Thursday, April 30, 2009

The corner of Delancey and Attorney is ready for development

Last September, we did a post titled The last frontier on the LES? In which we wondered how long before Attorney Street would see more development.

Maybe not much longer. As Patrick Hedlund reports in this week's issue of The Villager:

A prime corner property on the Lower East Side with residential development capabilities of nearly 20,000 square feet has hit the market with an asking price of $3.2 million.

The site, at 178 Delancey St. at the corner of Attorney St. near the Williamsburg Bridge entrance, allows for 13,500 square feet of development under the area’s new R8-A zoning designation.

Massey Knakal Realty Services has been retained to sell the 25-foot-by-100-foot site, which currently houses a vacant one-story structure.

With a voluntary inclusionary-housing bonus, which requires 20 percent of a planned project to be allocated to affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families, the residential floor-to-area ratio could allow for up to 18,000 buildable square feet. With a community facility, the F.A.R. would allow for 16,250 buildable square feet.

Here's the corner for sale:

A commenter wrote the following on my post from last September:

i live on this block, and it's a nightmare. despite the downside of developments "taking away from the LES" i gladly welcome them to come into this street and build. it's better than what's currently there.

due to the traffic patter of attorney street (one way, dead end street, that's hard to get to) it welcomes petty crime from car break-ins, to building vandalism, and dumping in that abandoned lot.

nobody cares about the street, as evident by the torches motorcycles, piles of dog shit, and broken car glass littered throughout the sidewalk.

there have been two fires set in that abandoned lot in the past month. if that's not dangerous enough, the twisted scrap metal that hangs off the boarded-up entrance will surely put your eye out. Conveniently, this all occurs within 20 feet of an elementary school.

I have called 311, the police, and the department of sanitation over a dozen times, and nothing seems to get done. I would gladly welcome developers coming down and cleaning up that street - certainly the city is in no rush to do it.

Clinton Papaya gutted (BoweryBoogie)

What's happening at the Umbrella House?

There is plywood and a "store for rent" sign up at the Umbrella House, the former squat -- named for its leaky roof -- at 21-23 Avenue C between Second Street and Third Street.

I was curious about what tenant might be coming to this space. I contacted the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB), the nonprofit that has acted as a liaison between the tenants and the city throughout the renovation process of the former LES squats.

Here's what UHAB spokesperson Jess Wisloski told me: "Despite the for rent sign on the building, Umbrella has found a tenant -- a local barbershop is planning to expand their business. We hope to see it open for business in the next few months once their renovation of the space is complete."

Previously...before the plywood...

There's a lengthy, complicated backstory on the renovations of the former LES squats. Too much for a blog post. The Dec. 31-Jan. 6, 2009, issue of The Villager explores the issue in-depth in an article titled "Former squats are worth lots, but residents can’t cash in." An excerpt:

In a series of high-profile clashes — particularly on E. 13th and E. Fifth Sts. — the city forcibly evicted many of the squatters in the 1990s. But in 2002, City Hall took a radically new approach: Eleven of the 12 remaining East Village squats were sold for $1 apiece to the nonprofit Urban Homesteading Assistance Board. Under the agreement, the squatters, with UHAB’s guidance, would bring their buildings up to code within one year, then buy them — for just $250 per apartment — and the buildings would become permanently affordable, Housing Development Fund Corporation, or H.D.F.C., co-ops.

In a nutshell from the article, some homesteaders are upset that the lengthy renovations were financed with what they call unfair loans that have saddled them with debt.

Despite some tension between the sides, a UHAB official told The Villager that "four to six of the former squats will be converted to co-ops sometime between now and February," with the Umbrella House being the first to convert.

I asked Wisloski about this timetable: "The Umbrella House has not converted yet, but we hope it will be in the next few months."

One question that I didn't ask: The owner of the barber shop will then pay his/her rent to the newly formed Umbrella House co-op?

For further reading on the Umbrella House:
In Images, the Lower East Side of Starker Days (The New York Times)

Squatters' rights (City Limits)
The article has details on the three-day standoff in 1989 between the Umbrella House squatters and the city...with the cops blocking off C between Second and Third Streets...

A brief history of New York City's Squats (City Limits)

Sweat Equity Pays Off (The Brooklyn Rail)

Squat the world! (Not Bored)

"I fucking hate the changes that have happened. I’d prefer drug dealers and criminals to the yuppie shit that goes on here now"

This week's Time Out features "Great Walks," the best outdoor treks in the city. They select a stroll through the East Village, dubbing it the "Public Eye Watch." Good people watching, you know.

Here's one of their stops:

If there isn’t a swarm of roaring motorcycles outside the cute little brick facade of the Hells Angels’ HQ (77 E 3rd St between First and Second Aves) — rumored site of drug deals and racketeering since 1969 — there’s probably at least a pair of grizzled bikers watching the leggy denizens of nouveau East Village go by. “I lived here 25 years,” croaks one yellow-toothed Angel who declined to give his name before almost literally throwing us off his turf. “What do you mean people-watching? I fucking hate the changes that have happened. I’d prefer drug dealers and criminals to the yuppie shit that goes on here now.” Hurry on to Second Avenue and don’t look back.

You may also do the "Sweet Tooth Walk" on the LES.

[Photo via Forgotten NY]

What becomes of Pork Village during the swine flu pandemic?

Back in December, the Times noted the following:

In the East Village, local cuisine is quickly whittling down to a single food: pig. With new pork-bun outlets and ramen shops, porchetta and hot dog specialists, plus bacon peanut brittle as a local bar snack (at The Redhead), the area is all bellied up.

On Tuesday, the Times had the following article titled "Pork Industry Fights Concerns Over Swine Flu." The lead: "The swine flu is producing global hesitation over eating pork."

The same article goes on the say:

Medical authorities say that people cannot contract the swine flu from eating properly cooked pork. There is no evidence so far that the people who are becoming sick were in contact with pigs. In fact, authorities are not even sure how susceptible pigs are to infection with the new flu.

Still, does pork sound good right now? One writer had this on his mind. At, Ben Barna wrote a piece titled "Will Swine Flu Fears Affect New York’s Banh Mi Boom?"

He wrote:

Yesterday, amid fears of a global pandemic, I checked out the new East Village rendition of Baoguette — yet another entry in New York’s out-of-nowhere (but understandable) banh mi hysteria. But while normally I’d order their signature sandwich — a baguette stuffed with pork terrine, pate, and pulled pork, among other things — fears of sore throat, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly death overcame me. So I ordered the BBQ chicken. If swine flu paranoia is already stopping one New Yorker from porking out on a traditional banh mi, how long before the entire Saigon Sub industry feels the side effects of a possible pandemic?

Although he did go back the next day for the signature sandwich, he admitted.

Donning a mask, this intrepid reporter walked by Porchetta on Seventh Street (pictured, above, in a shot taken on another night) to see what was what. Three people were digging on swine inside. Another person was walking out with some pork to go.

To be continued....possibly.

For further reading:
Will Swine Flu Finally Kill the Pork-Belly Trend? (Grub Street)

You no doubt already tested yourself to see whether you have swine flu.

I'm wondering whether the business at Porky's may suffer too.

Keith Hernandez is back

Second day now that I've seen the Keith Hernandez street art...this one is new on the plywood on St. Brigid's along Avenue B...

Part of a renewed "I'm Keith Hernandez" marketing campaign?

If you haven't seen the 19-minute film by Rob Perri, here's your chance... As the synopsis goes, "Part baseball documentary, part anti drug film, part socio-political satire, I’M KEITH HERNANDEZ utilizes a version of Hernandez life as a vehicle to discuss how male identity is shaped by TV/film, sports, advertising, and pornography."

I'm Keith Hernandez from water&power on Vimeo.

This is bagel heaven?

Looks as if yet another bagel place is ready to give 283 Houston a whirl. This spot near Clinton Street has already been home to Jean's Bagels & Deli and Houston Bagel & Grill in recent years.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Noted: Bouncy rides

Thanks to Jill at Blah Blog Blah for pointing out something that needs to be pointed out: Bouncy rides. I admit that I was unaware of this...though in my defense I don't take the L train all that often...

According to the Club Animals Web site, home of the Bouncy Rides and other things related to this:

Q: What makes Club Animals relevant today?
A: Club Animals (Est. 2008) is a regression from adulthood. Obama said that now is the time to put off childish things, but we could not disagree more. In these times of job loss, government bailouts, and even a potential Depression, Club Animals has turned from adult concerns of money and finances and concentrated our minds on to those of children. Can you think back to a time when you didn't care how much money you had in your pocket? Can you remember a time when you just wanted to play? Club Animals has embraced childhood, and the time when what was valued most was fun, horseplay, and experimentation without worrying about "reality."

Saturday, May 2nd:
Free Bouncy Rides
Union Square subway
L Platform

Jill has a video link too.

Free Bouncy Ride L train from Club Animals on Vimeo.

Horrified? Amused?

Stiles on your dials

As a follow-up to yesterday's radio post... I mentioned this in the comments: I do enjoy listening to Danny Stiles on occasion. He has been on the radio since 1946, and will remind you of this many times over. "No one else is doing what I'm doing on the radio. This is your last man standing -- Danny Stiles."

Here's his schedule in NYC:

8PM - 10PM Saturday Nights

8PM - 10PM Saturday Nights

WNSW AM 1430
10PM - 12midnight MONDAY - FRIDAY

WJDM 1530 AM
1PM - 5PM Monday - Sunday

7PM - 9PM / Weekday Mornings 3AM - 5AM

Or you can tune in anytime via his Web site.

If you're unfamiliar with him, Stiles plays American popular standards...Sinatra, Count Basie, Peggy Lee, Cab Calloway, Jack Jones, the Glenn Miller Band, Woody Herman, Al Hibbler, Morris Albert -- you get the idea. He doesn't care for much music made after, oh, 1960. (Except for maybe Herman's Hermits...)

Sure, his jokes are bad and he's long-winded...but... I enjoy his stories. Talking about how no one stops to pick up a penny anymore. He sees people throwing them away sometimes! Then he'll say how he shared a bed with his brothers growing up. And wait till he starts on the kids with their CDs -- and worse! "Now, they download music right onto their eyeeee-pods. It's very technical." He plugs his sponsors -- John's Pizzeria, say -- often and with many details. "Hmm, and the marinara sauce!... It's the best pizza in the world!" He's also prone to calling himself a variety of nicknames: the Archangel of Archives, Ballaboos of Beautiful Ballads, Didactic Doctor of Dreamy Discology, Dean of Deja Vu, Great Guru of Golden Gramophones, Passionate Pasha of Peripatetic Platters...

With Count Basie...

He is apparently still spinning records Friday nights at Zeppi's on West 56th Street.

Finally, here's what he says about his favorite place in NYC, the Red Blazer: "A stunning, posh place. It's the former home of John Drew Barrymore, and an excellent spot for the Lindy Hop or slow drag with a pretty girl."

Like a deadbolt in your Cheerios

Well. While on the topic of NYC radio... a moment of silence for the recent anniversary of one of the worst things to ever air...

The David Lee Roth Show on 92.3. (Jan. 3, 2006 - April 21, 2006). The patsy picked to replace Howard Stern.

So how did it go? (Via Wikipedia)

"Roth's show is ... skin-crawlingly awful. ... In these days of bland Clear Channel/Infinity corporate radio, it's bracing to hear a guy who has no idea what he's doing. ... Listening to Roth, you feel actual physical pain." -- Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone

And here's some rare audio preserved from what of his shows... Panama, baby!

Tumor exposed on Seventh Street

Last spring, we started watching the tumor grow from the front of 83 Seventh Street near First Avenue.

Now, after nearly a year, the plywood is down... and...

So what's going in here? According to a construction worker at the scene: "It's either gonna be a restaurant or another bar."

Hmmmm... Things may just get a lot more noisy and annoying on this stretch of Seventh Street.... Across the street, Jeremiah reported that the former Addukkan space is getting prepped: "The windows are papered, and the permit says a kitchen is coming. Also, um, it's in the name of the same architects who designed Jamba Juice."

For further reading:
7th Street Tumor (Jeremiah's Vanishing NY)

Poopah's and other EV stores that are coming and going

Poopah's Pet Boutique on Sixth Street between Avenue A and Avenue B is closing on Sunday.

I've never been inside their store. According to their site, they feature "a stunning collection of Designer handmade products that are locally made and only found in New York City's East Village. We’ve stocked our store with all the essentials a pampered pup needs, from clothing, to stunning dog collars, to soft and warm comfy dog beds." Can't be an easy time for a shop like this, especially with people giving up their pets during the recession.

On the topic of stores... in recent months, I thought I'd try to keep tabs on what's coming and going... not so much to report that a new nail salon is opening, but more as a sign of the times... and as a way to monitor how the neighborhood might be changing, for better or worse.

Anyway, to be honest, so many shops/restaurants have closed, it's impossible to keep track. (And, despite the title, I actually don't have an intern...) Here are just a few of the empty storefronts...(There are many more, I know...) Many of them appear to be getting new tenants...

On East 10th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A...

On East 10th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A...

Avenue A near Third Street...

East Ninth Street near Avenue A...

This is now the new convenient store on First Avenue near Ninth Street...

East Ninth Street near First Avenue...

They were making a lot of noise in here the other day on Second Avenue near Fourth Street...Eater reports this is becoming an upscale coffee shop...

...Sixth Street between Avenue A and Avenue B...

Three photos taken on the Bowery yesterday around 6 p.m. (not that the time element is all that important)

Belmont Park opens today

Oh, and now that the MTA has discontinued its train service to Belmont... here's one solution...

According to the New York Racing Association:

Beginning on Wednesday, April 29, The New York Racing Association, Inc. will provide free shuttle bus service between Belmont Park and the Queens Village station of the Long Island Rail Road for its patrons affected by the suspension of the “Belmont Special” by the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Bus service to Belmont Park remains unaffected by the cuts and fans may take either the Q2 or the Q110 from Jamaica directly into the track. Those using a Metrocard can get a free transfer from the subway to the bus or between buses.

The shuttles will depart the corner of Springfield Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue at 12:30 p.m., while return service will be provided 15 minutes after the last live race. There will be drop-off and pick-up points at both the clubhouse and grandstand entrances at Belmont Park.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Old Zips space reveals....

Well, now. Finally some action at the former Zips location on Avenue B and Fifth Street... Work was going on inside for months... The neighborhood rumor was the space would become an upscale diner-type place....

Not so fast. As this photo from reader Empire shows...

As Empire notes, "Check out what has now been revealed from under the awning.. where it says 'Medical Office'?! Is that from BEFORE Zips? Hmmmmmm...."

Indeed! I double the Hmmmmmm...

Renovated East 10th Street apartment can be yours — for $13,500 a month

We get press releases!

Royalton's latest property is at 319 East 10th Street -- a prime NYC rental building located on a picturesque tree-lined street on the edge of the trendy and exciting East Village. The 3,500 square-foot home includes three fireplaces and 12-foot ceilings as well as views of Tompkins Square Park.

This stunning 3/4-bedroom, 2.5-bath triplex is being newly renovated in an existing townhouse, making this a rare opportunity for you to build to specification. The property already boasts amazing southern light, new oak floors, abundant storage, a full washer and dryer and world-class finishes like gorgeous arches.

A huge chefs' kitchen with super high-end appliances opens into a large dining area that spills into the living room with high ceilings, an amazing wood-burning fireplace, and stunning windows. The baths are elegant and beautifully appointed.

The property also includes 1,000 square-feet of outdoor space along with a fire pit and a rotisserie grill - perfect for entertaining friends and family in the upcoming summer months!

You even have a private entrance on the ground floor. Prospective renters can consider a one- to five-year lease. The asking price is $13,500.

Uh, is that for one month?

Oh, and it's not where the Jessica Parkers were thinking of moving.

Or this place on East 10th Street.

The day the classical music died

The cash-strapped New York Times may sell its classical radio station, WQXR (96.3), which it has owned since 1944. According to Page Six: "One interested party might be ESPN, which is said to want an FM outlet for its WEPN (1050 AM) sports programming, which includes Knick, Jet and Ranger games but can't be heard clearly in parts of the metro area."

Side note to the story:

"Several months ago, ESPN was reported to have talked with Emmis Communications about leasing low-rated rock station WRXP (101.9 FM), although no deal was made."

NYC "remains a hotbed for con artists (whether small-time hustlers or real estate developers) and more importantly, fresh ideas"

Noelia Santos caught "Blank City" Saturday night at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here's how Santos describes the documentary by Celine Danhier for MovieMaker Magazine: "It is an enjoyable chronicle of the giddy, nihilistic moviemaking style that emerged alongside the No Wave music scene of late 1970s/early 1980s in New York."

Here's more from the article by Santos:

Some of the best quotes she gets come from today’s well-known indie actors and directors who emerged from or alongside the downtown New York art scene of the late '70s-early ‘80s . . . like Jim Jarmusch, whose early films like 'Permanent Vacation' and 'Stranger Than Paradise' featured his friends hanging out in their run-down apartments and walking the streets of the then-dilapidated Lower East Side. Instead of lamenting the co-option of downtown DIY culture into mainstream condo living, he notes that 'New York was always about trade, commerce and thievery' — and that it remains a hotbed for con artists (whether small-time hustlers or real estate developers) and more importantly, fresh ideas.

In talking with several of these moviemakers afterwards, it seemed the freshness still hasn’t worn off. Michael Oblowitz (1983’s King Blank) is still making movies. Nick Zedd is now painting and getting into fashion design. But some, like James Chance, are probably simply inspiring others to be themselves.

"Variety" -- an NYC time capsule

The 1984 drama "Variety" plays tomorrow night at 5 during the Tribeca Film Festival. According to the Program Notes: "In Bette Gordon's pioneering indie film about voyeurism from a female perspective, a young woman (played by Sandy McLeod) works as a ticket taker in a porn theater, and her curiosity leads her to shadow a male patron."

"'Variety' features an unparalleled collaborative team of downtown artists and performers, including composer John Lurie, cinematographer Tom DiCillo, writer Kathy Acker, photographer Nan Goldin, and actors Spalding Gray and Luis Guzmán. In retrospect, 'Variety' also represents a time capsule of New York City, filmed at bygone landmarks like the Variety Theatre, Fulton Fish Market, and Yankee Stadium, as well as an edgier incarnation of Times Square."

No advance tickets are left for the screening at the SVA Theater on West 23rd Street. But you can go for the rush tickets an hour in advance of the screening ...

The Villager has a feature on the film in this week's issue.

Historic building being used to promote Snickers, Tribeca Film Festival

You've likely seen the Bronze Plaque on the building at 13th Street and University Place.

As Forgotten New York points out, this marks the spot of the headquarters of the old 9th Regiment where Lincoln once called for volunteers for the Civil War. The plaque was unveiled on May 30, 1908. "Less than a score of veterans stood in the rain as Maj. Dabney W. Diggs, who got his rank for real service, and Col. William F. Morris, the present commander of the regiment, addressed them, but there were 800 then in olive drab standing at attention."

The plaque bears this inscription:

"If any one attempts to haul down the American Flag shoot him on the spot."

The retail space on the ground floor has been vacant since the Futon Warehouse closed in the summer of 2007. Of late, the space has been home to a treasure trove of Snickers ad...those chewpid Snacklish ones...

This is like the Louvre of Snickers ads...

The space is still for lease for retail on the street level...

The 11-story building is home to the Amalgamated Lithographers of America, among other tenants.

However, the Snickers ads have been removed. And the street-level space is being used again as the press office for the Tribeca Film Festival.