Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thoughts on 'the twin plagues of vacancy and the mall-ification' of NYC

The Architect's Newspaper takes a deep dive into a popular topic in a post titled "What’s being done — or not — to save Manhattan’s small businesses from Amazon and big box competition."

To some excerpts...

High rent, high taxes, regulations that favor owners over tenants, and plain old capitalism — the incentive for owners to seek their property’s maximum value, and the consumer’s desire to acquire goods at the lowest price — all contribute to the twin plagues of vacancy and the mall-ification (national chains displacing small, local businesses) of Manhattan. Stakeholders, though, disagree on what should be done to solve a growing crisis at street level.


It’s not only high rents and taxes that are driving businesses to close. Online shopping is slaying retailers big and small, in Manhattan and the suburbs and beyond. Right now, unchecked real estate speculation and limited protections for small-business owners mean that there is little protection against ultimately having a national bank and pharmacy on every corner.

Find the article here.

H/T The Lo-Down!

Out and About in the East Village

In this ongoing feature, East Village-based photographer James Maher provides us with a quick snapshot of someone who lives and/or works in the East Village or Lower East Side.

By James Maher
Name: Heidi (who declined to have her photo taken)
Occupation: Retired Teacher
Location: Tompkins Square Park
Time: 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 11

I grew up in Puerto Rico, but I came here when I was 22, and I’ve been here 50 years in this area. I worked as a teacher in Queens. I retired about three years ago.

The best thing is when I was dancing on 14th Street. They had a Spanish, Latin club with the music from Puerto Rico. I had a good time and danced — I used to go club by club. Oh my God, there were a lot of Latin clubs here. You would get dressed and walk around and you could dance. Special people and more community.

And I liked the time with the hippies. The hippies was a beautiful time, I loved it. But there were drugs. But you know what? They weren’t dangerous. The drug people, the addicts, they only robbed. But now, this is a scary time now. Scary. They have changed the buildings, the population, the Latin flavor is not here no more. Alphabet City used to have Latin flavor — now they have a different kind of people. It’s because of the rent.

I love St. Mark's. And 8th Street was beautiful. When 6 p.m. came, everybody would go to St. Mark's, the stores. They stopped that. They’re different. You can’t go there no more — it’s very sad. Manhattan is changing a lot. The people were gentle, more considerate about where they were walking. Now you have to be alert when you walk.

I’m the third generation here, the senior, and I said to my nephews, my son — prepare and have an education, because when my generation disappears, things are going to be different. You know what they’re doing now with the projects? Before, if you’re my son, you can keep the apartment. Not now. They give you a hard time now for the family. You have to be sick, older. You have to say you’re taking care of someone. If you don’t, you lose your apartment. When my generation disappears, they’re going to fix the building and they’re going to sell the apartments.

They aren’t building for people. They’re making restaurants, restaurants, restaurants. There’s no place to live. I live by myself and I go to shop for my food, and I say how can people afford this? I don’t know how. It’s expensive.

Now everybody’s leaving, and I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. It’s tough. My nephews, they move. They have condos in the Bronx because of the rent. I don’t regret coming here. I worked, I enjoyed, I had my time, and I had a beautiful time but you know, everybody’s leaving now. I don’t know what’s going to happen. A lot of people are moving back to Puerto Rico. How are they going to live here? It’s crazy.

We’ll see what happens in the future. I’m living day by day. I’m going to Puerto Rico now for the winter because I’m retired, and I said to people, don’t come here, why for what? I remember Frank Sinatra, "New York, New York — if I can make it there." That song is no more, that song is not for now. It’s true. I remember the beautiful time when Frank Sinatra sang that song — it was true.

And now, nobody can dance to Spanish music here – they close everything. There is no more flavor. The Alphabet City flavor, the Latin flavor went, left, bye.

James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.

Fair Folks & a Goat leaving 11th Street

Fair Folks & a Goat, the coffee shop and boutique on 11th Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue, is closing its East Village location at the end of the month.

An EVG reader shared an email from FF&G, which is owned by the husband-wife team of Aurora and Anthony Mazzei. The email read in part:

It has been our absolute pleasure to be a part of the East Village community over these past years at Fair Folks on 11th Street. We have built memories for a lifetime with you all, in a vibrant neighborhood that we continue, personally, to call our home. As for the shop, we're so excited to see you all over at our original location at 96 West Houston, where things are buzzing. ... We've decided not to continue our lease, and close the doors for the final time at our East Village location on August 31st.

The shop, which offers a $35 monthly membership for unlimited coffee, opened in 2014.

After this closure, there will be four empty storefronts in a row here on the block. Anna left after April while Odin and Pas de Deux closed after February.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Fair Folks & a Goat opening East Village location

The closed and for-rent restaurants along this part of 2nd Avenue

Starting just north of Third Street...

N'eat remains closed...

The restaurant serving "new Nordic fare" has not been open for the past month at 58 Second Ave. The sign on the door between Third Street and Fourth Street says: "Due to unforeseen building issues, we have to close temporarily for maintenance work." There isn't any mention of a temporary closure on their website or social media properties. Their phone number is not in service.

N'eat opened last November.


Express Thali at 82 Second Ave. between Fourth Street and Fifth Street hasn't been open for the past two-plus weeks...

The restaurant that serves/d vegetarian Indian cuisine opened in early March.


After less than three months in business, 100% Healthy Blend (or maybe just Healthy Blend) closed last November at Fifth Street...

The space has been on the market... the asking rent is $14,000 per month, per this listing.


And at 79 Second Ave. between Fourth Street and Fifth Street, the for rent sign recently arrived in the window at Heart of India...

The Marshal came calling here on July 24...


Closures aside, there are many fine places to eat along here that look to be doing brisk business... whatever your favorite places may be...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

NYPD gives the all clear after L train bomb scare

[Photo via @natesten]

Reports of a suspicious package inside the L train station at 14th Street and First Avenue snarled rush-hour traffic this early evening.

The NYPD blocked off 14th Street at Second Avenue to Avenue A ... the L train was suspended between Eighth Avenue and Bedford Avenue...

Patch reported that several nearby buildings were also evacuated as a precaution.

The NYPD gave the all clear about 5:30 p.m. ...

H/T Shawn Chittle

So long to the great sinkhole at the 8th Street entrance to Tompkins Square Park

You'd never really know that anything was ever sinking here at the Eighth Street and Avenue B entrance, which was closed for nearly two months while the repairs were made...

Photos earlier today by Steven

A new mural on St. Mark's Place

The van Gogh era has ended on St. Mark's Place ...

A new mural by arrived yesterday via Melbourne street artist Matt Adnate ...

The wall between Avenue A and First Avenue is maintained by the Bushwick Collective.

CB3 OKs Triona's takeover of Croxley Ales on Avenue B

CB3's SLA committee last night approved a new liquor license application for the owners of Triona's, an Irish bar with two locations in the city (Sullivan Street and Third Avenue), who are taking over Croxley Ales at 28-30 Avenue B.

The application notes that this is a sale of assets.

There wasn't too much debate over the applicants. There weren't any objections from the East 4th Street Avenues A-B Block Association, who gad met with the applicants earlier this year ... and no one was at the meeting to speak out against the applicants.

The yet-to-be-be-named establishment (Triona's on B is a possibility) will have hours of noon to 4 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The menu is "traditional American-Irish comfort food," with fish and chips, burgers, etc. The full menu will be available at the bar in the No. 28 space as well as the sit-down portion at No. 30. (Croxley expanded into this adjacent space in 2013.) This Triona's will include 20 TVs, about the same number as Croxley Ales.

There wasn't any mention of when the transition from Croxley Ales to Triona's might occur. (This item was originally on the June CB3-SLA docket, but one of the Triona owners had to cancel due to an undisclosed emergency, per the paperwork with the application.)

Croxley Ales has six locations in the metropolitan area, opening the first outpost on Long Island in 1990. The East Village location opened here between Second Street and Third Street in 2003.

Last night's committee meeting was held in a 17th-floor event space at Ian Schrager's new Public Hotel on Chrystie Street. The views are nice.

Report: 4th Street spa busted for alleged prostitution

Apparently Nie's Service Center was servicing more than feet and backs at 125 E. Fourth St.

DNAinfo reports that the spa between First Avenue and Second Avenue was busted for alleged prostitution.

According to a lawsuit filed last week by the city, cops went undercover here four times last March and April.

In two of those instances, parlor workers agreed to perform massage services without the required license, and in the other two they agreed to have sex with undercover officers in exchange for cash, the suit states.

An undercover officer who visited the spa on April 20 and 25 agreed with a female employee to pay $40 for a 30-minute massage and $120 for sexual intercourse, according to an affidavit attached to the lawsuit. He left the spa before she could perform either.


The lawsuit names the building's commercial space and its owner, Cashew Associates, L.P., as defendants as well as the unnamed spa operators, identified only as "John Doe" and "Jane Doe."

It accuses the defendants of creating both a public nuisance and a criminal nuisance, demanding they each pay $1,000 for every day they allowed the public nuisance to continue and for the court to shutter the space for a year.

A hearing is scheduled for today. The spa is currently closed.

There is also a lone Yelp review for Nie's. And the one-star review is everything one can hope for in a Yelp review:

This is the low rent massage place I sometime go for walk-ins because it's so convenient. There have been times the tables were a bit ripe but... it's so cheap! I tried to get in & was told I'd have a half hour wait, so I went outside again & talked to a couple neighbors. They told me a story about the place!

Neither had ever been there, but about a month ago some crazy guy had tried to leave without paying. A little Chinese lady had him in a headlock. One of my friends went to help and then another. A struggle was described. The guy took a shit on the floor! The cops came & brought him away. My friend said, "After all that, they NEVER have made eye contact and even waved, nodded or said thanks."

I went back just past the half hour I was told I'd need to wait, was ushered to a table and took off my clothes. Some guy a sheet over was moaning like a douchebag. Now... I could've really used that massage. My right shoulder and wrist are all balled up. But the lady asked him if he wanted more time and he did! She said she was sorry and I answered that I wished she'd told me before I took my clothes off.

The most annoying part was that three times I went to get my glasses and iPhone (diversion) and three times one of those bitches came in, told me to lay down (like a dog) and picked up & put down the timer like they were ready to start.

Full reveal at the incoming Starbucks on Avenue A and St. Mark's Place

Workers removed the plywood yesterday here on Avenue A and St. Mark's Place...

A Starbucks rep told DNAinfo last month that this location will be open later this summer.

Photos by Vinny & O.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Starbucks confirmed for Avenue A

At the 'Not Another Starbucks Rally'

Martina opens this weekend (and the sidewalk planters have arrived)

[Photo from Sunday]

Martina, the Roman-inspired pizzeria from Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, opens Saturday on 11th Street at Third Avenue.

Grub Street had the news, speaking with Nick Anderer, the former chef at its sister pizzeria-restaurant, Marta.

Unlike the wood-fired pies at the mothership, Martina’s are smaller, cheaper ($7 to $12), cooked in a gas oven in about two minutes, and doled out counter-service style. But they share Marta’s ultra-thin-crust DNA: Martina’s four-slice pies use the same dough, the same California tomatoes, the same Di Palo’s mozzarella. One of those vibrating pager thingamajigs Danny Meyer popularized at Shake Shack will buzz you when your pizza’s ready ...

Also, there won't be any delivery...

But when it comes to one particular in-demand amenity, Anderer won’t budge: delivery. “I want my food to be enjoyed at the best possible moment,” he says, though he will allow takeout.

You can find a PDF of the Martina menu here.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group planning Martina for 55 3rd Ave.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday's parting shot

Photo from East River Park this evening via EVG reader Brucie...

Rat talk reminder for tomorrow night

Reposting from last week...

Neighborhood rat reduction plan

A public info session with Q-&-A

Aug. 15, 6:30 pm
East Village Community School at 610 E. 12th St., between Avenues B and C.

Join senior officials and experts from the Health, Sanitation, Parks Departments and NYCHA to learn about:
-New state of the art trash cans in your community
-New investments in NYCHA developments to prevent rats
-More frequent trash pickup
-Better Waste Management Practices for Landlords or Enforcement of rat-related violations by landlords

Co-sponsored by: Borough President Gale A. Brewer, U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, State Senator Brad Hoylman, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou, Council Member Rosie Mendez, Council Member Margaret S. Chin, and Community Board 3.


An EVG reader shared this from earlier today... a worker attempting to scrub off a spray-painted message inside the front door of a Steve Croman-owned buidling on Avenue A between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place.

The message reads, in part: "NYU frats suck," and you can see the rest.

Last month, someone spray painted "Rats > Frats" on the new Big Belly trash can nearby on the northwest corner of Avenue A and Seventh Street.

Tonight: Opening reception for the 'Capturing the Lower East Side’s Storefronts' exhibit

Tonight is the opening reception for "Capturing the Lower East Side’s Storefronts" at the Theater For The New City Gallery.

East Village-based photographers James and Karla Murray, whose books include "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York," are the curators. "The purpose of the exhibition is to act as an artistic intervention helping draw attention to and raise awareness of the importance of preserving the small shops whose existence is essential to the unique and colorful atmosphere of the city’s streets," they said in a statement about the show.

The opening reception is from 6-9 p.m. at the Theater For The New City Gallery, 155 First Ave. between Ninth Street and 10th Street. The exhibit will be up through Sept. 18.

Thanks to Lola Sáenz for the photo!

[Updated] Trees coming down for L train expansion on 14th Street

As previously reported, preliminary work is underway along 14th Street for building new entrances at Avenue A and an underground power station at Avenue B for the L train.

And to make way for all this, some trees need to come down. On Friday, workers removed several trees (I counted three barrels on top of stumps) on the cobblestone median along 14th Street/the Stuy Town service road between Avenue A and First Avenue.

Several EVG readers shared emails about this taking place.

Wrote one: "I am appalled and sickened to see [the trees] being cut down and fed through a chipper. Did anyone know that this was going to occur? I am sick at heart and will never see full grown trees on this block for the rest of my life. Incredible."

And more will be coming down between Avenue A and Avenue B... X marks the doomed trees...

These six trees have Xs on them...

... and the trees that will remain ...

Updated 8/15
Several readers noted that the six trees came down yesterday...

When Webster Hall reopens, there might be a Moxy Hotel across the street

[Photo from Saturday]

Webster Hall's Ballinger era has come to an end. The venue closed after a performance by Action Bronson on Thursday. (You can find a Webster Hall timeline here. The building has been around since 1886. It re-opened as Webster Hall in October 1992 after the Ballinger family purchased and renovated the space that was known as The Ritz during the 1980s.)

Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, along with AEG-backed The Bowery Presents, teamed up to buy the landmarked building from the Ballingers for $35 million this past spring. The new owners will renovate the space, doing away with club nights to focus on live music.

Heath Miller, vice president and talent buyer at Webster Hall, told amNewYork last week that the venue will likely be closed for the next 18-plus months for renovations.

"When I was first told about the sale, it was supposed to be a short closure for minor renovations and I was told the buyers had plans to retain the venue staff, but now the closure period has grown to 18-plus months and that plan has switched from a short-term closure to a long-term closure."

As of this morning, the new owners have yet to file any work permits with the Department of Buildings (DOB) for the property on 11th Street between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue. So that process awaits as does getting the OK for the work via the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Meanwhile, across the street, construction hasn't started yet on the 13-floor hotel for Marriott's Moxy brand...

The DOB approved the permits last week, per the DOB website.

The Moxy website optimistically says the hotel will be open in late 2018.

So as of now, the revamped Webster Hall and the Moxy hotel have roughly the same opening/reopening dates.


Billboard has an extensive piece on the past and future of Webster Hall.

The renovations could drag into 2020, and there may be a name change too.

Ahimsa Garden is open on 10th Street

[Photo Friday by Cheyenne]

Ahimsa Garden opened last Monday at 265 E. 10th St. between Avenue A and First Avenue.

The vegetarian Indian restaurant is an offshoot of the Thompson Street location, which boasts an $11.95 lunch buffet. (Not sure if they are offering that deal here.) They are, however, using the rear garden like the previous tenant, Moustache, which closed in May.

You can find Ahimsa's Thompson Street menu here.

DBGB has closed, and erased from the Bowery

As announced, DBGB shut down after service on Friday following eight years in the Avalon Bowery complex between First Street and East Houston Street.

"In this location, it’s busy on weekends but erratic in the early part of the week," chef-owner Daniel Boulud told The New York Times. "I hope to find a more appropriate space for it in New York."

On Saturday morning, workers (above) were prepping to clean out the space on the Bowery ... and by the end of the day on Saturday...

... and a last look at the former sidewalk cafe (for case Boulud decides to do something else with the space)...

For now, three of the five retails spaces in this Avalon Bowery section are vacant as DBGB joins L'Apico and Tatyana Boutique as former tenants.

Previously on EV Grieve:
How DBGB is 'pissing on the grave' of punk rock

Why we're writing about Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar in Buffalo

Breaking: DBGB making sidewalk cafe look less barren

Tasty Tasty won't be reopening on 14th Street

Tasty Tasty Chinese Take Out (previously Tasty King) has closed for good at 534 E. 14th St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.

The gate has been down since the third week of July. There was some thought that this might just be a temporary closure. (As we understand it, the quick-serve Chinese restaurant changed ownership several months ago, with one family member buying out another.)

Late last week, a building resident here saw a worker cleaning out the space. The worker said that they decided to close the restaurant, that it wasn't a landlord/rent issue.

Perhaps it was a business issue? The restaurant (as well as the residents in the building) have endured noisy construction the past three years (here and here, for example) with the demolition and subsequent development of Extell's 7-floor retail-residential complex next door...

H/T Michael Paul!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Week in Grieview

[Those fake Alice Cooper eyes]

Stories posted on EVG this past week included...

New City Council legislation aims to protect tenants from construction as harassment (Friday)

No charges for driver who struck and killed East Village cyclist (Saturday)

LPC signs off on expansion for the Anthology Film Archives (Thursday)

A little more about Limited to One, a new collectible record store on 10th Street (Friday)

Out and About with Puma Perl (Wednesday)

The Living Gallery Outpost is a new exhibition and event space on 4th Street (Thursday)

Someone returned a book to the Tompkins Square Branch of the NYPL that was overdue by 38 years (Thursday)

Landlord and partner sues Root & Bone chefs for spending profits (Thursday)

Renderings reveal the MTA's plans for the Avenue A L station; why does everyone look so happy? (Tuesday)

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists & the Make-Up headline the Seaport Music Festival (Tuesday)

A look at 'Carole Teller’s Changing New York' (Wednesday)

New photo exhibit celebrates the neighborhood's storefronts (Thursday)

Dr Smood to call on the LES (Wednesday)

Dog Beach (Tuesday)

Cheers Cut bringing Taiwanese fast food to St. Mark's Place (Thursday)

New York Health Choice (aka Eastside Market) has gone dark for now on Avenue C (Monday)

Former Eye Beauty Spa for rent on 4th Street (Wednesday)

More legal drama with Raphael Toledano and 97 2nd Ave. (Tuesday)

Horus Kabab House airs out their sidewalk cafe on 6th Street (Monday)

Shake Shack announces itself at the Death Star (Monday)

A Starbucks sneak peek on St Mark's and Avenue A (Friday)

Turntable 5060 has been closed today for awhile (Monday)

Mayahuel has closed (Wednesday)

So long to those spiky structures outside Cooper Union (Tuesday)


Follow EVG on Instragram and/or Twitter for more updates

Blast from the past

Given the world we live in these days... France 24 checks in (H/T cmarrtyy!) with a feature on the city's mostly forgotten fallout shelters, specifically the one at the Cooper Station Post Office on Fourth Avenue and 11th Street:

The yellow and white metal sign on the Cooper Station Post Office is one of perhaps thousands that can be found scattered throughout the city -- largely forgotten relics of the days when the threat of annihilation via a Soviet nuclear attack seemed like a very real and terrifying proposition.

But as the war of words between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un intensifies, the idea of nuclear war, however remote, has made its way back into public consciousness for the first time since the Cold War.

The shelter at Cooper Station is now used for storage, per the article. (Maybe this could serve as a fallout shelter?)

Also at Cooper Station, someone affixed the word Trump to the top of the sign...


Bonus Fallout Shelter signage from Second Street between Avenue A and Avenue B (photo taken on June 12)...

Another LinkNYC kiosk, which may be guiding autonomous vehicles one day

Yesterday saw the arrival of another LinkNYC kiosk... as crews installed one on First Avenue near 14th Street... in proximity to two other LinkNYC kiosks right around the corner on 14th Street...

Not sure about the placement of these. There are four LinkNYCs on 14th Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue ... yet they did keep a pay phone on the block...

Look for another kiosk soon on First Avenue at Fourth Street, among other locations ...

Meanwhile, there are grand plans for the LinkNYC network. MIT Technology Review had an article on the company behind Link a few weeks ago...

Link is poised to be far more than an advertising and Wi-Fi network, however. Intersection, the company that manages the Link projects in London and New York, is considering upgrading them to support everything from augmented reality to autonomous vehicles. “Phase One was about making sure we’re offering robust services to people,” says Intersection’s chief innovation officer, Colin O’Donnell. “Now we’re figuring out how we can leverage all the different data sets we have access to and make [this technology] as dynamic and responsive as it can be.”

Intersection’s ambitions bear attention because it is one of the few private firms that large cities have partnered with on high-profile public-information projects—and its digital technology is likely to spread to other major U.S. cities, such as Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle, where it holds multiyear municipal and transit advertising contracts.

According to the article, there are currently 900 active kiosks in the city ... with plans for up to 7,500.