Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Tuesday's parting shot

Today's weather, in summation... photo in Tompkins Square Park today via Bobby Williams...

The NYPD is looking for suspect who stole bike from building's courtyard

The NYPD is looking for the following suspect... info via the EVG inbox this afternoon...

It was reported to police that on Saturday, June 8, at approximately 12:30 p.m., at a residential building in the vicinity of East 6th Street and 2nd Avenue, the male forced open the building's rear exterior door to gain entry into the building's rear courtyard. Once inside, he removed the 33-year-old male victim's bicycle.

The person wanted for questioning is described as a light complexioned male; last seen wearing a dark colored baseball cap, a black hooded sweater, black pants and light colored shoes.

Anyone with information that could help in the investigation is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). You may also submit tips online. All calls are strictly confidential.

RIP Joe Overstreet

[Image via legacy.com]

Joe Overstreet, an artist who was a fixture in the East Village for decades, reportedly died of heart failure on June 4. He was 85.

To the Times:

Mr. Overstreet belonged to a generation of contemporary African-American visual artists who came of age in the civil rights era and addressed the burning political issues of the day in a wide variety of forms and styles, from overt protest work to the subtlest geometric abstraction.

He was particularly notable for removing canvases from the wall and suspending them in space, giving painting a sculptural dimension. He saw such pieces as, among other things, experiments in how to situate art and viewers in physical space.

For 40 years, Overstreet ran Kenkeleba House, a nonprofit gallery dedicated to artists of color on Second Street between Avenue B and Avenue C that he founded with his partner, Corrine Jennings.

[214 E. 2nd St., home of Kenkeleba House]

Here's more on his life via artforum:

Overstreet was born in 1933, in a primarily African American and Choctaw community in rural Mississippi. During the Great Migration, he moved around often with his family, eventually resettling in the Bay Area. In addition to studying at the California College of Arts and Crafts and the University of California in Berkeley, Overstreet learned from the modernist artist and advocate Sargent Johnson, who became an early mentor.

After moving to New York City in 1957, Overstreet started hanging out at Cedar Tavern, the Abstract Expressionist haunt. A participant in the Black Arts Movement, he also collaborated with Amiri Baraka as the art director for Harlem’s Black Arts Repertory Theatre and School. Overstreet’s work was featured in Tate Modern’s exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” in 2017.

Manhattan Sideways wrote a feature about Kenkeleba House, and was suitably impressed by the experience:

We did not realize, as we began our personal tour of the incredible collection that Overstreet and his wife Corinne Jennings have amassed over the last four decades, that this would become one of the highlights not only of our walk across 2nd Street, but perhaps one of the most memorable experiences we have had on any street.

Had we not been personally escorted through the unmarked double doors that lead to Kenkeleba Gallery, we might not ever have known it was here. The only sign on the building reads Henington Hall, etched into the stone facade along with the year it was built, 1908.

According to Overstreet, in the 70s the building was condemned until he and his wife were able to strike a deal with the city in 1978. Although 2nd Street was teeming with drug activity back then, the arrangement proved worthwhile for Overstreet, as it gave him, his wife, three children and the emerging Kenkeleba House a home in an area that eventually cleaned up its act and became one of the most important neighborhoods for the arts in New York City.

The space includes a sculpture garden that you've likely seen from Third Street...

This link has more details on the individual pieces in the garden.

Also on Second Street, you can find the Wilmer Jennings Gallery, named for Corrine Jennings' father, a well-regarded printmaker.

Air rights transfer to make 3 St. Mark's Place larger returns to the Landmarks Preservation Commission today

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will review — and possibly vote on — a revised application today to allow an air rights transfer from 4 St. Mark’s Place across the street to a planned new office building on the northeast corner of St. Mark’s Place and Third Avenue.

As previously reported, Real Estate Equities Corporation (REEC) wants to transfer the air rights from the landmarked Hamilton-Holly House to add square footage to their office building.

In April, the LPC asked REEC reps to alter their proposal to incorporate the commission’s recommendation that they lower the structure’s first setback to better align with the St. Mark’s Place street wall, among other items, as Curbed reported at the time.

And here are some updated renderings from the latest application (PDF here) ...

The proposed air rights transfer must be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the City Planning Commission and ultimately City Council.

The Village Preservation, who have lobbied against the transfer, noted the following about the approval process in an email on Friday: "As the [LPC and City Planning Commission] are controlled by appointees of the Mayor, we expect them to likely approve the plan. Which means the final decision will likely come down to the Council, which will defer to local Councilmember Carlina Rivera for their decision."

During the April LPC meeting, Jeremy Unger, Rivera's spokesperson, voiced skepticism of the precedent the project could set for the East Village and other neighborhoods, according to Curbed.

Community Board 3, State Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick have all spoken out against the bulk waiver.

Regardless of the outcome, REEC will still be able to build a slightly less bulky mixed-use office building with ground-floor retail.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Demolition permits filed for northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and St. Mark's Place

End is nearing for the businesses on the northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and St. Mark's Place

New building plans revealed for 3rd Avenue and St. Mark's Place

Concern over potential air-rights transfer for new office building on St. Mark's Place and 3rd Avenue

Developers of 3 St. Mark's Place are looking to increase the size of their proposed office building at 3rd Avenue to 10 floors with air-rights deal

The lobbyists behind the air-rights transfer and zoning variance for 3 St. Mark's Place

Final demolition phase for 1 St. Mark's Place; more questions about lobbyists attached to project

'Gem Spa is open!'

We've fielded more than a dozen queries in recent days about the situation at Gem Spa on Second Avenue at St. Mark's Place. The iconic corner shop has reduced its hours, stopped selling newspapers and magazines, and lost Zoltar in recent weeks.

The "everything must go" signs outside are also — understandably — throwing people for a loop. (We're told the shop is selling off the overstock in the basement.)

People have assumed that the shop has gone out of business — or is in the process of it...

[Photo by Steven]

Yesterday, Parul Patel, who is running the shop for her father Ray, the owner since 1986 who's in declining health, posted the following on the Gem Spa Instagram account:

Gem Spa is open! Contrary to rumors that are circulating we are not closed and very much open for business. However there have been some changes. We have been forced to clean up our storefront and scale back our hours due to landlord and staffing issues.

The Zoltar machine was removed by its owner due to our scaled-back hours in order to prevent vandalism. A couple of months ago, we lost our cigarette and lotto licenses [a negligent employee sold cigarettes to an undercover minor] which made up for 80% of our revenues. This has significantly impacted us and as a result we have had to cut back on things such as newspapers and magazines as we simply cannot afford to carry them at this time.

We will resume carrying limited titles in about four months once we get our cigarette & lotto licenses back. Thank you to our loyal and beloved customers for their outpouring of love and support. We hope to see you soon!

She remains hopeful that the sales of egg creams, coffee, soda and other corner-store conveniences will carry them through through these next few months...

[Egg cream photo by Stacie Joy]

Previously on EV Grieve:
A visit to Gem Spa

A garage sale today at the now-closed Miscelanea NY on 4th Street

Miscelanea NY, the quick-serve Mexican cafe and shop at 63 E. Fourth St. between Second Avenue and the Bowery, ended its 4-year run on Sunday.

Today (Tuesday, June 18), Miscelanea NY is holding a garage sale, with all the shop's remaining items and equipment up for grabs. The sale goes on from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Owner Guillaume Guevara is moving to Mexico. He also cited the high cost of operating a small business in NYC as a factor in his decision to close.

So long to 238 E. 3rd St.

Workers have finished demolishing the two-level structure at 238 E. Third St. between Avenue B and Avenue C, as this photo via EVG reader David shows.

[Photo by @jason_chatfield]

As previously reported, a 7-floor, 20-unit residential building is slated for this property, previously owned by the Blue Man Group.

Vinbaytel Property Development is the newish owner of No. 238. As for what the new building might look like (no renderings yet), Vinbaytel has developed several East Village condos in recent years, including at 227 E. Seventh St., 67 Avenue C and 26 Avenue B.

Previously on EV Grieve:
7-story residential building planned for former Blue Man Group facilities on 3rd Street

A visit to Rossy's Bakery & Café on 3rd Street

Monday, June 17, 2019

Richard Morrison and Bill Rice at SHFAP begins on Wednesday

Starting on Wednesday, Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects (SHFAP) presents an exhibition of two longtime East Village-based artists, Richard Morrison (1948-2015) and Bill Rice (1932-2006).

Here's a preview via the SHFAP website:

The two artists were close friends and collaborators for 25 years. This show includes major works from their estates and private collections.

It will also feature a video compendium of Bill Rice’s performances in underground film and theater compiled by Jacob Burckhardt as well as Morrison’s short film "Bust," featuring David Wojnarowicz that was included in the recent survey of photographs and films of Wojnarowicz at the KZ Museum in Berlin.

In the rear gallery there will be a selection of works by their peers and friends, including Peter Hujar, David Wojnarowicz and Zoe Leonard.

The exhibit is up through July 13 at SHFAP, 208 Forsythe St. between Houston and Stanton. Gallery hours: Wednesday through Sunday noon to 6 p.m.

There isn't any official opening on Wednesday evening, though we're told that friends of the artists will be in the gallery.

2nd Avenue sinkhole alert

There is a sinkhole in the works on Second Avenue between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place (thanks to Chris Rowland for the photo!)... right in the bike lane (perhaps this is why the city still has't repainted the bike path after the milling and paving earlier last month?)

Be mindful if you are walking, riding, stomping or using the LinkNYC kiosk right there.

Updated 6 p.m.

Salim points out a companion sinkhole on First Avenue between Sixth Street and Seventh Street...

East Village Merchant Pride

[Exit9's Charles Branstool via @shopexit9]

Jimmy Carbone, chair of the East Village Independent Merchants Association (EVIMA), shared the following information as Pride Month continues...

This year the EVIMA has produced some essential East Village Pride merchandise, including tote bags, tank tops and posters for merchant windows! Use #EastVillagePride to share your photos.

We are excited to celebrate our powerful history and our unique diversity that is so prevalent throughout the East Village.

Residents can pick up their East Village Pride swag at the following participating establishments while supplies last:

• Exit9 Gift Emporium, 51 Avenue A
• East Village Vintage Collective, 545 E. 12th St.
• Random Accessories, 77 E. Fourth St.
• Lancelotti Housewares, 66 Avenue A
• Downtown Yarns, 45 Avenue A
• Lucky Bar, 168 Avenue B
• Jane's Exchange, 191 E. Third St.
• Pageant Print Shop, 69 E. Fourth St.

Photo exclusive: Take a look inside the former Hells Angels clubhouse on 3rd Street

The remaining members of the Hells Angels moved out of their clubhouse at 77 E. Third St. at the end of March.

As previously reported, No. 77 has new owners (Better Living Properties), who plan to convert the building between First Avenue and Second Avenue into luxury rentals following a $2 million renovation. Preliminary renovation work is apparently underway at No. 77, which the Angels had in their possession since 1969.

The other day, EVG contributor Stacie Joy took a quick tour of the mostly-empty (and rarely seen by outsiders) building.

Stacie said that she saw many of the accessible rooms in the 6-floor building (some spaces were closed off for pending construction). The stagnant air in the building — unoccupied for nearly three months — had a whiff of cat urine and rotting food, she noted.

Here's more from Stacie:

It was also quite dark. A lot of the rooms were heavy on dark drapes and dark wood furniture. Some rooms were painted purple or turquoise, and it seemed like each floor had two bedrooms — like an old-style tenement building. Every floor had multiple portable fireplaces.

The ground-floor garage space was being used to store demolition trash and contracting supplies, but the main space on the ground floor was a bar/lounge with wood paneling and boarded-up windows.

Behind the bar, there had been what looked like surveillance equipment from camera monitors outside. There was also a doorway to a small patio/garden with a picnic table.

The Post previously reported that the building had 16 apartments, and that the rooms were used more as "crash pads" for visiting members rather than full-time residency.

The tour starts in the bar/lounge...

And up the stairs...

... into some of the individual apartments, where discarded furniture remained in some rooms...

... and out back...

There haven't been any reports on where the Hells Angels plan to relocate in NYC. No. 77 reportedly sold for $7.75 million (other reports put the number at $10 million). They first bought the building in the 1970s for $1,900.

Previously on EV Grieve:
After 50 years on the block, the Hells Angels appear to be selling their 3rd Street clubhouse

The Hells Angels have left the East Village

This is what the Hells Angels building sold for

Report: Former Hells Angels HQ will become 22-unit residential building with retail

[EVG photo from early June]

St. Mark's Vegan Food Court debuts at 12 St. Mark's Place

[Image via Instagram]

At 12 St. Mark's Place, the 4-year-old Vspot has joined forces with three other establishments to debut the St. Mark's Vegan Food Court, now in soft-open mode here between Second Avenue and Third Avenue.

Joining Vspot are Marty's V Burger, Cheff' Rootsie's veggie grub and Jam Pâstre. You can find the individual menus at this link.

Vspot has been the longest-tenured food-drinks venture at the address in recent years, where Hanjoo, Hirai Mong, Gama, San Marcos, Siren and @Cafe have come and gone.

What happened to the DeRobertis neon sign on 1st Avenue?

The sidewalk bridge recently came down outside the under-renovation 174-176 First Ave. between 10th Street and 11th Street...

Several people, including Jeremiah Moss, noticed something missing on the post-renovation exterior: the neon "Pastry Shoppe" signage that belonged to the longtime tenant here: DeRobertis Pasticceria and Caffe.

[EVG photo from 2013]

DeRobertis closed shop after 110 years in business in December 2014. The economy, age and health reportedly compelled the four DeRobertis siblings to sell the building (for $9.9 million, per public records).

Black Seed bagels opened in the DeRobertis retail space in October 2015. At the time, Black Seed co-owners Matt Kliegman and Noah Bernamoff said they wanted to keep the classic neon.

Per Off the Grid in 2015:

In response to inquiries from Off the Grid, Bernamoff and Kliegman ... tell us they also intend to keep the neon sign out front. Its fate was unknown; a member of the DeRobertis extended family had explained to Off the Grid that when the family chose to sell the building, they left the sign up because it had been affixed for so long that they feared removal could damage the facade.

“It’s not going anywhere,” Kliegman said today. Added Bernamoff, “We prefer to keep the neon as intact as we possibly can without misleading people.” They may choose to light only the “pastry shoppe” portion, for example...

Last week, Kliegman and Bernamoff said that they hope the sign returns.

Per a Black Seed rep: "The sign belongs to the building owner and we are not privy to their specific plans for the property, which traded hands again since the DeRobertis family sold the building over three years ago."

Updated noon:

Per the Black Seed rep: "The plan was always that the building owner would refurbish the sign. The current owner, who was actually able to do get the construction done ... has told us that the sign was removed to protect it and they are indeed working to refurbish it."


In May 2018, High Point Property Group bought the five-story walkup for $12.1 million. The seller was a joint venture between EBMG, LLC and AMJ Equities, according to The Real Deal.

In late 2015, the DeRobertis family decided to open another bakery in Clifton, N.J.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Ugh: The 110-year-old DeRobertis Pasticceria and Caffe closes after Dec. 5 (43 comments)

[Updated] 110-year-old DeRobertis Pasticceria and Caffe looks to be closing once the building is sold

174-176 First Ave., home of DeRobertis Pasticceria and Caffe, is for sale

Let's take a look at the DeRobertis in-house bakery

Anything to lose sleep over? That empty Raymour & Flanigan space on 14th Street

[Top 4 photos from April]

The Raymour & Flanigan Sleep Shop sits empty now in the base of the Con Ed HQ on 14th Street at Irving Plaza... this outpost of the furniture retail chain moved around the corner to Union Square East earlier this spring...

We've talked with a few people curious about what might be going into this 15,000-square-foot retail space (across from the incoming tech hub) ...

While we mull that over... some legal documents arrived on the door the other day on behalf of the landlord, Con Ed ...

... there's some legalese about a money judgement in the amount of $435,103 (and 77 cents) ...

That's a lot of Comfort Sleeper Sofas.