Wednesday, December 31, 2008

MTA hearing on fares and service cuts

Wed. January 14, 6pm
1335 6th Ave,
The Hilton, Trianon Ballroom

Fares and service cuts (including the M8 bus).


Sunday, January 4, from 10 am - 4 pm
Union Square Park, North Plaza
17th Street & Broadway
See the Lower East Side Ecology Center FAQ page to learn more about what to bring:

Thanks to Councilmember Rosie Mendez and Parks for sponsoring the event

Upcoming local meetings

Of meetings in the new year, maybe the most important is the Chinatown Working Group's at which they will set their agenda for the future and elect their leadership. More urgent is the Chatham Square Redesign Task Force. It should bring a strong showing of community voices opposed to the plan the city is ready to implement.

Liquor license applications are down by about 30%, but there are still 20 applicants, many of them restaurants upgrading to a full liquor license, including European Union. See the complete list below.

CB3's Housing Committee will consider three properties south of Houston on Orchard and Rivington applying for construction renewals and extensions.

And CB3's zoning committee will revisit (?) the rezoning south of Houston (Essex to Chrystie), and will consider the Seward Park Renewal area.

1. Chinatown Working Group,
Mon Jan 5, 4-6, 191-193 Canal @ Mott.
2. CB3 Zoning Committee, Mon Jan 5, 6:30, 184 Eldridge.
3. CB3 Liquor Licensing Committee, Mon Jan 12, 6:30, 200 E 5.
4. CB3 Chatham Redesign Task Force, Mon Jan 12, 6:30, 33 Bowery @ Bayard
5. CB3 Housing Committee, Tues Jan 20, 6:30, 333 Bowery.

Agenda for the liquor licensing and sidewalk cafe licensing committee:
Renewal with Complaint History
1. Kaleidoscope Restaurant, 212 E 10th St (rw)
2. Winebar, 65 2nd Ave (sidewalk cafe)
Applications within Resolution Areas
3. European Union, 235 E 4th St (up/op)
4. Eat Pisode, 123 Ludlow St (rw)
5. 171 Ave A Food, 171 Ave A (rw)
6. Bruno Jamais, 179 Ludlow St (op)
7. Kuma Inn, 113 Ludlow St (rw)
8. Castleblade, 17 Clinton St (up/op)
9. NY Restaurant Supplies, 29 3rd Ave (alt/reduction of size of restaurant)
10. Ford Grey, 175 Ludlow St (trans/op)
11. Maradona, 188 Allen St (up/op)
12. Ballaro, 77 2nd Ave (trans/rw)
New Liquor License Applications
13. Eastville Comedy Club, 85 E 4th St (op)
14. Sun Shine 27, 46 Bowery (rw)
15. Noodle King, 19 Henry St (rw)
16. Ken's Asian Taste, 40 Bowery (rw)
17. Cafe Khufu, 61 E 3rd St (rw)
18. Upright Citizens Brigade, 155 E 3rd St (tw)
19. Saigon NYC, 85 Orchard St (rw)
20. Thai Bodhi Tree, 58 3rd Ave (rw)

Friday, December 19, 2008


The New School students' occupation of 65 Fifth Ave has ended with, as I understand, only one arrest, but considerable stir and excitement among activists, several letters of support including one from Mexico. All at their new blog of resistance:

Meanwhile, CB3 voted to reject the city's plan to reroute the Bowery at Chatham Square, in a bizarrely written resolution: the chair of the committee wrote pages and pages of 'whereas' clauses with the intention of justifying and supporting the city's unpopular plan, but the committee and later the full board insisted on standing with the community and the local councilmember and the local assemblymember and the local state senator-elect and the comptroller who all rejected the city's plan.

So the full board added a few 'whereas' clauses of its own and rewrote the "resolved" section as a rejection . The final resolution reads like a series of lengthy, deep and repeated bows to the city followed by an abrupt kick to the shin. Well, it's the resolved section that matters. Three cheers for CB3, at last!

Reopen Park Row!!

Full text (and even a bit of the discussion) available at CCRC.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What the city won't tell you

The city's plan for Chatham Square follows the current model of post-9/11, Giuliani-style control, restricting flow and personal options in public space. It narrows, diverts, shunts, closes and detours, requires labyrinthine crossings, leaves large, useless, vacant spaces and adds bottlenecks with lights closely spaced where traffic volume is thickest.

The continuation of heavy-flow east-bound Worth between Park Row and St. James has two crossings within five car lengths which will back-up traffic all along Worth.

To cross the south side of St. James, a narrow street of a few paces, pedestrians in the reconfiguration have to cross Oliver, north St. James and Worth just to get to the other side of the street.

All just to close Park Row permanently.

Check out CCRC's informational on their site.

Protests abound

Depression's downer is only money-deep. Protests rise aflight defiance.

Saturday, downtowners protest the Department of Transportation's many failures and its indifference to local communities. 40 Worth Street, 1pm

Yesterday, New School students occupied the 65 Fifth Avenue building, calling for the resignation of university President Bob Kerrey who has compromised the great radical legacy of the University in Exile by adopting a profit-generating corporate model for the university and its governance, by participating in the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which promoted the current invasion and occupation of Iraq and, most recently, by appointing himself as interim Provost.

Here's their statement:

Dear Friends,

On 17 December 2008, students, staff, faculty, and supporters held protests and
occupied the 65 Fifth Avenue building of the New School. About 100 people have
remained in the building throughout the night. This is a call for solidarity
and support. Protests and support will continue on Thursday, December 18th, at
65 Fifth Avenue and other New School buildings.

As you may know, the full-time faculty of the New School, have taken a nearly
unanimous vote of no confidence [269 to 8 (with 10 abstentions)] in the
leadership of President Bob Kerrey and Executive Vice President Jim Murtha.
This followed the sudden departure of Provost Joe Westphal, the chief academic
officer of the university, after which the President appointed himself acting
Provost. (He has since admitted this was an error.)

It is UNACCEPTABLE for President Kerrey to appoint himself interim Provost. With
various budgetary and building changes, students face a serious lack of
resources, both technological and academic, directly due to Kerrey's leadership
and his attempt to make the New School a profit-making venture. There is also a
fundamental lack of democratic transparency concerning both the activities of
Bob Kerrey and the Board of Trustees, and not enough input from students,
staff, and faculty.

Bob Kerrey has consistently been completely out of alignment over the past seven
years as President with the history, community, and philosophy upon which the
New School was founded. Amongst other activities, he was a member of the
Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which promoted the current invasion and
occupation of Irag. His participation is the committee was highly contested by
the student, staff, and faculty.

Those protesting are calling for the resignation of Bob Kerrey and the
institution of a direct, democratic participation of the students, staff, and
faculty, in order to guarantee that decisions are made in our best interests
and so that we can once again live up to the legacy of the University in Exile.

Our grievances include:

· Five Provosts in less than eight years is a sign of no institutional
transparency, stability, and accountability. We need an institutional politics
with a system of checks and balances, not one that works at the whim of one

· Kerrey's unilateral appointment of himself as "chief academic officer" is
unacceptable and emblematic of his inability to foster cooperative education.

· The university is being treated as a profit-making venture at whose altar the
requirements of scholarship are routinely sacrificed. We have been
systematically stripped of the most basic resources necessary for academic
excellence, including adequate funding, spaces in which to study and engage
with each other, and a working library. We demand more opportunities for
student funding, and we are willing to work for them. We need public spaces in
which to foster a public sphere and an academic community. The absence of a
serious library and its related resources for research is absolutely
unacceptable and should not even be an issue of contention in an academic

· Academic planning and budgeting should be directed by individuals with a deep
understanding and commitment to academic excellence and free inquiry.

· We have no hand and no say in our fates or the collective fate of our

Please come support the protests at the New School (65 Fifth Avenue) to put an
end to Kerrey's and the other administrator's autocratic approach and
bureaucratic, business model for education. Their activities have been becoming
commonplace at all of our educational institutions. Let's end it now!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Don't tred on me

Last week, at a Town Hall meeting in Chinatown, the Department of Transportation presented its plan for rerouting traffic at Chatham Square in the heart of Chinatown. In the course of the Q & A, DoT asserted that their plans would go ahead regardless what the community says, wants or does; the DoT will respond only to the "city administration." The DoT interprets "city adminstration" to mean the Mayor alone, not the City Council nor any Community Board, as was clear from the meeting: the City Councilmember who represents Chinatown, Alan Gerson, spoke out plainly critical of the plan and the process, as did the CB1 and CB2 members present.

The plan will close Park Row permanently. The community has been pressing the city to reopen Park Row, which was initially closed in the wake of 9/11. But when it comes to Chinatown, the "city administration" does not appear to care for community wants or needs.

Also last week, CB1 voted to reject the DoT plan. Residents of Chinatown have now drawn up a resolution which they will present to CB3. Here's the notice, thanks to Jan Lee of CCRC, with the text of the resolution, which is also available here at the CCRC blog:

Community organizers are collecting signatures in support of this community authored resolution to submit before CB3's full board on Dec. 16th at P.S. 20 at 166 Essex Street near East Houston and Stanton at 6:30 pm.

Please attend the CB3 hearing this Tues.! Let your voice be heard and voice your opinions on the Chatham Square

Here is the document:

We, as members of the Chinatown Community, respectfully request that the following resolution be passed by Community Boards One, Two and Three with regard to the Mayor’s and DOT’s proposed Chatham Square Reconfiguration Plan in order to:

1. Give the community time to access and review all details of the proposed Chatham Square reconfiguration, with special attention to pedestrian safety, potential negative economic impacts upon local businesses and cost-benefit analysis,

2. Allow full community input; and,
3. Mitigate the effects of any construction on the local economy and its character.
4. Ultimately have the City work with the community to develop a plan that works for the community.

Whereas, the Department of Transportation has stated a desire of improved pedestrian safety yet has proposed a plan that appears to decrease pedestrian safety; and

Whereas, the Department of Transportation has not done adequate research regarding the economic impact of three plus years of reconstruction at Chatham Square, nor has the D.O.T. provided a business mitigation plan to the Chinatown community prior to the reconstruction of Chatham Square; and

Whereas, the Department of Transportation did not give the public opportunity to view detailed plans of Chatham Square’s reconstruction until 6 days before the public hearing of December 2, 2008 ; and

Whereas, the Chinatown community has not had ample time to caucus and present alternative plans for the reconstruction with alternative construction schedule; and

Whereas, the unanimous opposition expressed at the December 2, 2008 public hearing regarding Chatham Square reconfiguration accurately reflects the vast majority of Chinatown groups comprised of residents, businesses, and nonprofits; and

Whereas, Councilman Alan J. Gerson testified on December 2nd that “I believe it is way too premature for this community and this community board to take a position. I believe it is even too premature for the City to, at this stage, to ask the community board to reach a position or to approve this plan at this stage.”, thereby reflecting the opinions of his constituents; and

Whereas, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver submitted a letter to the December 2nd hearing in support of the community’s efforts to have a voice in the details of the plan; and

Whereas, the DOT’s plan currently does not provide details of the Park Row improvement portion of the plan. In particular, the artists images of the proposed pedestrian walkway does not even include provision for the current driveway of the Chatham Green Cooperative; nor does it address the existing problem of handicap ramp access at Chatham Towers. Despite many requests by Chatham Tower’s Board, it remains off limits to this day causing a great hardship to residents and visitors of that co-op.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Community Board will reject the most recent plan for Chatham Square’s reconstruction as presented by the Department of Transportation, and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Community Board will call for a moratorium on all construction work at Chatham Square pending further examination of the plans by concerned stakeholders and input from Community Boards 1, 2 and 3.

Respectfully submitted,
Jan Lee - Sinotique 19 Mott St. NYC 10013, Hamilton Madison House Board
Jeanie Chin , CCRC, Chatham Towers Board
Danny Chen Chatham Green, Board
Toby Turkel, Pres. of Chatham Towers

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Chinatown Working Group

The Chinatown Working Group met last night. I attended with qualms but left mostly encouraged.

Rather than narrow its focus and hand-pick its membership to speed the process along, the CWG has opted for principles of openness, inclusion and breadth. Narrow focus and selectivity are conducive to speed but also to controversy, as we saw in the EV/LES rezoning. So far, the CWG has not been unwieldy or slow.

The Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the LES, the group that led the opposition to the EV/LES rezoning, is not attending the CWG meetings, but its influence is felt in the mission statement and the orientation of the Group and even the fact of its existence: I doubt this Working Group would have been convened at this time and in this way were it not for the Coalition's vigorous, organized and highly public opposition to the EV/LES rezoning.

Judging by their proposed mission and governance structure, the Chinatown Working Group is characterized by

All Chinatown groups are asked to participate. Organizations alone will be allowed a vote in the Group, but individuals are being encouraged to form organizations of their own in order to broaden the voting membership and representation at the ground level. My initial concern that developers' interests would insinuate themselves into the proceedings are somewhat allayed by this structure. And encouraging the formation of local grassroots organizations is a good idea in itself.

Such openness requires broad and equitable outreach, which appears to be a Group priority. CB1 and CB2 have been advertising meetings for some time. I expect CB3 will soon join CB1 and CB2 in announcing the meetings, since most of Chinatown is in CB3.

Inclusive vision
The Group is looking at the broadest implications of its work. Whatever the final boundaries of the area of study, the Group is already looking beyond the narrowest confines of current Chinatown both geographically and temporally with a long-sighted view towards the future.

Breadth of scope
The Group will not confine itself to zoning alone, but will consider comprehensive planning. From their draft mission statement: "truly affordable housing, cultural and historic preservation, economic revitalization, open space. public infrastructure, residential and business displacement, and zoning."

(I expressed my concern that "economic revitalization" not be made a cover for outside commercial or development interests to displace Chinatown's existing commerce and residents. The words "commercial stability" may be added to the mission alongside "economic revitalization." The desire to bring manufacturing into Chinatown -- an important basis for community sustainability unfortunately disappearing from the city -- may also find more explicit expression in the mission statement.)

So far, I see a well-run Group with plenty of talent. All the local electeds have been participating even though they will not have a vote under the proposed governance structure. Community groups are being offered a voting voice in order to encourage broad and regular participation. But participation is a political commitment and many attending are still wary. I imagine they will want to see the Group's direction before throwing in their lot with this initiative. They may prefer to attend as critics than participate only to become targets of criticism. It'll be a challenge.

The Group leadership wants to begin working on real issues as soon as it can, attracting participation as it demonstrates is goals and effectiveness. It also hopes to attract participation by its openness. Both strategies are well taken.

The Group meets again Jan 5 to vote on its mission statement and governance structure. Meanwhile it is considering the boundaries of its "study area."

They are looking for a regular meeting place that can seat at least sixty. If you have any leads, let me know and I'll pass it on. Meetings are held on the first Monday of the month, 4-6pm.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Prevent an eviction

If you read Howard Hemsley's letter in the Villager, you know the irony of this case: squatters-turned-owners evicting their mentally handicapped neighbor to sell his apartment at a huge profit. Please take a moment to help out the defenseless by signing
this petition (

Here are more details of Alfredo's case, courtesy of Paul Newell:

Please take a minute to sign this petition ( to prevent the impending eviction of Alfredo Barreto from his Lower East Side apartment.

Alfredo is a 47-year-old disabled lifelong Lower East Sider. His mother, Carmen Barreto, is a pillar of this community, longtime activist and personal friend. Alongside his mother, Alfredo has participated in most of the struggles for justice and decency in this neighborhood over the last decades.

The Lower East Side once was a haven for squatters who championed the rights of homeless and mentally handicapped individuals to occupy buildings. Today, however, those same squatters, made powerful by a City's generosity, pull the same stunts they formerly attributed to greedy landlords.

Such is the case with Alfredo Barreto. Barreto, who has lived quietly at the squat on 7 ½ Second Avenue for 7 years, now faces homelessness as his former comrades become property owners who stand to benefit from the sale of his apartment.

"This is the latest phase of gentrification on the Lower East Side," says Howard Hemsley, Alfredo's court-appointed guardian and community activist. "As a mentally handicapped man Alfredo was never a part of the clique at this squat, but we never expected he would be treated to this kind of hypocritical brutality. They've gone from embracing the rights of all to housing to forcing someone with just as much right as they under the law into homelessness."

In 2002, the City of New York transferred title for one dollar to 7 ½ Second Avenue to UHAB, a not-for-profit organization that creates tenant-owned cooperative apartments. One might think that would make the squatter-residents appreciate generosity. Unfortunately, that's not the case. As the holiday season begins, Alfredo Barreto, is being evicted by his neighbors and UHAB. UHAB's excuse for taking Mr. Barreto's apartment and selling it is a dispute with the apartment's previous tenant, a dispute that has nothing to do with Alfredo, who tended to his cats and caused no trouble. UHAB has refused to even consider giving Alfredo a rental apartment in one of the many units it manages.

"We were so proud and happy that Alfredo could live on his own," said his mother. "It's a dream our family has had - that Alfredo could be a functioning adult, living in his own place. I guess that doesn't mean anything to UHAB."

Please take one minute to sign this petition. We are fighting in court and in the streets. Last week we held a protest outside UHAB's Wall Street headquarters. Please join us in this fight.

Thank you very much. Please also let me know if you would like to be more involved in this effort.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Paul Newell

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Four PSA's

1. Public Hearing on Con Ed Air Pollution - Mon
2. LES Forum on Rodents - Wed
3. Visioning the Seward Park Renewal Area - Sat
4. Parks Department Survey

1. Public Hearing on Con Ed Air Pollution
Monday November 17 at 7 pm,
Campos Plaza, 611 East 13 Street
The expansion of production at the East 14th Street Con Ed power plant has significantly increased pollution levels since 2005. Con Ed has filed to renew an operating and air pollution permit under "Title V", the air pollution control program for New York State. This hearing is an opportunity for our community to urge the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to reduce the Con Ed pollution.
For more information:

2. LES Forum on rodents
Wed, November 19th, 6:30pm-8:30pm
PS 63 - 121 East 3rd St
Presentation from City agencies
and open discussion

3. Seward Park Urban Renewal Area Matters!
Saturday, November 22, 2 to 4:30pm
227 E. 3rd Street Ground Floor
(wheelchair accessible)

4. Parks Department Public Survey
The Parks Department is now working on a plan for the future development of the park system and would like to hear from you. Please take the time to complete the Public Outreach Survey and help them shape the park system for the 21st century.

Click here to complete the survey.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"...just like he stole our democracy."

Great coverage of the shameless Willets Point land-grab from Vanishing New York. And don't miss his visit to Willets Point.

Closer to home, our own Bowery is being given away to developers. City Planning wants hotels all the way down the Bowery and into Chinatown. Check out the following blogpost and send an e-mail to Amanda Burden asap -- City Council votes on the rezoning this week.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wanna save the Bowery? Send this e-mail real quick

At yesterday's hearing both Council Member Gerson and Council Member Mendez extended support for the rezoning of the Bowery through a Follow Up Corrective Action (FUCA).

The City Council Subcommittee will vote on it Monday. That means we have until tomorrow morning (Friday) to get through to the City Planning Commission. Without CPC consent, it won't happen.
Please send a quick email (text below) to:,,,

RE: FUCA to rezone the east side of the Bowery

Dear Chair Burden:

I write to request that, in conjunction with the current East Village/ Lower East Side Rezoning, a Follow-up Corrective Action (FUCA) be initiated
immediately by the City Planning Commission to extend the Special Little Italy District (SLID) from the west side of the Bowery to the east side of the Bowery.

At the November 12, 2008 Subcommittee Hearing on Zoning and Franchises, Chair Tony Avella, Council Member Alan Gerson, and Council Member Rosie Mendez all stated their support for an immediate protective rezoning of the Bowery. In addition, we have the support of Community Board 3, the Greenwich Village Society For Historic Preservation, the Historic Districts Council, the Society for the Architecture of the City, the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, and the Coalition To Save The East Village.

Although the Bowery has always had a unique place in the history of the City of New York, in recent years we have watched large, out-of -scale development going up on the east side of the Bowery, the result of which has been the destruction of the context, historic character and diversity of the community.

The City has recognized the historic significance of the Bowery by protecting the west side of the Bowery in the Special Little Italy District, and the NOHO Historic District. The East Village/ Lower East Side Rezoning will protect the area just east of the Bowery. However, the east side of the Bowery itself has been left out of all these rezonings.

The east side of the Bowery must be rezoned today to ensure that it is in context with the rest of the community -- the Special Little Italy District, the NOHO Historic District, and East Village/ Lower East Side. If a Follow-Up Corrective Action is not initiated as part of this current East Village/ Lower East Side rezoning the historic Bowery will be replaced with a wall of towers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mixed results at CB3's Liquor Licensing committee

Overall, the Committee respected community opposition to licenses:

There was community opposition to 8 applications.
The committee unconditionally denied 4 of these.
Under pressure from the committee, another 2 withdrew,
and the committee approved 2 (both transfers of existing licenses to new owners).

The 2 that were approved had only one resident speaking in opposition.

(As it happened, one of the approved licenses is owned and being sold by a member of the committee, but this was not the reason for their approval -- it's a bar on an avenue, it's had a license since the 1930's, and this was merely a transfer from one owner to another. The other approval went to an applicant opposed by the District Manager herself who lives across the street from it. So the Committee wasn't doing any favors for their District Manager.)

The committee even denied two applicants without any community opposition: one for being in a saturated area, the other for asking to upgrade with only a three month track record in the location.

All in all, responsible committee work, with the exception of Cake Shop:

The Committee approved a license for the street-level of Cake Shop, 152 Ludlow, which has been operating successfully for four years with its basement-only liquor license.

Cake Shop claims that they need the added revenue, but the Committee didn't ask for any evidence of their need. It's a troubling application. A fully active street-level bar transforms the character of the neighborhood far more than a basement bar, and this is in the heart of a seriously oversaturated nightlife destination area, Ludlow near Stanton. No residents showed up in opposition. The Committee did not even ask whether notices of their application had been properly posted.

You'd think the Committee would be more conscientious, especially since the applicant was a former employee of one of the Committee members. I don't think they showed favoritism here, just carelessness.

It may be that the applicant needs this license to stay open and continue running the artist space downstairs. But the Committee process didn't demonstrate that to this listener.

Here's the run down by address:

DENIED -- hard liquor
13 St. Mark's (applicant didn't show up)
90 Eldridge (community opposition)

DENIED -- beer/wine
441 E 12 (community opposition)
171 Ave A (oversaturated area)
40 Ave B (oversaturated & community opposition)

WITHDREW under threat of denial
46 Ave B (oversaturated area & community opposition)
60 3rd Ave (only 3 months in this location)
58 3rd Ave (community opposition & no signatures of support)

151 2nd Ave (no community opposition)
308 6th St (no community opposition)
152 Ludlow (no community opposition)
34 Ave A (despite one voice in opposition)
269 E Houston (despite one voice in opposition)

191 Houston (no community opposition)
250 Broome (no community opposition)
144 Division (with a community agreement)
77 E 10th (with a community agreement)
35 E B'way (no community opposition)

I arrived late at the meeting, so I missed
Bowery Hotel,
Katra (217 Bowery),
Spur Tree (76 Orchard),
Compas (86 Orchard),
Samburger (33 St. Mark's)

Sunday, November 09, 2008


This is the final public hearing for the EV/LES Rezoning Plan. Please attend and give testimony to support protection for the east side of the Bowery, which the Department of City Planning has excluded from the Rezoning Plan. This exclusion will result in large, out-of-scale development, destroying the context, historic character and diversity of the Bowery and its surrounding Lower East Side and Chinatown communities. The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors (BAN) is recommending that City Council draft a Follow-up Corrective Action (FUCA) requesting that the City Planning Commission initiate an immediate rezoning of this area or an extension of the Special Little Italy District from the west side of the Bowery to the east side of the Bowery. BAN's position statement is included below. Please arrive early and bring a copy of your testimony for the record. Your attendance is appreciated. THE BOWERY NEEDS YOUR HELP!

Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Time: 9:30 AM
Location: Council Chambers - City Hall

Zoning & Franchises Committee

Chair: Tony Avella

Brief: See Land Use Calendar Available in Room 5, City Hall

Agenda Note
LU 0923-2008

Zoning Reso., East Village/Lower East Side, Manhattan (C080397(A)ZMM)
LU 0924-2008

Zoning Reso., East Village/Lower East Side, Manhattan (N080398(A)ZRM


Although the Bowery has always had a unique place in the history of the City of New York, in recent years we have watched large, out-of -scale development going up on the east side of the Bowery, the result of which has been the destruction of the context, historic character and diversity of the community.

The City has recognized the historic significance of the Bowery by protecting the west side of the Bowery in the Little Italy Special District and the NOHO Historic District. The East Village/ Lower East Side Rezoning will protect the area just east of the Bowery. However, the east side of the Bowery itself has been left out of all these rezonings. The attached map highlights the area we are concerned with, if nothing is done the result will be a wall of towers

The east side of the Bowery should be rezoned to ensure that it is in context to the rest of the community - the Little Italy Special District, the NOHO Historic District, and East Village/ Lower East Side.

We respectfully request that a Follow-up Corrective Action (FUCA) be drafted by City Council requesting that the City Planning Commission initiate an immediate rezoning of this area or an extension of the Little Italy Special District from the west side of the Bowery to the east side of the Bowery.

Friday, October 24, 2008

To fight a liquor license...

...requires more than getting a denial from the Community Board.

The State Liquor Authority awards licenses, not the Community Board. The Community Board's decision is merely advisory to the SLA.

Effectively opposing a license requires taking a Tuesday off, going up to the SLA on 125th Street -- preferably with letters from local elected officials -- and testifying in opposition to the license. (You can find the exact date of a hearing on the SLA website here.)

It takes a couple of hours. That's one more reason to organize block associations: not everyone can spare a Tuesday to testify.

We're putting together a database for block associations. If you have a block association contact, please send it to me or to
along with the location of the block association (include the cross streets, e.g., "6th Street Block Association, from A to 1st Ave").

Let's have a voice.

Thanks to those who have already sent BA contact information.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Troubling developments

59 East 2nd Street
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection and Chapel of St. Innocent of Irkutsk, an impressive stone structure just across the street from the Marble Cemetery and down the street from Anthology Film Archives, is planning to add 8 residential stories to its current 60 foot height, 141 feet altogether. How will they add eight stories on top of an 1867 church without compromising the structure? It's a historic church on a historic block. DoB has approved their plan.

75 1st Avenue
Developer plans to build a 171-foot tall tower on a tiny 24-foot wide lot. It's illegal to build higher than 100 feet on such a narrow lot, but they are digging their foundation anyway.

226-228 Bowery
8-story hotel in the midst of the Bowery section of the Special Little Italy District, not far from the New Museum. Is this the future of the city's oldest road?

Hope for the LES?

Last night at CB3's SLA committee, 20 bars and restaurants applied for licenses. Residents showed up to protest four. All four of those license applicants were rejected by the committee. Two more were sent back to consult with the residents on their block. All the rest of the unopposed applicants were approved.


100% of successfully opposing a liquor license at the CB is --

-- just showing up.

At least half of those residents who showed up were brought by block associations. They can be effective, those block associations. Maybe it's time to organize EV/LES block associations. A neighborhood friend is creating a website where block associations can share information with residents on their block and with other block associations, view community news alerts and, with virtually no effort, even create and manage their own webpage. All he needs are block association contacts.

Anyone want to contribute a block association contact?

(Could be the start of something big: community voice and network throughout the EV/LES.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yet more bars?

To take your mind off the credit crisis, below is this month's roster of new bars applying for liquor licenses in our neighborhood. Anyone wanna bet on how many withdraw or how long before the recession closes their doors?

Am I exhibiting too much glee over the financial meltdown? I can't hide it. Like many of the wishful-thinking, I'm eagerly scrutinizing the neighborhood for evidence of recession. Of course, it's a little early to see significant change, but rents are down 30% in my building and for the first time in fifteen years there were vacancies through September.

SLA & DCA Licensing Committee
Monday, October 20, 6:30pm, 200 East 5th Street at Bowery
1. FY'2010 Capital & Expense Priorities
Renewal with Complaint History
2. The Box, 189 Chrystie St (op)
3. Sidewalk Bar & Restaurant, 94 Ave A (sidewalk café)
4. Dallas BBQ, 132 2nd Ave (sidewalk café)
5. Supper, 156 E 2nd St (sidewalk café)
Sidewalk Café Renewal/ULURP
6. Sugar Café, 200 Allen St (sidewalk café)
7. Zerza, 304 E 6th St (sidewalk café)
Applications within Resolution Areas
8. Tuck Shop, 68 E 1st St (rw)
9. Caffe Pepe Rosso, 127 Ave C (up/op)
10. 146 Orchard Rest, 146 Orchard St (add/op)
11. 6AB Restaurant, 507 E 6th St (bw)
12. Café Partners, 72 E 1st St (tw)
13. Jing Star (currently Sunrise 27), 27-29 Division St (trans/rw)
14. Vicky's Gourmet (currently Yummy House), 76 3rd Ave (trans/op)
15. Xunta, 174 1st Ave (up/op)
16. Bourgeois Pig, 122 E 7th St (alt)
17. Sushi Park, 77 E 7th St (up/op)
18. Mornir Stojnovic (currently Kush Lounge), 191 Chrystie St (trans/op)
19. Corp to be Formed (currently Mo Pitkins), 34 Ave A (trans/op)
20. SJD Entertainment (currently Summers Bar), 49 Clinton St (trans/op)
21. A&S Organic (currently Russo's), 40 Ave B (trans/rw)
New Liquor License Applications
22. Betty Café, 256 E 3rd St (tw)
23. Fifty Fathoms, 86 Allen St (op)
24. 384 Grand St (op)
25. Tanaghrisson, 90 E 10th St (op)
26. 1 Essex LLC, 1 Essex St (op)
27. Compas Group, 86 Orchard St (op)
28. Fritz, 417 E 9th St (rw)
29. Stanton Restaurant, 82 Stanton St (op)
30. Spice Thai Hot & Cool, 77 E 10th St (op)
31. 144 Division LLC, 144 Division St (op)
32. Persimmon LLC, 277 E 10th St (rw)
33. Rivington Sushi, 151 Rivington St (rw)
34. Porchetta, 110 E 7th St (rw)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Financial crisis impact on renters

What happens to you if your landlord defaults on his mortgage?

GOLES is hosting a meeting on the impact of the financial crisis on NYC housing, this Thursday, Oct. 16, 7pm, 535 E 5th St. (between A&B), ground floor community room.
More info, call GOLES: 212-533-2541

Monday, September 29, 2008

Watch the SLA

Change may be swift there. Governor Paterson recently vetoed a bill that would have excluded some new bars from opening. Currently, bars cannot open within 200 feet of a school or church, measured from door to door. Marty Connor, who just lost re-election for State Senate and who regularly helped residents prevent new bars from opening, sponsored a bill that would have redefined the measurement as property line to property line, effectively eliminating many potential liquor licenses. Paterson didn't like it.

Tourism/nightlife and Wall Street are the big revenue generators in New York, and the former is going to sustain the state through the troubles of the latter. Only problem is, once bars have transformed your neighborhood into a vapid tourist trap, you can't get rid of them even when the state doesn't need them anymore. Tourist traps never seem to die. Maybe because they're already dead, sucking the blood out of their victim city.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Coming up at the Community Board

Extra Place is back on the agenda at the Housing and Land Use Committee, Tuesday, October 7, 6:30pm, 333 Bowery (btwn E 2nd & 3rd Sts).

As always, lots of bars and restaurants are requesting Community Board support for their liquor license application to the State Liquor Authority. Take a look at the list below to see if there's one near you.

Don't forget that the Community Board is just the first step in the process. It's the State Liquor Authority that decides whether to grant a license. Even if the CB rejects the bar, you still have to go up to the SLA hearing (preferably with letters from local electeds-- councilmember, State Senator and State Assemblymember) if you want to ensure denial. The SLA was responsive to community demands last year, but the economy has changed, and the SLA will change with it.

Here's the list of liquor license applicants on the agenda of the CB3 SLA committee
Monday, October 20, 6:30pm, 200 East 5th Street (corner of the Bowery)
rw/tw=beer&wine license;
op=hard liquor license

1. FY'2010 Capital & Expense Priorities
Renewal with Complaint History
2. The Box, 189 Chrystie St (op)
3. Sidewalk Bar & Restaurant, 94 Ave A (sidewalk café)
4. Dallas BBQ, 132 2nd Ave (sidewalk café)
5. Supper, 156 E 2nd St (sidewalk café)
Sidewalk Café Renewal/ULURP
6. Sugar Café, 200 Allen St (sidewalk café)
7. Zerza, 304 E 6th St (sidewalk café)
Applications within Resolution Areas
8. Tuck Shop, 68 E 1st St (rw)
9. Caffe Pepe Rosso, 127 Ave C (up/op)
10. 146 Orchard Rest, 146 Orchard St (add/op)
11. 6AB Restaurant, 507 E 6th St (bw)
12. Café Partners, 72 E 1st St (tw)
13. Jing Star (currently Sunrise 27), 27-29 Division St (trans/rw)
14. Vicky's Gourmet (currently Yummy House), 76 3rd Ave (trans/op)
15. Xunta, 174 1st Ave (up/op)
16. Bourgeois Pig, 122 E 7th St (alt)
17. Sushi Park, 77 E 7th St (up/op)
18. Mornir Stojnovic (currently Kush Lounge), 191 Chrystie St (trans/op)
19. Corp to be Formed (currently Mo Pitkins), 34 Ave A (trans/op)
20. SJD Entertainment (currently Summers Bar), 49 Clinton St (trans/op)
21. A&S Organic (currently Russo's), 40 Ave B (trans/rw)
New Liquor License Applications
22. Betty Café, 256 E 3rd St (tw)
23. Fifty Fathoms, 86 Allen St (op)
24. 384 Grand St (op)
25. Tanaghrisson, 90 E 10th St (op)
26. 1 Essex LLC, 1 Essex St (op)
27. Compas Group, 86 Orchard St (op)
28. Fritz, 417 E 9th St (rw)
29. Stanton Restaurant, 82 Stanton St (op)
30. Spice Thai Hot & Cool, 77 E 10th St (op)
31. 144 Division LLC, 144 Division St (op)
32. Persimmon LLC, 277 E 10th St (rw)
33. Rivington Sushi, 151 Rivington St (rw)
34. Porchetta, 110 E 7th St (rw)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Event of the Year? Will all the bloggers be there? Long-time Lower East Siders will...





September 27, 2008

6:30 - 9:30 p.m.


Bowery Poetry Club

308 Bowery

one block north of Houston st.

music, poetry and film

art auction


proceeds benefit the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors (BAN)

a grassroots organization working to preserve

the historic character of The Bowery

admission $10 per person

checks payable to:

Bowery Alliance of Neighbors

184 Bowery #4

NYC, NY 10012

More on Extra Place

CB3 asked that HPD come back to CB3 with a revised proposal for Extra Place possibly as early as next month. The community board committee asked for alternatives that would include other community organizations and entities besides Avalon.

For more on Extra Place including pictures: VNY

Privatizing another street: Extra Place

At the Housing committee of CB3, we learned that the Avalon development is arranging with the city to buy a little alley, once a street, called, wonderfully, Extra Place. The city demapped it years ago, leaving it technically an empty lot, which dumped it from the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation (DoT) into the lap of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). Now HPD wants to palm it off to Avalon -- the three hulking glass developments on the CB3 side of Bowery & Houston that have become architects' and urban planners' most preferred examples of bad city design. Avalon is eager to beautify the alley in preparation for a string of sidewalk cafes along its length which, Avalon says, will benefit the entire public! Which is why they want to buy it ... to benefit the public.

If Avalon owns the street, the sidewalk cafes fall out of much city regulatory oversight, for which private benefit Avalon is willing to take on the burden of cleaning and maintaining the space. HPD doesn't want responsibility for this alley -- they handle housing, but Extra Place is really a street, regardless what the map says. So -- again, always for the public good -- the city wants to sell it to the trusted developer of New York's worst. Everyone is so interested in the public good, don't you feel pampered?

Insert cartoon of a heavy-lidded, half-asleep, slovenly, unwashed and unshaven municipal authority holding the public in it's pudgy hand with the other palm outstretched for the pay-off saying, "You want it? How much you give me for it?" to a bright-eyed, prim-suited gal with a gleam in her Gucci glasses and a shoulder pocketbook popping with wads of cash.

CB committee members were not so foolish as to buy this smartly wrapped bill of goods. Rallied into the field by Herman Hewitt, they went on indignant attack. Chair Fout and Militano and Prisant and Ratcliffe and Wieder -- each took an opportunity to whack Avalon for the sake of the public and against privatization. Inspiring. A Frank Capra moment. Over the orchestra the crash of cymbals: The representatives of the public defend the public realm!

Made up in part for the truly depressing presentation from the Department of Buildings earlier in the meeting. DoB sent some low-level buffer to tell us that either DoB doesn't have the information we seek about 180 Orchard or DoB isn't responsible for having such information or he didn't bring the information, or you could get it yourself on the web -- in short, don't bother DoB because DoB is exactly what everyone says it is: useless. Did we need DoB to come tell us this? I guess it's good to watch the department itself provide living proof of exactly how useless it is, just in case there was any doubt.

180 Orchard has been in construction for four years with only three stories built and nobody can say what is being built there, whether it has financing for completion, what its status is or what the future might hold. Meanwhile, it's hell for the local businesses and residents. Classic case of Developer's Blight.

Unfortunately, the committee tried to help DoB present its case. CB3 doesn't seem to have picked up the MO of the savvy political committee. When a failed agency under a cloud of scandal is called by a committee to present itself to the public, the committee members are supposed to sit forward in their seats, staring out at the public tight-lipped and grim-faced, while the publicly despised agency sweats it out in desperation. If the committee starts defending the agency or answering questions for the agency or even tries to show off that the committee knows more than the public about the agency, then the committee looks as if it's taking the side of a scandal-ridden crony against the public. That may impress the public with the committee's inside knowledge, but it sure as hell doesn't make the committee look good. It aggravates community distrust.

It's hard to keep silent. There's the temptation to display knowledge and give an impression of control. But that's unnecessary and counterproductive. It doesn't matter that there are reasons DoB doesn't have the information the public needs and wants: this is not a Panglossian best-of-all-possible DoB's. Let DoB sweat. After all, their commissioner just resigned under a scandal that hasn't been resolved and that needs resolution. Their regulations and operations need revision. There's nothing to be gained by being extra nice to them or helping them out of a jam. Put blame where blame is due. It's their moment in the hot spotlight; they're up for change. They don't need to be attacked. Just let 'em sweat! And then thank them very kindly for their presentation.

Watch how the U.S. congress does it. They are the jaded, cynical pros of Machiavellian silence. No one does it better.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Good news at the community board

Those of us worried about the new members of the SLA committee of Community Board 3 had our fears allayed. The committee took strong stands against new liquor licenses, against licenses on side streets and against applicants who failed to show good faith with local residents.

Most encouraging, David McWater, former CB chair, laid out in his motions, votes and discussions an array of principles regarding liquor applicants: licenses should not be encouraged on side streets, applicants should keep licenses that already exist rather than add new licenses to the pool, applicants should be discouraged in areas already saturated with licenses. In all these principles McWater reflects widespread sentiment among long-term residents of the district.

McWater's view is nuanced with an ethical concern: if the CB identifies moratorium areas, then areas not so designated send the signal to nightlife speculators that those areas are open to additional liquor licenses. If the board doesn't want any bars in a location -- not even a well-run bar -- it should not give the impression to the industry that the area is open to licenses. It's not fair to the applicants to encourage them to invest in a location only to be surprised by resistance at the committee level. Applicants should not be made to pay for the lack of a clear signal from the board. He recommends extending the moratorium areas wherever the neighborhood is saturated with bars.

(It should be pointed out that the moratoria are symbolic only. The SLA requires that every applicant be given a fair hearing on its own merits. Blanket denials are an abridgment of due process. The CB moratoria merely indicate community orientation or intent. The committee must hear the individual applicants even in moratorium areas.)

There is merit in McWater's ethics and no harm in extending the moratoria. But the current attitude of the committee seems to me to be exactly that clear indication to the nightlife industry that new liquor licenses are no longer welcome here, regardless how responsible the applicant. And, honestly, no bar owner should be surprised by community resistance: bars are nimby issues; there is scarcely a residential community in the five boroughs that welcomes a bar. Applicants may feign ignorance, but they know exactly which neighborhoods are dense with bars. Those are the neighborhoods they seek out -- nightlife destinations with their bottomless well of non-local patrons.

The example of 124 1st Avenue -- a liquor license withdrawn in favor of a Kim's Video -- shows that there are welcome alternatives to nightlife. If McWater would add to his principles that even well-run bars should be discouraged in saturated areas, he'd have a perfect score. On the committee, John Fout, Noah Yago and Alexandra Militano, the chair of the committee, vocally stood behind that principle.

The committee had tough decisions before it: there were several applicants with excellent records of following quiet, respectful, responsible business models, who happened to apply in areas full of noisy, disrespectful and irresponsible bars. The committee would gladly have installed these quiet bars in place of the existing noisy ones, but that's not an option. The noisy ones are here to stay, and the unpleasantness of their presence is keeping the quiet ones out: the community has had enough, and the committee took the difficult position of siding with the community. Those decent businesses are being sacrificed to the licensing excesses of the past. The committee too is paying for the past.

Well, nothing to shed tears over. The applicants, if the SLA respects the CB's recommendations, will have to find their opportunities to rake in piles of cash elsewhere. Meanwhile, the culture of the neighborhood has been preserved a little bit, for a little bit longer.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Community Board Committees

Community Board 3 has updated its website with its newly structured committees, new committee members and new committee chairs.

If we're lucky, we'll see a community board that advances its agenda plainly and without exaggeration or deception, that has the good faith to acknowledge its errors gracefully, that prioritizes serving the community ahead of serving the community board; a community board that is an open and welcoming friend to the community, not defensive or antagonistic.

I'd like to see the board recognize that this neighborhood has enough bars -- actually, too many. More bars will benefit only the nightlife and real estate industries, neither of which needs anyone's help, and benefit them to the detriment of all daytime commerce and residential life. Real estate values are high enough; the neighborhood is already a party destination; the once great, avant-garde, radical Lower East Side has lost enough to transient wealth. Must we lose all?

And then there's development. Development on the waterfront. Development in Chinatown. Development on the Bowery. We've already accepted a 44% market-rate upzoning (let's hope we at least get the 10% affordable housing projected).

The wealthy and powerful real estate and nightlife industries and their lawyers will be fighting hard for more bars and more development. Who will defend ordinary powerless residents?

How about a community board that has the courage to fight against the powerful, organized industries, a community board that stands up for those who don't have money behind them, a community board that says, simply, no to new bars, no to upscale development?

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Currently, rent stabilized or controlled tenants may be evicted from a building if the landlord wishes to demolish or gut renovate it. The landlord must provide compensation to the tenant. DHCR, the state agency that oversees housing, will accept comments until September 30 on the proposed definition of "demolition" and the formula for compensation to tenants evicted for such a demolition. The proposals are summarized at the end of this post along with the DHCR address.

My view:
owners have the right to develop their property, tenants have the right to protection. If owners were required to relocate regulated tenants locally in comparable space at comparable rent, and to offer them the right to return after redevelopment is completed (again, to comparable space at comparable rent) landlords would be free to redevelop their property, tenants would remain protected, and no landlord would be able to use demolition solely to remove rent regulated tenants.

In addition, the owner should provide upfront an insurance fund for maintaining its commitment to the tenant until the redevelopment is completed. Currently, a landlord must prove his financial ability to complete the redevelopment before DHCR will permit a demolition. That financial proof should include the financial ability to fulfill his commitment to the regulated tenants. The state itself should assume responsibility for tenants in case the redevelopment is not completed. That would provide incentive to the state to oversee redevelopment properly.

Required to keep their regulated tenants, landlords would demolish only for significantly profitable expansions. The question of compensation would not arise and the definition of "demolition" would be irrelevant, since it would be more cost-effective to renovate or expand without evicting.

Other views:
some object to DHCR's definition of demolition as too lenient, tenant compensation too low and not offered for long enough. Demolition should be to the ground, they say, and compensation should be based on local market-rate rents and offered for ten years, not the proposed six years. They believe that requiring a landlord to demolish all the walls will significantly deter demolitions. Higher compensation for a longer period would be more fair in current market conditions and also deter demolitions.

Neither one of these deterrents seems to me as effective or as fair as a relocation requirement. If the goal is to prevent landlords from using demolition merely to eliminate rent regulated tenants, then the fitting remedy should be to require them to keep the rent regulated tenants, and let that be the deterrent. Cynically pro-landlord as DHCR's definition of "demolition" is, revising it doesn't solve the problem. Relocation and return do.

Summary of DHCR's Proposals
DHCR proposes that a demolition be at least "the complete gutting of all interior space in the building from the ground floor and above and including the removal of the building’s roofs and of all internal building systems. However, a demolition under this subparagraph shall not require the removal of the outer walls and structural supports of a building."

DHCR proposes that tenants evicted for such a demolition receive a stipend of the difference between their rent and the average stabilized rent of the zip code plus 20% (to bring it closer to market-rates).

DHCR, Office of Rent Administration
Attention: Michael Berrios, Special Assistant to the Deputy Commissoner
Gertz Plaza
92-31 Union Hall Street
Jamaica, New York 11433

Commissioner Gregg Fewer
Gertz Plaza
92-31 Union Hall Street
Jamaica, New York 11433

Deputy Commissioner Liz Torres
Gertz Plaza
92-31 Union Hall Street
Jamaica, New York 11433

Friday, August 29, 2008

More bars!

The Community Board 3 committee that reviews liquor licenses will hold its first meeting of the season on September 15, 6:30pm at 200 E 5th St., corner of Bowery.

Among the 40 applications, there are no fewer than 10 new applications for full liquor licenses (called "op" for "on premises" -- scroll down to item 21).

They're everywhere: one on Grand; another just around the corner from it on Eldridge Street; Chrystie is getting hit; around the corner on Rivington too; Allen off Stanton (right next to Epstein's Bar); 2 on 10th Street. Some are restaurants, some are bars; all add to the "nightlife destination" mania, the rising commercial rents, the selling off of the LES to Generation Bloomberg.

Mitchell-Banchik (114-6 3rd Avenue) is back on the agenda because your community board thinks bars are preferable to chain stores.

Take a look at the agenda to see if there's a license near you. You could be a lucky winner!
NB: rw=restaurant wine; tw=tavern wine.

SLA & DCA Licensing Committee

Monday, September 15 - 6:30pm -- JASA/Green Residence - 200 East 5th Street at Bowery

Renewal with Complaint History

1. The Box, 189 Chrystie St (op)

2. Mercadito, 179 Ave B (op)

3. Pour House, 64 3rd Ave (op)

4. Carthage Palace, 46 Ave B (op)

Applications within Resolution Areas

5. Pan Asian Bistro, 172 Orchard St (rw)

6. Caffe Pepe Rosso, 127 Ave C (up/op)

7. Mary O'Halloran, 220 Ave B (op)

8. I Foods Restaurant, 171 Ave A (op)

9. 102 Ave C Restaurant, 102 Ave C (rw)

10. European Union, 235 E 4th St (alt/extend license)


11. Drom, 85 Ave A (trans/op)

12. Falai Panetterie, 79 Clinton St (up/op)

13. Mo Pitkins, 34 Ave A (trans/op)

14. Kampuchea Noodle Bar, 78-84 Rivington St (alt/expansion/op)

15. Kush Lounge, 191 Chrystie St (trans/op)

16. Maradona, 188 Allen St (up/op)

17. Isabella's Oven, 365 Grand St (up/op)

18. Seymour Burton, 511 E 5th St (alt)

19a. Thompson Lower East Side Hotel, 190 Allen St (alt/remove restaurant from hotel license)

19b. Orchard St Restaurant, 190 Allen St (new separate op for restaurant in hotel)

New Liquor License Applications

20. Philly's Cheese Steak, 191 E Houston St (rw)

21. Mitchell Banchik, 114-116 3rd Ave (op)

22. 8 Rivington Restaurant, 8 Rivington St (op)

23. Sinead Duell, 90 E 10th St (op)

24. Café Partners, 520 2nd Ave (op)

25. Chikalicious Puddin, 204 E 10th St (op)

26. Old Lao San Snack, 2-6 E B'way (rw)

27. New Waloy Snacks, 67B E B'way (eb)

28. Rice Village, 81 Chrystie St (rw)

29. Neway KTV, 90 Eldridge St (op)

30. 417 East 9th St LLC, 417 E 9th St (rw)

31. Paul O'Sullivan, 200 Allen St (op)

32. Mercury Dime, 246 E 5th St (tw)

33. Sarita's Macaroni & Cheese, 345 E 12th St (rw)

34. Famous Sichuan, 10 Pell St (rw)

35. E 10th St LLC, 441 E 12th St (rw)

36. Emperor Japanese Tapas, 96 Bowery (op)

37. Suimon, 412-414 E 9th St (rw)

38. Cookout Grill, 214 1st Ave (rw)

39. Dixon Place, 161 Chrystie St (op)

40. Gesundheit, 290 Grand St (op)

41. Persimmon LLC, 277 E 10th St (rw)

Monday, August 25, 2008

More bad news for Chinatown

Actually, the worst news I've heard this year: Chic money -- Apothéke cocktail bar -- has found Doyers Street. The end of Chinatown, for real: it'll be the next Ludlow&Stanton upscale nightlife destination.

Why must the upscale uproot community and poison authentic New York? Because they can? Why can't they just leave us alone?

Answer: community provides their escapades the quaint backdrop of authenticity lacking in their glass venues, at least for the brief moment before they destroy every unpretentious, human corner of community in sight and seek out another last refuge of New Yorkers to erase forever.

Hip nightlife thrives on a diet of living communities. Guess what the dim communivore leaves behind. A vast desert of the pale fruit of its bowels. Dressed to kill.

End of bitter rant.

The eviction predator spreads its wings

"A state housing official from Brooklyn was busted for selling lists of rent-regulated tenants to builders so they could target properties for redevelopment," NY Post

Hearing on eminent domain in Columbia University's expansion

From the Empire State Development Corporation:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a public hearing, open to all persons, will be held at the
Aaron Davis Hall of the City University of New York,
West 135"' Street at Convent Avenue,
Tuesday, September 2,
from 1-4pm
and from 5:30-9pm
and continued
Thursday, September 4,
from 1-4pm
and from 5:30-9:00pm

by the New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a Empire State Development Corporation ("ESDC") Pursuant to Sections 6 and 16 of the New York State Urban Development Corporation Act (Chapter 174, Section 1, Laws of 1968, as amended; the "UDC Act") and Article 2 of the New York State Eminent Domain Procedure Law ("EDPL") to consider: (a) the General Project Plan (the "General Project Plan") for the proposed Columbia University Educational Mixed-Use Development Land Use Improvement and Civic Project (the "Project"); (b) the proposed acquisition by ESDC, by condemnation or voluntary transfer, of certain property located within the Project Site (described below) in furtherance of the Project; and (c) the essential terms of proposed conveyances of property so acquired by ESDC to Columbia University in furtherance of the Project.

For those who wish to speak at the hearing, speaker registration will commence 15 minutes before each session on each hearing date at the Aaron Davis Hall.

Talking points on eminent domain (from Cooper Square Committee):


At every forum of the West Harlem Local Development Corporation and at every public hearing in the ULURP process, the community has been united in opposing the use of Eminent Domain as a first principle and most community members have demanded that the University take it off the table as a precondition for any negotiations with Columbia. The community seeks an integrated community, where private owners who have provided good-paying jobs to community workers can stay in their historic locations. Condemnation would create a "company town" solely for Columbia University's use and enjoyment. Columbia's "all of nothing" demand is unnecessary to their expansion, but not to their "fire-sale" land grab, and destructive of the neighborhood.

This proposed project would transfer private property to another private entity, which will use the property in public/private biotech business projects akin to Stanford University's research park (a development Columbia has sought to emulate since the 1960s). This is not an "educational" or "-"civic" use, despite the title of this hearing, but an income-producing use by a not-for profit entity which will not even pay real–estate taxes.

If it is true, as Columbia has repeatedly claimed, that the University owns 70-80% of the property in Manhattanville (a claim put into question by the list of properties which it seeks to have the ESDC condemn), any ill-maintained and unoccupied property has been the result of the University's own deliberate actions. It should not benefit from those actions. Availabl e industrial real estate is at a severe shortage in the City. Any vacant properties could have been rented immediately if maintained and truly offered for occupancy. The University has used the threat of condemnation, based on its own creation of blight, to threaten and intimidate landowners into selling their properties, saying "sell to use now or deal with the State later." Columbia has also emptied the area of commercial tenants like Reality House and the mechanics at 3150 Broadway and is in the process of removing long-time residential tenants and potential owners.

The University has paid at least $300,000 to the ESDC to move the condemnation process forward (a payment unacknowledged by the University until an FOIL request uncovered it) while denying its role in the Eminent Domain process. There is an irresolvable conflict of interest in the condem nation process because the consultant AKRF was hired by the University to perform its Environmental Impact Statement for the ULURP process and at the same time created the "blight study" being relied upon by the ESDC as a basis for Eminent Domain. That conflict has not been resolved by the newly minted "blight study" by another consultant which uniformly mimics the AKRF study. Moreover, AKRF also drafted responses for the City Planning Commission in response to points brought up by Community Board 9 critiquing the "Draft Scope of Work" during the ULURP process. Thus it is seeks to serve three masters: the University, the City, and the State. That is not possible.

Columbia has never demonstrated its need for the entire proposed expansion area. We don't have even one set of completed plans for a building. The safety and economic-feasibility of its proposed "bathtub" basement has never been demonstrated and has served primarily as a rationale for the attempted acquisition of the entire footprint. Columbia has made no commitment to building the bathtub or developing the proposed expansion area within any designated time period. The footprint may sit fallow for years as the University struggles to raise funds in a depressed economy. Present businesses are already operating, paying wages to workers and taxes to the City.

Property to be acquired by private developers like Columbia University should be bought through the market at market prices. Owners uninterested in selling should not be compelled to sell by the State.