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The Th T he P Pa Paper ap pe e r of o f Record Re ecc or o r d for ffo o r Greenwich Gre Gr ee e nw n w iicc h Village, Villag g e,, East Villa Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown 1933 So S o ho h o , Un ho, U n iio on S q uare, C Ch h iin hi n atow ow o w n and an a n d Noho, No N o ho, Since S

June 28, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 25

With help from Patel gaffes, Maloney holds onto East Side seat BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

T

uesday evening’s primaries shook the New York Democratic Party to its core after newcomer candidates surpassed expectations. But even so, East Side congressional candidate Suraj Patel couldn’t quite topple Representative Carolyn Ma-

loney, who had held the 12th District seat for 25 years without much challenge. The city’s primaries were dominated by three young newcomers running against longtime Democratic incumbents in New York’s 9th, 12th and 14th Districts. The biggest upPRIMARY continued on p. 6

Planning gives more time for public input on Two Bridges towers BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

L

ower East Siders won a small victory Monday afternoon in their fight against the march of megatower projects in the Two Bridges area. The Department of City Planning announced the release of an extensive xtensive document

late last week that must undergo public review within a set amount of time. Because community boards meet less often in the summer and many people take vacations, community members feared there would be inadequate public input into the process. But shortly after a TOWERS continue continued on p. 18

PHOTO BY Q. SAKAMAKI

On Tuesday, protesters in Lower Manhattan decried the Supreme Cour t’s upholding of President Trump’s “travel ban” a.k.a. “Muslim ban” against people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as Nor th Korea and Venezuela.

A less-bleak Bleecker? Rents down, hopes up BY GABE HERMAN

B

leecker St.’s stretch through the West Village continues to be plagued by retail vacancies. Some blocks sport as many as seven empty storefronts total and several in a row. Yet local real-estate experts say that commercial rents on the street have actually dropped dramatically — by more than 50 percent, according to some estimates — and that there

Pictures of Pride..............pp. 2 - 3

is reason for optimism for Bleecker’s future. Local merchants and business owners remain skeptical, however, as businesses continue to close and the vacancies lead to less foot traffic for the surviving shops. Marc Jacobs famously had six stores on Bleecker St. as part of the big-brand boom on the boulevard that started in the early 2000s. But in March 2017, Marc Jacobs closed its last fashion shop in the area,

according to fashion news site WWD, and now only a bookstore, Bookmarc, remains at W. 11th St. About a year earlier, other nearby high-end closings on Bleecker St. included Mulberry and Brooks Brothers. And the Michael Kors shop recently closed after opening in 2010 and remodeling in 2016. The street’s two Ralph Lauren shops are also long gone, having pulled up stakes years ago. BLEECKER continued on p. 8

Occupy ICE! Protesters camp out on Varick.......p. 4 Gay-rights ‘Sip-In’ leader Leitsch dies at 83......p. 7 www.TheVillager.com


Different direction, same duration for March The Pride March went in the opposite direction this year — starting in Chelsea, wending through the Village and going past the legendar y Stonewall Inn, and then finishing up on Fifth Ave. in the 30s. The contingents were pared down a bit this year, too, in hopes that the parade would finish up a bit faster, which would, in turn, cut down on the time police officers would need to be detailed to the event, and reduce the city’s costs, as well. Yet when all was said and done, the fabulous moving confab only finished 10 minutes earlier than last year — and was still more than a nine-hourlong affair. Chelsea residents were also up in arms about the March marshaling in their neck of the woods this time. Local politicians vowed that it would all be done differently next year, which, with the World Pride event slated for New York City — plus, the 50th anniversar y of the Stonewall Riots — is expected to bring even larger crowds. At any rate, as usual, “Dykes on Bikes” rev ved up the thousands of spectators, politicians and political hopefuls — like Governor Andrew Cuomo and Democratic challenger Cynthia Nixon — pressed the flesh, and the many participants really packed a punch of fun and Pride, from Transfolk of Asian Descent to high-flying L.G.B.T.Q. cheerleaders to contingents from local houses of worship.

PHOTOS BY Q. SAKAMAKI

Some “motorc ycle mamas” proudly kissed in front ront of the historic Stonewall Inn, the h bir thplace thpla of the modern gay-rights movement.

C ynthia Nixon, the openly lesbian former “Sex and the City” actress who is running forr governor, shook hands with excited Pride Marchgoers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who legalized same-sex marriage in New York State, was in the thick of it at Sunday’s Pride March.

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June 28, 2018

A couple of real knockouts from Transfolk of A sian Descent got ready to kick it into high gear as they paused for a photo while marching down Seventh Ave. South through the Village. TheVillager.com


Politicians ride high on rainbow tide of Pride

PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Born this way...and born to bust moves! Council Speaker Corey Johnson was feeling it while marching through the Village at the Pride March.

Mayor de Blasio and Chirlane McCray raised rainbow flags in honor of Pride while crossing Six th Ave. in the Village.

Local politicos were high on Pride at Sunday’s March. Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray, waved rainbow flags, with the Jefferson Market Librar y in the background, as the procession cut its way across the Village before heading Uptown. Cit y Council Speaker Corey Johnson put on some energetic dance moves — including one he may have learned during his high school football days leaping over blockers. Meanwhile, state Senator Brad Hoylman shared a Proud moment with his husband, filmmaker David Sigal, and their daughter, Silvia — who is really getting tall!

State Senator Brad Hoylman, right, with his husband, David Sigal, and their growing daughter, Silvia. TheVillager.com

Corey Johnson raised the bar for Cit y Council speakers, in terms of athleticism, as he elevated at the Pride March. Hopefully, someone got a measurement on that ver tical leap. June 28, 2018

3


Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association Editorials, First Place, 2017 Best Column, First Place, 2017 Best Obituaries, First Place, 2017 News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Pages, First Place, 2015 Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011

PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN EDITOR IN CHIEF LINCOLN ANDERSON ARTS EDITOR SCOTT STIFFLER REPORTER SYDNEY PEREIRA CONTRIBUTORS IRA BLUTREICH TINA BENITEZ-EVES SARAH FERGUSON BOB KRASNER TEQUILA MINSKY CLAYTON PATTERSON MARY REINHOLZ SHARON WOOLUMS BILL WEINBERG GRAPHIC DESIGNER MARCOS RAMOS ADVERTISING AMANDA TARLEY (P): 718-260-8340 (E): ATARLEY@CNGLOCAL.COM ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES GAYLE GREENBURG JIM STEELE JULIO TUMBACO ELIZABETH POLLY CIRCULATION SALES MNGR. MARVIN ROCK

PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Occupy ICE protesters camped out on the sidewalk in front of the loading dock / van egress at 201 Varick St., where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds detainees. At the urging of the New Sanctuar y Coalition, they eventually agreed to relocate their protest across the street.

Occupiers protest at ICE detention center Member of the New York Member of the National Press Association Newspaper Association

BY TEQUIL A MINSK Y

The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 0042-6202 Copyright © 2018 by the NYC Community Media LLC is published weekly by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. 52 times a year. Business and Editorial Offices: One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Accounting and Circulation Offices: NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Call 718-260-2500 to subscribe. Periodicals postage prices is paid at New York, N.Y. Postmaster: Send address changes to The Villager, One Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at office and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2018 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR

The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: news@thevillager.com © 2018 NYC Community Media, LLC

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June 28, 2018

F

ederal immigration authorities halted some operations at the Varick St. Immigration Court facility, including Monday’s bond hearings, while protestors occupied the sidewalks outside the loading dock / van egress on the W. Houston St. side of the building. According to Gothamist, this came four days after protesters with the growing Occupy ICE movement began gathering at the building, which processes and is a temporary detention center for immigrants arrested in the city. The anarchist group Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council, or MACC, led the protesters, with demonstrators remaining outside overnight. Their goal is to stop ICE agents from transferring immigrants to one of the five county jails that hold immigrants slated for deportation. In a video posted by Rise and Resist from last Friday, protestors outside 201 Varick St. locked arms to block departing vans. About 10 ICE officers, some uniformed,

one with a dog, physically moved the protestors to allow the van to exit, while demonstrators shouted, “No borders! No nations! Stop deportations!” On Monday, there was a call by the protesters to “Bring bodies, not tents.” On June 25, Gothamist, quoting an attorney who works out of 201 Varick, who said that the protest “is in some ways in ICE’s favor, because it could prolong the detention of people who may have had a hearing tomorrow.” The attorney noted that some detainees — many of whom are booked at Varick St. but then transferred to jails in New Jersey or Upstate New York — would likely remain held there until their next hearing, which could take up to six weeks. “At the same time,” she offered, “it could also prolong the deportation process.” This particular strategy for a demonstration is not supported by the New Sanctuary Coalition, which has partnered with Reverend Billy and the monthly Thursday early-evening bicycle protests. Yet, Occupy ICE seemed to have grown out of the Thursday bicycle rally. Early Fri-

day morning, one protester was arrested outside the Varick St. facility. Occupy ICE blocked the loading dock area and occupied the sidewalk all weekend. Immigrant detainees’ lawyers did not appear on Monday, and scheduled hearings were canceled. Around 10 p.m. Monday night, about 50 protesters were encamped outside the building’s W. Houston St. loading dock when New Sanctuary Coalition organizer Sara Gozalo — agreeing with the attorney’s analysis of how these protests could actually prolong people’s detention — pleaded with them to relocate their protest action to outside ICE’s offices at Duane St. at Federal Plaza. Gozalo had met with them numerous times during the day. In the evening, speaking to the Occupiers at their “general assembly,” she pleaded with them that this was harmful to detainees and they should relocate. At 11 p.m. Monday night, Occupy ICE moved across the street to the north side of W. Houston St. TheVillager.com


A MOVING MOMENT: Well, Terri Cude, the chairperson of Community Board 2, has finally done it. She has agreed to put Tom Connor back on “S.L.A. 1,� as in, one of the two State Liquor Authority Committees on C.B. 2. (Basically, there are so many liquorlicense applications in the Village and Soho area, that they had to have not one but two committees to handle the volume.) “Terri sent me an e-mail stating that she would put me back on the S.L.A. Committee as of July 1. Thanks for following up,� Connor told us. Cude explained that she is keeping Connor on the Social Services Committee, “because that is a very good fit for him� as a senior activist. But she is now taking him off the Traffic and Transportation Committee, so that he will only be on a total of two committees. Connor was “not removed� from that committee, she stressed, “but moved from it� to another committee. “I’m trying to accommodate his preferences, as well as the board’s needs,� she explained. Meanwhile, it’s interesting to note that Scott Sartiano, a partner in Zero Bond, was recently appointed to C.B. 2. It was Connor’s complaint that the application for the private members club — a threestory affair slated for Broadway and Bond St. — was not treated fairly that sparked the flap that saw Cude remove him from — oops, sorry! We mean, move him off of — S.L.A. 1. GARDEN PARTY: The Elizabeth St. Garden nonprofit group held its fundraiser last Thursday night. More than 400 people passed through the green oasis, at Elizabeth St. between Prince and Spring Sts., over the course of the night. Norman Siegel, the group’s attorney, and Joseph Reiver, its leader, gave rousing speeches. Entertainment was provided by the band Phantom Lovers led by local jazz musician John Lander. La Esquina did the food catering, and Van Leeuwen brought in an ice cream truck for the occasion. There was also a cool sensor that turned the vibrations of a tree and those standing near it into electronic music. Now, if that tree could actually speak, what would it say? Probably something like, “Save me! Build the housing on Hudson St.!� WELCOME ABOARD WESTBETH BOARD: The Westbeth board of directors elected four new members at its annual meeting on June 14: TheVillager.com

PHOTO BY C. VAN JAHNKE

Norman Siegel, Elizabeth St. Garden’s attorney, with Nina Taylor, a longtime Elizabeth St. resident, at the garden fundraiser last week.

George Cominskie, Anisha Steephen, Judd Levy and Samantha Vincent. A longtime resident of the artists’ affordable-housing complex, Cominskie is vice president of John Turner Photo, working in the photography field for the past two decades. He previously was on the Westbeth board from 1989 to 1994 and from 2002 to 2004, and was its vice chairperson from 1990 to 1994. Cominskie served on the Westbeth Artists Residents Council a.k.a. WARC for 21 years, 17 of them as president, before abruptly resigning at the end of last year. (As Scoopy reported back then, there was a rumor it was because he was being denied a seat on the complex’s board.) Levy is former chairperson of the board of directors of the State of New York Mortgage Agency and the New York Housing Finance Agency. Before that, he founded the Community Development Trust, the country’s first Real Estate Investment Trust devoted to providing debt and equity capital for community development projects. For the past 15 years, Levy has also been pro-bono adviser to Habitat for Humanity. Steephen is a community development officer at Local Initiatives Support Corporation, one of the nation’s largest Community Development Financial Institutions. She leads originations and underwriting of economic development real estate projects by mission-driven organizations in New York City. Finally, Vincent is president of One Race Films, a film, television and video-game company. She also serves as executive producer of Vin Diesel’s “The Fast and the Furious� franchise. Samantha — like Diesel, her older brother — grew up at Westbeth, and her parents are still residents. “We are proud to announce the election of these new board mem-

bers,� said Patricia Jones, chairperson of Westbeth’s board and its interim executive director. “As we approach our 50th anniversary in 2020, Westbeth continues to be a vibrant arts community that enriches the cultural life of our

city. These individuals bring a range of talents to the board and will help us continue our mission of supporting artists with affordable housing and stable work space for decades to come.�

          

        

        

             

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June 28, 2018

5


Maloney beats Patel, holds onto East Side seat PRIMARY continued from p. 1

set was in the 14th District, covering parts of Queens and Brooklyn, where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez toppled powerful Congressmember Joseph Crowley by a 15-percent margin. Congressmember Yvette Clarke kept her seat representing parts of Brooklyn, winning against Adem Bunkeddeko by less than 4 percent. Despite Patel’s loss, the first-time candidate sparked the most competitive primary election for Maloney in 25 years. Maloney won 58.8 percent of the vote, a nearly 18 percent more than Patel, who garnered 41.2 percent of the ballots cast. Maloney won Manhattan by a landslide — with 19,836 votes to Patel’s 11,275 — but nabbed Queens by just 63 votes. Patel had a leg up in Brooklyn, where he won 2,864 votes compared to Maloney’s 1,468. The sweeping 12th District includes the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, Midtown, the Flatiron District, Gramercy, Union Square and the area south of it to near Washington Square Park, Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, the East Village and part of the Lower East Side; Astoria, Long Island City and part of Woodside in Queens; Greenpoint in Brooklyn; and a small part of the Bronx. “I will continue doing all I can to fight back against Trump’s hateful agenda and make sure we take back the House in November,” Maloney tweeted Tuesday night. In the days leading up to the primary, Patel faced a backlash after news reports on his use of dating apps in campaign strategies that were sharply criticized. Volunteers and Patel himself created Tinder and Grindr profiles, sometimes with photos that were not of themselves, and used politics pick-up lines to tell people about the primary election. The method was detailed in an instruction sheet to Patel volunteers tweeted by New York Times reporter Shane Goldmacher last Friday, advising the volunteers to either keep their own photograph, use a photo provided by the campaign with Patel’s name, or a “stock hottie” image from the Web site unsplash.com. Open Secrets of the Center for Responsive Politics wrote that Patel spent $5,000 on the strategy, dubbed “Tinder banking.” “Tinder banking” alongside other P.R. slipups, such as reports about allegedly “creepy” Facebook comments about Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney, labor violations at his family’s hotel company, claiming a tax break on his home in Indiana and voting outside of New York City as recently as 2016, became too much noise for voters to notice Patel’s campaign message, which was largely aligned with Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old newcomer candidate from the Bronx who scored Tuesday night’s biggest upset. Patel was one of the first candidates across the country who ran a campaign on defunding U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. He also called for Medicare for all. He campaigned on legalizing marijuana, but went a step further than Maloney by advocating for the retroactive release of people who have been incarcerated for nonviolent pot crimes. Running against Maloney from the left, he came out against legislation aimed at fighting human trafficking, but which critics say actually puts sex workers in more danger and makes it more difficult to find evidence against trafficking victims. He told The Villager earlier this month that staking out that position was “risky,” but worth taking. Maloney championed the legislation as its co-sponsor. In a statement Tuesday night, Patel said, “From the beginning of this campaign, our message was simple: Politics in districts like the 12th is broken, and we need to reach out to voters that the political establish-

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June 28, 2018

Carolyn Maloney, above, fended off a strong challenge from first-time candidate Suraj Patel, below.

ment has ignored and left behind for too long.” He noted the district’s dismal 7 percent voter turnout in 2016. This week, the number of voters more than doubled. “While the political machine and entire political establishment backed my opponent, we built an inspiring grassroots operation, fueled primarily by the energy of young people, to show that we could defeat the politics of usual and expand the electorate,” he said. “The results were on display tonight: Over 37,000 people turned out versus under 17,000 in 2016.” “I congratulate Congresswoman Maloney on her victory tonight, and look forward to seeing her stand up against the president and fight hard for our city,” Patel said. “It’s my hope that going forward, we can continue to have a dialogue about the representation New York needs and ways that we can better engage new voters.” Patel spokesperson Lis Smith did not answer questions about whether Patel would run as a third-party candidate in November or if he planned to run for elected office again in the future. Some voters The Villager spoke with on Tuesday morning were inspired by Patel’s call for change and attempt to overturn the Democratic establishment in the 12th District. “Carolyn Maloney has been around forever,” said Janet Nadel, an East Villager for more than three decades. “She’s been around forever and ever and ever, and maybe someone new can make some changes in the neighborhood.” Another East Villager who has been voting in the district for three years voted for Patel, in part, he said, because the Democrats currently in office can’t be trusted to fight Republicans with truly progressive policies. “I think it’s time to shake up things in Washington,” said Alexander Cavaluzzo, 29, who works in advertising and writes art-criticism articles. “He wants to defund ICE, which I think — especially now — is a very important issue.” Cavaluzzo said he hoped Patel’s run would push Maloney to the left, as Cynthia Nixon’s campaign for governor has done to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Despite Patel’s winning well more than one-third of the votes, he was unable to win over neighborhood politicos and politicians during the course of his campaign. Village Independent Democrats and a newer Democratic club, the Grand Street Democrats, both endorsed Maloney. Politicians didn’t want to meet with Patel and even asked that photos of them with him be taken off his social-media pages, as reported by The New York Times. “Carolyn Maloney has been an icon and role model for women in New York City politics for over 25 years, and I congratulate her on another impressive victory for her and Manhattan’s East Side,” City Councilmember Carolina Rivera said in a statement after the election. “Carolyn has been an example of how elected officials can bring home critical funding and services for district residents while also passing legislation aimed to lift up women and working-class New Yorkers at the same time.” State Senator Brad Hoylman and Councilmember Keith Powers were out campaigning for Maloney on Primary Day. After the congressmember’s victory, Hoylman tweeted that he “[loved] the fact that [Maloney] said in her victory speech tonight that competition & new ideas make our party stronger as we take on Trump & the GOP in November. “She gets it,” he added, “which is why the voters re-elected her today.” TheVillager.com


Dick Leitsch, ‘Sip-In’ leader, is dead at age 83

OBITUARY BY ANDY HUMM

D

ick Leitsch, who was president of the gay-rights Mattachine Society of New York at the time of the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969 and provided an essential on-the-scene report of the uprising for Mattachine’s newsletter, died on June 22. His death followed a yearlong battle with multiple melanoma that was first diagnosed in his eye and spread to his liver and kidneys. Leitsch, a longtime resident of the Upper West Side, was 83 and died in Manhattan. Dick Leitsch was the organizer of an intrepid group of early gay activists from Mattachine who sounded the death knell for New York State’s ban on serving alcohol to gays in bars on April 22, 1966. On that date, they staged “Sip-Ins� at several watering holes — identifying themselves as homosexual and asking to be served. On their third try, a group including Leitsch, Randy Wicker, Craig Rodwell and John Timmons were denied in view of the press at the West Village’s Julius’, which at the time was a “raided premises� fearful of being closed. While L.G.B.T.Q. people had demon-

PHOTO BY ANDY HUMM

Dick Leitsch at the 2017 Pride March.

strated and even rioted before this, the “Sip-In� was the first targeted act of gay civil disobedience, and it was successful. “The whole thing ended up in court, and the court decided, well, yes, the Constitution says that people have the right to peacefully assemble and the state can’t take that right away from you,� Leitsch said in a 2008 interview with National Public Radio. “And so, the Liquor Authority can’t prevent gay people from congregating in bars.�

The State Liquor Authority then dropped its regulation that serving gay people made an establishment a “disorderly� venue. The Stonewall Rebellion accelerated the movement exponentially. Leitsch frequently observed, “Before Stonewall virtually no one was gay. After Stonewall everyone was gay.� Paul Havern, 28, who was friends with Leitsch for the past three years, was part of a group of young activists who

took an interest in the pioneering activist and gave him “a late-life renaissance,� according to Tom Bernardin, the historian of Julius’. “For a lot of us,� Havern said, “Dick was sort of a bridge into a world that was really lost to an entire generation. For many of us, he really provided us insight not only on how far our community has come, but also to how similar we all were despite our differences.� Historian and activist David Carter — whose 2004 book “Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution� is the definitive account of the 1969 Rebellion — said Leitsch’s activism effectively legalized gay bars and created the expectation for L.G.B.T.Q. people that they would be legally served. Carter told Gay City News, The Villager’s sister paper, “Without Dick Leitsch, there would have been no Stonewall.� A funeral Mass for Leitsch will take place at The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, 145 W. 46th St., at 10 a.m. on Thurs., June 28, which happens to be the 49th anniversary of Stonewall. All are welcome. The funeral will be followed by a brief interment ceremony at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, at Hudson and Christopher Sts. After the interment, a reception and celebration of Dick Leitsch’s life will be held at Julius’, 159 W. 10th St. at Waverly Place, at about 1 p.m.

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June 28, 2018

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A less-bleak Bleecker? Rents down, hopes up BLEECKER continued from p. 1

In recent years, as big brands have fled, retail rents on Bleecker St. have plummeted from a high of $700 per square foot to a current rate of about $200 to $300 per square foot, according to Joel Isaacs of Isaacs and Company, which deals in commercial real estate. Isaacs said his company is seeing an increase in activity due to lower rents, even though many vacancies remain on Bleecker St. “It’s definitely going to take a little time,” Isaacs said of the storefronts filling in again. “But I know just within my own office that there are a number of deals pending for some vacancies. I think we will potentially see some local retailers coming back to the area with some reduced rents.” When it comes to real-estate trends and what has happened in the West Village, “it’s a bit of a momentum game,” according to Bob Perl, the founder and president of Tower Brokerage. Perl said it can go back and forth, for example, when places started leaving recently. “There’s a lot of momentum that falls behind places like Bleecker,” he said, “where one big name follows the next. And, at a certain point, when they decide it’s not fitting for their business plans and they start pulling out, the momentum swings in the other direction.” Now, with lower rents along Bleecker St., “it’s an opportunity for retailers who have been on the sidelines hoping for this moment to occur,” noted Adelaide Polsinelli, senior managing director at Eastern Consolidated, a commercial real-estate brokerage firm based in New York City. Polsinelli noted, however, that there may still be financial difficulties for those who bought in at the height of Bleecker St.’s rates. “Anyone who bought their property on Bleecker, or in the area, from 2014, 2015, they bought at the height,” she noted. “So there has to be a real serious conversation with their financing, their lenders, their investors, what the expectation is going to be. Because anyone who bought with the expectation that rents were rising and they bought at the top of the market is going have a serious problem.” Some vacancies on Bleecker St. may remain if landlords can’t lower rents because of their financing deals. “However,” said Polsinelli, “there were plenty of people who bought before that and they still are in the money, so to speak, and they still can take a discounted rent.” Along with some local businesses returning, Isaacs said that outside brands may come to the area from places like Los Angeles, for example, along with Internet companies that are looking to expand into “brick-and-mortar” retail spaces.

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June 28, 2018

PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

The Native Leather shop was on Bleecker St. for nearly 50 years, but closed last year after the landlord would not renew its lease. Its owner told Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York blog that the landlord wanted double the rent they were paying.

Brookfield Properties, for one, plans to give opportunities to Internet companies and mom-and-pop businesses as part of its upcoming plans for Bleecker St. In April, Brookfield bought seven storefronts along the street at four properties, at W. 11th and W. 12th Sts., for $31.5 million, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Brookfield’s plans also reportedly include arts and culture

Pop-up shops and ‘interactive retail’ are in the mix.

events to help revitalize the area. Brookfield’s investment on Bleecker St. is encouraging for the area, in Polsinelli’s view. “They’re betting on the long-term vitality of Bleecker,” she said, “and they’re saying, ‘We just put our bets on this. We think that the future is very bright.’ ” Looking ahead for both Brookfield

and Bleecker St., over all, Polsinelli sees a changing retail landscape that includes shorter leases that allow for adaptability to what consumers want, and a change in what products are provided. “Retail is evolving into more of an experience than just a necessity,” Polsinelli explained. She said that, for example, instead of a traditional perfume shop, perhaps there would be a perfume lab where customers could experiment and create their own customized product to buy. Or next to Magnolia bakery, perhaps a business would offer classes on how to make cupcakes, Polsinelli mused. She noted that Murray’s Cheese shop, for example, already offers cheesemaking classes. And Le Pain Quotidien on Bleecker St. near Broadway offers several baking classes next door to its bakery space. “It’s interactive, it’s a new concept,” Polsinelli said of possible adaptations in Bleecker St. retail, “but it takes advantage of what’s already existing and brings it to another level, so that the experience for a retailer and a consumer is seamless. They come in, they’re engaged, they participate, they get involved, and then they have a takeaway.” Polsinelli said the takeaway could be a product, but also a membership, subscription or the experience itself. Polsinelli also noted the importance of the trend of pop-up stores, in which businesses get a chance to test the waters in the area, or even in particular spots within the area, to see what consumer demand is.

“Maybe the retail shouldn’t be a 10-year tenant in the same space,” Polsinelli said. “Maybe it should be a concept that changes — like art every month. Maybe it’s a constant pop-up where you’re always surprised — and because you don’t know what to expect, you want to come back for more.” And the Internet may be more complementary than threatening to retail shopping, Polsinelli added, especially if the focus is put on the shopper’s experience. “The West Village is very exciting,” she said. “You never know what you’re going to see, who you’re going to see, what you’re going to experience. And buying in the store is not the same as getting the same product online.” While those in real estate see promising signs for Bleecker St.’s future, local merchants are left with the reality that, as of right now, vacancies remain and businesses continue to close shop. Just earlier this month, bakery Maison Kayser closed its location at Bleecker and Christopher Sts., for example. The block of Bleecker St. just across from the closed bakery, between Christopher and W. 10th Sts., has been blighted by seven total store vacancies in recent weeks. Vijay Desai, owner of the Village Apothecary on this block, spoke in early June of the bakery’s closing. “It’s such a surprise,” he said. “And all the stores on this block — it’s all empty. It’s tough because that affects walking traffic, because we rely on that walking traffic for new business.” A big empty space next to the Village Apothecary used to be occupied by Manatus, a down-home Greek diner that had been there since the 1980s. It was forced to close in 2014 when the landlord asked for a rent increase from $30,000 to $50,000 a month, according to John Kaliabakos, director of pharmacy services at the Village Apothecary, who has worked there for 25 years. “They’re like, ‘We can’t do that,’ ” Kaliabakos said, regarding Manatus. “And then they wind up being empty for two years, and it just looks bad for the neighborhood.” Todd Rigby, co-owner since 1983 of the flower shop VSF, on W. 10th St. just off Bleecker, remembered a time when a big chain was forced out by locals in favor of a small business. He said that before Manatus moved in, McDonald’s had signed a lease for that space. “All the antique shops and great little businesses were all in an uproar,” Rigby recalled. “So they started a petition and they got the landlord to not rent to McDonald’s.” These days, though, locals may have to settle for any kind of store over more vacancies. “Obviously the people that live in BLEECKER continued on p. 26 TheVillager.com


POLICE B L O T T E R Shoe hullabaloo Around noon on June 22, inside Designer Shoe Warehouse, at 40 E. 14th St, DSW guards saw a man remove three pairs of shoes and hide them in a bag, according to police. They were two pairs of red Adidas sneakers and a pair of Steve Madden shoes, totaling $210 in value. Guards confronted the man, who dropped the bag full of footwear, pulled out a knife and threateningly said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Stay away!â&#x20AC;? The shoplifter then threw the knife over the storeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s balcony, â&#x20AC;&#x153;threatened the loss-prevention officers with human feces,â&#x20AC;? and fled to the Union Square subway station at 14th St., said police. The man ran onto the tracks and went through an emergency exit, where he was caught. Edgardo Rodriguez, 62, was arrested for felony robbery.

Pâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ground meltdown In Corporal John A. Seravalli Playground, at 17 Horatio St., on Tues., June 19, at 5:30 p.m., a 15-year-old tried to rob a 12-year-old by standing over him and saying, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Give me your wallet,â&#x20AC;? according to police. But police said that a â&#x20AC;&#x153;third partyâ&#x20AC;? stepped in and prevented the playground shakedown. This caused the frustrated robber to run away, and he then called 911 to report a robbery â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which police, in turn, recorded as a false report under a separate arrest. Joseph Harris, 15, was arrested as a juvenile that same day for attempted felony robbery.

Shady suspects Two robbers thought they had it made in the shades on Sun., June 24, around 3:02 p.m., when they knocked off Sunglass Hut, at 157 Spring St., for $14,000 worth of merch. A 20-year-old employee approached one of the individuals, who warned him he had a gun and not to try to stop him. However, he never showed or simulated a gun. The eyewear-filching pair fled west on Spring St. One suspect is described as black, age 25 to 30, 6-feet-1-inch tall, and weighing 250 pounds. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, dark-colored shorts, white socks and white-andblack shoes. The second sunglasses swiper was said to be black, also age 25 to 30, 5-feet-9-inches tall, and 160 pounds. He wore a blue hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, black shoes and was holding an orange basketball. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Departmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or TheVillager.com

for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

Cappu-picko A man told police that a pickpocket stole his wallet inside Kobrick Coffee Co., at 24 Ninth Ave., on Sun., March 25, around 2:45 p.m. The victim, 23, said he paid his bill and put his wallet in his right rear pocket, only to realize minutes later that the billfold was gone. He said he didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feel anyone take it. The coffee shop let the man view its video footage, which showed a group of guys walk by him a few times. The victim observed on the video that one man took the wallet from his pocket. But he couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see the suspect or anyone else in the group clearly enough to describe them. On June 18, Jonathan Garcia, 28, was arrested for felony grand larceny, police said. Along with the stolen wallet containing the victimâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s credit and debit cards, it also held his driverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s license and Social Security card, along with $100 in cash that was not recovered.

³ ,ZDQWWKHZRUOGWRNQRZ HDWLQJKHDOWK\LV DYHU\JRRGWKLQJ DQGLWFDQKHOSXV VXVWDLQOLIHDQG OLYHORQJHU´ Miguel, Bronx resident and high school student ³,QP\QHLJKERUKRRGZHKDYHDORWRIDGV IRUVRGDVSRUWVGULQNVHQHUJ\GULQNVDQG 2WKHUVWXIIWKDWMHRSDUGL]HV 2W RX RXUNLGVœKHDOWK:DONLQWR DQ DQ\ERGHJDRUORRNRQDQ\ NLG  NLGVœUHVWDXUDQWPHQXDQG WKDWœVH[DFWO\ZKDW \RXZLOOILQG´ Mary, Bronx resident, mother, grandmother 

Missing woman Police said an East Village woman has been missing for the past two weeks. Jessica Medina, age 33, who lives at 234 E. Second St., Apt. 4A, was last seen Thurs., June 7, at 2 p.m., leaving Kings County Hospital, in Brooklyn, according to cops. She is described as about 5-feet-3inches tall and 150 pounds, with a medium build, light complexion, brown eyes and thick curly black and red hair. It was unknown what clothing she was wearing at the time she went missing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Crime Stoppers Hotline.

Pants perp A man took 19 pairs of pants from a Lulu Lemon store display at 408 W. 14th St, around 5 p.m. on June 20, police said. The guy fled on foot with the purloined pants, totaling over $2,600 in value. Photos of the suspect were available from store cameras, and Neil Pollinger, 47, was arrested the same day and all stolen items were recovered, according to police.

Miguel and Mary are advocates working with Teens for Food Justice and the American Heart Association to make healthy drinks the norm.

You can help.

7H[W+($/7+<.,'6 WR

Gabe Herman and Lincoln Anderson June 28, 2018

9


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Betesh is just full of BS

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To The Editor: Re “Bowery tenants bash Betesh, saying he ditched return date” (news article, June 21): Betesh has been trying to illegally kick these tenants out since he bought Nos. 83 and 85 Bowery. He sued the tenants in 2016 to get an order of eviction with no compensation to the tenants. He wrongfully stated the building was not rent-regulated. He tried to lowball the tenants to leave for $15,000 per apartment. Why haven’t charges been filed against him and his lawyers? Betesh claims to have not known about structural problems until after purchasing the buildings. Who buys a building constructed in 1890 without having an engineer inspect it thoroughly? That is total BS, Mr. Betesh, as are most of your other excuses. Don Moder

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More Felder frustration To The Editor: Re “Kids calls for more speed cameras near schools” (news article, June 21): Senator Felder represents speeders and morticians and not his constituents or the general public safety and welfare of the people of this state. Voters should just say “No” to Senator Felder and support me, Blake Morris, for state Senate in Brooklyn’s District 17 in the Democratic Primary on Thurs., Sept. 13. Let Senator Felder hear you. Blake Morris Morris is a Democratic candidate for state Senate in Brooklyn’s District 17

Call 718-260-2516 or e-mail pbeatrice@cnglocal.com

Something isn’t right here To The Editor: Re “Wants to be on C.B. 3” (Scoopy’s Notebook, May 31): Dear Scoopy, thanks for your write-up of me in your column of May 31. If I may, I would like to add a few

We cover “The Cube”!

IRA BLUTREICH

comments. I am not really furious at not being reappointed to Community Board 3. I am more furious at the treatment I have received from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. One day before the C.B. 3 appointments for 2017 were announced, I was informed by then-Councilmember Rosie Mendez that I would not be reappointed. She told me that B.P. Brewer had determined that it was a conflict of interest since I prepared Rosie’s taxes. I should note here that for much of the time that Margarita Lopez was the District 2 city councilmember, I not only prepared Margarita’s taxes but was the treasurer of two of her campaigns, and prepared the financial statements that elected officials are required to submit. No one ever said a word then, and there was no conflict of interest then, either. Then B.P. Brewer called me personally and told me that she believed it was a conflict of interest, that she wasn’t reappointing me that year. She also promised me that if I reapplied in January 2018, as soon as Rosie was out of office (which I did), she would appoint me to the first opening on C.B. 3. There was an opening in January and I didn’t hear from them. When I called, I was directed to someone in Brewer’s office who told me that I was wrong. She told me that I had to go through the process and be considered along with the new applicants. I said that I was told directly by the B.P. otherwise. Obviously, someone was lying to me. It is clear to me that there is a hidden agenda here — or maybe not so hidden. There were some interesting tidbits of information in your column, Scoopy, such as how Artie Strickler, the late district manager of Community Board 2, seemed to indicate that he played a role in who got appointed to his board. I thought that any district manager having any say as to who got appointed to a board was illegal. Did C.B. 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer confer with Brewer about me? Stetzer certainly hates me, as I have been very critical of how she treats her office staff and shows favoritism to certain board members. Was my preparing Rosie Mendez’s taxes simply an excuse to get me off the board? Doesn’t Stetzer realize that now that I am off the board, I am freer to go after her for the things I find unconscionable about her behavior? You called me part of the dissident faction on C.B. LETTERS continued on p. 26

Both parties need to work together to solve this crisis! 10

June 28, 2018

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‘We won’: Original SPURA tenant finally back home

PEOPLE BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

W

hen Linda Acevedo looks out her window on the seventh floor of her one-bedroom apartment at Broome and Clinton Sts., a flood of memories washes over her. Her north-facing window overlooks a massive construction site for a 25-story tower. On that spot was where she grew up as a child home more than 50 years ago. “This is where I started, and this is where I’ll finish,” Acevedo reflected at a new nearby cafe — GrandLo Cafe — and community center situated beneath affordable senior housing operated by the Grand St. Settlement. The Rollins, which Acevedo moved into in April, is a part of the multiblock Essex Crossing development. The sprawling site, formerly known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, was leveled in 1967. But its redevelopment stalled, and for decades it was used as parking lots. Acevedo was just 15 years old when her family was displaced from their tenement building slated for demolition on the site across from her new home. Her family was one of the few who stayed in the Lower East Side, moving to various apartments in the neighborhood. For the last 35 years, Acevedo and her family have lived in the Vladeck Houses, at Madison and Gouverneur Sts. A formal plan for SPURA — which would go on to be redubbed Essex Crossing — was voted on in 2012. Half of the apartments throughout the new residential buildings will be affordable housing for low-, moderate- and middle-income households. Since the plan’s approval, Acevedo and other former site tenants have been fighting to get priority access to the affordable housing units in the new buildings. It was a long struggle, she said, but when applications for the affodable housing were finally released, there was a tiny “Check Here” box for former site tenants. “That was the biggest thing ever,” she said. “We won.” The uphill battle of returning to her childhood corner, however, was far from over. A key factor for Acevedo in securing a spot for herself and her husband, Cheo, was proving that she had once lived in the tenements on the former site. “That was the big ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’” she said. “You had to prove you were here.” Her birth certificate — which had her home address on it — was not enough, since she was born more than a decade before tenants were evicted from the tenement housing. Seward Park High TheVillager.com

PHOTOS BY SYDNEY PEREIRA

Linda Acevedo and her husband, Cheo Acevedo, in their new apar tment at The Rollins, above. They adopted their dog, Auggie, a few months ago after Jet Blue flew in rescue animals from the California wildfires.

Linda Acevedo overlooking the construction site at the new Essex Crossing mega-project, where she lived with her family in a tenement building decades ago. The tenements were all leveled for so-called “urban redevelopment.”

School didn’t have records dating back to when she was a student there. So, Acevedo tried reaching out to the U.S. Social Security Administration, which she hoped would have records of her first work application at 14 years old. After paying a $25 fee, she received records from the administration proving that she lived at the former multiblock site, opening the door for her to get interviews for an affordable apartment in the building, she said. Three interviews and several months later, she was offered a $1,000-a-month one-bedroom apartment. “It was so exciting. I just love everything,” she said of her new place. “It’s so new. What’s not to love?

“I just really lucked out,” she added. “We feel blessed — so, so blessed.” Meanwhile, outside her window, construction on the rest of Essex Crossing surges ahead. At times, she feels melancholy while watching the work because she can remember playing “Red Light / Green Light” on the streets while her mother and friends would sit on milk crates after dinnertime. As a child, she could hardly walk down four flights of stairs without her mother requesting that she ask every neighbor if they need their trash taken out. She can visualize her old bedroom and each and every store in the neighborhood — the Puerto Rican bodegas, a bakery, a movie theater she went to

with friends on the weekends, and a store where candies sold for a penny. All three of her sons — 29, 30 and 43 years old — still live in the neighborhood, the fourth generation of “Lower East Side lifers” that began when Acevedo’s grandparents immigrated here from Romania and Russia. “I knew I wasn’t leaving the Lower East Side,” she said. “If that meant staying in the projects [at the Vladeck Houses], that’s probably where I would have died.” The Lower East Side may have changed, but in some ways, it’s for the better, she said. Despite the rampant gentrification and construction and turnover of stores, restaurants and bars, Acevedo said she could “go blindfolded walking around the Lower East Side” and still always know where she was. The neighborhood is safer today yet remains a unique part of the city. Young people flock to the area now, whereas before they steered clear. Acevedo looks forward to grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, which is expected to be housed in the retail space of The Rollins alongside Target later this year. “Now people fight to live in the Lower East Side,” she said. “I never imagined that happening — that’s for sure.” June 28, 2018

11


PHOTOS BY STANLEY WLODYKA

Cyclists, protesters get rolling against ICE th of

C yclists in the Bikes Against Depor tation event last Thursday protested against outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility at 201 Varick St. Following the c yclists’ action, an Occupy ICE movement began in front of the building’s W. Houston St. loading dock, where vans enter and exit with undocumented immigrants in ICE’s custody.

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A bit more time for input on Two Bridges towers TOWERS continued from p. 1

rally Monday morning, the commission announced it would extend the publicreview process until Oct. 17. “It’s a 700-page document,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said at the rally. “Who can do that during the summer?” The lengthy document, known as a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, or D.E.I.S., is a part of developers’ applications for what are technically “minor modifications.” Despite the description, the three projects involved are far from minor, critics charge. Four towers on three different sites (one project would include two towers on a single base) have been proposed in the neighborhood; Brewer said that would represent more growth in a 36-month period than the neighborhood — sandwiched between the footings of the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge — has seen in three decades. The planned projects include an 80-story building at 247 Cherry St. by JDS Development Group; 63- and 70-story towers at 260 South St. by L+M Development Partners and the CIM Group; and a 63-story tower at 259 Clinton St. by the Starrett Group. “This was rezoned in 1961,” Brewer said of the Two Bridges development area. “It makes no sense in 2018. It has to go through a discussion. … We will fight it every step of the way.” City Planning now says it will extend the time period when the public can review the documents and comment on the trio of projects at the commission’s review session about the developers’ application. Typically, this specific application would be referred to the local community board — in this case, Board 3 — for its advisory review for a period of between 30 and 60 days. A review period of 60 days for C.B. 3 would put the public hearing on Sept. 5, according to Ryan Singer, City Planning’s senior director of land use review and commission operations. “However, our schedule in September has a number of large projects, and they’re likely to have their hearings that month,” Singer noted in a statement at the Monday afternoon review session. “That means the City Planning Commission would not likely be able to hold a hearing on this item until Oct. 17, at the earliest. This aligns happily with requests from the community, the applicant and the borough president.” The city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, doesn’t apply to these applications, Singer added. With the public hearing set to be held Oct. 17, the deadline for public comment will be Oct. 29. “Maybe they all thought we would be on vacation and we wouldn’t notice, right?” Councilmember Margaret Chin said. She applauded the Two Bridges

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June 28, 2018

PHOTO BY SYDNEY PEREIRA

At a rally Monday morning, local politicians and activists said Community Board 3 needed to be given sufficient time to review a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for three upcoming megatowers in the Two Bridges area. The D.E.I.S. was abruptly announced last week — right as summer is set to see C.B. 3 slow down and many people leave town. In photo above, Cit y Councilmember Margaret Chin spoke, as listening, to the left of her, were Borough President Gale Brewer, A ssemblymember Yuh-Line Niou and C.B. 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer, along with communit y activists. Later that day, Cit y Planning said the D.E.I.S. review would be extended into October.

community for their efforts, recalling the community’s resiliency after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. After braving electric outages and risky conditions, the community is only tougher and more resilient, she warned the developers. “What unites us here is our resiliency and our grit,” she said. “Together, we did what many people said it would take years to do [after Sandy]. We bounced back.” Despite pushback against the megatowers by the community and local politicians, the developers contend they have now been in talks with residents and stakeholders for quite some time. “We have been strongly committed to dialogue with local stakeholders and outreach to local residents from the inception of the projects, now almost two years ago,” the three developers said in a statement through spokesperson James Yolles by e-mail. “We will continue to honor that commitment during the community board phase of the process and appreciate the concern recently expressed by the board that it requires more time to review the applications.” In a letter dated June 22, David Karnovsky, the land-use attorney representing the developers, requested that Singer push the hearing back to a later date. The developers added in the statement that they look forward to a productive discussion with C.B. 3 and other local stakeholders.

However, Susan Stetzer, C.B. 3’s district manager, questioned the developers’ transparency over the past year. At the beginning, developers were transparent with C.B. 3, providing a timeline and promises of a robust dialogue. But that dialogue petered out, until this week when the draft E.I.S. was announced. “I don’t know why there’s been such a drastic change, but this community deserves better,” Stetzer said. “Two Bridges is a low-income, immigrant community of color. The community should receive more services and assistance, not be blocked from proper process.” Some neighborhood residents question the area’s ability to absorb another few thousand residential units. One local looked at Extell Development’s One Manhattan Square — the first megatower to rise in the Two Bridges district — as a clear indicator megatowers don’t fit in the community. “Look at this humungous monster,” Ernest Velez, who has lived at 82 Rutgers St. for more than two decades, said of the tower just north of the Manhattan Bridge. “It hasn’t hit us completely yet because people haven’t moved into the building.” But with more towers slated to come, he expects an explosion of car traffic, an influx of people but a lack of food markets, and an increase in noise, along with a decrease in air quality. Velez

added he would expect an increase of police and security in the area, as well. “Who are they going to be looking at? They’re going to be looking at us,” Velez said of the possibility of more police as a result of more residents in a neighborhood that is largely low-income, immigrant and minority. Monica Guardiola, president of the Lower East Side Democratic Club, who has lived in the Lower East Side her entire life, said the neighborhood lacks adequate infrastructure to handle more residents. She added that the developers have not only ignored the current residents, but the future residents of the new luxury towers, which will soon dominate a neighborhood lacking adequate services. Developers have planned mitigations to the megatowers, including upgrades to the F train station at East Broadway, improvements to Coleman, Captain Joseph, and Little Flower Playgrounds, construction-noise mitigation measures, and various open-space enhancements. For Guardiola, though, those measures do not change the fact that much of the community does not think the planned towers are beneficial for the neighborhood. “The developers discard our issues, discard our feelings and discard how we wanted to live,” she said. “We can’t even help the people we have here because we’re over-capacitated.” TheVillager.com


Something new for a ‘Change’ Games for Change Festival looks back, ahead, inward

Via playstation.com

“Jupiter & Mars” lets players control a virtual dolphin.

BY CHARLES BATTERSBY The Games for Change Festival has always been ahead of the game, in terms of the social impact of video games. Each year, its panelists and curators examine how games can be used to promote positive change in civics, education, and health. With its 15th installment taking place June 28-30, the festival looks back at its own history, while looking to the future. Attendees will be able to play cutting-edge games and virtual reality, as well as see innovative technology at the festival’s marketplace — and in a new feature this year, fledgling game designers will be able to meet potential mentors in a “Mentor Lounge.” Games for Change (G4C) is especially relevant this year, with one of the panels set to feature a discussion about the recent addition of “Gaming Disorder” to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International TheVillager.com

Classification of Diseases. G4C was already planning on discussing the matter before the WHO made their decision to classify video game addiction as a disease. This panel is taking a rounded view, according to G4C’s lead curator, Alexander King. “The reason we wanted to have it be a panel, specifically, is to hear about the issues and the different pros and cons,” King told us. “It’s not like [The WHO] are saying ‘Games are bad!’ and we’re going to discuss how they’re good. There are defi nitely some potential benefits to people taking gaming addiction seriously. But there is also some potential for overstep.” King elaborated: “This is breaking news in the games and health world, so we wanted to bring together some people who could tell us what’s going on and help inform our audience.” In addition to such hot topics, the festival will also have a set of “Well

Played” panels that look in-depth at some older games, to measure their lasting effects. “At the 15th year,” King explained, “we wanted to include some programming that was critical assessment of things that happened, not things that are coming in the future.” “Brain Age” is a venerable Nintendo franchise, and one of the early games that was thought to benefit the mental health of players. They’re entertainment puzzle games, but some neuroscientists claimed that playing them could help fight dementia and other conditions. Thirteen years after their launch, a “Well Played” panel will evaluate the series’ legacy. “September 12,” a 2003 indie game that was made to examine wars in the Middle East, also gets its own “Well Played” panel. In it, players fire missiles into a virtual town to blow up terrorists hiding among civilians. It’s impossible to not incur some degree

of “Collateral Damage,” and the game proposes that brute force can never stop terrorism. “It’s curious, what [September 12] means to us today,” King pointed out, “looking at it as a historical artifact... and how it stands on its own merits, stripped of that context.” Is this an alltime classic, or is it of its time? King wondered. “What does ‘September 12’ tell us about the games for change that we’re making today? In 10 years, will they be historical artifacts, or things that speak across the ages?” Even some of the big commercial game franchises are included in the festival’s mission. “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” is set in ancient Egypt, and the recent “Discovery Tour” content pack for it lets players explore the historical setting in an educational manner. The developers of the “Assassin’s G4C continued on p. 21 June 28, 2018

19


Make a point of seeing ‘INK MADE’ Illustration exhibition draws on FIT grad students BY MION EDWARDS The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) held a June 14 reception where 2018 MFA in Illustration graduate students displayed their Visual Thesis Exhibition, which brought together the unique styles of seven artists into one harmonious expression of creativity. “INK MADE” not only serves as the name of the exhibition, but is an acronym representing each of their projects (In-Vogue, Nudes, Kittens, Mélange, Aliens, Dolls, and Earth). The artists let their lives fill the walls of the gallery, expressing their culture, heritage, and creative vision. Whether they used, ink, print, paper, or pixels, there was no shortage of imagination and vitality in the work. “Culture was my biggest influence,” said Hilary Hubanks. “I studied a lot of cultures for this [exhibition] — Egyptian art, Syrian ancient art, different tribal cultures in Africa. My family is Norwegian so I studied a lot of ancient Norwegian culture and tribal art.” Hubanks’ “Visions of Indigo” (aka “Aliens”) represents her fascination with the supernatural, nature, fantasy, and magical creatures. “I have to be true to myself,” she said, by wondering “what’s out there… Don’t stop imagining.” Hubanks, a print designer and illustrator by day (and by night and weekends, an MFA Illustration student), reflects the majority of the group, most of whom have full-time or freelance jobs outside of the program but manage to strike a balance between academia and employment. The artists involved all come from different disciplines. “We have designers, we have teachers, we have people from the fashion world, we have people with illustration careers,” noted Brendan Leach, chairperson of FIT’s MFA in Illustration program. The thesis show is a combination of the students’ three years of study in the program. They have been working on this project since September, and created the title and theme for the show. “They’re all individuals with strong voices,” Leach said, adding that the group has become “a really tight unit, and functions as one.” Even though the majority of the students are professionals working in vari-

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June 28, 2018

Photo by Mion Edwards

Sarah Wilmot in front of her “American Mélange.” Each scene begins with a clean line drawing and ends with the creation of an evocative image.

ous fields, they still saw opportunity to sharpen their skills. Mark Higden was influenced by the historic temples of retail fashion known as The Ladies’ Mile Historic Shopping District, which was a prime shopping district in Manhattan at the end of the 19th century. With vivid illustrations representing the Victorian era shoppers, Higden’s “Ladies’ Mile Historic Walking Tour” (aka “In-Vogue”) taps into new technology to bring this blast from the past to life. The “Ladies’ Mile Walking Tour” app uses location technology to provide a window into history (the app is available in the Apple store). “I teach in the fashion business management department [at FIT],” Higden said. “So many of our students don’t really understand or even think about in terms of what retail was over 100 years ago and what the experience was. I thought this would be a good way beyond a textbook and a lecture [to engage them].” Awsemon Yari’s “Dolls” (aka “White Dream”) features dolls created by the artist to tell the stories of her life.

INK continued on p. 21 TheVillager.com


Via gamesforchange.org

â&#x20AC;&#x153;September 12â&#x20AC;? was released the year of the first Games for Change Festival. G4C continued from p. 19

Creedâ&#x20AC;? games will be doing a keynote address about the project as part of the Games for Learning Summit at G4C. We spoke to Rebecca Rufo-Tepper who co-curates the educational programming along with Arana Shapiro. She explained that â&#x20AC;&#x153;Assassinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Creed: Originsâ&#x20AC;? is â&#x20AC;&#x153;an entertainment game, but it is educational. Even though its main goal wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t necessarily to be used in schools, but it actually is a game that has been used in classrooms to impact learning engagement.â&#x20AC;? Rufo-Teppler also noted there has been â&#x20AC;&#x153;a movement in the past 10 years around teachers using games that werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t originally designed in an educational contextâ&#x20AC;Ś The more engaged you are, the more you learn, because engagement is part of learning.â&#x20AC;? New to this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s festival is a fullday event (Sat., June 30) devoted to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. The â&#x20AC;&#x153;Xâ&#x20AC;? in XR for Change stands for the combination of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Virtualâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;Augmented.â&#x20AC;? While VR has been growing in popularity, Augmented Reality, which uses â&#x20AC;&#x153;smart glassesâ&#x20AC;? to superimpose content over the real world, has been lagging behind as an

INK continued from p. 20

The artists drew from more than just their educational background in illustration â&#x20AC;&#x201D; some explored new ventures. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve always been interested in art history,â&#x20AC;? said Edgar Alanis, â&#x20AC;&#x153;and this was a way for me to explore that passion. I thought, what better subject to pick than nudes, because I can be tongue-and-cheek with it.â&#x20AC;? Alanisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x153;Nudes, Nudes, Nudes (In Art History)â&#x20AC;? has a wall display in addition to a graphic novel. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I wanted people to smile and make people laughâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;get to know their favorite pieces from art,â&#x20AC;? Alanis said. Some in the exhibition, like Alanis, seek to evoke emotion, while others illustrate how art can imitate life. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I wanted to show the everyday person going through their daily activitiesâ&#x20AC;? TheVillager.com

Courtesy of Games for Change

The new â&#x20AC;&#x153;Assassinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Creedâ&#x20AC;? game adds educational elements to its historically accurate adventures.

art form â&#x20AC;&#x201D; until recently. Ryan Seashore curated the XR for Change Summit. Although many of the projects deal with environmental issues, he said that this wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a deliberate decision. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was just some of the most stunning, breathtaking, amazing work that we came across were focusing on [the environment],â&#x20AC;? he told us. Among the 360-degree VR movies are ones that are shot in the middle of real wildfi res, or underwater with sharks, and on the edge of glaciers that are melting. The VR experiences also include a dolphin simulator, and a separate mermaid sim, which both deal with environmental matters.

One of the unique things about a VR experience is that it can literally give the user the POV of another person. Among the empathy-generating projects at XR for Change is one that put players in the shoes of a TSA agent (â&#x20AC;&#x153;Terminal 3â&#x20AC;?). Seashore also recommends attendees experience â&#x20AC;&#x153;She Flies By Her Own Wings,â&#x20AC;? which he describes as being about â&#x20AC;&#x153;a transgender service member... It gives a window into another situation that people wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t normally be aware of.â&#x20AC;? Many of the projects seen at G4C will be available to download after the festival ends, and some are on virtual shelves right now. People who miss the festival can also keep an eye out for

their year-round Student Challenge, which runs in several cities, including New York. The Games for Change Festival happens June 28â&#x20AC;&#x201C;30 at the Parsons School of Design at The New School (66 Fifth Ave., at E. 13th St.). Festival passes for individual days or the entire event range from $179â&#x20AC;&#x201D; $499. Special discounts for nonprofit employees, educators, students, and indie developers. Our readers can get a 20 percent discount by using the code NYCCM18. Visit gamesforchange.org, call 212-242-4922, or email festival@ gamesforchange.org. Social Media: #G4C18.

and â&#x20AC;&#x153;show that we may look different but we are all the same,â&#x20AC;? said Sarah Wilmot, whose â&#x20AC;&#x153;American MĂŠlangeâ&#x20AC;? has a patriotic tone that represents the different cultures in America. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a reflection of your life,â&#x20AC;? Wilmot said, regarding her illustrations and animated scenes. Her artwork depicted the cultural melting pot that is America â&#x20AC;&#x201D; specifically, New York. Walking through the exhibit, visitors will see the assortment of skills, cultures, and environments. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s incredible how it comes together and only we know how they came in,â&#x20AC;? said Melanie Reim, currently the acting associate dean for FITâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s School of Art and Design. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We see the evolution of where they are at now. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve launched into really successful careers.â&#x20AC;? The INK MADE exhibition will be on view through July 7 at The Museum

at FITâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gallery FIT (Seventh Ave. at W. 27 St.). Admission is free. Gallery hours are Tues.â&#x20AC;&#x201C;Fri., 12â&#x20AC;&#x201C;8pm and Sat., 10 amâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;5pm. For more info, visit fitnyc. edu/museum/exhibitions or call 212217-4558. For social media of the par-

ticipating artists, visit HilaryHubanks. com, edgaralanis.com, thefashionistoprofessor.wordpress.com, JohnJayArt. com, and, on Instagram, @Wilmot. Sarah, @Awsemonyari, and @juhye. cho.

Theater for the New City â&#x20AC;˘ 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net

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support COMMUNITY PHOTO BY SARAH FERGUSON

NEWS!

Students using the new playground at P.S. 19 on First Ave. in the East Village.

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Students help to design multipurpose play yards BY SAR AH FERGUSON

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or decades, students at P.S. 19, at First Ave. and E. 11th St., have played on barren asphalt, with just a small jungle gym to climb on. On Mon., June 18, children gathered with local politicians for the grand opening of their new $1.3 million playground that students helped design with architects from the Trust for Public Land. “This is extraordinary. This might be the best playground in the whole city,” declared Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer as she stood on a small stage overlooking the brightly colored running track, turf field, chess and ping pong tables and basketball court. The new playground is part of a national campaign by T.P.L. to create “transformational parks” in cities across the U.S. In May, T.P.L. opened a similarly creative, student-designed playground a few blocks east at P.S. 94, at E. Houston St. near Avenue D, which houses the East Village Community School and the Children’s Workshop School. Both playgrounds are intended to be open to the community after school hours and on weekends. “We believe in the power of play,” said Carter Strickland, the New York State director of the Trust for Public Land. “And the cool thing is, we all get to play here, not just the kids, but everybody in the community.” That’s especially true for the new P.S. 19 playground, which will be shared with seniors at the Sirovich Senior Center, located directly across the street on E. 12th St. Members there will be growing flowers and vegetables in the new garden, which features raised planting beds. “This is a unique collaboration between seniors and a school that will allow for intergenerational programming relating to nutrition and food,” Brewer boasted, adding, “It’s also really cool!” The playground was also designed

with an eye toward climate change. The gazebo has a green roof planted with sedum plants, which absorb rainwater and heat, and the turf field is underlain with sand and porous pavers designed to catch up to an inch of rainwater during heavy storms. T.P.L. estimates these and other green features will capture 800,000 gallons of storm water a year. The garden area also functions as an outdoor classroom, with stone benches and colorful signs illustrating plant life cycles. “It’s long been a dream of mine to provide students with a multipurpose space where they can play and learn and grow,” said Jacqueline Flanagan, P.S. 19’s principal. Flanagan said a team of fourth-grade students spent 10 weeks working alongside staff at T.P.L. to formulate a plan for the space. They studied how the sunlight falls and surveyed their peers to create a wish list of features that kids wanted the playground to have. They then worked alongside T.P.L. architects to design the playground — even creating the bright yellow star logo that greets you at the entrance. “They thought about the little ones, and the big ones. This gave them their first taste to civic leadership,” said Mary Alice Lee, who directs T.P.L.’s playgrounds program. “I think it’s super-nice for seniors like me to be able to sit and enjoy this shade,” said 65-year-old Alex Story, as children frolicked nearby on the brandnew climbing gym. Both the P.S. 19 and P.S. 94 playgrounds are supposed to be open until dusk every day. Some local residents, though, have already complained that the custodians at P.S. 94 have been keeping that play yard locked on weekends and after school hours. But Principal Flanagan said she’s committed to keeping the P.S. 19 yard open to the public, and the senior center across the street will also have keys. TheVillager.com


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June 28, 2018

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A less-bleak Bleecker? Rents down, hopes up BLEECKER continued from p. 8

the neighborhood would love a deli, something that they could use,” Kaliabakos observed. “Usually, it’s going to be another clothing store or something like that. But anything as long as it’s not empty would be nice.” Another local merchant named Ancy, owner for 18 years of Beautiful Tibet, an arts and culture shop between Grove and Christopher Sts. on Bleecker, said he has stayed in business thanks to loyal customers who are seeking the type of exotic items that he offers. “They’re not looking for something high-end,” he said of shoppers at his boutique. “They’re trying to make it a very high-end street for this area,” Ancy added, “but they couldn’t do that.” He was hopeful that more local shops would return, because he said the bigname trend clearly wasn’t working, and the area’s market goes in cycles. “It has to come back that way,” he said. VSF’s Rigby, however, is less optimistic, even with the news of Brookfield’s plans on Bleecker St. “Sounds like it’ll be Tiffany’s,” he shrugged, referring to one of the highend shops at Brookfield Place, down by the World Trade Center. “I can’t imagine that they’d be renting to a deli.”

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Posters resembling a proper t y on a Monopoly board, like this one, were plastered on shuttered Bleecker St. storefronts bet ween Six th Ave. and Thompson Sts. The posters list the prohibitive rents — including for shor t-term pop-up stores, too — that merchants have been facing, and also quote Jane Jacobs on the t wo key “public powers” shaping American cities: votes and “control of the money.”

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Rigby and Catherine McClarin, his partner and co-owner of VSF, said they have been able to stay in business because they don’t depend on walk-in traffic. “We’d be in trouble if we did,” he said. “It’s just tourists asking questions, asking where Magnolia Bakery is.” There is some hope among local owners about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to fine landlords whose storefronts remain vacant for too long. “That would help us a lot, especially this block,” said Village Apothecary owner Desai. “I hope that even the mayor could help out and subsidize the rent for mom-and-pop, to bring the local family back to the neighborhood, instead of all these chains.” Florist Rigby also thinks the proposed fines could help get the empty stores filled. “It would be nice,” he reflected. “I have to walk further and further for a deli, like there’s just nothing around anymore.” For his part, Kaliabakos remains optimistic about the Brookfield deal. “People are hopeful,” he said. “It’s a buzz in the neighborhood that that’s going to change something. So we’re hopeful, but let’s see what happens. Hopefully, things will change a little bit. It’s not a good look for half the stores to be empty.”

3. I wear that title proudly. You should know that of the 15 people who had the guts to support Chad Marlow for chairperson in 2014, only three are left. Two were thrown off: Ayo Harrington — which was gross censorship, in my opinion — and me. The others quit. Many of them felt that C.B. 3 had become a waste of their time. C.B. 3 is known as not a very strong board. It is getting weaker, and if something isn’t done soon, it will have no power at all. As for the appointment of Alistair Economakis to C.B. 3, I might give Brewer the benefit of the doubt that she didn’t know what he had done. If she did know, then her appointing him is terrible. If Stetzer urged his appointment, that is not only illegal, but reprehensible. If Brewer appointed Economakis to the board knowing his history, then I am glad she didn’t reappoint me. I wouldn’t want an appointment from someone who would make such a horrible decision. I remember a statement that Brewer

made at one of the board interview sessions. She said that it was important to keep longtime board members who have a knowledge of the community’s history on the boards. Obviously, she didn’t mean me. I have asked Brewer’s office for a face-to-face meeting with Brewer, former Councilmember Rosie Mendez and current Councilmember Carlina Rivera. I want to know why Brewer didn’t reappoint me after stating that she was. So far, I haven’t heard back from them. Anne Johnson 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.

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