov. 8 versus Democratic nominee Yuh-Line Niou. But it’s not a vanity thing, and Cancel is not running an active campaign, he explained. Basically, she secured the Women’s Equality Party line for the general election in advance of the primary election, in which Niou defeated her. That’s usually the way it works, in terms of getting on the ballot, he explained. What he still can’t explain, though (it’s as much a mystery as Angel Eyedealism’s “theremin incident”) is why it was so hard for Cancel to raise funds, unlike Niou, who was swimming in
Rose and Basil and selfie — though taken by friendie.
Some of the roses who were at the Rose and Basil par ty.
contributions. “We couldn’t raise any money,” he said. “We were being blocked.” But who was blocking them? we asked. “There was pressure from people...Queens, Chinatown…,” Quinn responded gravely. Hmm...well, we’d like to see something more definitive about that. … Maybe it was the yetis who invaded the Flatiron District on Tuesday? (See Page 19)
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October 6, 2016
Photos by Stacie Joy
A strologer Angel Eyedealism predicted that she was really going to enjoy this matcha treat at Rose and Basil. She was spor ting a bra headress — to mirror her bra bra — that was illuminated with Christmas lights and decorated with plastic dragons and lizards. Take that Kardashians! TheVillager.com
Dust in the wind: Coles gym demo hits Mercer St. By Lincoln Anderson
he exterior demolition of the New York University Coles gym on Mercer St. â€” which will be replaced by a new, far-taller university building â€” has been underway for a few weeks. Residents living on the Mercer St. side of the project so far had been spared the demolitionâ€™s impacts, since the work had been focused on the old gymâ€™s western side. But on Tuesday, they said they were for the first time fully assaulted by noise, dust and debris from the project. While N.Y.U. funded remediation renovations for buildings around the project site, including notably its own buildings at Washington Square Village, 88 Bleecker St. was largely left out of the mix. Tuesday, dust and dirt were seeping through rickety window sleeves around air conditioners at the building, residents said. Meanwhile, the construction workers were not hosing down all the dust they were causing, per N.Y.U.â€™s agreement with the community regarding the work. â€œThereâ€™s no like dust mitigation at all,â€? said Marianne Edwards, who lives with her husband, Paul, in an apartment fronting on the construction site. â€œN.Y.U. is not following the protocols it set forth to reduce dust,â€? said her husband. â€œWe have stuff coming through our
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Photographed from the overlooking window of Marianne and Paul Edwards, a construction worker at the Coles site can finally be seen turning on one hose around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday to wet down the dusty construction debris. The couple had been complaining all day long.
windows, even thought we have doublepaned windows that are sealed.â€? They said they phoned the office of N.Y.U. President Andrew Hamilton twice, as well as 311, but got no response. Finally, around 3:30 p.m., when a Villager photographer showed up, a worker turned on a hose and started wetting
down a pile of construction debris and rubble. But one hose was not enough, the couple said â€” many more are needed! â€œJust once, it would be good to see these people follow a promise without having to drag it out of them,â€? Paul Edwards said of the university.
Paul Edwards said it was his understanding that N.Y.U. gave the building $100,000, but that would not cover the cost of remediating all of the buildingâ€™s 100 apartments, he said. N.Y.U. could still do the full job now, he added. But an N.Y.U. spokesperson said the workers, in fact, are following all the agreements. â€œN.Y.U. made specific commitments to mitigate dust â€” these include hosing down the site, hosing down construction vehicles, wheel washing before exiting to the street, and ensuring all debris is covered securely â€” and weâ€™re implementing all of them,â€? the spokesperson said. â€œThere is a laborer on the site whose fulltime job is hosing things down to reduce dust. N.Y.U.â€™s mitigation commitments go beyond what is normally required at a construction site. â€œAs to 88 Bleecker...N.Y.U. was not obligated to provide noise mitigation measures because these measures â€” double-glaze windows and central airconditioning â€” already exist in the building. That notwithstanding, as a gesture of good faith, N.Y.U. came to an agreement with 88 Bleecker to address their concerns relating to construction mitigation.â€?
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Octoer 6, 2016
Oops, they did it again! Council snubs S.B.J.S.A. Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Page, First Place, 2015 Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009
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October 6, 2016
By Dennis Lynch
he Council’s Committee on Small Business met on September 30 to discuss strategies to help small businesses stay alive and thrive in a city with skyrocketing rents. But noticeably absent from the committee’s briefing paper was any mention of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. The S.B.J.S.A. is a longstalled measure that proponents believe will give small businesses the leverage they need with their landlords to stay in business. The bill would require landlords to give commercial tenants a 10-year minimum lease with the right to renew; create third-party binding arbitration process if a “fair” lease could not be agreed upon; limit security deposits to two months’ rent; and protect tenants against rent-gouging and retaliation from landlords, among other provisions. Advocates believe that politicians are stalling because powerful real estate interests are pulling their collective strings. Lawmakers on the committee didn’t bring up the S.B.J.S.A. at the hearing — even though five of nine members currently sponsor the bill. Instead they focused on tax breaks for tenants and landlords, as well as regulating chain stores through zoning restrictions, and creating more commercial space through zoning. S.B.J.S.A. supporters were frustrated, and brought up the bill themselves at the meeting. “It was disappointing,” Kristen Theodos of TakeBackNYC said. “They had two things they wanted to discuss: zoning and landlord incentives. We thought if it doesn’t address the crux of the problem — which is high rents and short-term leases — then it’s useless. Everything else is just smoke and mirrors.” Theodos, other members of TakeBackNYC, and fellow supporters held up signs reading “Pass #SBJSA NOW!!” TakeBackNYC has collected more than 400 signatures on a petition demanding that Mayor de Blasio, Councilmember Robert Cornegy, who chairs the Small Business Commit-
Photo by William Alatriste / NYC Council
At last week’s Cit y Hall hearing on small business, Emily McCoy, a Tribeca resident who formerly had a small store on Duane St., held up a sign in suppor t of the Small Business Jobs Sur vival Act. However, once again, the long-stalled measure was not on the committee’s agenda.
tee, Public Advocate Letitia James, who sponsors the bill, and Speaker Melissa MarkViverito call a public hearing and finally vote on the bill. “If any of them wanted to, they could snap their fingers and have a hearing tomorrow,” Theodos said. But pols and other critics cite potential legal issues with the bill when proponents or reporters push the issue. Last year, the then-president of the Real Estate Board of New York, an industry trade association, told The Villager he did not believe the Council and mayor “have the power to impose control on the leasing of properties.” “At very least, it would have to go to the state — and we’re not sure that the state would have the power to impose this,” Steve Spinola said. REBNY did not respond to requests for comment for this article. The S.B.J.S.A. has existed in some form or another in the Council since the 1980s. Its current incarnation cur-
rently has 27 sponsors, or one sponsor over the 26-vote halfway mark needed to pass it in the 51-member Council. But no Council speaker has let it to reach the floor for a vote, including Mark-Viverito, who two years ago promised to this newspaper to hold hearings on the legality of the bill and still has not. “We want to do an issuesbased hearing and would look at all legislation,” Mark-Viverito told The Villager in June 2015. So the S.B.J.S.A. has become symbolic for its proponents of the Council’s inability — or unwillingness, depending who you ask — to tackle the inequities in commercial tenant-landlord relationships in this city. At the very least, Speaker Mark-Viverito should follow through with her promise and allow for a hearing to discuss potential issues with the bill, said the director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “If there are those in the City Council and administra-
tion that believe there are reasons why it wouldn’t pass legal muster, then hold a hearing and present the case to the public,” Andrew Berman of G.V.S.H.P. said. “But it hasn’t received one, which certainly makes it look like their issue is less a genuine case and more a desire to bury the bill.” Berman’s colleague at G.V.S.H.P., Harry Bubbins, attended Friday’s committee hearing and was optimistic that the renewed attention the S.B.J.S.A. received at the hearing could lead to broader discussion at City Hall. “This hearing was part of the process of identifying a variety of strategies,” Bubbins said. “Any serious consideration of the issue would be hard-pressed to not consider this bill. Rather than look back at what’s been stalled and that it’s been hard to get a hearing, the committee members knew [this bill] would come up, and had a hearing anyways. So, I think that’s a good thing.” TheVillager.com