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The Paper of Record for Greenwich G ee Gr eenw nw w iicc h Village, Vii llll a V ag ge e,, East E a st s Village, Villag a g e, ag e Lower Lowe East Side, Soho, Square, Chinatown o, Union S Sq q ua u a re uare r e , Chin Ch C h in ina att o ow w n and an n d Noho, N o ho o , Since S i n c e 1933 Si 193

October 4, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 39

It’s not just Amazon causing retail woes, local landlords say BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

S

tretches of vacant storefronts have become a jarring everyday reality in Downtown Manhattan, with Bleecker St. the poster child of this growing retail crisis. But some landlords and developers with properties in Community Board 2’s district

have some explanations for why the retail blight persists despite apparent plummeting commercial rent — and they aren’t just blaming it on our having entered the Amazon era. “It’s easy to hang our hats on e-commerce and say that e-commerce is going to destroy RETAIL continued on p. 7

Say it saint so... St. John’s project blindsides C.B. 2 BY LINCOLN ANDERSON The massive project at the St. John’s Terminal has taken a radically different turn as a new developer is now set to build a 100-percent commercial building on the site’s southern portion, south of Houston St. Hundreds of units of afford-

able housing — as well as market-rate housing — have been foregone with the scrapping of the original scheme. In addition, it looks doubtful that a 15,000-square-foot recreation center the community had pushed for as part of the project will now be built. ST.JOHN’S continued on p. 6

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Suzanne Vega of “Luka” fame headlined the first annual Village Trip festival’s free concer t in Washington Square Park on Saturday evening. See Page 25.

‘A great day!’ Ribbon cut on Morton school BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

M

iddle-schoolers were laughing, screaming and happily cavorting with each other. Humongous bubbles were blowing around everywhere and bursting on top of people. A girl was stiltwalking through the crowd while balancing a stack

Chamber prez is running....... p. 12

of schoolbooks on her head. Meanwhile, trying to be heard above the joyful din, politicians, community school activists and city education officials sung the praises of the new 75 Morton middle school and the determined, inspiring, years-long community effort that incredibly brought it all to fruition.

Among them was Richard Carranza, the city’s schools chancellor, who was presented with a special plaque reading, “Just Believe.” After all, that’s what local schools activists always kept doing, even when the project stalled and hopes of obtaining SCHOOL continued on p. 8

Woman mugged on Minetta by pliers perp........p. 4 S.B.J.S.A. backers spar over ‘legal memo’ ...... p. 11 www.TheVillager.com


SOCK IT TO US: As he is wont to do, Norman Scherer was out selling Hawaiian shirts on Washington Square North at a street fair last Saturday. Buy a shirt for $10 and get a free bar of natural soap. Hey, it’s a good deal! Like the rest of us, Scherer, a Downtowner-turned-Jerseyite, said he had been totally mesmerized by Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearings, featuring angry testimony by the brew-guzzling judge and accusations by Christine Blasey Ford, who charges a teen Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. Specially for the occasion, Scherer was hawking to passersby a pair of “CHUG” socks, which he was dubbing his “Kavanaugh socks.” A little earlier, he had sold a pair of “Flake socks” (featuring snowflakes), so named for Arizona G.O.P. Senator Jeff Flake, who got the Republicans to agree to a limited F.B.I. probe of the sexual-assault claims against Kavanaugh. RIGHTEOUS RAP: Drawing a crowd on Eighth St.

Liberties Union sponsored a thought-provoking popup exhibit on Eighth St. last week, looking at the issue of how low-level arrests impact New Yorkers, primarily people of color living in poor neighborhoods. Called “The Museum of Broken Windows,” it featured artwork from 30 artists, including formerly incarcerated individuals; panel discussions with CUNY and John Jay faculty members; Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham, who was killed by police after he tried to flush a bag of pot down a toilet in his Bronx home; and a documentary about the “N.Y.P.D. 12,” a group of police officers of color who sued the department over its alleged quota system that the dozen officers say unfairly targets — and ruins the lives of — people of color. Councilmember Jumaane Williams showed up after the Saturday night screening of the film, which was seen by a good-sized crowd, to moderate a discussion by some of the whistleblowing cops. Speaking of windows, the gallery’s had to be removed, so they could get a police car into the place. The squad car was actually a work of art itself, filled with peacefully growing green plants sprouting through its, literally, “broken windows.” We were told it symbolized what would happen if the city’s anticrime strategy of the same name were scrapped.

PHOTO BY SCOOPY

Kavanaugh socks — get ’em while they’re hot!

on Saturday, Kanye West was in town for an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” and dropped by Electric Lady studios. He graciously invited in a homeless rapper, Nino Blu, so that Blu could show him his stuff in the studio, West saying he had “good energy.”

THROUGH THE WINDOW: The New York Civil

SINCE

ROCK ON...A SMIDGEN LONGER: Trigger tells us The Continental is still hanging in there. The developers who are planning to tear down the northeast corner of St. Mark’s Place and Third Ave. reportedly don’t have their permits yet and so are allowing the rock-venue-turned-cheap-shots bar to stay on for a while more. “We’ll definitely be here through November, possibly till February,” Trigger told us. CORRECTION: In Michele Herman’s Sept. 13 article on the P.E. Guerin foundry on Jane St., the location given for Steinway Hall was incorrect. It’s on W. 57th St.

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Sunday, 10/28/2018  11 am-2 pm  285 Jay Street, Brooklyn NY 11201

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POLICE B L O T T E R 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

PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER VICTORIA SCHNEPS-YUNIS CEO & CO-PUBLISHER JOSHUA SCHNEPS 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

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The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 00426202 Copyright © 2018 by City Media LLC is published weekly by City 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: City 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 City 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 City 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 City Media LLC

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October 4, 2018

Minetta mugging Police said that on Wed., Sept. 26, around 10:35 p.m., a man followed a woman, 26, down the stairs into the entryway of her building in the vicinity of Minetta and Bleecker Sts., near Sixth Ave. He brandished a pair of pliers and demanded money. A brief struggle ensued, during which the suspect grabbed the victim roughly by the neck and held the pliers up threateningly at her. The woman tried to get away but was unsuccessful. The robber then removed $200 from her wallet and fled on foot westbound on Minetta St. The victim was not injured. The suspect is described as black, age 20 to 30, 5-feet-9-inches tall, wearing a black hooded sweater with red writing on the front, blue jeans and sporting a black backpack. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or 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.

Where there’s smoke A man was spotted puffing on a crack pipe on Washington Square South, near the park’s southwestern corner, on Mon., Sept. 24, around 10 p.m., police said. When the guy, 26, was confronted by a plainclothes officer, he allegedly became hostile and took a “fighting stance.” When the officer then tried to arrest him, things turned violent, and the cop was punched in the face while trying to wrestle the offender. The suspect tried to choke the officer, then broke free and fled on foot. Alhassane Doumbouya was later caught in the park by uniformed and anticrime officers and arrested for felony assault.

Cell swoop Two young toughs grabbed a man from behind in Chinatown on Sat., Sept. 29, and stole his cell phone, police said. The victim, 26, was walking in the vicinity of Hester and Mott Sts. around 1:30 a.m., when one of the muggers raced up on him from behind and placed him in a chokehold. When the victim dropped his cell phone, the second thug picked it up from the ground. They forced him to unlock the phone with his PIN, then grabbed his earphones and $10 cash from him and fled northbound on Mott. Both suspects are described as black and wearing hooded sweatshirts, one black and the other gray. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers.

PHOTOS COURTESY N.Y.P.D.

One of the alleged robbers who hit an East Village bank on Oct. 2.

Bank robbers Police are connecting a third bank robbery to a Downtown bank robbery pattern. In the third incident, on Tues., Oct. 2, around 1:30 p.m., a man entered the Valley National Bank, at 111 Fourth Ave., near E. 12th St., and passed a teller a note demanding money. The teller complied and gave him an undetermined amount of cash. The suspect fled on foot northbound on Fourth Ave., where he met a second man who had remained outside as a lookout. The first suspect is white, and while inside the bank, wore a black hooded sweater, a black wig, black sweatpants, black sneakers and carried a light-colored bag. The second suspect is white, bald and wore eyeglasses. He had on a black-andwhite backpack. Police are connecting this incident to the robbery of two Chase banks, one at 305 Bowery, near E. First St., on Thurs., Sept. 20, at 1:50 p.m., and the other on Mon., Sept. 24, around 9 a.m., at 240B Greenwich St., near Murray St.

Mugger ‘bagged’

One of the suspects who allegedly stole a man’s cell phone in Chinatown on Sept. 29.

One of the suspects who police say choked a man in Chinatown until he gave up his cell phone PIN code.

Splash and dash A taxi trip went wrong on the evening of Fri., Sept. 28, at 6:45 p.m. The driver, 27, dropped off a woman at the corner of Barrow and Hudson Sts., but the fare became “hostile and irate” toward him, arguing that it wasn’t her intended destination, according to a police report. The woman, 36, exited the vehicle and removed her suitcase from the trunk. She then approached the front passenger-side window and tossed scalding hot coffee at the hack, causing burning, swelling and pain to the right side of his face. In addition to burning his face, the java was splashed over the vehicle’s console and ruined his clothing. The cabbie refused medical treatment at the scene. Emilee Wells was arrested for felony assault.

A 55-year-old man had a verbal exchange with a young man and four others at the corner of University Place and Eighth St., on Sat., Sept. 29, at 12:45 a.m. Afterward, the five other guys punched the man with closed fists several times in the head and upper body, causing a gash over his right eye and injuring his right shoulder, according to a police report. When E.M.S. arrived, the victim said his “blue bag” was missing. A cell phone belonging to one of the attackers was also left at the scene. He returned for it while police were there, and told them he was looking for it. His description of the missing phone matched the one left at the scene. The man, 21, then said that his missing phone might be near a bag that was two blocks away. When he brought police to that spot, the victim’s blue bag was there. The young man then admitted to punching the victim several times, and he was positively identified by two witnesses to the incident. The bag was returned to the victim, and after the young man was searched, a pocketknife was found, along with alleged Xanax pills and Klonopin wafers, according to police. Kyrie Deroche, 21, was arrested for felony robbery. His cell phone was taken as evidence since it possibly contained contact information for the four other perpetrators, who were not immediately caught. Three of them were only identified in the police report as male and black, while there was no information for the fourth perp who got away.

Gabe Herman and Lincoln Anderson

TheVillager.com


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Manhattan Health & Wellness

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Northwell opens multispecialty medical practice BY VILL AGER STAFF

O

n Tues., Oct. 2, Northwell Health announced the opening of a two-story, 15,000-squarefoot, multispecialty medical practice in the site of the former St. Vincent’s Hospital, now known as The Greenwich Lane Townhouses. The new facility, Northwell Health Physician Partners at Greenwich Village, is at 7 Seventh Ave., with its entrance where St. Vincent’s former emergency department used to be. The new facility will offer expertise in adult cardiology, rheumatology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, otolaryngology and surgical specialties, plus pediatric neurology, allergy and cardiology. Its surgical consultative services include thoracic, bariatric, vascular, colorectal, plastic, urologic and general surgery. The space features 28 exam rooms, a noninvasive cardiology testing suite, chest radiography, audiology testing and a pulmonary function lab. “When St. Vincent’s Hospital closed in 2010, we promised to restore healthcare services for the residents of Lower Manhattan,” said Michael Dowling, president and chief executive officer of Northwell Health. “Our ongoing expansion of medical care in Greenwich Village and other neighboring communities reaffi rms our commitment to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve.” Northwell Health has 21 hospitals across the metropolitan area, including Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. This facility is Northwell’s largest primary multispecialty center in Manhattan. This latest opening follows the 2014 opening, just a block north of there, of Northwell’s 160,000-square-foot Lenox Health Greenwich Village, which houses Manhattan’s fi rst and only freestanding emergency center, imag-

Optometrist Available

COURTESY NORTHWELL HEALTH

At the ribbon-cutting for Nor thwell’s new multispecialty medical ser vices practice, Michael Dowling, Nor thwell’s C.E.O., fifth from right, was joined by from left, state Senator Brad Hoylman; Alex Hellinger, director of Lenox Health Greenwich Village, Nor thwell’s stand-alone emergenc y depar tment and comprehensive-care center; A ssemblymember Deborah Glick; and Matthew Washington, deput y borough president, along with Michael Rudin, of The Rudin Organization, fifth from right, other Nor thwell officials and members of the Sisters of Charity.

ing and ambulatory surgery centers, a medical pavilion and community conference center. Northwell also boasts five urgent-care centers and two ambulatory centers in Manhattan. “While our hospitals continue to meet the acute-care needs of our patients, the key to keeping our communities healthy is providing a range of primary and multispecialty care in the neighborhoods in which our patients live and work,” said Dr. Warren Licht, vice president of ambulatory operations for Northwell Health. Representing The Rudin Organization — which residentially redeveloped the site — at the ribbon-cutting was Michael Rudin. The Sisters of Charity, the order that ran St. Vincent’s Hospital, also attended.

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October 4, 2018

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Say it saint so: St. John’s project blindsides C.B.2 ST.JOHN’S continued from p. 1

Per the original plan, the historic, hulking St. John’s Terminal building — which was the terminus of the High Line when it was a working freight railway — will still be opened up at Houston St., which it currently spans. However, a design that would have seen the High Line tracks themselves left spanning the street, reminiscent of the High Line park to the north, has been abandoned. But, in the new design, the ends of the tracks will project out of the building a bit like an overhang. Most significantly, the mega-project has now been split into two distinct sites being done by different developers. Community Board 2 appears to have been blindsided by the revised project design, after the new developer, Oxford Properties Group, bought the southern part of the three-block-long property this January from Westbrook Partners and Atlas Capital Group. The sale price was $700 million, The Real Deal reported. One major concern of C.B. 2 members is that Oxford’s building will become a “private campus,” not connected to the surrounding community. Instead, they want it to have some amenities that could attract locals to the currently desolate spot. As Tobi Bergman, a former chairperson of the board, put it, “The community got left out of this redesign. We’re kind of in a tough position because we didn’t do this as part of a seventhmonth-long ULURP [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure].” The building’s original three stories will be retained as a base. A fourth floor added in the 1960s will be removed, according to Dean Shapiro, Oxford’s vice president of real estate. On top of this original base, nine stories will be added. The building will offer the type of very large floor plates that appeal to commercial tenants. Oxford expects to break ground in mid-2019 and for the completed building to be occupied by 2022. Oxford will also demolish the northern part of the St. John’s Terminal for Atlas and Westbrook and also demo the part of the terminal that bridges Houston St. The project will feature a parking facility for 200 or more bicycles, complete with showers and lockers. Shapiro, an avid cyclist himself, said they anticipate that many of the roughly 4,000 people who will work in the building will bike to work, partly because it’s right across from the Hudson River bikeway. One C.B. 2 member thought that 200 parking spots for bikes was a bit low for so many employees. However, Shapiro noted the building, in fact, will “have the capacity to accommodate an unlimited number of bikes.” While the developer has the right to

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October 4, 2018

COURTESY COOKFOX ARCHITECTS

A rendering of the redesign of the 550 Washington St. project, between Houston and Charlton Sts. It includes nine new stories added atop the existing three-stor y base of the historic St. John’s Terminal building.

go higher, they intend to keep it relatively squat, which, according to Shapiro, will make it more contextual with its surroundings. Yet, they are still using all their available as-of-right development rights. “We’re using the volume,” Shapiro stated. “We have to in order to make money. “The Village is low-scale,” he added. “Given what we’re going for, it’s better to be closer to the ground.” The architect is COOKFOX, headed by Rick Cook, which also did the design for the original mixed-use plan for the site. It’s not clear if the building would have one or multiple tenants, and Oxford does not currently have any lease agreements in place. Atlas and Westbrook retain the northern part of the property, north of Houston St., and intend to move forward with their part of the original plan, for a mostly residential building. Under an agreement with the city, they are required to make “best efforts” to ensure their part of the site will include a much-needed supermarket. However, non-supermarket big-box stores — specifically of more than 10,000 square feet — are not allowed in any part of the St. John’s site. Three years ago, a development group called St. John’s Partners, including Westbrook and Atlas, announced a plan for 1.7 million square feet of development — mostly residential, with 1.3 million square feet of that slated for residential use and 400,000 for commercial — on the unique, sprawling site, between Clarkson and Charlton Sts., bounded by West and Washington Sts. This original project was to have nearly 1,600 apartments, with about

475 of those slated for affordable housing. Of that amount, 175 units were earmarked for low-income seniors; the rest would have been for low- and moderate-income families. Now, though, the only affordable housing that remains as part of the overall St. John’s construction is planned for north of Houston St., in the Atlas/ Westbrook part of the project, and it would all be senior affordable housing. This is where the senior affordable housing was always planned to go. However, 30,000 additional square feet now will be allotted for senior affordable housing on the northern part of the St. John’s site — for a total of 140,000 square feet of senior affordable housing — though it was not immediately clear exactly how many more apartments that would translate into. The current change in the project is known as the “hybrid plan,” combining the residential northern portion and the southern commercial half. The original project configuration was known as the “mixed use” scheme. In December 2016, the City Council approved the Hudson River Park Trust’s sale of 200,000 square feet of unused development rights from Pier 40 to the St. John’s developers for $100 million. A rezoning was also needed as part of the process to allow residential use. This was the first-ever developmentrights sale from the park under the amendment to the Hudson River Park Act of 1998 that was pushed through secretively in Albany at the very end of the state legislative session five years ago. Under the city’s approval of the St. John’s project in 2016, the $100 million from the park air-rights sale was mandated to go toward repairs of Pier 40, at Houston St., the Lower West Side’s

crumbling “family sports pier.” Oxford’s part of the St. John’s project now will not use any of those purchased park “air rights” and will, instead, be built under the “as of right” zoning, meaning under the site’s original zoning. All of the 200,000 square feet of air rights purchased from Pier 40 will be used in the project’s northern part, where the tallest tower was slated to rise 430 feet under the original plan. What the City Council O.K.’d two years ago was actually two plans — on the one hand, the mixed-use one for a largely residential development, and on the other, the hybrid plan. Back then, though, no one seems to have realized that the hybrid plan could, in the end, actually become the de facto main plan. C.B. 2, for example, spent most of its time during the ULURP public-review process offering suggestions about the original largely residential plan, while the hybrid plan was just an afterthought, if even that. This past Monday morning, Oxford Senior V.P. Shapiro laid out his group’s new project in detail to The Villager, in advance of a presentation he would make later that night at C.B. 2’s 550 Washington St. Working Group, chaired by Bergman. (The concerns by C.B. 2 members cited throughout this article were raised at that working group meeting.) Oxford is the real-estate arm of Ontario’s municipal employees’ pension plan. As for why Oxford’s part of the St. John’s project is now commercial, Shapiro said, “It was very attractive as an office site. It’s the floor plates. It’s the community in which it resides. And it’s the outdoor space: It’s right on the river, and it’s right across from Hudson River Park and Pier 40.” Asked what kind of commercial tenants he envisions for the building, Shapiro said it could range from finance to biotechnology. “Traditionally, you would say it’s creative and tech,” he said. “But given the evolution of what we’re seeing, it could be anything: JP Morgan, LinkedIn, Genzyme.” In short, Hudson Square is attracting an “educated, technically savvy, generally young workforce,” he explained. “Aetna moved its headquarters to Hudson Square — that sends a real message,” he said. The Connecticut-based life insurance behemoth plans to relocate to 106,000 square feet of space in two newly interconnected buildings that have been rebranded One Soho Square, at the northwest corner of Sixth Ave. and Spring St. In addition, Disney is poised to redevelop the block at Varick and Vandam Sts., where City Winery is currently located. ST.JOHN’S continued on p. 27 TheVillager.com


It’s not just Amazon, landlords say of retail woes RETAIL continued from p. 1

all of retail,” Jonathan Ruhl, the owner of Ranger Management, said at a panel discussion organized by C.B. 2’s recently established Economic Development and Small Business Committee meeting last Thurs., Sept. 27. Online shopping is a factor, he acknowledged, but landlords can sometimes face pressure from their investors, too. “If you have private equity and you have some extremely high expectations or you’ve made some promises to these people,” Ruhl said, “I think that some of the things these companies feel that they have to do is hold out on the rent. Because, if you actually put somebody in there that’s 50 percent of the original rent, your partners [or] private equity is going to go crazy. “They may have their hands cuffed,” he added. “It’s a dangerous situation from a landlord perspective. But it unfortunately does directly influence the amount of vacancy on the block.” On Bleecker St., in particular, a cycle of retail blight keeps small businesses from trying their luck in spaces where others have already failed. “It’s the stigma,” said Mark Kostic, vice president of asset management at Brookfield Properties. “They’ve seen retailers go there and die — literally.” Kostic has optimism that, in the long term, the block will rebound and succeed. William Abramson, brokerage director at Buchbinder & Warren, said pop-up shops might be a part of the solution to at least lessen that stigma. “You do what you can do to get pop-ups in there and activate the streets and get people there,” Abramson said. “Because if you don’t have them, you get

PHOTO BY SYDNEY PEREIRA

William Abramson, of Buchbinder & Warren, speaking at the C.B. 2 retail panel discussion.

homeless people there. It’s dark — no activity.” At the same time, Abramson admitted, “Part of the downside of having these pop-ups, frankly, is that the tenant isn’t invested in the community.” Panelists floated some solutions as the beginnings of perhaps more community engagement with landlords in the future, but nothing was concrete. Among the suggestions were a local “Restaurant Week” or en-

couraging New York University not to build its own cafes for its students. Ruhl said adding a few “destination” spaces could help draw people to Bleecker and other streets — like Christopher and Eighth — currently suffering from shuttered stores and a lack of shoppers. “We’re talking about increased foot traffic,” he said, “where people in other neighborhoods say, ‘You know what, I really want to head down to Eighth St. tonight.’” The real-estate professionals were doubtful that what they termed “commercial rent control” or a storefront vacancy tax could solve the neighborhood’s retail woes. Abramson said commercial rent control would just “enhance” the problem rather than fix it. Ruhl chimed in, noting that a vacancy tax — which the mayor indicated support for in March — ultimately would not affect the bottom line for big companies. Michele Varian, who owns a boutique at Howard and Crosby Sts., said landlords and retailers on each specific block should work together to identify what it needs to create a synergistic mix of commercial uses — like a sandwich place for employees at neighboring shops to buy lunch, or a 24-hour deli. A longtime small business owner, Varian spearheads the Downtown Independent Business Alliance, which represents several dozen merchants. To her, the problem isn’t so much that Internet shopping is killing brick-and-mortar retail stores. Rather, Varian charged, landlords are simply “tone deaf” to retailers’ needs. “It’s not the clicks that are hurting bricks,” she said. “It’s the removal of a sense of urgency.”

All events at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 81 Christopher Street

TheVillager.com

October 4, 2018

7


‘A great day!’ Ribbon is cut on 75 Morton school; SCHOOL continued from p. 1

the building seeming to be slipping out of reach. “It’s a great day. It’s a beautiful day and a day to celebrate,” Assemblymember Deborah Glick told the keyed-up crowd. “I thank you all.” It was Glick who originally identified the site for the school and kept stubbornly pushing to get the state to sell it to the city. “I am so grateful to the community to have the opportunity to work with you on this,” the assemblymember said. “Despite the bureaucracy in Albany and Downtown, we were able to prevail. You did banners, postcards and never gave up. ... You know what it’s like to get a bureaucracy to make changes — you might as well set yourself on fire,” she quipped. Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was not at the ribbon-cutting, but it was under her tenure that the city finally sealed the deal and purchased the property. The block-party-like celebration was held Sunday afternoon on Morton St., between Greenwich and Hudson Sts., outside of the beautifully renovated former state-owned office building. The structure’s exterior has been handsomely sheathed in a special terra-cotta surfacing, and large windows have been added throughout to create an open, airy, light-filled place for youth to learn and grow. Part of Community School District 2, the new Village middle school has a capacity of slightly more than 1,000 students, serving grades 6 through 8. The renovation project was handled by the city’s School Construction Authority at a total cost of more than $98.8 million. The design was by John Ciardullo Architects. Glick singled out Michael Mirisola for special thanks. A Village native and former Community Board 2 member, Mirisola is external affairs director at S.C.A., and was a key point person on the project. Mirisola stood among the crowd wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with the school’s symbol, a thunderbolt. He was beaming. In a very unique process, from Day One, community activists were intensely involved in the planning of the school’s layout and uses and had many “asks” for it. It was Mirisola’s challenging job to mesh the community’s wants with what S.C.A. could actually deliver. “Mike Mirisola comes from this community,” Glick said. “He listened to us, disagreed with us, agreed with us, then came back and worked it out.” Receiving more accolades from parents in the crowd, Mirisola glowingly told them, “This is one of the finest days in my S.L.A. career — and certainly my life. To have this in my community...,” he added, at a loss for words to finish the thought. Many hope the as-yet-unnamed school will be named for legendary Village activist Jane Jacobs. But looking up at the building and waving his hand across it, as if to indicate a super-long sign, Mirisola said it could be named for many, many people. “Everybody was such a big part of this,” he said. “They haven’t named it yet. They could put everybody’s name on the side. “It’s a beautiful building inside,” he added. Asked about its basketball court, he said, “Look, I’ve been here all my life, that’s the best gym south of 42nd St.” To accommodate the so-called “gymnatorium” — a gym that can double as an auditorium — the building’s existing roof had to be raised, no small feat, he noted. On top of it all, literally, the building also sports a green roof. Department of Education officials are already ea-

8

October 4, 2018

PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

After 10 years of effor t to bring the school to fruition, cutting the ribbon for 75 Mor ton, from left, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza; (in background) Principals Jacqui Getz and Ewa A sterita; Congressmember Jerrold Nadler; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; A ssemblymember Deborah Glick; state Senator Brad Hoylman; P.T. A . co-leader Nick Gottlieb; and Cit y Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Students at 75 Mor ton are taking their educational experience to new heights.

gerly booking up the building’s attractive cafeteria and library for meetings, he added. Mirisola said it was definitely Glick who salvaged the project when it seemed that the state was balking at selling it. In her remarks, Glick stressed that, in the end, the city bought it at a good price, too. “We got it at a discount,” she said. “We weren’t going to get it retail.” Last year, while renovation of the building was still being completed, the school’s first sixth-grade class was incubated at the Clinton School on E. 15th St. With 75 Morton having opened earlier this month, nearly 600 sixth- and seventh-graders are now filling the building. The general-education part of the school will be at capacity, with all three grades, next September. In addition, the school has classrooms for 40 to 50 students from District 75, which serves youth with special challenges, such as autism and other disabilities. Former state Senator Tom Duane noted that, as a child, he was considered a slow learner, too. “I was a late bloomer,” he said. “All children learn in unique and special ways. ... It used to be there weren’t enough kids for Greenwich Village’s schools and kids came here from other districts,” he added. But that’s changed and the neighborhood now needs the school seats that 75 Morton is providing, he said. Jacqui Getz, principal of the “gen-ed” school (M.S. 297), and Ewa Asterita, principal of the District 75 school (P751), frequently shared the stage together. One student from each school gave a statement. “We are family,” the District 75 student said, referring to all the pupils from both schools. The gen-ed student handed Carranza the “Just Believe” plaque. The saga of the school’s creation stretched over the tenures of successive C.B. 2 chairpersons. Among them was current state Senator Brad Hoylman. “I was fortunate to be community board chairperSCHOOL continued on p. 9 TheVillager.com


A community celebrates a dream finally fulfilled SCHOOL continued from p. 8

son when a group of parents thought it was time that Greenwich Village had its own middle school,” he said. As he spoke, Glick dandled Hoylman’s younger daughter, Lucy — a possible future student of the school — on her knee as City Council Speaker Corey Johnson fed the toddler snacks. Terri Cude, C.B. 2’s current chairperson, gave shout-outs to her predecessors, including Jo Hamilton, Tobi Bergman and David Gruber, who all helped shepherd the 75 Morton project along, as well as key schools activists on the board, including Keen Berger and Jeannine Kiely, who were among the project’s fiercest advocates and kept the dream alive. Shino Tanikawa, former president of Community Education Council District 2, was another one of the core members during the school’s planning process. “Wow, it has been an incredible ride,” she said. “I’m touched deeply. If you work diligently and you push and push and push — this happens.” Afterward, several 75 Morton activists noted that City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who was formerly Manhattan borough president, should also have received praise at the ceremony since he, too, was part of the effort. Another parent who fought for the school’s creation was Nick Gottlieb, who now has a daughter at the school and is a leader of its parent-teacher association. “Two hundred fourteen people attended our first P.T.A. meeting,” he told the crowd, to a wave of applause. “We have eight people running for one position” on the P.T.A., he added. “That’s a testament to the enthusiasm.” Afterward, parents and students spoke about why they liked the school. Amy Cheung said it was the zoned school for her son Niilo, who said he really likes the gym. Cheung likes that school has “great dance, arts and humanities.” Heather Campbell, a former C.B. 2 member who was also part of the group of advocates behind the school’s creation, said, “So far, so good. I am in love with it.” Campbell said she toured the school with the project architect, who explained about the school’s outfitting, “ ‘Everything about it is normal. But the bones here are good — we could make it sing.’ ” Asked what she likes about the school, her daughter Shelby said, “The arts, the lab. The gym’s awesome.” Clearly, Mirisola was right: The gym is a big hit. Campbell added of the parent activists during the planning process, “We worked for a long time on the [school’s] mission statement: diversity and inclusion.” After the celebration had wound down, Irene Kaufman and others were reminiscing a bit while looking at an “archives” display of newspaper articles — more than a few from The Villager — and other letters and documents about the 75 Morton campaign that she had compiled. She recalled how she and fellow schools advocate Ann Kjellberg had started the process of fi nding the site in 2008, back when Joel Klein was the schools chancellor. “Ann and I were photographing sites all over the Village,” she said. “Joel Klein had said, ‘If you find a site, we’ll build a school.’ He thought that would be the end of it. He thought there would be no real estate available in the Village. You don’t say that to Village moms and dads.” It was Glick who ultimately decided 75 Morton was the best, most achievable site for the school. TheVillager.com

Ever yone was feeling bubbly and upbeat about the beautiful new school building, its staff, the students and the overall sense of “mission accomplished” at having achieved the goal.

Bursting giant bubbles and laughter filled the air at the festive ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Kaufman never had any illusions that her own kids would be able to attend the new middle school, knowing it would take years to become a reality. One of her children is a high school senior now and the other is in college. But that didn’t stop her selfless activism on the issue. “We knew it was never going to happen,” she said. “We just knew it was the right thing to do.”

Sporting a thunderbolt cap and T-shirt, Bob Ely, another early parent activist in the effort, said the same: that he knew his own children would be too old by the time the school was ready, but that pushing for its creation was simply the right thing to do for the community. “This is great,” he said, with a grin. “This is such a great day.” October 4, 2018

9


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Give small shops a chance

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To The Editor: Re “Will the S.B.J.S.A. get a fair hearing?” (talking point, by Kirsten Theodos, thevillager.com, Sept. 27): This is a great article that gets to the heart of what is wrong with New York City politics right now: how politicians seemingly are in bed with big real estate and how removed they are from everyday, local residents, the vast majority of whom want to see small businesses survive and thrive. Residents at least want to see mom-and-pop shops given a fighting chance in a city that is becoming more and more a playground and shopping mall for the rich. This legislation would give small businesses that fighting chance. Alan Berger

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To The Editor: Re “Will the S.B.J.S.A. get a fair hearing?” (talking point, by Kirsten Theodos, thevillager.com, Sept. 27): Yes, rent laws are legal. And courts in many places shave assured us of this for decades. So, please, enough of the b.s. already! What’s really needed now is an urgent observation regarding the mass closing of small shops anytime you see that happening. Indeed, I’ve seen this scourge happening in four different places over a 50-year period and it always spells disaster. The first time was in my childhood neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago, now America’s worst slum with the famous Chicago murder rate thriving there. It started with a little bakery shuttering. Next I saw it as a journalist covering the labor movement in the industrial Midwest. Small shops in Youngstown or Gary, Indiana, began closing as the mills and factories began mass layoffs. And out there now we have a catastrophe called the Rust Belt. I saw this once more up in the Catskill Mountains, when the great, incomparable Borscht Belt began to

die. Again, those empty stores! Right now we’re facing this empty store disease right here in New York and we debate phony legal issues at our peril. Bennett Kremen

Trauma and memory To The Editor: Christine Blasey Ford is being criticized for not remembering all the details of the night she says she was assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh. But one has to have a traumatic experience to understand how selective memory can be. In 1963, three others and I were riding horses to be in the Calgary Stampede parade. The two male riders were older. How much older? Who knows? There was a 15-year-old girl. I was 13. Riding to the parade, we came to place and had to make what seemed to be an easy decision. We could navigate a steep slope, then cross a busy throughway or cross a train trestle. We decided to take our time and cross the trestle, although horses do not like to walk on uneven tracks. A train comes once a day. We figured, Let’s go. The first two riders got across. The girl got about halfway across and I was a third of the way. And OMG, here comes a train. I jumped off my horse, took the reins and pulled my horse back to the side. I saw the girl in panic trying to rein the horse. Her horse was at an angle, so got most of the hit. The girl went up in the air and over the trestle’s edge. She fell 25 feet. The front half of the horse was pulled by the train to near where I stood. I spoke to a reporter. I remember nothing else. Not how I got home, not the ambulance. Yes, the hand over Ford’s mouth and not being able to breathe, her fear... . I believe her. Clayton Patterson E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words, 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.

IRA BLUTREICH

The ball is in the FBI’s cour t. 10

October 4, 2018

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Clarify S.B.J.S.A. legality and stay focused TALKING POINTS The following is excerpted from a recent letter by Sung Soo Kim, founder of the Small Business Congress of New York City, to Mark Gjonaj, chairperson of the City Council’s Small Business Committee, in advance of the committee’s Oct. 22 hearing on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act.

BY SUNG SOO KIM

I

am very grateful for your willingness to want to meet with me to plan for an honest, fair and productive hearing on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. Regrettably, my failing health will not permit me to attend. My letter to you expresses my judgment on what will be two essential actions needed for a fair and productive hearing. The dire situation faced by our small business owners, especially Korean and immigrant owners, presents for me a moral obligation to do all in my power to see they receive justice at this longoverdue hearing. My reasoning will be based solely upon my 34 years’ experience advocating for small businesses and fighting daily to solve the problems of immigrant small business owners. As one of the drafters of the first version of the S.B.J.S.A., I played a major

role in selecting seven prime sponsors, and the drafting of several significant updated changes. I have helped organize 11 hearings on this legislation over 30 years. While every hearing was important to the future of small businesses, none will be as important as your hearing, Mr. Gjonaj. This is because government’s failure for the past decade to take any true actions to address the unfair commercial lease-renewal process has made a crisis grow worse. The outcome of our city’s one-sided lease-renewal process, where business owners have no rights in a hyper-speculative market, has produced record closings of long-established businesses — on average, 500 court evictions of businesses each month — out-of-control rent gouging, growing numbers of illegal extortions of cash demanded from mostly immigrant owners to remain in business, harsh short-term leases of sometimes month-to-month and one and two years, oppressive lease terms and empty storefronts on blocks where thriving businesses once stood. First, resolve all the outstanding alleged legal concerns regarding the S.B.J.S.A. prior to the hearing. The alleged legal claim began in 2009 after the last hearing on the S.B.J.S.A. had the immediate effect of stopping a vote on the bill, which was certain to easily pass at that time. The alleged legal claim “that the S.B.J.S.A. had legal issues and would not stand up to a court challenge” was the primary reason given by many lawmakers for eight years

of denying justice and a hearing on the bill, and yet remains unresolved today. Even though the Council’s legal department will not share with the S.B.J.S.A.’s prime sponsors and the media, or give public statements on any legal details substantiating their legal concerns, we know from the real estate lobby’s past and present presidents, that after conferring with the city and the Council’s legal departments, they still maintain the bill has legal concerns. Yet, despite these legal concerns, they have never submitted amendments to the bill’s prime sponsor to change it to satisfy these alleged issues — legal concerns that will likely only be brought up — once again — after the hearing. In an interview in March 2015 with the editor of The Villager, Lincoln Anderson, the former president of REBNY, Steven Spinola, said of the bill, “ It’s not even clear if it can be legally implemented. We are absolutely convinced that the City Council, the mayor do not have the power to impose control on the leasing of properties. At the very least, it would have to go to the state, and we’re not sure that the state would have the power to impose this.” REBNY’s current president, John Banks, has expressed the same viewpoint. To add more confusion about the bill’s legality, a recent report by the New York City Bar Association raised questions whether the City Council even has the authority to pass any legislation regulating commercial landlords. Second, it’s critical that the focus of

the hearing be kept on the S.B.J.S.A. I am aware the new REBNY-backed talking point for lawmakers is, “The S.B.J.S.A. is not a silver bullet and other measures need to be passed into law.” But the “other measures” have nothing to do with the commercial leaserenewal process and therefore would be of no benefit in finding a real solution to the crisis caused by the commercial lease-renewal process. Most “other measures” were created by REBNY 30 years ago and all were rejected then as simply keeping the status quo. After nine years, this hearing must, in fairness and justice, give the full day to the proponents of the S.B.J.S.A. and those wanting a real solution to stop the small business closings. Not only do all the other measures, proposals and “tools in the toolbox” have nothing to do with the crisis, they have nothing to do with the purpose of the S.B.J.S.A. — addressing the lease-renewal process — and thus do not offer a solution. An even bigger affront to mom-andpop store owners would be unwelcome representatives from city agencies promoting their failed programs. Small merchants do not want to hear from agency wonks about how to “grow their business.” Again, the single most significant problem they face is their unfair lease-renewal process. That’s the issue. I look forward to working with you, Mr. Gjonaj, to assure an open and just hearing — one where a real, honest solution to stop the store closings is the outcome.

No legal memo needed: Pass the S.B.J.S.A. now BY DAVID EISENBACH

W

ith the Small Business Jobs Survival Act’s public hearing fast approaching on Oct. 22, it’s time for all supporters to join together to save the soul of New York by passing this bill. To do that we need to move past the controversy over whether Council Speaker Corey Johnson must issue a legal memo on the bill before the public hearing. Last year when I was the only citywide candidate for public office who focused his campaign on the S.B.J.S.A., activists had one demand: “Give us a public hearing on the bill.” I didn’t hear a single activist call for a legal memo before a public hearing. We all agreed that unless we had a speaker willing to hold a public hearing, we would again have a situation like last session when the bill had enough sponsors to pass, but then-Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Small Business Committee Chairperson Robert Cornegy bottled it up in committee. During the race for City Council speaker last fall, my coaliTheVillager.com

tion, Friends of S.B.J.S.A., pushed all of the candidates to pledge to hold a public hearing on the bill. The race came down to Cornegy versus Johnson, who was the very first to make the pledge. Steve Barrison, representing the Small Business Congress, stood with us when we held an anti-Cornegy press conference. All S.B.J.S.A. activists were united in our fight to get a speaker who supported a public hearing, and together we succeeded. Only after Johnson took office did some activists suddenly start demanding a legal memo. Moving the goalposts on Johnson is not only unfair, it’s unnecessary. Before voting on a bill, it’s not customary for any legislature, including the City Council, to issue a memo certifying the legality of a proposed law. Any law that passes is always assumed to be legal until a judge says otherwise. This summer, the Speaker’s Office did not issue a legal memo on the Airbnb law despite legal objections raised by Airbnb and the New York Civil Liberties Union on privacy grounds. After the bill passed, an Airbnb host filed a lawsuit and, as

with any contested law, a judge will eventually decide whether or not the Airbnb law is legal. That’s how the system works, and that’s how it will work with the S.B.J.S.A. The fight over the S.B.J.S.A. was always political, not legal. The “legal questions” surrounding the bill were simply a dodge — a clever way for successive City Council Speakers Christine Quinn and Mark-Viverito to avoid taking ownership of their decision to shelve the bill. City Council members embraced the “legal questions” line because it allowed them to avoid a vote that would infuriate the Real Estate Board of New York. Now, harping on the need for a legal memo on the eve of the public hearing keeps alive the false debate over the legality of the bill. That’s exactly what REBNY wants the media to focus on, not the fact that we have the opportunity to make history. Corey Johnson is not an enemy of the S.B.J.S.A., and if he passes it with its essential provisions intact, he’ll be the best friend the bill has ever had. Our fight is against REBNY, which

has proudly blocked this bill for more than three decades. If ever there was a David and Goliath story in New York City politics, it’s this battle between the state’s most powerful lobby and us S.B.J.S.A. activists, who are unfunded, disorganized and, at times, totally dysfunctional. So let’s get it together. Stop promoting conspiracy theories and boycotts and start generating public enthusiasm and media interest about the public hearing. After 32 years of failure, we are now closer to passing this historic bill than ever before. If we fail, we could wait another generation before a Council speaker is again willing to take a chance on the bill. So I urge everyone to come out for a S.B.J.S.A. rally on the City Hall steps on Mon., Oct. 22, at noon before the hearing. No one ever made history by staying home. Eisenbach is a former candidate for public advocate and is founder, Friends of S.B.J.S.A. October 4, 2018

11


Liberal G.O.P.’er has ‘radical’ housing ideas BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

H

e wants to impose a moratorium on luxury development, toughen the state’s affordablehousing tax-break program, fund mass transit with a carbon tax, and even put an additional tax on apartments on high floors in luxury buildings. But this is no insurgent democratic socialist. He’s Anthony Arias, the Republican candidate running against Democratic state Senator Brian Kavanagh in District 26, which covers Lower Manhattan, the Lower East Side, part of the East Village, Soho, Noho and parts of Brooklyn. Arias, 28, a self-described “liberal Republican,” is founder of Sada Capital financial advisory firm. He is also president of the Greenwich Village - Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, and earlier this year joined Community Board 1. A New Jersey native, he has lived in the city seven years, the last three in FiDi. The pro-choice, green-boosting candidate may seem like a Democrat in some ways, but Arias wants to pursue his policy goals through fundamentally Republican means, usually favoring incentives over regulation. Rather than ban plastic straws, for example, why not offer a tax credit to businesses that use paper ones? Businesses that invest in energy-efficient

lighting and appliances could get a discount on license renewals. So long as policies aren’t causing “excessive taxes” and “over-regulation,” Arias says he likely supports it. A centerpiece of his platform combines three of his priorities: limiting luxury development, incentivizing affordable housing, and funding stormresiliency projects. Arias is proposing to replace 421-a, which offers developers an incentive to rent 25 to 30 percent of units in new residential construction at below-market rates, with a new “421-b” that would require 100 percent of units to be below-market rate for a project to receive the tax benefit. The stringent new requirements, according to Arias, would slash the number of projects taking advantage of the tax break — and thus reduce the amount of revenue the city foregoes, which adds up to $1.4 billion a year, according to the Department of Finance’s Division of Tax Policy. His idea is to take that additional revenue and place it in a “lockbox” to fund the “Big U,” a massive storm-resiliency infrastructure project designed after Hurricane Sandy as a 10-mile shoreline protection plan to safeguard Lower Manhattan from flooding. Currently, none of the proposed “Big U” has been built and only a tiny portion, protecting the Two Bridges area,

Anthony Arias.

has even been funded. Last week, as reported by Curbed, the city scrapped 70 percent of a previous design for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project for a quicker but more expensive $1.45 billion plan. For the part of the project south of the Brooklyn Bridge, only $108 million so far has been earmarked. “No more 80/20 or 75/25 right now,” Arias said, referring to the per-

centage breakdown often seen between market-rate and affordable units. “We have enough of that luxury stuff. Let’s just do 100 percent [affordable units].” Arias also supports a tax on foreign nationals who buy up luxury units through shell companies — which has driven much of Manhattan’s luxury development boom. His tax attorney is still looking into how this could be targeted and whether it would be legal. But perhaps Arias’s most Bernieesque proposal is a tax on luxury units on buildings’ highest floors. This socalled “view tax” would raise revenue to protect ground-floor plebs from storm flooding, while also disincentivizing the practice of including empty floors in a luxury tower to boost the height of the pricey apartments at the top. “We’re not saying we’re anti-development,” he argued. “It’s just we want the right kind of development, the right kind of gentrification. And in this case, we wanted to be focused on green small business and affordable spaces.” Kavanagh’s office did not respond to requests for an interview about his views on Arias’s proposals. The senator was elected last year after spending a decade in the Assembly. “Politics needs to come back and be more community-centric,” Arias said. “And it’s about time that our generation gets into office, too.”

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From Renegades to Role Models RuPaul’s DragCon expands its reach and redefines the rules

Photo by Victor O

At the “Judgey Judies” panel, the Q&A included comment from Franny Swiger, who credited “RuPaul’s Drag Race” as a way to teach her daughter how to deal with bullies.

Photo by Bob Krasner

PinkOracle.com helped ensure the con was accessible for disabled queens.

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October 4, 2018

BY CHARLES BATTERSBY Drag was once on the fringe of society. Gender rebels performed their cuttingedge material in nightclubs and cabarets that most citizens never knew existed. Now drag culture is mainstream enough to warrant an industry convention that fills half of the Jacob Javits Center. The attendees at RuPaul’s DragCon NYC (Sept. 28-30) were an even mix of pro queens and their civilian fans — and this edition asserted itself as a place for parents to bring their kids, wholly in spite of the sexy outfits, bawdy humor, and free samples of alcoholic beverages on the show floor. In its second year at the Javits Center, DragCon NYC not only took up more space, but also showed signs of catering to a wider crowd, including the disabled. New to the con was PinkOracle.com, which was founded by disabled queen Ramona Dabone and John Bowden after they visited last year’s DragCon. The Javits Center hosts conventions that range from whimsical comic book conventions (this weekend’s New York Comic Con) to stuffy business events. DragCon is a mixture of both. Fans line up to meet celebrity queens, but the show floor was also checkered with booths run by serious businesses that provide sup-

plies to professional drag performers. Drag performers generally don’t use the sort of makeup that civilians buy at drug stores. Among the theatrical-caliber makeup suppliers at the con was Alcone, a long-lived company that once catered to Broadway, but became a staple for drag artists. We spoke to J.D. Kraemer of Alcone. “We’ve catered to the drag community since the beginning,” he explained. “We started out selling eyelashes to Broadway showgirls — who were the original drag queens.” “Consumers” (as he calls the nonqueens) were about half of his business, but the rest were professional drag artists stocking up on indispensables like Ben Nye face powder, and Kryolan TV paint sticks — a combination of makeup hardy enough even for clowns and geishas. Smaller cosmetics manufacturers are also aiming to bring their products to gender fluid consumers, as was the case with Fluide, a smaller booth at the con. We spoke to Laura Kraber, the company’s co-owner and CEO. “We want to make makeup fun and easy for everyone,” she told us, “and break down some of the gender binaries that exist in the fashion and beauty world.” Around the show floor, there were dozens of similar small companies presenting drag-specific TheVillager.com


Photos by Bob Krasner

The founders of Manic Panic make do makeup, not just hair dye.

Alcone provides theatrical-caliber makeup to drag queens and their fans (second from the right, the legendary Lady Bunny).

Alcoholic beverages were among the sponsors of DragCon, with samples freely available.

makeup, nails, eyelashes, and glitter for every part of the body. One of the con sponsors was Anastasia Beverly Hills, and they catered to both pros and fans by offering makeup touch ups, followed by a photo shoot that literally placed people on a pedestal. Several other booths were offering recreations of high fashion photo shoots, to promote photography services. Jonsar Studios even had a fan blowing on the attendees to give these aspiring models the glamorous “wind in her hair� look, as photographers’ assistants hovered around. This sort of diva treatment is routine for the drag performers, but it is a fantasy come true for fans who want a taste of the glamorous life. Unfortunately, even a glamorous photo shoot at a drag con is still no escape from politics! Although the con was planned a year ago, it happens to fall in the middle of contentious Supreme Court confirmation, plus the regularly scheduled midterm elections. A panel was held on the “Resistance� movement, and booths were allocated to an antigun violence organization, as well as the “Swing Left� movement. Although there TheVillager.com

are a few members of the drag community who openly espouse conservative views, DragCon definitely hangs to the left (when not tucked). “RuPaul’s Drag Race� has been on for 10 seasons; long enough for Ru and the girls to become role models to a generation of kids. During a Q&A with Michelle Visage and other judges from “Drag Race,� a mother and her teen daughter in the audience talked about how the sassy queen attitude can help cisgender girls in their own lives. The Swiger family came to DragCon together, and Franny Swiger noted, “ ‘Drag Race’ has brought me and [her daughter Emily] so close... I’ve used it as a tool to make her stand up for herself.� When picked on at school, Swiger instructed her daughter to, “Put your hand on your hip and use your best drag queen quote, and say ‘B!tch please.’ � To help promote this family-friendly image, the con has a new Kids’ Zone in the middle of the show floor (not too far from booths that were handing out samples of cinnamon-flavored whiskey, and 99 proof fruit beverages). The Kids’ Zone included a ubiquitous boun-

Fluide is a local cosmetics company that targets gender-fluid consumers.

cy house, along with a theater for puppet shows, and frequent installments of the popular “Drag Queen Story Hour.� A new organization joining the con this year at the Kids’ Zone was Saber Guild: Empire Temple, a group of Star Wars fans who teach lightsaber techniques to younglings and Padawans. We asked Michelle Montanez, the assistant local director of the temple, how the crowd at DragCon differs from sci-fi oriented events like New York Comic

Con. She said there weren’t any Jedi trainees in drag, but that the crowd was “less inhibited here‌ They’re more willing to jump in and do it.â€? As a result, Montanez noted, the group spends “less time creating illusion, and breaking down the barrier to entering this fantasy world, because everyone comes here, ready for that.â€? For more information on RuPaul’s DragCon, set to return to NYC in 2019, visit rupaulsdragcon.com.

212.254.1109 / www.theaterforthenewcity.net / 155 First Ave bet 9th & 10th St.

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Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER Uptown class meets East Village edge at Pangea, the progressive musical performance venue whose October roster includes chameleonic chanteuse Tammy Faye Starlite. A gifted, unpredictable interpreter of everyone from Marianne Faithfull to Nico, Faye is a ray of cosmic kookiness locked in a battle between genius and madness that commands respect — and rapt attention. Thursdays, 7pm in October, “She Comes in Colors” puts

her highly collectible stamp on the Rolling Stones’ loved/reviled studio experiment, “Their Satanic Majesties Request.” Cover is $25. Call 212-9950900 or visit pangeanyc.com. Local history programming, free at The Tompkins Square Library, includes Oct. 10’s 5pm author talk with Alice Sparberg Alexiou and Kerri Culhane on the “Rich, Gritty History of the Bowery.” Oct. 19, Clayton Patterson and Penny Arcade are among the living legends on

hand for “The East Village in the 1980s.” Now through Nov. 1, the vigorously researched exhibition “A Look Back on the East Village of the 1980s” does just that, by focusing on the neighborhood’s creative counter culture. Call 212-228-4747 or visit nypl. org/locations/tompkins-square.

from BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center’s “Singing Our Songs: A Night of Singer-Songwriters” concert. The Oct. 12 installment features talented multitaskers Mario Giacalone (a musical artist, actor, and director), Queensbased folk singer Joshua Garcia, folk/ jazz artist Lindsey Wilson, and Bev

They write the songs — and will sing as well. That’s the ironclad guarantee

Photo by Bob Gruen

Urban songbird Tammy Faye Starlite takes flight with a new show at Pangea.

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Just Do Art Grant (current founder/director of the Brooklyn Women’s Chorus and former leader of the ’70s/’80s folk/rock/world music fusion band Human Condition). For tickets ($21), call 212-220-1460 or visit TribecaPac.org. After taking last year off for the first time since its inception, expect the New York International Fringe Festival (aka FringeNYC) to come roaring back no signs of having frayed, and with more edge than ever before. The sprawling, multi-venue fest runs the entire month of October, and there’s at least one element of it that hasn’t changed a bit: Many performances are already sold out. Plot your brick and mortar binge strategy now, by visiting fringenyc.org. They’ve been presenting some of the East Village’s most raucous, laugh-outloud, and quite possibly diagnosably insane comedy showcases for a full decade — and that’s no joke. Now, Todd Montesi and Richard James’ “UG! COMEDY SHOW!!” has found a new home for their Tuesday night destination event: Drexlers, at 9 Avenue A (btw. First & Second Aves.). Talent booked for this month includes Mo Vida and Lisa Chanoux (Oct. 9), Ian Koranek and host Ricki Sofer (Oct. 16), Luke Touma and Liz Glazer (Oct. 23), and Terence Hartnett and Devon Walker (Oct. 30). For info and reservations, call 646-524-5226 or visit ugcomedyshow.tumblr.com. Trigger Warning for a Carpenters reference: Rainy days, we can’t do anything about — but at least one Monday a month won’t get you down. That would be when the fast-paced, monthly variety show “The Mosquito” lands in the Lounge at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). Hosted by the wry, sincere-instead-of-ironic, witty wordsmith (and Emmy award-winner!) Nancy Giles, the Oct. 15 installment of this always-free series could very well feature any, or all, of the following oddball regulars: Pat Candaras, Cynthia Kaplan, Peri Gaffney, Kathryn Rossetter, Sheila Head, Susan Burns, Sue Giles, and Nancy Shayne. For more info, visit dixonplace.org. Give them three hours and they’ll take you places you’ve never, ever been before, even if you’re a regular visitor to The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Pier 86 (W. 46th St. and 12th TheVillager.com

Photo by Atticus Stevenson

We double dare you to take a ride on Dandy Darkly’s terror train.

Ave.). On Sat., Oct. 6, the alreadyawesome and frequently interactive museum will launch “Below Deck & Behind the Scenes: The Intrepid Hard Hat Experience.” This all-new new guided tour lets you put your own mark on the footsteps of the Intrepid’s crew, by exploring unrestored parts of the ship that have, until now, remained beyond the grasp of the viewing public (including the emergency diesel generator room and the sickbay). The guides, former members of the crew, will regale you with tales of what it was like when the ship was at sea during its many years of service. For reservations and tickets ($150, with discounts for Museum member and veterans), call 212-245-0072 or visit intrepidmuseum.org. The minimum age for this tour is 16, and participants will get to keep the branded bump cap they must wear for protection during the tour — which, they want you to know, “requires extensive walking and standing” and requires one to “navigate under shallow clearings, up and down steep angled Navy ladders and through the ship’s hatches” — a small price to pay for such high adventure! ALL HAIL HALLOWEEN! Some people like candy corn, while others favor candy apples. But what kind of monster doesn’t love a

Dachshund dressed up like a hot dog? So get to work now — and by 10am on Sun., Oct. 28, you’ll have your own doggone clever outfit for Fido to strut in The High Line Hotel’s annual Dog Costume Parade (11:30am). The free “fur-ocious” festivities include doggie refreshments, snacks for humans, and face painting for kids of all ages. Canine costume contest categories include Funniest, Most Stylish, and, of course, Best in Show. For more info, visit thehighlinehotel.com/dogparade. Fully formed apparitions hold conversations with visitors, notes play from a phantom piano, and snoring is heard on a couch with no mortal occupants: These things, and more, happen at Merchant’s House Museum, a genuinely haunted (whatever that means) 19th century domicile built by the wealthy Tredwell family. Hear about it all, and get a history lesson to boot, on their Candlelight Ghost Tours. Book your journey into the unknown now, because these annual October tours fill up quickly. Not spooky enough for you? At the stroke of midnight on select dates, paranormal investigator Dan Sturges (who’s logged hundreds of hours at the house) takes you through the house, while discussing his methodology and eerie findings —including some spine-tingling call and response

audio between the living and, possibly, the dead. Visit merchantshouse.org. Venerable basement theater space UNDER St. Marks is the place for a witch’s brew of eccentric Halloween atrocities. First up, kabuki-faced killer clown and rapturous, alliteration-loving gothic storyteller Dandy Darkly brings his latest back to his home base of NYC, after packed-to-capacity performances in Edinburgh, London, and San Francisco. “Dandy Darkly’s All Aboard!” (Oct. 11-14) finds the satanic shaman serving “Deep South shame alongside sizzling social satire and howling humor.” Think creepy corporate robots, African spider gods, beauty shop gossip, and plenty of trains. Also in the underground black box venue, creep show scribe extraordinaire Clay McLeod Chapman offers frights up close and personal, with a version of his longrunning storytelling series that plays to a single audience member at a time. In performance since September and in high demand due to deeply disturbed, cult-leader-like Chapman’s cult-like following, “Pumpkin Pie Show: One-onOnes” was scheduled to end this weekend, but has just been extended through Oct. 28. Get your tickets to see Dandy and Chapman at FRIGIDnewyork.info. Access artist info at dandydarkly.com and claymcleodchapman.com. October 4, 2018

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PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

David Amram played a jazz y number before Vega hit the stage, and urged the crowd to always retain that spark of Greenwich Village creativit y within themselves.

Suzanne Vega headlined The Village Trip concer t in Washington Square Park this past Saturday evening.

Whoa, what a Trip first fest was! BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

T

he inaugural Village Trip festival brought a mix of classic folk music, literature, storytelling and photography back to town for four days last week, from Thursday to Sunday. A highlight was the festival’s free concert in Washington Square Park Saturday evening, featuring headliner Suzanne Vega. The singer-songwriter played a variety of new and vintage tunes, including her 1980s smash hits, “Tom’s Restaurant” and “Luka.” Vega said she hoped the festival — and the concert in the park — would be back for a second install-

ment next year. The festival also included a talk on the writings of Jack Kerouac and Edna St. Vincent Millay at the Jefferson Market Library, which included the world premiere of David Amram’s work “Greenwich Village Portraits.” Amram, 87, who was buddies with Kerouac and the Village Beats, was the festival’s artistin-residence. Sunday night saw another concert at The Bitter End, featuring Happy Traum, Tom Chapin, the Chapin Sisters, David Massengill and others. The event was the brainchild of Liz Thompson, a British woman with a love affair with the Village and its culture and history. Thompson, who

formerly worked in publishing, frequently visited the Village over the years for work, and always stayed at the Washington Square Hotel, which was like the headquarters for the festival. “To see the dream become reality was truly thrilling,” Thompson reflected of The Village Trip’s first edition. “And to have so many people remark that such a festival was long overdue made it all feel worthwhile. “Thank you to all our wonderful musicians, actors and speakers; to our sponsors and partners; and to all those who supported The Village Trip in this its first year and helped make it happen. “Here’s to The Village Trip 2019.”

The crowd dug the tunes at the free concer t. TheVillager.com

October 4, 2018

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Slow down! Call to postpone Boys’ Club sale BY VILL AGER STAFF

L

ocal politicians joined Community Board 3 members and local kids and parents in calling for postponing the sale of the Boys’ Club of New York’s historic Harriman Clubhouse in the East Village. For 117 years, the Boys’ Club of New York has operated the Harriman Clubhouse, on E. 10th St. and Avenue A, in an effort to give East Village and Lower East Side youths an opportunity to “rise above their conditions of social and economic poverty.” Around 1 million boys and young men have benefitted from the clubhouse’s programming throughout the years, among them Joseph Lauder, co-founder of the Estee Lauder Companies. Speaking at last Saturday’s rally were Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, state Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and City Councilmember Carlina Rivera. They urged the Boys’ Club board of trustees to postpone the sale until they consult with the community in good faith. The trustees decided to place the building up for sale with scant input from the community, claiming a years-long decline in attendance. However, minutes from the trustees show that attendance at the Harriman Clubhouse has actually increased in recent years, particularly from boys and young men from lower-income families. “More than a quarter of Lower East Side residents live below the federal poverty level,” Hoylman said. “Clearly, families in the East Village and Lower East Side still need the services and programs offered at the Harriman Clubhouse.” As he spoke, a young Boys’ Club member stood

Councilmember Carlina Rivera, with state Senator Brad Hoylman, speaking at last weekend’s rally outside the Boys’ Club on Avenue A, are holding out a prayer that they can postpone the building’s sale until the community has a chance to offer input on why it’s a terrible decision.

straight at attention in his karate togs, embodying the kind of positive programming the clubhouse offers and who it is helping. Said Brewer, “Properties owned by nonprofits are more than assets on a ledger, and nonprofits should engage with communities before putting them up for

sale and potential conversion to purely private uses. The community deserves an opportunity to engage meaningfully with the Boys’ Club before any sale, both to understand the effects on programs that so many children and families rely on, and to explore alternatives — like the clubhouse’s sale to one or more other nonprofits — that might benefit everyone.” “As a lifelong resident of the Lower East Side,” Rivera said, “I consider the Harriman Clubhouse a neighborhood treasure. Our ask is simple — work with the community to keep the building a place that generations of Lower East Siders can continue to call a second home.” Added Epstein, “We must do everything within our power to make sure that the clubhouse building can continue to be a resource for youth in our community. We cannot allow our community assets to be sold to the highest bidder and turned into market-rate housing that gentrifies our neighborhood.” Alyssa Lewis Coleman, C.B. 3 chairperson, also gave remarks. “Families in Community Board 3 are being displaced from their homes and are also in need of services,” she said. “Our sons and brothers and cousins all depended on the Boys’ Club. When the Boys’ Club on Pitt St. closed, we were told we still had the Harriman facility. “Thirty-six percent of children in our community district live in poverty,” Coleman emphasized. “We see an increasing gap among higher-income residents and lower-income residents who have always called the Lower East Side home. Community Board 3 has the second-highest gap in incomes of all community districts in the city. We cannot lose the Boys’ Club and abandon the boys in our community who need this program.”

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Say it saint so: St. John’s project blindsides C.B.2 ST.JOHN’S continued from p. 6

Today’s companies are looking for locations that transcend the same old type of office space, and that’s precisely what Oxford’s building will do, he added. “The lines in the workplace are getting blurred between work, social and lifestyle,” he explained. “People don’t want to be in a straight office. They want to be in a cool office space.” The average age of office space in New York is 80 years old, he added, so new buildings are coveted. Shapiro is a huge fan of architect Cook, who Oxford retained to do the new redesign for the St. John’s site’s southern portion. Cook is a leading proponent of “biophilic” design, using nature to enhance working and living environments. The new building will feature green outdoor spaces overlooking the Hudson and a green roof. However, of its total 3 acres of open space, most will actually be inside the building. In an interesting design element, the original High Line tracks that run through the 1934 industrial building’s second floor will be preserved with their tops visible in the floors. Six sets of tracks, each 580 feet long, run through the existing St. John’s building’s southern portion. The terminal had a capac-

ity for more than 225 freight cars. “People really like to be in buildings that were used for something else before,” Cook explained. “There’s a feeling of authenticity.” The existing facade of the threestory base will be preserved, though its northern end will be opened up with glass to evoke the High Line entryway. The new upper floors will be clad in zinc. Shapiro called it “an architectural marriage of old and new.” The building will also be cut back a bit south of Houston — the first truck bay and the area above it will be sliced out — allowing for the creation of a green public plaza along Houston St. This plaza will be raised up from 7 to 9 feet to put it above the flood plain. A cobblestoned street of sorts will be created at the south end of the building, at Charlton St., just north of the Department of Sanitation garage. According to Oxford, this street really will be more for pedestrians and cyclists — the bike garage entrance will be there —as well as for taxis, Ubers and Lyfts to make drop-offs and pickups. But a C.B. 2 member worried that it would be used by drivers trying to maneuver around Holland Tunnel traffic. Oxford also wants to add a crosswalk across West St. around Charlton St. Asked by The Villager if adding a bridge instead was an option, Shapiro,

said it would be too difficult, partly because a “run-up” area to the bridge would be needed. As it is, it will be a challenge to get the crosswalk since it requires approvals from the state. “We’re crossing a state highway,” Shapiro noted. Asked if Oxford’s building would have a gym, he told The Villager it won’t, but that there will be “real recreation” in Hudson River Park right across the street. A rec center was only required if the southern part of the project was developed residentially. Being near the huge new Sanitation garage is not an issue, he said, calling it “a beautiful building” and also “a dry facility,” meaning the trucks are empty when they park inside it. Another concern at Monday night’s working group meeting was raised by a facilities manager for U.P.S., whose distribution center is on the opposite side of Washington St. from the St. John’s Terminal. Under the development plan, the sidewalk on Washington’s west side would be widened and a bike lane added there, as well. “You’re taking away 9 feet of turning radius,” complained the U.P.S. rep, who said he didn’t want his name printed. An Oxford official at the meeting said this is what they are being asked to do by the city under the approved plan.

Over all, Shapiro said, Oxford is psyched to do this project and do it well. “We feel an incredible obligation to get this right,” he told The Villager. “This is a development that’s been hiding in plain sight for a long time. We need to nail this. We think it’s going to be beautiful.” Shapiro noted that Eugene M. Grant owned the building for decades but no one could ever pry it lose from him. “It has been the object of lust for developers for decades,” Shapiro said. This is Oxford’s first solo project in New York City. It is currently partnering with Related Companies on a major project in Hudson Yards. A native Manhattanite, Shapiro now lives nearby in the Village on W. 12th St. Coincidentally, his favorite area to hang out in is Hudson Square, in which the St. John’s Terminal is located. His favorite bar is the Ear Inn, on Spring St., and he used to enjoy McGovern’s bar down the block before its new incarnation as a restaurant. “I liked McGovern’s when it had the bands in the back,” he said. “I won’t go there now.” David Gruber, a working group member, called Shapiro an “engaged developer,” which could bode well for their efforts to negotiate with him about tweaking the project.

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The Villager - October 4, 2018  

October 4, 2018

The Villager - October 4, 2018  

October 4, 2018

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