The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Eas ass t Village, Vii ll V l l ag a g e, e Lower East Side, Soho, S ho, Union Square, Chinatown and So d Noho, N o ho No h o , Since Sii nc S n c e 1933
June 7, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 23
Pier fear at C.B. 2: Issues emergency opinion on Pier 40 BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
oncerned it could be déjà vu all over again on the waterfront — this time, for Pier 40, where the Hudson River Park Trust wants to create commercial offices — Community Board 2 recently passed what could be called an “emergency resolution.”
Approved unanimously at its full board meeting two weeks ago, the resolution stresses that the Village / Lower West Side board does not support any amendment to the Hudson River Park Act being made during Albany’s current legislative session. PR40 continued on p. 6
Tenants claim win on right of return at Bowery building BY SYDNEY PEREIR A
enants from 85 Bowery started their second hunger strike of the year last week. On Wed., May 30, tenants camped outside of City Hall, demanding a guaranteed return date from their landlord, Joseph Betesh, and for Mayor Bill de Blasio to enforce
that return date. “The hunger strike’s primary purpose was to get the mayor’s office to commit to enforcing some sort of deadline,” said Caitlin Kelmar, a spokesperson for the 85 Bowery Tenants’ Association. But the tenants feel there has been a lack of action
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
From the look of it, things really came together at the World Science Fair, which was held at Washington Square last Sunday.
Pols: Focus on banks behind bad landlords BY SYDNEY PEREIR A
BOWERY continued on p. 8
tate legislators introduced a bill aimed at banks that give loans to landlords whose business model is to kick out current tenants — most often rentregulated ones. The bill — introduced by Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and state Senator Brad Hoylman — pinpoints one of the key issues fueling unaffordability and tenant harassment by examining the loans
‘Mama Pasta’ of Houston St...p. 10
that allow landlords to buy up huge portfolios of buildings. The legislation would direct the state’s Department of Financial Services to conduct a study of financial institutions, examining what factors banks and other lending institutions consider when reviewing loan applications. “This is an issue that really hasn’t risen to the state level at this point,” said Holyman, who represents District 27, covering much of the Village, East Village, Stuyvesant Town,
Chelsea, Midtown and Hell’s Kitchen. “So this is the first legislation of its kind, but we think it’s urgently needed,” he said. “We need the data on this issue in order to try to address the problem.” Some of the most notorious landlords on the Lower East Side who have been linked to this behavior are Steve Croman and Jared Kushner, who have been accused of harassing tenants through dangerous PREDATORS continued on p. 4
L train elevator lawsuit is looking up.................p. 3 Elizabeth St. Garden groups join forces.............p. 5 www.TheVillager.com
Carter Booth and Bob Ely. However, Cude told us the hopefully conciliatory meeting was just a first step. “It’s a precursor,” she said, adding, “There’s a likelihood” that the senior gay activist would be put back on the committee, she indicated. Last Friday, though, Connor reported, “Not back [on the committee] yet. The meeting was strange. Nothing resolved.” Cude and Connor did not respond to follow-up queries. Hey...maybe everyone should just have a beer together and try to resolve this thing.
LIQUOR STICKING POINT: We’re still trying to find out if Tom Connor has been reappointed to Community Board 2’s State Liquor Authority Committee. He recently told us he was, saying, “As of Tuesday,” indicating that he just had to go to a meeting on that day a couple of weeks ago, set up by board Chairperson Terri Cude with the two S.L.A. Committee co-chairpersons,
HELL-EVATORS: To its residents’ chagrin, Westbeth Artists’ Housing has been making do with only one of its three elevators for the past few weeks. Two of the cars were taken out of service because of water flooding the bottom of their shafts. When you board those elevators in the lobby, it’s like being in a washing machine, as you hear the water swishing back and forth. The eerie part of it all is that, as everyone
says: “No one knows where the water is coming from.” Whoa! We’re told it’s been causing a hassle as more-spry tenants are taking the stairs and letting older ones take the sole operating elevator car. Meanwhile, the two on-thefritz lifts were the ones that went to the basement, making it a pain to do laundry. As one resident told us: “Westbeth residents are losing patience with the chronic elevator problems in the main lobby.” Yet, as far as we can tell, even as bad as it is, no one is clamoring for Steve Neil, the building’s former executive director, to come back!
SAD NEWS: In an East Village tragedy, Sequoia, the young son of squatter activist Erin O’Connor, killed himself last week in the same former E. Sixth St. squat apartment where his mom killed herself last August at age 50. Sequoia, who had inherited Erin’s place, reportedly was about to enter Columbia Medical School. Friends gathered at La Plaza Cultural last Wednesday
evening and lit candles and said some words and prayers for him. On Fri., June 29, C-Squat, on Avenue C, is hosting a mental health workshop because two weeks before Erin hung herself last summer, a woman named Emily did the same at C-Squat. We hear the event will be about recognizing warning signs, offering survivors support and more. And then there was Kate Spade’s death this week. Too much pain and sadness.
C.B. 2 MEMBER PASSES: Zack Winestine told us that his Save Gansevoort co-leader, Elaine Young, died Sun., May 27. She was 75. The cause of death was cancer. Young was also an activist member of Community Board 2 and a Jane St. resident who crusaded against insane nightlife spillover from the Meatpacking District. She was always a straight shooter, in our book, and a good source on many stories. Her memorial was attended by 120 people. The Villager will have a more complete obituary in next week’s issue.
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June 7, 2018
Attorney: ‘L’-evator matter has been settled BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
ne part of the community lawsuit against the city’s L-train shutdown plan has been resolved, according to attorney Arthur Schwartz. “We have an agreement on station accessibility in Manhattan,” Schwartz told The Villager. “There is a deal, and all of the plaintiffs are reviewing it for signature, and we will announce it sometime next week. Big win.” Schwartz said, at this point, the details of the settlement of that part of the lawsuit are “still confidential,” pending the announcement. In early April, Schwartz — the president of the public-interest law firm Advocates for Justice — sued to stop the L shutdown project on behalf of a coalition of more than a dozen Village and Chelsea block associations, plus two disability-rights groups and six individual disabled plaintiffs. Schwartz is also the Village’s elected Democratic district co-leader. Defendants in the lawsuit include the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Transit and the New York City Department of Transportation, plus the Federal Transportation Administration. In order to facilitate repairs to the L train’s Superstorm Sandy-damaged
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
The elevator to the Union Square subway station on E. 14th at Four th Ave. is heavily used by parents with baby strollers, seniors, the disabled, people with luggage and others. Two other stops on the L’s Manhattan leg that lack elevators are not currently scheduled to get them under the cit y’s L shutdown plan.
East River tunnel, the city hopes to shut down the subway line between Bedford Ave. and 14th St. at Eighth Ave. for 15 months as of April 2019. However, the community lawsuit charges the agencies failed to conduct an environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., for both the tunnel shutdown and the accompanying mitigation plan; the latter would include turning 14th
St. into a car-free “busway,” installing a crosstown two-way bike lane on 13th St., and running an additional 70 to 80 buses — mostly diesel-powered — per hour over the Williamsburg Bridge and through Downtown Manhattan streets to connect to subway stops. In addition, the suit argues that, under the Americans With Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973, elevators should be added to the affected stations. “Although all the L stations in the shutdown [section] are being upgraded,” Schwartz said in announcing the lawsuit last month, “at least five of these stations will not be made A.D.A.-accessible.” While elevators are being added to the L train’s First Ave. stop, two other Manhattan L stations — at Third and Sixth Aves. — still lack handicap accessible lifts and are not currently slated to get them under the plan. At a recent court hearing on the suit, M.T.A. officials assured elevators would be added — but only after the L project was completed. The Eighth Ave. and Union Square Ltrain stops do already have elevators. On May 17, local politicians — including state Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and Councilmember Carlina Rivera — joined disabled advocates in wheelchairs in a rally outside the L’s Third Ave. station, in demanding that the L project include installing elevators there and at the Sixth Ave. stop. “Less than a quarter of our subway stations are accessible,” Hoylman said of the city’s woeful record on accessibility. “The M.T.A. needs to do better.” “It’s disgraceful,” Rivera declared. Schwartz said the part of the lawsuit that concerns the E.I.S. will be argued in August.
June 7, 2018
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June 7, 2018
State Senator Brad Hoylman, left, and A ssemblymember Har vey Epstein, to the right of him, denounced predator y lending in front of 504 E. 12th St., the offices of the Kushner Companies’ realty management firm, Westminster Cit y Living, this past weekend.
Pols: Target banks behind bad landlords PREDATORS continued from p. 1
and sometimes illegal construction. And when rent-regulated tenants move out, the profits landlords reap from the building increase as a result of the rent hikes they can institute. Croman, Kushner and other owners have been accused of harassing tenants through construction, refusing to upkeep their buildings, and offering manipulative buyouts that tenants and advocates say are practically worthless compared to what a rent-regulated apartment is worth over the long term. “Croman has been on the worst-landlord list since the 1990s,” Hoylman said. “We gotta put the brakes on these bad lending practices.” The state-level legislation Epstein and Hoylman are advocating would ideally expose the root of the issue by spotlighting the banks that give loans to landlords whose tactics often appear to be aimed at pushing out rent-stabilized tenants. This study — should the measure pass the Assembly and Senate, and get the go-ahead from Governor Andrew Cuomo — would determine the factors banks consider when handing out loans to landlords to buy up large portfolios of buildings. If the bill becomes law, D.F.S. would examine two key factors: debt-service coverage ratio and capitalization rate. Debt-service coverage ratio refers to how much cash the loan recipient already has available to pay back debt. Capitalization rate refers to
how much an investment is worth based on the income the property could generate. The legislation applies to both residential and commercial tenants. Other buildings criteria the study would analyze include future construction and improvements to units; how many vacant, market-rate or rent-regulated units are in a building; and if there is a history of tenant harassment and hazardous conditions, to name a few. Epstein and Hoylman announced the joint legislation at a rally in front of the offices of the Kushner Companies’ realty management firm, Westminster City Living, on Sun., June 3. “This legislation will bring us closer to stopping the practice of predatory equity before it starts the cycle of tenant harassment and displacement that has become all too familiar in our city,” Epstein said in a statement. “Bad-actor landlords and scheming financiers should take note: your days of destabilizing our neighborhoods with your shady business practices are numbered.” The recently elected assemblymember has spent his entire career working on housing issues, most recently as a tenant member on the Rent Guidelines Board for five years. Last month, he and his colleagues in the Assembly passed sweeping legislation addressing other underlying causes of tenant harassment, displacement and unit deregulation. “Hopefully, they’ll take them up in the state Senate soon,” Epstein said last month
at another rally with tenants about conditions at two of Steve Croman’s buildings, 159 Stanton St. and 141 Ridge St. Tenants at the latter building have been without cooking gas for nine months. The package of legislation passed in the Assembly in mid-May would prevent landlords from increasing rent by 20 percent each time a rent-regulated unit becomes vacant; repeal rules that allow deregulation of units if they become vacant and could rent for more than $2,733; and protect tenants from construction as harassment, among other measures aimed to help tenants. “The Senate has fallen behind the Assembly on a whole range of issues, but protecting tenants is certainly one of them,” Hoylman said. “The chairman of the Housing Committee in the Senate [Senator Betty Little of District 45] lives closer to Montreal than Manhattan,” he noted. New York City tenants, Hoylman added, simply are not in many Upstate politicians’ frame of reference. Until the politically deadlocked Senate is remedied, not much can pass, however. The state Senate currently has 31 Democrats, 31 Republicans and one Democrat who has caucused with the Republicans since he was elected, Simcha Felder, who represents Brooklyn’s Borough Park and Midwood. “But come November,” Hoylman said, “there could be a new narrative for the state Senate and that’s what I’m looking forward to.” TheVillager.com
Elizabeth St. Garden groups unite to sue city BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
oming together in a united front, two nonprofit groups associated with the Elizabeth St. Garden on Tuesday agreed to “coordinate their legal efforts” to stop an affordable housing project on the garden. Joseph Reiver, executive director of Elizabeth St. Garden, and Jeannine Kiely, founder of Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden, confirmed that the two flora-focused factions have agreed to work together to save the garden. The green oasis in the heart of Little Italy, between Elizabeth and Mott Sts. and Prince and Spring Sts., covers 20,000 square feet. Dubbed Haven Green, the housing project, announced at the end of last year, would include 121 apartments for seniors, plus preserve some of the garden, in the form of 7,600 square feet of open space. Shortly after the city announced the winning developer for the housing scheme, E.S.G. retained Norman Siegel, the well-known civil-rights attorney, to represent them in a potential lawsuit. However, as of spring 2017, F.E.S.G. was not committing to joining the other group’s litigation — though also was not ruling out the possibility of suing, either. E.S.G. subsequently brought in Siegel to replace their previous attorney; at that time Siegel told
The Villager that part of his strategy was to reach out to F.E.S.G. since there is strength in unity. F.E.S.G. was the group that originally started managing and programming the garden several years ago. However, Reiver — whose father, Allan Reiver, created the garden on the previously trash-strewn lot more than two decades ago — started E.S.G. with the express intention of suing to stop the housing from being built there. Making it unique by New York City standards, Allan Reiver filled the garden with large granite and marble monuments and architectural pieces. F.E.S.G. has a top attorney, too — Michael Gruen, whom it has retained since early 2017. That might well give the city pause: Gruen, president of The City Club of New York, represented two plaintiffs from The City Club in a lawsuit that last year brought Barry Diller’s dazzling Pier55 “entertainment project” grinding to a halt. Frustrated, Diller, at one point, walked away from the project and it literally was dead in the water for six weeks. But Governor Andrew Cuomo interceded and now work on Pier55 is underway again. Joseph Reiver, meanwhile, said, despite the groups’ agreement to coordinate legal strategies, E.S.G. will continue to operate and manage the garden. “Everyone recognized that we share
the same goal of saving the garden,” he told The Villager. “We’re setting aside our differences. “We definitely will be suing,” he assured. “Right now, we don’t have an exact date [when to file suit]. We’re watching the city closely.” Kiely said, “We have an aggressive strategy to block the demolition of the garden, beginning with a powerful legal case against the city argued by Michael Gruen, a top land-use attorney with a proven track record of winning.” The housing project was secretively slipped in by the Bloomberg administration and Councilmember Margaret Chin as an “add-on” to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, project — now known as Essex Crossing — on the Lower East Side, after the goal of having 100 percent of the housing units there be affordable could not be attained. Oddly, Community Board 2 was not notified before the city-owned site was designated for housing. Mayor Bill de Blasio — whose laudable mantra, of course, is affordable housing — has championed the Haven Green project, adding that the decision to include the housing while keeping some open space there was nothing short of “Solomonic.” Haven Green would preserve some open green space on Mott St. behind the building. C.B. 2, meanwhile, has proposed
an alternative site for the housing — a spot previously designated for a park at Hudson and Clarkson Sts. — where five times as much affordable housing could be built. The city responded by saying even more housing could be built by using both sites — but that the housing project at the garden isn’t changing. Reiver said, as of right now, his group is focusing on the E.S.G. fundraiser, to be held Thurs., June 21, in the garden, plus the upcoming presentation by the Haven Green development team at the C.B. 2 Elizabeth St. Garden Working Group meeting on Mon., June 25. Kiely said F.E.S.G. has launched a legal defense fund and “quietly fundraised $50,000 toward our $100,000 goal,” and obviously is looking forward to the hearing, too. In related news, at a recent Village candidates forum, Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Cuomo, was asked by Kiely if she would save the garden. “I live on Elizabeth St.,” Nixon said. “It is a beautiful garden. I love to go by it. I don’t have a position on it.” She added that the loss of green space is “a major change” deserving of careful review, “but it does have to be balanced with the need for affordable housing.”
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June 7, 2018
C.B. 2 issues emergency resolution on Pier 40 PR40 continued from p. 1
The statement actually had a dual function since the board also sent it as a “memo” to Governor Andrew Cuomo. The state Legislature is set to wrap up by month’s end, after which the state Senate and Assembly will break for six months before reconvening again in January. However, according to sources, including state Senator Brad Hoylman, it’s unlikely the Legislature will open up the Park Act before the end of the current session. “I don’t think there’s enough time,” Hoylman said. Another source, requesting anonymity, confirmed the word coming out of the governor’s office also is that the Park Act will not be amended this session. Still, there is “not a lot of trust in the Trust,” so to speak, after what happened five years ago at the end of that legislative session: Back then, in June 2013, a sweeping bill — later blasted by critics as a “stealth bill” — to amend the park’s founding law of 1998 was passed — with no advance notice or any chance for public input — with bleary-eyed senators voting to approve it at 5:18 a.m. on the session’s very last day. Actually, it was a number of various amendments that were O.K.’d, notably including allowing the park to sell its unused development rights to sites across the West Side Highway. Fearing the same thing could happen again this time, the matter was hastily taken up last month by C.B. 2’s Executive Committee — comprised of the board’s committee chairpersons — which drafted the resolution, which the full board then approved. The board’s leadership felt there was not enough time for a resolution to be discussed and voted on first by the board’s Parks and Waterfront Committee. “C.B. 2 does not support any amendment of the Act during the current legislation,” the resolution firmly states. However, in case the Legislature does, in fact, open up the Park Act to try to change it now, the board offered four recommendations for any amendment that is considered — which would also apply if the Legislature instead tries to amend the Park Act next year. First, C.B. 2 said, any amendment should recognize “changed conditions and needs” since the Hudson River Park Act was passed 20 years ago, and should “assure that irreplaceable public resources are not disposed of unless there is a direct benefit to park uses beyond revenue generation for park operations.” This is mainly a reference to the playing fields at Pier 40. The 14-acre W. Houston St. pier’s main courtyard ball field space — created 15 years as an “interim use” — has since become a beloved and nonnegotiable park feature for Downtown families. Basically, Pier 40’s fields and other open-space uses along the waterfront did not exist at the time of the Park Act’s creation, the board noted; meanwhile, since then, the surrounding area’s population has only grown. “An amendment should...recognize the greatly increased and still increasing need for open-space recreation resources based on the major development of the adjacent communities all along the park, the conditions for which development were created by the success of the new park,” the board’s resolution notes. The resolution also states that office use should only be allowed on Pier 40 “as part of a project that offers a balance of uses, including direct benefits to adjacent communities.” Specifically, those other uses should also include “arts, educational and recreational uses, [plus] limited eating and drinking and entertainment uses contributing to the park environment,” the C.B. 2 resolution says. Pier 40’s main revenue-generating use for the park currently is long-term car parking. “Some car parking should be retained for monthly
June 7, 2018
Local kids and their families really get a kick out of Pier 40 — and they want to keep it that way.
parking as well as to serve the needs of pier visitors,” the resolution notes. If the pier’s master lease is to be extended beyond the current 30 years — as the Trust desires — then it should be allowed “only for projects that limit the scale of commercial development and provide substantial improvements to park uses,” the board’s recommendation adds.
‘We don’t want an anchor tenant there.’ Dan Miller
In short, C.B. feels, longer leases at Pier 40 should only be allowed for projects that limit the gross floor area of commercial uses to what is built on the pier now; the pier’s existing donut-shaped three-story pier shed is 761,924 square feet; and if a project is to exceed that size, then the extra space should only be used for park administration offices, as well as arts, educational and recreational uses that benefit the park. In addition, “adaptive reuse” of the existing pier-shed structure is “preferable,” the community board’s “reso” continues. If structures on the pier are to be built higher than what is there now, then they should “not exceed the height of the tallest existing gantry” — a reference to the metal frames on the pier’s edges that once supported cranes for Pier 40’s original use, shipping. Yet another want of the board is that any development of the pier should be done in a manner to allow “continuous and undiminished recreational use [of its playing fields], including during construction.” Dan Miller, the first vice chairperson of C.B. 2, who is in line to be the board’s next chairperson, read the resolution aloud before the vote at the group’s May full-
board meeting. Speaking afterward, Miller elaborated on the thinking behind the resolution. Basically, the wide-ranging report on the “family sports pier” that the C.B. 2 Pier 40 Working Group released at the end of last year was a sort of catch-all. “It actually has some contradictions,” he said of that earlier report. “It was really to air everyone’s view. Dog walkers, skateboarders — everyone wanted something. “The Act was created 20 years ago,” he noted. “There was no residential presence over here. There weren’t as many families. There weren’t as many schools.” Miller added that 550 Washington, the St. John’s Partners project, to be built across from Pier 40, will have more than 1,500 residential units. He himself lives in Morton Square, at Morton and West Sts., which was only built in 2003. Echoing the board’s new resolution, he said, “I don’t think the community will support anything higher than the gantries — which are about seven to eight stories tall.” Meanwhile, adaptive reuse of the existing pier shed is also favored by the Greenwich Village Little League and Downtown United Soccer Club since it blocks the strong winds off the Hudson River. “For the sports groups, it’s good to have the donut because it protects against the elements,” Miller noted. Miller is a past president of G.V.L.L., one of three currently serving on C.B. 2. (The other two are Tobi Bergman and Rich Caccappolo.) If it turns out there is a movement to “open up view corridors” to the river by removing parts of the pier shed, then something like netting could possibly be used to cut the wind, he noted. A key point for the youth leagues is to keep the playing fields all on the pier’s ground level, as opposed to having some on rooftops. “The leagues want the fields accessible on the ground floor,” Miller stressed. “They don’t want to have to go through security checks to get to different levels. They don’t want it to feel corporate. They want it to feel like a park. “Also,” Miller added, “we don’t want an anchor tenant there. It would be much better if it was like a WeWork — where something doesn’t take control of the space — instead of a massive entity.” However, he said he knows PR40 continued on p. 22 TheVillager.com
Itâ€™s not rum and coke but fentanyl on L.E.S.
BY GER ARD FLYNN
f you live in this city long enough, you are going to know someone touched by an overdose,â€? a bar operator on Ludlow St. told The Villager last week. The owner spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern that members of the Lower East Side Dwellers might be prompted to create more trouble for bars and restaurants on the Lower East Side. Last month, a judge tossed out a defamation lawsuit against the Dwellers, which was filed by No Fun, a hipster hangout just blocks away and the scene of a recent drug-overdose death. Emily Fayssoux, a Brooklyn resident, reportedly lost consciousness while sitting on a sofa there last month. The 25-year-old was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. The North Carolina native was reportedly using cocaine earlier in the day that allegedly was laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate that Mexican drug cartels have been flooding the U.S. with since 2015. Because itâ€™s cheaper and easier to produce than a natural opiate, such as morphine, drug dealers have been spiking glassine bags of heroin with fentanyl. City health records show that while heroin was involved in 751, or 55 percent, of all overdose deaths in New York City in 2016, 46 percent of overdose deaths involved cocaine and 37 percent of those cocaine overdose deaths involved cocaine laced with fentanyl. The rate was highest among white New Yorkers, city data show. The new trend has prompted the cityâ€™s Department of Health to launch a pilot program on the Lower East Side. The initiative officially kicked off last month, targeting bars and nightclubs along a pilot area bounded by Delancey St. on the south, E. Houston St. on the north, Bowery on the west, and Essex St. on the east. Since May 23, just three days before Fayssoux died, D.O.H. has been hitting the streets, handing out fliers and coasters, and training staff how to recognize signs of an overdose and administer Naloxone, the opiate antagonist that blocks the effects of an overdose. Cocaine users are especially at risk if they are not habitual opiate users. Dr. Denise Paone, director of research and development in the D.O.H. Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention, told The Villager that cocaine users might be â€œopiate naive,â€? not using opiates routinely and thus having a low tolerance for fentanyl, making them at â€œincreased risk from an overdose.â€? â€œThe bar project,â€? she said, â€œis about alerting people who might be using coTheVillager.com
PHOTO BY GERARD FLYNN
A poster for a Department of Health pilot program on the Lower East Side raising awareness about potentially deadly fentanyl-laced cocaine.
caine, and that the cocaine they might be using might contain fentanyl.â€? So far, she said, 18 bars or restaurants have signed on to the program. â€œWe picked the Lower East Side because we wanted to go to where there is a high density of bars and destination spots, so we could reach a maximum number of people,â€? she explained. The area draws bustling crowds on weekends and rowdy behavior, much to the annoyance of locals As with other opiate overdoses, she said the signs of a fentanyl OD vary by person but generally include decreased breathing, blue coloring around the mouth and fingernails and nonresponsiveness. â€œWe donâ€™t know why fentanyl is being cut into the cocaine supplyâ€? she said, adding that many coke users have never heard of the synthetic opiate, which, she noted, â€œdoes not have a particular look or smell or taste.â€? Despite Healthâ€™s efforts, not everyone working in bars and nightclubs in the pilot zone has heard of the program â€” nor of fentanyl, including a bartender at No Fun, who was cagey, to say the least, when asked about the recent overdose death there. Another area bartender also had neither heard of the pilot program nor fentanyl, though recalled the ambulance pulling up that night outside No Fun. She told The Villager she has used cocaine in the past. Asked if she would use it again now that fentanyl is in the supply, she did not rule it out. â€œI might,â€? she said.
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Bowery tenants claim victory on right of return BOWERY continued from p. 1
from the mayor’s office since their displacement back in January. One mayoral representative who came by the hunger strike actually impeded its viability by blocking a portable bathroom from being set up on the site, according to Zishun Ning, a longtime organizer of the Bowery tenants who works for the Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association. According to Ning, the de Blasio rep said they could not have a porta potty set up because the action was a protest. If it were a block party, one would be allowed, Ning recalled the rep telling the group. “We find it really insulting,” Ning said. “Even the landlord is more progressive than him.” Despite some representatives speaking to tenants during the strike, the overall response from the mayor’s office during the ongoing fiasco has been disappointing, according to Ning and Kelmar. “It’s been more radio silence from the mayor,” Kelmar said. “Appropriate city agencies are making every effort to ensure that this landlord completes all necessary repairs in an expeditious and safe manner, so these families can return to a home that is safe and structurally sound,” Jose Bayona, a mayoral spokesperson, said in a statement. In January, the 85 Bowery tenants were evicted from their homes after the Department of Buildings ruled the site dangerous due to an unstable interior staircase and apartment floors at risk of collapsing. Since then, tenants have been living with family, at an emergency shelter and a Brooklyn hotel, and now many are housed at Wyndham Garden Chinatown hotel at the corner of Bowery and Hester St., paid for by their landlord Betesh of 8385 Bowery LLC. In February, in the middle of winter, tenants organized their first hunger strike in front of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, but it was cut short by the Chinese New Year. In early April, tenants found their belongings thrown into a sidewalk dumpster, and accused Betesh of trashing their possessions. These items included photo albums, financial documents and other belongings important to the families. “D.O.B. and our fellow agencies are pushing the owner to complete major repairs at 85 Bowery as quickly as possible — and substantial work has been completed,” a D.O.B. spokesperson said in an e-mail. “We remain committed to holding the landlord responsible for providing tenants with a safe place to live.” The asbestos problem was remedied on May 11, and floor joists replacement is currently in the works and expected to be complete by June 21, according to D.O.B. Following that construction,
June 7, 2018
Last Friday, displaced tenants from 85 Bower y were on the third day of their second hunger strike outside Cit y Hall. But the hunger strike was called off that day after their landlord set a firm date for the tenants to be allowed to return home.
kitchen and bathroom replacement will begin — work that became necessary because of how extensive the joist replacements were. Mid-August is when that work is expected to be complete — aligning with the expected end-ofsummer return date. In their second hunger strike of the year, the tenants feel they are making progress, Kelmar and Ning said. After multiple promised dates for the tenants to be able to return went unmet — most recently due to the discovery of asbestos — tenants demanded a guaranteed return date from Betesh. By last Friday, on the hunger strike’s third day, Kelmar said the tenants reached a verbal agreement with the landlord on an Aug. 31 move-in date. “We’re hopeful that this is going to wrap up soon and that the tenants will be back by the fall,” Kelmar said. “Which, of course, is kind of ridiculous because the initial vacate order was supposed to be two weeks.” But a spokesperson for Betesh and 8385 Bowery, Sam Spokony, said an end-of-summer return date has been on the negotiating table for weeks. “As the tenants are well aware, we have been working for months to repair the dangerous conditions which predated our ownership and caused the D.O.B. to vacate the building,” Spokony said in an e-mail. “As per our previous updates to the tenants and their representative, they have also been aware for weeks that our goal is to complete that work by the end of the summer, barring unforeseen circumstances.” The bulk of the work involves re-
placing a staircase and “floor joists,” which structurally support each floor of the building, according to a post on Medium from 8385 Bowery published hours before the hunger strike began last Wednesday. Other issues with the building included “unpermitted partitions which contributed to dangerously overcrowded conditions, and blocked windows,” according to the landlord’s post. “However, a great deal of work remains to be done,” Spokony said, “and while discussions are ongoing and we remain committed to moving families back into the building as quickly as possible, it is not correct to state that an agreement has been reached.” An agreement between Betesh’s lawyer and the tenants’ lawyer has not yet been signed. But despite the landlord contending that the return date has been known for weeks, 85 Bowery organizers claim the Aug. 31 guaranteed return date was a victory last week. “We’re very positive that it’s a big development,” Ning said. The mayor’s silence, however, was disheartening. “We were also very angry because we’d been outside of City Hall for a few days and the mayor never answered any of the demands that the tenants put out,” Ning added. Mayor de Blasio publicly commented on the tenants’ ongoing crisis on the “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC on April 13. “This one’s been a very thorny case and I don’t understand honestly why it took so long for this to be acted on,” de
Blasio said then. “I want to get to the bottom of that. There’s no question right now the city is working to make sure everything is fixed and making sure the landlord pays for all of it.” Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou has been one of the local politicians vocally advocating for the safe return of the 85 Bowery tenants, who say their landlord has been harassing them since he bought the building back in 2013. Shortly after the tenants were forced to vacate the Bowery building, Niou wrote a letter to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and former state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which was also signed onto by state Senator Brian Kavanagh, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Margaret Chin. The politicians called on the A.G. and D.A. to review the matter and determine whether a formal investigation is warranted. The D.A.’s office told Niou’s office they were already looking into the ongoing situation. The D.A.’s spokesperson said the office has been in contact with agenices that could have relevant information, but declined to comment any further. “At this time, we are working to confirm the date for the 85 Bowery tenants to return home,” Niou said. “There hasn’t been a clear date for the completion of the construction, and that has resulted in ongoing frustration. “The discovery of asbestos delayed the tenants’ homecoming, and while we are told that the asbestos abatement is now complete, construction work continues to take place at 85 Bowery,” Niou added. “Our priority has always been to get tenants back into safe homes as quickly as possible.” Chinatown, the Lower East Side and the city at large are no stranger to tenant displacement and harassment and unsafe living conditions. Local politicians are trying to combat these issues through myriad newly passed laws and bills in the works. Late last year, the City Council passed a dozen laws aimed at improved monitoring by D.O.B. and preventing landlords from harassing tenants out of their apartments — in most cases, rent-regulated apartments. But an amendment to one city law — Local Law 150 — wasn’t much help for the Bowery tenants, according to Kelmar. That law says that a vacate order must include the date that a building owner will solve the issues that caused the vacate order in the first place. The 85 Bowery tenants’ vacate order did include that date, but the deadline has since passed. “This law has been in violation now for months, and even when the deadline is passed, there seems to be no consequences for the landlord or the D.O.B.,” BOWERY continued on p. 22 TheVillager.com
C.B. 2 issues emergency resolution on Pier 40 PR40 continued from p. 6
the Trust is not fond of the idea of turning the pier over to a company specializing in shared workspaces and spaces for small businesses, tech start-ups and freelancers. Google, of course, is now leasing a huge amount of space at Pier 57 for offices — thanks to the 2013 legislative amendment, which, among other things, O.K.’d formerly forbidden office use at that W. 17th St. pier. But that kind of tenant at Pier 40, with so many employees, could eventually pose a risk to the community’s use of the ball fields, Miller warned. “We feel like there will be spillover,” he said. “Over the years, the picnic blankets will come out.” After the Trust recently sold 200,000 square feet of development rights from Pier 40 to the St. John’s project, the pier now has a total of 1.1 million square feet of development rights left, including the 761,924-square-foot pier shed. But Miller said those currently unused “air rights” should stay untapped. Basically, the park is so heavily used now, and will only become more so in the years to come, that it can’t bear the additional development at Pier 40, in his view. “Go on the bike path — it’s so busy, and it’s become dangerous with the barriers,” he said, referring to the safety barriers added after the Halloween Isis terror-
ist truck attack that killed eight just south of Pier 40. “Pier55 is going to have arts,” he added. “The park’s just going to get busier and busier.” The fact is that Pier 40 cannot continue to be forced to be the park’s cash cow, Miller stated. The pier’s parking operation has consistently been the 4-mile-long waterfront park’s main revenue generator, netting it $6 million to $8 per year. Under the Park Act, at least 50 percent of Pier 40’s footprint must be reserved for recreational use — but the rest of it can be developed commercially. In addition, Governor Cuomo this year allocated $50 million for the park, which must be matched by the city. Cuomo has vowed, if re-elected, to finish the park in his second term. “If we can get $100 million a year, do we need a big project on Pier 40?” Miller asked. However, it’s not clear if the park can count on getting that much government funding for each of the next few years — or if it will return to just $1 million per year. It all boils down to the fact that community park advocates are trying to “keep the park a park,” while the Trust wants to build the park, yet also maximize its revenue, in the view of Miller and others. “One thing we share is we all want a successful R.F.P.,” he said, referring to a request for proposals from developers for Pier 40 that the Trust eventually plans to
issue. Although Miller’s, Bergman’s and Caccappolo’s kids have all “aged out” of Little League, the three C.B. 2 members continue to advocate for the best possible Pier 40 for the community. “We’ve seen what a positive impact it had for our children,” Miller said. “They were able to make friends of a lifetime. I think that’s the number one reason I’m on the community board and why I have the support to run for chairperson. It’s a passion. And one of my focuses will be to get out of Pier 40 what it deserves.” Miller is also currently chairperson of the Hudson River Park Advisory Council. In a recent interview, Madelyn Wils, the president and C.E.O. of the Trust, the state-city authority that is building and operates the park, said there is currently no set plan in place for Pier 40. Yes, six months ago, a “massing plan” was shown to the C.B. 2 Pier 40 Working Group, featuring nine-to-10-story buildings on the pier’s northern side. Yet, Wils stressed that scenario was mocked up by a developer “who was willing to spend his time and money” to do it, and it was just intended to give the Working Group an idea of what potentially could be done there. “That was not the Trust’s plan or a plan that the Trust endorsed,” she explained. Wils said the Trust simply “wants some very simple language” added to the Park
Act to allow office use and a longer lease at Pier 40, “same as we got for Pier 57 in 2013.” The Trust has 96 years left on its own master lease for Hudson River Park; it would like a future tenant for Pier 40 to have that same lease length, she said. Through a spokesperson, the Trust subsequently offered a lengthy statement on Pier 40, along with the C.B. 2 emergency resolution. The statement notably expressed concern at the community board’s “putting limits” on the extent and type of development at the pier. “Getting the future of Pier 40 right is critical for the long-term sustainability of the entire park, and for our neighbors who depend on the pier as a public-space resource for ball fields and boating,” the statement said. “The resolution that was approved by C.B. 2 introduces limits that were not discussed with the Trust or the public during or subsequent to last year’s task force process; but we understand that C.B. 2 adopted it out of concern that legislation that does not have local support could be hastily introduced and approved. That is a fear we can understand. We are unclear, however, about what the resolution now means for the future of Pier 40 because no public process has been announced to continue the discussion regarding the limits the resolution PR40 continued on p. 22
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June 7, 2018
Romana Raffetto, 85, matriarch of pasta shop;
OBITUARY BY GABE HERMAN
omana Raffetto, a Village mainstay as part of the Raffetto’s pasta shop family business, who was also an active community member, died May 25. She was 85. The friendly and authentic atmosphere of Raffetto’s, with its handmade traditional pastas and sauces, has gained legions of loyal local fans for generations. The shop, on W. Houston St. near MacDougal St., was opened in 1906 by Romana’s father-in-law Marcello. Village resident Michael Dinwiddie has been shopping at Raffetto’s for 15 years and remembered Romana Raffetto fondly at a memorial service on June 4. “She was a really wonderful presence in the neighborhood,” Dinwiddie said at Perazzo Funeral Home, at 199 Bleecker St., just a block from the store. Dinwiddie always talked with Raffetto when he came to the shop. “I was a big patron,” he said. “I loved coming to Raffetto’s. My favorite thing was something called Genoa toast.” Romana Raffetto was born in Asolo, Italy, a small town outside of Venice. She came to New York in 1957 and for two decades was a homemaker while
PHOTOS COURTESY RAFFETTO FAMILY
Romana Raffetto was the mainstay of her eponymous W. Houston St. pasta shop.
raising two sons. Then, in 1978, Romana joined her husband, Gino, in the shop, after Gino’s cousin Angelo died and he was left alone to run the operation.
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June 7, 2018
It was in the late 1970s that Raffetto’s pasta gained in popularity and the shop started getting more write-ups in the media, according to her son Andrew. Because of the growing success, “we all had to pitch in,” said Andrew. He and his brother, Richard, would cut school some days, telling the dean, “I gotta work today, help out.” Andrew added, “it became a true family effort between the four of us.” In the early 1990s, Romana came out of semi-retirement to create six sauces for the shop, such as marinara and puttanesca, which took off and helped business skyrocket, according to Andrew. He said the quality was always crucial. “You talk about home cooking,” Andrew said. “Everything we make is 12 or 14 little servings at a time. Just make it fresh.” As business boomed in the early ’90s, brothers Andrew and Richard, fresh out of college, dreamed of expansion. But because of high rents in the city, the closest they came was a distribution deal with the original Fairway at W. 74th St. and Broadway. According to Andrew, their father told them not to get overly focused on growth. “My father would say, ‘Forget your size and all that crap. Just look in your pocket. If you’re doing well, don’t push it,’” he recalled. Gino died in 2006. At the wake, Andrew and his daughter, Sarah, and son, Marcus, recalled Romana’s personality. “I’d say my mother was tough but fair,” said Andrew. Granddaughter Sarah added Romana was “very opinionated, but warm and boundless amounts of love to give.”
Sarah lived with Romana in the W. Houston St. building, which the family owns, during her studies at Fordham University and afterward when she came to work in the shop. In her 20s, she is the oldest of the new generation of Raffettos, which includes eight siblings and cousins. Grandson Marcus, 13, also worked in the shop with Romana. “She would often help out as much as she can, cutting basil,” he said. “She was very friendly toward everyone.” Loyal customer Dinwiddie is a New York University professor and every year he brings students in his Migration and American Culture class to Raffetto’s, “because they can see three generations of the family,” he said. The Raffettos tell the class about the family’s history and give out food samples. For Dinwiddie, it is a way to show his students an example of “the different communities that have come here over the years.” Along with running a Village food staple, Romana served as president of the local chapter of the American Committee on Italian Migration, helping with fundraising and providing education opportunities, Andrew said. She was also president of the P.T.A. when Andrew went to Our Lady of Pompeii School, and always made a point to give to local school fundraisers. “We’d be donating baskets or gift certificates, and people appreciated it,” Andrew said. “You still have to have a good heart. You can be stingy and not give anything, but we were giving stuff like crazy. It just helped our reputation, her reputation.” RAFFETTO continued on p. 11 TheVillager.com
Her handmade authentic fare gained acclaim than a dozen pasta types, and then chopping up the pastas on a 102-year-old guillotine. â€œItâ€™s an entire experience, itâ€™s not just about pasta and food,â€? Sarah said. â€œItâ€™s a gem of the neighborhood. Truly, I say that with so much pride. I love being there every day. I feel so much love and appreciation from anyone that comes in the door and I love reeling in new people, too. Theyâ€™re looking around skeptical like, â€˜Oh itâ€™s my first time,â€™ and Iâ€™m like, â€˜Oh great, Iâ€™m going to get you hooked.â€™â€? Sarah said she is grateful for the close relationship she had with her grandmother, Romana, including living with her for several years at the end of her life. â€œI love my family, we all get along,â€? she said. As she grew up, she knew she wanted to to commit to the pasta shop. â€œThere was no true career that surpassed being a part of this and carrying out the legacy,â€? Sarah said. At the wake, two buttons were handed out, one with a photo of Romana Raffetto, and the other with a photo of Romana and husband Gino, which read, â€œTogether again.â€? They were married for 47 years.
RAFFETTO continued from p. 10
The family said Romana died of colon cancer, which she had for a year and a half, though was in relatively good condition until just before her passing. Andrew said she was â€œ90 percent of what sheâ€™s always been until a week before,â€? when there was a quick deterioration. â€œEverything crumbled and we lost her. It was a short, bad week,â€? he said. But the family said they were grateful because sometimes people can suffer for months with the disease. â€œShe was doing what she loved, was cognizant and happy, up until that week, which is great,â€? said granddaughter Sarah. â€œIt was hard on us, but much better than it could have been.â€? Sarah, as the oldest in the new generation of Raffettos, is already committed to the shop and keeping the family legacy going. She said her siblings and cousins are still growing up and figuring out what they want to do. â€œIâ€™m very invested,â€? she said at the memorial service. She added that she loves providing a special customer experience that includes customizable choices from more SERVING MANHATTAN AND THE ENTIRE TRI-STATE AREA
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Romana Raffetto in the pasta shop in earlier years.
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June 7, 2018
Landmark moment A
fter four years leading the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, Meenakshi Srinivasan resigned as its chairperson last Friday, and will take a position at New York Law School. Srinivasan’s decision to step down from the critical agency, which she announced in April, came less than a month after local activists and preservationists packed an L.P.C. hearing regarding the agency’s proposal to change its procedure on public review of applications. Basically, Landmarks wanted its staff to make a lot more of the decisions on applications. The staff already makes the majority of them — but this would go too far, in the view of most in the room. Those who testified against the plan strongly argued that allegedly “small” things — like rooftop additions and how visible they are from the street, changing backyard windows and the like — are not minor, at all. Rather, they said, in a historic district or on an individual landmark, these features are part of the whole, and the public and community boards — whose input is vital — must not be cut out of the process. After all, who knows more about their neighborhoods than residents, activists and preservationists? Yet, with Srinivasan’s departure, word is those proposed rule changes are now not moving forward. But there are still myriad problems besetting L.P.C. For example, just look at the Gansevoort Historic District, a small district that covers much of the Village’s old Meatpacking District, to see what Landmarks has been doing wrong. In short, many feel Landmarks has lost its way in recent years, no longer upholding its mandate of protecting landmarked buildings and districts, but has become pro-development. Take that “glass cube” plopped on top of the former one-story Pastis restaurant building, at Ninth Ave. and Little W. 12th St. Why? How could L.P.C. approve that? We’re told that Restoration Hardware, the trendy furniture outfit that is taking the space, was aghast at the design — resembling a giant frosted-glass shower stall — and that the cube design is now being tweaked and its perimeter pulled in a bit. Then there is “Gansevoort Row,” a truly unfortunate project that will build up parts of what had been one of the Meatpacking District’s most iconic blocks — the south side of Gansevoort St. between Washington and Greenwich Sts. Save Gansevoort, co-led by the late Elaine Young, waged a valiant court battle to stop that project, but they recently ran out of court options after the Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest court, refused to hear the case. As a result, 7074 Gansevoort St., that strip’s westernmost building, has been demolished, and will now be rebuilt with a much-taller multistory building. In short, what was the point of creating the Gansevoort Historic District if L.P.C. is going to allow these kind of projects? For the record, the “Pastis cube” was approved under Robert Tierney, Srinivasan’s predecessor. (Pastis will actually be returning, but in a building in the “Gansevoort Row” project.) And let’s not forget the facade of the former Florent restaurant. Thanks to — that’s right — a “stafflevel decision,” that beautiful classic diner storefront
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Community process is key
To The Editor: Re “Park Trust must do much better on transparency” (talking point, by Tom Fox, May 31): As I recently noted in my article in The Villager about Hudson River Park’s 20th anniversary (“After all the hurdles, the finish line is in sight,” May 24), community process, consultation and engagement are primary reasons for the park’s existence and continuing success. To maintain these relationships, staff attend meetings of Community Boards 1, 2 and 4, and of course also the Hudson River Park Advisory Council and other organizations. In April, the Trust attended a Community Board 4 meeting to start a conversation about Pier 97 now that funding will be available for its completion. We did not design the pier at that meeting, nor were any programming commitments made. Instead, we reviewed the 16-year-old plan with community members, shared program elements that are popular in the park and listened to feedback. We then promised that a professional landscape team would lead a formal discussion once a team is hired, just as we did for Pier 26 and Chelsea Waterside Playground. At that point, broader outreach will occur, including to the historic vessel community. We certainly want to ensure that historic vessels can take advantage of the marine infrastructure that is already part of Pier 97. Regarding Pier 57, we similarly provided early updates to the community board and the Advisory Council about some potential lease changes, and we did this before negotiating those changes with Pier 57. Feedback from these early discussions has been informing our ongoing negotiations, but it doesn’t mean we are “done” with community input. Once plans and other materials are ready, they’ll be posted on our Web site for all to see and review at least 30 days before a formal public hearing. Showing up at meetings to discuss matters formally and informally is part of a broad effort to ensure the public is informed and that we are accountable. So is advertising all of our board meetings on our Web site, in advance, and with agendas. But we don’t control the community boards or the Advisory Council, nor should we. That’s the whole point of public process.
To The Editor: Re “S.B.J.S.A. prep” (editorial, May 31): No one in New York can stand seeing our favorite small shops being shuttered. It’s like a disease has hit the city, a bad one. I very much appreciated the courageous effort The Villager is engaging in to make the public aware of where this plague is coming from and how this so called “legal issue” is being used to perpetuate the virulence of this curse. Thank you. Bennett Kremen
Time to show the proof To The Editor: Re “S.B.J.S.A. prep” (editorial, May 31): Finally, someone in the media has asked lawmakers to show proof of their real estate talking point — “The S.B.J.S.A. is illegal.” The Small Business Jobs Survival Act is not a new bill that needs extensive research to determine its legality. In fact, it is the oldest pending legislation in New York City Council history, dating back to June 1986. As such, due to the vigorous battle that the real estate lobby — the Real Estate Board of New York — has waged against this bill, it has been challenged many times over the past 30 years. The bill has won each challenge. That is why everyone who makes this fake claim has no legal facts to substantiate it. If Council Speaker Corey Johnson is sincere in promoting a progressive agenda, then he can start by directing those in the Council’s law department who first made this claim to resolve it with real legal proof. The grave injustice to the S.B.J.S.A. that happened after the first hearing in June 2009 can never be allowed to happen again, for the sake of our small business owners and their employees. Instead of a real solution coming out of City Hall at that time, instead a real crisis was fueled. Steve Barrison Barrison is executive vice president, Small Business Congress of New York
Madelyn Wils Wils is president and C.E.O., Hudson River Park Trust
LETTERS continued on p. 22
EDITORIAL continued on p. 22
June 7, 2018
L.E.S. bars and a little trip down memory lane
TALKING POINT BY CL AY TON PATTERSON
n 1992, there was a push to start the Lower East Side BID (Business Improvement District). In the 1980s, Orchard St. business was booming. Sion Misrahi was doing very well with two stores and growing. Then came the 1987 economic crash, which almost wiped him out. Depressed, he laid low for a couple of years, until Sheldon Silver, our assemblyman, pushed him to start the L.E.S. BID. Elsa and I were against the BID. It meant higher taxes for us, and only Orchard St. benefited. We started to collect signatures of people who opposed the BID. One place we went was to the Ludlow St. office of local multibuilding landlord Mark Glass. Glass agreed, saying the BID would only cost him money. He said he would collect signatures. Never happened: Turns out his loyalty was to Sion and Silver. The L.E.S. BID was formed in 1992. Sion Misrahi today has his own L.E.S. real estate company. Later, Glass distinguished himself; working with one of his notorious drug-dealing tenants, he came up with a scheme to kill one of his tenants. It turned out, though, that his confidant was facing a serious drug charge. By ratting out Glass, the dealer was able to snag a get-out-of-jail-free card. Glass did 11 years. In recent years, William Rapfogel, a lifelong friend of Silver’s, was arrested for stealing money from the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a charity he headed. He went to prison, was able to work the system, sent to a soft cell. After a little time, he was placed in a halfway house, and was home in time to see Silver arrested and found guilty for his own corruption related to the misuse of his power and political office. As the ’90s moved along, in my area we began to see this explosion of bars. How could this be? Urban planners know a neighborhood needs only so many bars. To regulate the number of liquor licenses in a residential area, a system of rules and laws was supposed to prevented this kind of takeover. This was the beginning of Hell Square. Marcia Lemmon, became an anti-bar watchdog. She was also an active leader on the Seventh Precinct Community Council. I attended Community Council meetings with her. I live across from P.S. 20, an elementary school, so I was surprised to learn a new nightclub on the corner of my block, at Essex and E. Houston Sts., was opening with a full liquor license. This was the period when we witnessed all the different kind of tricks used to open a bar. The club across from the school made a deal not to open during school hours — rightly so, since it was a nightclub — and to use only the Houston St. entrance to access the club. Another trick that got boring pretty fast was all the new restaurants that turned into bars after they opened. I can still hear BID leader Misrahi’s remark, in his support for a liquor license for a so-called restaurant: “While I am waiting to be seated, I should be able to order a scotch.” The year is 1998 — the club on the end of my block was out of control. There were shootings, stabbings, full-on street brawls, strippers, as well as running an illegal bottle service. No question, they had broken just about every State Liquor Authority regulation, which normally would lead to loss of their license. Nope. I asked Captain Cooper at a Precinct Community Council meeting what special privileges this club had. And it was then, I learned, as he looked at me and said in a TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY CLAYTON PATTERSON
There will be blood: Fights are par for the course in Hell Square. One donnybrook there a few summers ago involving bargoers at Stanton and Ludlow Sts. left at least three men injured. One man had already been taken away in an ambulance when this bloody pair were photographed waiting to get medical attention.
loud stern voice, “Clayton you do not understand. You live in an entertainment zone.” Nice trick. And it was soon after this, because of asking questions at the Community Council meeting, Marcia and I were banned from attending any more meetings. Shlomo Hagler then was a law clerk for Judge Shulman, a Community Council member and a part of the vote to ban us from the meetings. now, Hagler now is a Manhattan Supreme Court justice. One problem with the idea of an “entertainment zone” is all that our politicians, real estate developers and community board leaders could come up with, in terms of entertainment, was bars and liquor licenses. The bars could pay a high rent, and eventually most of our local theaters and art and entertainment places were pushed out, along with most of the small businesses, as well as many residential tenants. Our entertainment is streets filled with drunken kids with the occasional SantaCon thrown in. Fast-forward to today. Yes, we still have a saturation of bars. The weekend is filled with drunken kids partying till 4 a.m. closing time, and then, often, the more serious fun begins. Beyond there being too many bars, the drinkers tend to be young people who cannot hold their alcohol; the bars cannot control the drunks, and many of the drunks cannot control themselves, vomiting, urinating, fighting, screaming, breaking things, getting arrested, stealing. On the other hand, if you look at the full liquor-license music club Mercury Lounge — mostly an older crowd, busy — I never hear of problems associated with this establishment. The fight continues to find ways to solve the problems associated with the oversaturation of liquor licenses. In my area, the latest group leading the fight is the Lower East Side Dwellers, led by Diem Boyd and Sara Romanoski. The Dwellers have had to fight with the community board, the politicians, the real estate people and the bar owners. Most recently, a lawsuit against the Dwellers by Ludlow bar NO FUN, thank-
fully, was defeated. L.E.S. Dwellers may have an unexpected ally in their struggle — the people who run the new luxury hotels and private clubs and tenants in luxury apartments. Take just one block, Ludlow St. between Houston and Stanton Sts. First, imagine the cost to build two zone-busting multistory luxury hotels, and the 23-story The Ludlow luxury apartments. It’s not cheap to live or visit there. I am starting to hear complaints from people in the luxury apartments and visitors staying at the hotels. Then I was surprised the Dwellers’ meeting was held in the Hotel Indigo. Well, only sort of surprised. Imagine paying more than $400 a night to stay in a hotel. You come outside at night and there is a full-on drunken brawl filling the street. I asked the doorman at the Indigo about this, and he stated this is a regular occurrence. Well, Misrahi may get his scotch before being seated at the expensive restaurant, but which restaurants have survived? Are any of the famous chefs still here? When hotel guests step out into the morning sun, if they walk south on Ludlow, they have to hope the vomit and fresh urine smell is washed away. If you stay at the Plaza Hotel, the outside environment fits with the taste of the guest. And for those seeking the old L.E.S. they have heard about, it is all but gone. The Dwellers were able to get Julie Menin, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, or MOME, and Carla Hoke-Miller, MOME’s director of theater and strategic partnerships, to attend a Dwellers meeting — the “Mayor’s Office of Nightlife Community Forum,” on April 24, at the Hotel Indigo. It turns out, besides the loss of our quality of life, tourism is down. I believe the game is about to change. Just as greed, corruption and power created the out-of-control drunken mess, it seems that power and money will help bring an end to this. June 7, 2018
Don’t need a bigger BID, we’ve got a great NID overflowed with their litter. ove The Soho Alliance quickly sent out a T request for self-sufficiency — namely, for req property owners and stores to sweep their pro own sidewalks. Most complied. ow But their good efforts were thwarted B when winds would blow the litter from wh overflowing trash baskets onto the freshly ove swept sidewalks. The problem was Sisw syphean in scope, because no matter how syp hard we tried, the sidewalks were always har littered. litt Within a short time, a meeting was W called to address the problem. The first cal speaker suggested the formation of a Busispe ness Improvement District but that idea nes was quickly and unanimously rejected. wa No one wanted well-financed corpoN rate control and influence over our comrat munity, not to mention the increased mu taxes a Soho BID would bring — estita mated to be as high as $10 million anm nually. Moreover, a significant portion of the budget would go toward BID staff salaries and not to upgrade the neighborhood. A 2013 real-estate-inspired BID on Broadway divided the Soho community. Within a couple of years its annual budget has ballooned to $900,000 — derived from taxes on the Broadway businesses. Is it any wonder The New York Times recently ran a story on the many
SOHO BY SEAN SWEENEY
ew York City is renowned ed for firsts. The first capital of a new nation, the first successful cessful steamboat voyage, the first Yiddish h daily, the first 3D film show (1915), the he first African-American major league baseball aseball player, the first skyscraper, the first st subway, to name a few. Now there is another first — in n our own very backyard: Soho’s NID. The Neighborhood Improvement ment District, or NID, is a grassroots, all-volunteer effort dedicated to removing the trash left behind by the countless shoppers and tourists who throng here. The Neighborhood Improvement nt District is the Soho community’s response onse to those corporate, real estate-driven, n, taxdependent Business Improvement nt Districts a.k.a. BIDs that have sprung up iin the past 30 years. This novel initiative arose when ACE, a jobs-training program that maintained Soho’s sidewalks for more than 20 years, ceased its Soho operation in 2016 and moved to Queens. Within days, our sidewalks were bestrewn with the detritus of careless shoppers and our trash cans
PHOTO BY REBECCA WHITE
Sean Sweeney at a “Meet the Candidates” event last year.
SOHO continued on p. 23
Taking it to the streets and boosting business
CENTRAL VILLAGE BY WILLIAM KELLEY
he Village Alliance achieves a milestone anniversary this year as we celebrate 25 years of community service in Greenwich Village. Since 1993, the Village Alliance has been a major force in cleaning and greening our streets, beautifying public spaces and promoting the best the Village has to offer. I want to take this opportunity to highlight the work we do and where we are focusing our efforts in the coming year. Clean and safe streets were our first priority 25 years ago and remain so today. We manage an eight-person Clean Team that sweeps the district seven
June 7, 2018
days a week, rain, snow or shine. This past year, we removed nearly 1,100 tons of garbage from the Central Village, scraped, cleaned or painted roughly 23,000 incidents of graffiti, and cleared away snow and standing water from our public plazas, bus stops and corner crosswalks. Our three public-safety ambassadors also patrol seven days a week, and logged 5,419 incidents in 2017, providing valuable information for local police precincts. Over the years, we have installed and now maintain 145 tree pits, 55 street planters and 48 hanging flower baskets, putting the “green” in Greenwich Village. Looking ahead to this year, we will be renovating the tree pits along E. Eighth St. and St. Mark’s Place to make them more permeable to rainwater and promote better tree health. Improving public open space is also at the core of what we do, from widening Eighth St.’s sidewalks and adding street trees nearly two decades ago, to
Current Village Alliance staff struck a pose amid the “Paparazzi Dogs” temporar y sculpture installation at Ruth Wittenberg Triangle last year.
the more recent Village Gateway and Astor Place plaza reconstruction projects. Our goal has been to open the street to the people, maximizing the amount of pedestrian-friendly space in Greenwich Village. The Village Gateway project brought pedestrian safety enhancements to Sixth Ave. and Eighth St., doubling the size of Ruth Wittenberg Triangle, allowing neighbors to
enjoy outdoor seating while providing wayfinding for tourists. The Astor Place renovation project reconfigured underutilized streets to create more than a half-acre of new public plazas in an area of the city sorely lacking in gathering spaces. Every day we clean, patrol, maintain and program these spaces for the enjoyment of all. Our ALLIANCE continued on p. 23 TheVillager.com
Yee’s ‘Great Leap’ raises the bar and makes strides B-ball tale bubbles with humor, burns with passion
Photo by Ahron R. Foster
L to R: Ali Ahn, Ned Eisenberg, Tony Aidan Vo and BD Wong in Lauren Yee’s “The Great Leap,” at the Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2 through June 24.
BY MARK NIMAR On stage, in film, and on television, an Asian character is more likely to be practicing medicine or working with technology than scoring a three-pointer or dribbling a basketball down a court. This narrow mainstream portrayal, however, is not what Chinese American playwright Lauren Yee experienced during her formative years in San Francisco. Growing up, “The people I knew who played basketball were Asian,” she noted. “My father played basketball. Every day, all night, on the asphalt courts and rec center floors of San Francisco Chinatown, [and] he was good. Really good.” So much so, in fact, Yee noted, “People [now] stop us on the street and try to explain to me what a legend he was.” TheVillager.com
Her father’s passion for basketball is the subject of Yee’s “The Great Leap,” a smashing new play running at the Atlantic Theater Company through June 24. It concerns a friendship basketball game between Beijing University and the University of San Francisco that occurs in Beijing during the 1989 student riots at Tiananmen Square. At the center of the play is Manford, a young first-generation American loosely based on Yee’s father. Although 17 and only five foot seven, Manford desperately wants to join the USF team as a point guard and go to Beijing. But Saul, the team’s tough-as-nails coach, completely doubts his abilities and refuses to let him on the team. Through tenacity and talent, Manford becomes the star of the
basketball team, and while in Beijing, gets accidentally swept into the politics of Communist China. The play bubbles with humor, burns with passion, and is a testament to the very American notion of hard work and persistence as a means to transcend the limitations of one’s race or society. Like Manford, Yee has also had to overcome the negative expectations of white audience members. “One of my bigger pet peeves is when an audience member decides that one of my plays is not for them, because it’s about Asians,” she said, noting how white audience members often say, “What a great Chinese folk tale,” or “I think my Chinese friend would appreciate it.” But Yee feels her work is more relatable than general audi-
ences are predisposed to give it credit for. She said that “The Great Leap” is “a universal story that anyone can relate to,” and that assertion will bear itself out to those who attend. At its heart, the play is an immigrant story about finding your way in a society than can be unaccepting — a very typical storyline that is in step with Irish American, Italian American, and Jewish American narratives. And when you add sports to the equation, the play is about as American as apple pie. It’s a show in which just about anyone can find something that they like. Despite the accessibility of plays like “The Great Leap,” it is a constant struggle to get plays about the Asian American GREAT LEAP continued on p. 17 June 7, 2018
Divine Design Edward Pierce, on bringing ‘Angels’ to America BY SCOTT STIFFLER Intense, exhilarating, somber, hellish, heartbreaking, ultimately uplifting — and laugh-out-loud funny throughout its two-part, nearly eight-hour running time — the acclaimed London production of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer-winning 1993 play “Angels in America” has arrived in its titular country with the dynamic ensemble largely intact (including Andrew Garfield as AIDS patient and unlikely prophet Prior Walter, Denise Gough as pill-popping Mormon wife and vision quester Harper Pitt, and Nathan Lane as conservative kingmaker and closeted “liver cancer” sufferer Roy Cohn). Although the actors dashed across the pond with nary a ripple, transferring the visual elements of this surreal meditation on Reagan-era evolution and inertia from the well-appointed Lyttelton Theatre to its comparatively cozy New York City venue proved a far greater challenge. Edward Pierce answered the call to adapt what he described as a “massive physical production,” and, having done so, will be among the roll call on June 10, when the Tony Award nominees for Best Scenic Design are read. Pierce and his Midtown-based team spent “the better part of nine months” realizing the project — work that began in June 2017 when, he recalled, “they were starting to explore moving to Broadway, so I was able to go to London while the show was still in production” to see what designer Ian MacNeil had done. The two had already covered similar ground, when Pierce took MacNeil’s work for the original West End run of “Billy Elliot” to other stages. With the “Angels” gig secured, Pierce and his team got down to the nuts and bolts process of generating drawings and models to, he said, “figure out how the show was going to embrace a smaller venue. We worked with the lighting designer, the choreographer [and others], to lay all the ideas down on the table; what they hoped to achieve in transferring to Broadway… We spent weeks, literally moving little pieces of furniture around on various drawings, trying to figure out every little nook and cranny where you could put the stuff.” Throughout the course of the play, noted Pierce, “We strip all of that away [the walls, the furniture], and then, as the real world changes, the characters [their lives and reality] dissolve. It shows itself in the set design… In your last moments of ‘Perestroika,’ the stage is bare, all the
June 7, 2018
Photo by Brinkhoff & Mögenburg
L to R: James McArdle, Susan Brown, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Andrew Garfield, with Central Park’s Bethesda Terrace angel bathed in neon.
way to the brick wall, all the way into the wings — and the audience, for a moment, I believe, thinks, ‘Did I actually see what I saw over these last two plays? Because there’s nothing here.’ ” Getting to the point of the final scene’s essentially bare stage, populated by only four cast members and an angel statue, wasn’t easy. The National Theatre’s Lyttelton (one of the sprawling facility’s three spaces) “has a lot of technology built into it,” explained Pierce. “The whole stage is able to be rigged through hydraulics, and there’s plenty of room to take big ideas and push them into the wings… The challenge for us in this very small Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway was, where to put it all,” he said, referencing the multitude of moving parts — far more than the average show, given how its two stand-alone installments (“Millennium Approaches” and “Perestroika) dreamily traverse offices, hospital rooms, apartments, airplanes, heavenly realms, Central Park, Salt Lake City, a street in the Bronx, and the diorama room of Manhattan’s Mormon Visitor Center. The physical settings are minimal, with a desk or bed serving as a signature piece that suggests rather than imposes (with the half-finished look of the interiors in “Millennium,” you’d be
hard-pressed to glean anyone’s personality or predilection from a scan of their home furnishings). Environments lack definition, with neon lines (sometimes white, sometimes spectacularly colorful) serving as the cut-off point of a particular space. Multiple sets often share the stage, perpetually, as Pierce described it, “appearing, moving, disassembling, and dissolving” through the effort of unseen hands, or a troupe of “Angel Shadows” who also give height, flight, and wing to the show’s titular character. “Transition is what interests me the most about design for the theater, how you move and tell a story and come up with a visual through line,” Pierce said (such exchanges of location happen dozens of times over the course of each play). “Often,” he noted of the planning process, “we figure out how the show will transition before we actually figure out what it will look like… How do you get from one [scene] to the next? Do you keep an audience, or do you lose them?” Most of what the audience will see at the Neil Simon Theatre is, physically, new, although Pierce said “the walls that represented various locations on those turntables in ‘Millennium,’ we brought directly from the London production… there are little elements of
neon outlining the edges.” That use of neon was a distinct part of the London production, but Pierce said he augmented and expanded the motif, in ways that invoke its “very 1980s” omnipresence (those who know “Miami Vice” or remember Spencer Gifts might well connect those dots during ‘Perestroika’). Neon, invoking the period or otherwise, is, Pierce said, “certainly not anywhere in the script — and Tony Kushner’s script is rife with detail and expression about what he’d like to see. The flaming Bible coming out of the ground, that’s something that Tony has written… But the visuals [of what the world looks like], that’s not scripted. So the introduction of the neon is a collaboration between both the scenic and the lighting design… When you have eight hours of presentation, it’s important, through lighting, as the camera would do in film or television, to direct the audience — where to pay attention and what to concentrate on. And a little bit of neon is just a slight suggestion, and I think it’s a little theatrical, which is important for this work because there’s a certain theatricality to the storytelling.” Asked about upcoming projects, Pierce said, “I have a lovely play opening at the Cherry Lane Theatre [Charles ANGELS continued on p. 17 TheVillager.com
GREAT LEAP continued from p. 15
experience, contemporary or otherwise, produced. â€œTheaters donâ€™t want to take a chance,â€? Yee said, noting that when it comes time to fill a season, â€œThey often just end up doing another production of â€˜The Zoo Story.â€™ â€? But something is shifting. Asian American playwrights are having a bit of a moment right now. Young Jean Leeâ€™s play â€œStraight White Menâ€? will make history as the first play written by an Asian woman to appear on Broadway. Qui Nguyenâ€™s daring play â€œVietgoneâ€? had a wildly successful run at the Manhattan Theatre Club last season, and was also a New York Times Criticsâ€™ Pick. And Pakistani American playwright Ayad Akhtarâ€™s â€œJunkâ€? was performed at Lincoln Center this season. His Pulitzer Prize-winning play, â€œDisgraced,â€? was also named the most-produced play in America for the 2015-2016 season. While the American theatre has a long way to go in giving more visibility to Asian American artists, one canâ€™t help but marvel at the new Asian American stories being added to the canon. â€œBack in the day,â€? Yee said, â€œall we had was â€˜The Joy Luck Club.â€™ And now, we have so many more options.â€? Yee is a standout member of this club of Asian American playwrights, and her Asian American-themed plays such as â€œKing of the Yees,â€? â€œChing Chong Chinamanâ€? and â€œCambodian Rock Bandâ€? have gone a long way in adding humor, spunk, and diversity to the American theatre. â€œThe Great Leapâ€? continues this winning streak â€” the show is marvelous. The stage has been transformed into a basketball court, transforming the audience into spectators sitting courtside. Stunning projections flash across the wall, displaying photos of Tiananmen Square
ANGELS continued from p. 16
Meeâ€™s â€œFirst Love,â€? June 14-July 8]â€Śand we are adapting the original Hal Prince production of â€œPhantom of the Operaâ€? into a new world touring production that looks to break new ground, in touring internationally. We are about to go into the workshop, to get it constructed, and weâ€™ll open in Manila [Philippines] in February of 2019.â€? As for â€œAngels,â€? which concludes its Broadway run next month, Pierce will find himself in the audience this Sunday night as a Tony nominee for that show. Regarding how he will cast his ballot, Pierce said with a laugh, â€œYou can vote for yourself,â€? also noting that he was, at the time of our interview, almost done TheVillager.com
Photos by Ahron R. Foster
L to R: Tony Aidan Vo as Manford and Ali Ahn as Connie.
and the defiant student protestors of 1989, who are â€œonly afraid to die with no one watching.â€? â€œThat is why they write so many of their signs in English,â€? says Wen Chang (BD Wong), the playâ€™s narrator, â€œSo that the western press might empathize with their plight.â€? The show also has hilarious moments. Crusty, Bronx-born basketball coach Saul (Ned Eisenberg) shouts insults and expletives at his players during practice, reminding you of your most embarrassing relative at Thanksgiving. And Tony Aidan Vo is stellar in the role of Manford. He is a kinetic ball of energy, dashing across the court with the vigor and passion of a champion. On stage, Manford jumps, shoots, and fights
like his life depends on it. Facing the judgments of Saul, his cousin, and the threat of Communist China, Manford has all the odds stacked against him. And watching this underdog point guard meet his challenges head-on is both thrilling and inspiring. There is another basketball player, however, that Lauren Yee hopes sees her show. â€œCome find me, Jeremy Lin,â€? Yee exclaimed. For those who donâ€™t know, Jeremy Lin is a basketball player who is the first American of Chinese descent to play in the NBA. His talent on the court helped transform stereotypes about Asian men in sports. It seems as if this show was written just for him. And so, Jeremy Lin, if youâ€™re
reading this, stop what you are doing and head over to the Atlantic Theater Company, where you will find another Chinese American whose talent also shatters expectations, sets a high bar, and reaches that lofty goal â€” but instead of doing it with layups, she does it with words. Directed by Taibi Magar. Through June 24 at Atlantic Theater Companyâ€™s Stage 2 (330 W. 16th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Tues.â€“Sat. at 7:30pm, Sat. & Sun. at 2:30pm. There are 7:30pm performances on Sun., June 10, 17 and 24; Monday performance on June 11. No Tues. performance on June 12. For tickets ($50 and up), visit atlantictheater.org or call 866-811-4111.
seeing all of the shows required in order to vote. Regarding the extent to which his profession impacts the viewing experience, Pierce said, â€œItâ€™s inevitable at this point, when Iâ€™m sitting in a Broadway theater, that my mind starts to think about the individual craft. However, I have to say, the most amazing moment for me, in the theater, is when I actually start to get taken on the ride and I just enjoy what I am experiencing.â€? Itâ€™s in such moments, noted Pierce, â€œyou realize they were very successful. Because if they can take you away from thinking about the mechanics, then theyâ€™ve really done their job.â€? â€œAngels in Americaâ€? closes on July 15. For tickets and info, visit angels-
broadway.com. The Tony Awards (tonyawards.com) are broadcast on
Sun., June 10, 8pm on CBS. For artist info, visit edwardpierce.com.
Theater for the New City â€˘ 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net
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NOTICE OF SALE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK â€” COUNTY OF KINGS â€”Pursuant to an Order of the Court of the State of New York, County of Kings, signed and dated on March 29, 2018, and entered on March 29, 2018 (the â€œOrderâ€?), in the action entitled SuHwa Chu, et. al. v. Lisa Lai, et. al. â€“ Index No. 500668/2014 â€“ I, the undersigned Referee, duly appointed in this action for such purpose, will sell at public auction to the highest bidder, at the Kings County Supreme Courthouse, 360 Adams Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, Room 224, on June 21, 2018, at 2:30 p.m., the property described and directed to be sold in such Order, which is briefly described as all that certain plot, piece or parcel of land, with the buildings and improvements erected, situate, lying and being in the State of New York, County of New York, with address of: 80 Riverside Boulevard, Unit 5H, New York, New York 10069 (SBL # Block 1171, Lot 4060); (the â€œPremisesâ€?). Such Premises will be sold subject to the terms of the filed Order and the Terms of Sale. AARON D. MASLOW, ESQ. Referee. ALL INQUIRIES TO: Kishner Miller Himes, P.C. Attorneys for Plaintiffs, 420 Lexington Ave. Suite 300, New York, NY 10170, Attn: Ryan O. Miller, Esq., tel. no. 212-297-6268. Dated: Brooklyn, New York 5/23/2018
AARON D. MASLOW, ESQ. Referee
Terms of Sale (include): Ten percent (10.00%) of the purchase money of said Premises will be required to be paid by money order or certified check to the Referee at the time and place of sale, and for which the Refereeâ€™s receipt will be given. The residue of said purchase money will be required to be paid by money order or certified check to the Referee on the 30th day after sale when the Refereeâ€™s deed will be ready for delivery. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE, with respect to the closing date as to the purchaser only. Purchaser shall pay all Transfer taxes for the Premises. Sale of the Premises shall be subject to the Condominiumâ€™s waiver of its right of first refusal. Upset Price for the Premises is set at $1,350,000.00. Vil: 05/24 â€“ 06/07/2018
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June 7, 2018
Landmark moment: Focus must be preservation EDITORIAL continued from p. 12
was renovated with the wrong materials (wood) and resembled nothing of its former self. After the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation raised an outcry, the misstep was corrected. But this is exactly what can happen when the public is cut out of the process. So where are we left now? Not necessarily in a better place. Namely, Fred Bland, a longtime member of the Landmarks Commission, has been elevated to acting vice chairperson. However, according to Andrew Berman, director of G.V.S.H.P., Bland tended to “march in lockstep” with the former chairperson.
Essentially, preservationists and community activists are now raising an urgent call for the next leader of the L.P.C. to have — hey, what a concept! — actual preservationist credentials. They are waging a letter-writing campaign to the mayor and City Council to ratchet up the pressure to achieve this. (To add your voice to the effort, go to http://www.gvshp. org/_gvshp/preservation/lpc-reform/ reform-05-23-18.htm. ) Several hundred letters have already been generated. As Berman warned, “Left to his own devices, I believe that the mayor will appoint someone to continue to carry out the same agenda as the past chairperson, which was not very sympathetic to true
preservation. That said, a permanent appointee must be approved by the City Council. I believe the Council can use its leverage to pressure the mayor to appoint someone who will actually care about the mission and duties of the L.P.C.” Kirsten Theodos, of Take Back NYC, added that Bland also has conflicts of interest, since he is a principal at Beyer Blinder Belle, a pre-eminent architectural preservation firm with projects that come before the L.P.C. for review “all the time.” Bland should not even be on the commission, in Theodos’s view. Laurence Frommer, president of Save Chelsea, has also written to the mayor, strongly urging him not to elevate Bland
to chairperson, and stressing that it’s now time that L.P.C. “changes course for the better.” Frommer mentioned, for example, how Bland inappropriately failed to recuse himself from a discussion on 404 W. 20th St., the oldest house in Chelsea, even though Bland’s firm and the applicant’s attorney had previously worked together on other projects. We absolutely agree. It’s high time that Landmarks and Mayor de Blasio “change course for the better.” L.P.C. must get back on track with what it should be doing — preserving and protecting our historic buildings and neighborhoods, not enabling developers to chip away at and destroy them. Send a letter!
C.B. 2 issues emergency resolution on Pier 40 PR40 continued from p. 6
now contains, and especially because the resolution seems to be calling for a full reconsideration of one of the foundational principles of the Hudson River Park Act — that the park be self-supporting to the extent practicable and that Pier 40 be devoted partially to this purpose. “For most of last year,” the statement continued,” the Trust worked constructively with the community task force to answer, in detail, all the questions we were asked related to our finances and assumptions regarding Pier 40. C.B. 2’s December 2017 resolution gave us hope
that we were past the point of debating whether Pier 40 would need to generate revenue for the park in the future. It also supported allowing commercial office use and a longer lease term — the two changes to the Hudson River Park Act that we have requested — but only within the context of a pier that balances public open space, appropriately scaled development and other community goals — a position we wholeheartedly agree with and that would require a change to the Hudson River Park Act. Now, we don’t know what comes next. “More park space is clearly desirable, for everyone who lives and works along
Community Boards 1, 2 and 4,” the Trust’s statement went on. “Pier 40 is an opportunity to create more park space, as well as revenue, and this can and should be done without building towers, privatized open space or a mega-development. The Trust has stated its willingness to work with the community on planning principles for Pier 40 that can inform a successful R.F.P., and we stand by that commitment. But we need a change in the Act in order to do this. If it cannot happen this year, we hope the community will initiate another public conversation that will build on the foundation that last year’s task force process has already built.
“As we have said in the past, redeveloping Pier 40, even in an adaptive-reuse scenario that retains the existing building, is a process that is likely to take at least five years following any legislative change and include extensive opportunity for public comment, including, but likely not limited to: a public process to inform preparing of our Request for Proposals, a public process to weigh in on the proposals we receive, a public hearing and comment period as part of our Significant Action process, a public scoping hearing regarding a draft Environmental Impact Statement, and finally, a full ULURP [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure].”
Letters to The Editor LETTERS continued from p. 12
Ackers’ L.E.S. spirit To The Editor: Re “Ackers handoff” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of May 24): In Clayton Patterson’s numerous projects, he celebrates quintessential characters and outlaw saints. The Acker Awards are a perfect example of his insight into claiming history. This invaluable award recognizes a diverse community, helps define it, and honors the movers and shakers of its tribe.
I was lucky enough to know Kathy Acker and publish her. The awards embody her spirit: courage, contribution, excitement. These are hallmarks of the Acker Awards. I’m proud and very grateful to have received one. I feel Kathy would have been pleased to be remembered in this way. A fierce pioneer, she would understand the encouragement this nonacademic award gives to her spiritual kin. Congratulations on hitting five years, Clayton. And let me say, thank you, on behalf of Downtown. I definitely volunteer to be on a committee.
Long live the Lower East! Jeffrey C. Wright
Rain made it clear To The Editor: Re “It rained on their parade, but they danced on” (picture story, thevillager. com, May 26): The rain further proved the strength of our culture and our support for dance. What could be more beautiful than that?
Marilyn Meyers E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager. com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.
Bowery tenants claim victory on right of return BOWERY continued from p. 8
Kelmar said. The Assembly also passed a set of tenant-protection laws late last month, though they have yet to be passed in the state Senate. “My Assembly colleagues and Speaker [Carl Heastie] have contin-
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ued to prioritize strengthening our rent regulations, and we’ll continue to push for this,” Niou said. “All we can do is continue fighting for laws that will empower tenants and shift the power away from bad landlords who take advantage of the system with no regard for the well-being of their tenants.”
Last week’s hunger strike, however, was focused on de Blasio and Betesh. “Tenants are very appreciative of [Assemblymember Niou’s] support, and seeing her staff stop by does give some sense that at least we have a politician that cares enough to show up,” Kelmar said. “But I don’t know what’s within an
assemblymember’s power to do about this one specific case other than advocate for better state legislation in the future.” As for the second hunger strike, with Betesh now having given a firm date for the tenants’ return, it was ended last Friday. TheVillager.com
Don’t need bigger BID SOHO continued from p. 14
empty storefronts that have sprung up along Broadway since the BID was created? With avaricious landlords — the ones who created the BID – asking unrealistic rents, what business can survive with an additional tax burden? Seeking to avoid this problem from spreading throughout Soho, a nonprofit, #CleanUpSoHo, was formed. The activists who make up #CleanUpSoHo reflect Soho’s current reality: The Mendez Soho Salon showcases the works of prominent artists; Soho Strut centers on retail and small realestate interests; the Soho Alliance represents the residents and small business. The new group worked with the Department of Sanitation to get more trash pickups and compliance with litter control. After all, considering the enormous revenue that Soho generates for the city in terms of sales and real-estate tax, shouldn’t we at least get decent sanitation service? But additional service was not in Sanitation’s budget and our sidewalks remained a godforsaken mess. Much of the litter results from the overflow of the wire trash baskets that the city provides, baskets that might suffice in a residential neighborhood but not in an area that attracts tens of thousands of people daily. So #CleanUpSoHo reached out to residents and businesses and has procured oversized, heavy-duty litter baskets installed at almost every intersection, replacing the inadequate wire baskets the city provides.
From streets to stores
These new handsome receptacles have worked remarkably well at solving the litter problem. Furthermore, the City Council through the office of Margaret Chin provided $60,000, which #CleanUpSoHo has used to hire Wildcat Services, a jobs-training problem similar to ACE. Wildcat’s workers now service the trash baskets daily, as well as painting over graffiti. And it does so at a fraction of the cost that a BID would charge. Council Speaker Corey Johnson has also graciously funded our cleanup efforts in the form of extra trash baskets and streetsweeping services. Unfortunately, ACE’s disgruntled founder, a Soho gazillionalre, instead of embracing and supporting #CleanUpSoHo, has now joined with large real-estate companies to form a BID to cover all of Soho. Rather than doing the right thing and complementing the Council’s $60,000 to cover Wildcat’s next six months, the group has instead self-servingly come up with $60,000 to pay a hired gun to ram the BID down the throats of Soho’s residents and small businesses. Where this goes remains to be seen. But can anyone deny that a grassroots volunteer organization of residents and small businesses is far better than a landlord-controlled BID? Sweeney is director, Soho Alliance
ALLIANCE continued from p. 14
next public-space goal involves creating a public-art program for the Central Village, bringing to the neighborhood a variety of temporary installations like this spring’s “The Last Three,” by Australian artists Gillie and Marc, on view at Astor Place through May. Through the years, we have also promoted and advocated on behalf of the local independent business community, believing that a truly successful neighborhood contains a diverse array of retail and cultural establishments. To encourage the community to shop locally, we continue to expand the Village Access Card program, now with more than 80 participants offering exclusive benefits to neighborhood residents and workers. Our small businesses need your patronage more than ever. Visit www.greenwichvillage.nyc/deals to sign up for your free card and explore the best of the Village. We also connect community with local commerce through yearround events aimed at introducing neighbors to our retail, restaurant and nonprofit businesses. Events like the Positively 8th Street Festival, Creativity Cubed, Village Vitality, the Astor Alive! Perform-
ing Arts Series and our continued support of Taste of the Village all provide community residents with opportunities to get out and about to discover new experiences and enjoy the neighborhood, while providing valuable patronage to Village merchants. In 2018, stay tuned for Made on 8th Street events in storefronts on the Eighth of each month (Facebook/Instagram: @ Madeon8thStreet). I would like to express tremendous gratitude to our community partners, our local politicians and colleagues in government agencies for partnering in our efforts to improve the quality of life in Greenwich Village over the past quartercentury. We hope to see you out on Astor Place and throughout the Central Village supporting our local businesses, attending events and, in general, enjoying the Village’s magnificent history and character. Visit us anytime at 8 E. Eighth St. We welcome feedback and ideas on how we can make the neighborhood a better place to live, work and visit. Kelley is executive director, Village Alliance Business Improvement District
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TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
June 7, 2018
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
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Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
June 7, 2018