The following is a synopsis of last night's 11th Street A-B-C Block Association meeting...
By Matt Amoroso
At Father’s Heart Ministries church last night, approximately 50 attendees comprised largely of 11th Street residents discussed strategies and action items regarding the incoming 7-Eleven on the corner of Ave. A and 11th St., the pending luxury development in the Mary Help of Christians lot as well as the proposed construction of a social services building at 535 E. 11th St.
While the discussion centered on East 11th Street and parts of Avenue A, the fact was not lost on the room that these development concerns are symptomatic not only of the greater East Village neighborhood but also the rest of Manhattan.
Despite the presence of several issues on the docket, the incoming 7-Eleven stood out as the hot-button topic of the evening. The consensus in the room largely acknowledged: the 11th St. Block Association opposes the 7-Eleven, and there is not much the members of the 11th St. Block Association can do to stop this particular location from opening.
In a majority decision, the Block Association voted to oppose outright the opening of this 7-Eleven, and in the failure of that attempt, to push for a list of agreed upon concessions from the local 7-Eleven owner or the landlord. Those concessions included:
• Reduced evening/late night hours
• Reduction in lights and signature signage
• Noise control
• Entrance on Ave. A only
• Enforcement of loitering laws
• Possible security guard
• Limits to the sale of alcohol
• Keeping the door closed at all times
In addition to “Is this really happening?”, the pressing question for most attendees was “What can we do about it?” Aside from a general boycott, the attendees suggested numerous courses of action to accomplish the above goals. The most feasible and effective suggestions centered upon utilizing legislative channels through elected or soon-to-be-elected officials to gain notoriety for the grievances of the block and East Village overall.
Other ideas included: social media engagement and petitioning, flyering, picketing, NY media engagement, and research into the existence of any public funding going into construction.
Despite the clear opposition to the incoming 7-Eleven, several residents noted that this franchise would solve the often-voiced problems associated with the (now-closed) bars on the street, including Bar on A and Angels and Kings. In addition, if this 7-Eleven were not to open, then another bar would surely fill the void (if not out of spite from the landlord).
No love was lost in the room for the much-maligned real-estate developer Ben Shaoul, who owns the building housing the future 7-Eleven
It remained reluctantly clear to the attendees that there is not much that can legally stop a private owner from developing businesses or luxury condos on his property. One can only hope for community engagement, elected official support, and a little bit of luck to turn the tide in the East Village and Manhattan as a whole.
As community leader Rob Hollander reminded everyone: “The law couldn’t stop Robert Moses, but Jane Jacobs did.”
Author’s note: There were many great ideas and viewpoints expressed during the meeting that couldn’t make it into the above story due to time and space. I encourage people to add anything that was left out in the comments section!
Matt Amoroso is the Co-Editor of The Stark Online.