Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Report of a car fire on East Houston

We heard from two readers about a possible explosion this morning on East Houston between Avenue C and Avenue D.

Turned out that a car parked along the eastbound lanes near Pitt caught fire. Thankfully there weren't any reports of injuries.

The Post had a dispatch on it:

No one was in the blue four-door vehicle at the time, and there were no injuries, officials said.

They said liquid was leaking from the car before the fire and that the incident is not being considered suspicious.

Three FDNY units and 13 firefighters responded to the scene and put out the blaze, officials added.

Meanwhile, on Sunday night, several readers reported that a cab caught fire on 13th Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue. The aftermath from yesterday...

[Photo by @barrett_roland]

RIP Gigi Watson

Gigi Watson, a longtime East Village resident, died on Friday. I don't have a lot of information at the moment. Her nephew shared the news via Twitter...

James Maher interviewed her for our Out and About in the East Village feature in October 2014. It was a classic. Here it is again...

Name: Gigi Watson
Occupation: Writer, Artist, Cartoonist, Former Club Worker and Owner
Location: 3rd Street between 1st and A.
Time: 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24.

I’m a native New Yorker. I grew up in Ridgewood, on the border between Brooklyn and Queens, which now they can’t decide whether it’s Brooklyn or Queens. It was basically a German, Italian and Jewish neighborhood. The first thing you asked when you met another kid was what was your nationality.

There were places that we didn’t go. Bed Stuy and Red Hook, these were not places to go. In Red Hook, they used to find a dead body every single day. My train was the L, which used to be a horrible, horrible train. The L train connected with the G train, which was murder central. If someone paid me a million dollars in cash and said, ‘Here, get on the G train’, I’d say, ‘No thank you.’

My first apartment in Manhattan was a sublet on Christopher Street in the West Village. I moved in 1979. I then moved to the East Village in 1982, on 2nd Street between A and B. You had to have two or three jobs at the same time just to survive. That’s being a real New Yorker. My rent was so expensive. If I didn’t have two jobs, there would be no way I could cut that rent.

The first club I worked at was Bonds International Casino on Broadway and 45th Street. I was working behind the scenes in the office with guest lists, counting money. We had Blondie, The Clash, Blue Oyster Cult, Motley Crue, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who sucked. We had all kinds of punk rock bands. That’s where I developed a fear of crowds because the owner, John Addison, sold double the amount of tickets. We had 2,500-seat capacity and he sold 5,000 tickets per performance, and everybody showed up and was hammering on the door, ‘We want the show, we want the show.’ That place was fabulous.

[After Bonds] I worked at an after hours, where I worked the door. Cocaine was fantastic in the 1980s. That went right along with being at the front door. ‘Here, thanks a lot for letting me in,’ and I’d get a gram in my hand. That meant thank you. The stars I met — Nick Nolte, Grace Jones, Robin Williams, Paul McCartney. The list goes on and goes. Cause they would want to party late too.

I first worked in the cashier booth in Crisco [Disco], which is a famous haunt. We must have taken in at least between $8,000 and $10,000 on a Saturday night. It was a lucrative place.

After that I worked at Page 6. I was working the VIP room one month. Liza Minnelli was there snorting her brains out. Rick James comes in and puts a pile of coke on the table. All of a sudden you hear, ‘Freeze.’ So Rick James gets up, ‘Oh, I ain’t going to be arrested, I gotta get out of here, how do I get out?’ I said, ‘Mr. James there’s only one way out and that’s the way you came in.’ He walked out without a problem. It was the people that worked there that got busted because they didn’t have a liquor license.

After that I opened up my club, Trash. I was working at the time at Club 82, which was another after hours on 4th, and the manager there, John Matos said said to me, ‘Gi, why don’t you start your own club? How much do you need?’ We went shopping for furniture and I got all the stuff. I wanted neat 1960s furniture that was gaudy and cool looking. I wanted to do all the murals inside the club. I made the VIP room. I painted a big huge spider web so when you walked in, it was spinning. They would look up and sway from side to side. It was a cool place to be.

But that didn’t last very long because all the people who were great to look at had no money. Punk rockers do not have any money. Nobody had fucking money. Nobody had money for rent, forget about anything else.

Then one day a Hells Angel — this big Angel came in and went up to somebody at the bar and said, ‘Hey faggot’ and pushed him on the shoulder. The guy was a really cool looking punk rock guy and he was intimidated. Once the Angels come in, then it’s their club, and then it’s no longer my club or Trash. One brought many. Nobody would go there anymore. They were too afraid to go through the door. So that’s how Trash ended. That was about the time that punk rock itself was sort of waning.

Punk rock to me means anti-establishment. Punks saw that people conformed all over the place. It’s somebody with real talent to be unique and wild and out there. People used to come and sketch what I was wearing. The more beat up it is the better. They now have distressed leather. What fucking distressed? If you keep it on long enough, believe me it’ll become distressed. I always wanted to look different. I don’t want to look like anybody else. I want to look like me.

What's left of the northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and St. Mark's Place

If the headline was a question, then the answer would be not much.

A look through the handy blogger portals on the plywood reveals the scattered remains of the northeast corner of Third Avenue and St. Mark's Place... the buildings that previously housed Korilla BBQ, the Continental and McDonald's are gone. (No word on what finally happened to the Continental's 6-shots-of-anything-for-$12 signage that was still intact as of last Thursday.)

[Photo yesterday by Derek Berg]

And with the demolition of the buildings, the RIP ST. MARKS message on the west-facing wall of 5 St. Mark's Place is now fully visible from across the street...

As you likely know, a 10-floor office building with ground-floor retail is due here. The total size of this new building has yet to be determined. Real Estate Equities Corporation (REEC) wants to transfer the air rights from the landmarked Hamilton-Holly House at 4 St. Mark's Place to add more square footage, a move that has had its critics.

In June, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to support the plan, and has issued a report to the City Planning Commission to allow the proposal under a specific zoning resolution.

The City Planning Commission will likely sign off on the project next as part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. City Council will have the final say on the Morris Adjimi-designed building. Those meeting dates have not yet been made public.

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

Report: LPC approves transfer of air rights across St. Mark's Place

Live at 1 St. Mark's Place this summer; views of 51 Astor Place are free

Construction watch: 75 1st Ave.

The steel frame of the future condoplex at 75 First Ave. is now visible rising next to the Rite Aid here between Fourth Street and Fifth Street...

Work on the 8-floor, 22-unit residential building picked up earlier this year after nearly 14 months of inactivity.

The completion date on the plywood rendering is now listed at summer 2020.

This slowly-developing development broke ground in September 2016.

Previously on EV Grieve:
2020 vision: New completion set for Rite Aid-adjacent condoplex on 1st Avenue

Unpacking what there is at the Moxy East Village, now open on 11th Street

The Moxy East Village opened for business last week (Sept. 12) here on 11th Street between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue...

The 286-room Marriott brand has four eating and drinking venues by TAO Group: Cathédrale, a French-Mediterranean restaurant from Chef Jason Hall, Little Sister, an underground lounge, Alphabet Bar & Café, and a rooftop bar opening in spring 2020.

CathĂ©drale has already held several events, including the 2019 Us Weekly Most Stylish New Yorkers party on 9/11 that included Lil’ Kim, La La Anthony and various cast members from the Real Housewives.


Here's a description of each via the EVG inbox, and there is a lot to unpack here (condensed for space reasons) ... brace!:

Alphabet Bar & Café, situated in the lobby, serves as the social heart of Moxy East Village, comprising a bar, terrace, co-working lounge, and meeting studios that seamlessly transition from day to night. The seating includes plush sofas and swinging chairs; a Skee-Ball game provides a hit of nostalgia for the arcade era.

An interactive real-time graffiti installation lets guests use a tablet to draw their own tag or sketch a bit of street art, like a latter-day Basquiat or Haring, and see it projected on the wall [Ed note: Will the Peninstrator strike?] . ... Alphabet Café serves an all-day menu of custom artisanal brews by Intelligentsia Coffee, freshly baked goods, composed salads, and seasonal panini and tartines.

The centerpiece of Moxy East Village is CathĂ©drale, a French-Mediterranean restaurant conceived by Tao Group Hospitality Chef/Partner Ralph Scamardella, in collaboration with Executive Chef Jason Hall. As diners descend from the lobby — via a staircase that resembles a fire escape between two East Village buildings — they'll feel like they're discovering an abandoned architectural treasure.

That's thanks to the show-stopping Rockwell Group-designed main dining room, a triple-height space covered by Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi's dramatic wire mesh sculpture that looks like the apparition of a grand domed ceiling. His ethereal sculpture for the ceiling of Cathédrale pays homage to the interior of the Fillmore East ...

Located on the lower level, adjacent to Moxy East Village, Little Sister is an intimate, seductive, sophisticated lounge — an update from the underground clubs that defined East Village nightlife in the 1990s.

Its clandestine, cavern-like feel is enriched by jewel-toned velvet sofas and plush banquettes, embossed leather accents, a glowing copper DJ stand, and a mirrored-copper bar illuminated by an overhead bank of backlit whiskey bottles. Wood-clad, barrel-vaulted ceilings evoke a hidden underground chamber where whiskey might have been stored in the bootlegger era. Legendary doorman Wass Stevens, will conspire to create an exclusive, in-the-know vibe at the ropes.

Opening in Spring 2020, the rooftop bar is designed to resemble a coveted New York City backyard garden, with strung garden lights, abundant foliage and colorful patio furniture. A retractable roof allows the bar to be used in all seasons.

Behind the bar, liquor bottles will be displayed in stacked plastic milk crates — not unlike those you'd spot on an East Village sidewalk. On one wall, interlaced with crawling ivy, will be a mural that overlays a map of the area with images from the neighborhood's musical and artistic history.

A few other details...

The hotel has also produced a series of short videos titled "Off the Beaten Path," featuring neighborhood legends and characters who will talk about the East Village's past, present, and future that guests will be able to enjoy on the in-room TVs, online, and on the @MoxyEastVillage Instagram.

In addition, the hotel has forged exclusive partnerships with neighborhood institutions. It will be the preferred hotel partner for Webster Hall, providing VIP concert access to select guests. The prestigious art school Cooper Union will have their student's work shown on a dedicated channel on the in-room TVs and will exhibit select student works and host panels at the hotel while providing guests access to events on campus.

The foundation work got underway here in August 2017. Workers demolished the five residential buildings that stood here in the fall of 2016.

Previously on EV Grieve:
At the rally outside 112-120 E. 11th St.

6-building complex on East 10th Street and East 11th Street sells for $127 million

Preservationists say city ignored pitch to designate part of 11th Street as a historic district

Permits filed to demolish 5 buildings on 11th Street to make way for new hotel

New building permits filed for 13-story Moxy Hotel on East 11th Street across from Webster Hall

[112-120 E. 11th St. photo from May 2016]

Monday, September 16, 2019

Monday's parting shot

Photo on Seventh Street today by Derek Berg ...

Remembering Ric Ocasek

Fans are starting to leave tributes to Ric Ocasek outside his townhouse on East 19th Street in Gramercy Park... the photos here are courtesy of @ThingsWendySees ...

Ocasek was found in his home yesterday. According to published reports, he died of hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. He was 75.

He co-founded The Cars in 1976 ... and went on to produce and record a variety of artists, including Bad Brains, Suicide, Guided by Voices and Weezer.

At the Gem Spa Cash Mob

On Saturday afternoon, friends and neighbors came together for a Cash Mob at Gem Spa on Second Avenue at St. Mark's Place.

Organized by #SaveNYC and Jeremiah Moss, the effort was to help the struggling shop make up for some back rent and the temporary loss of its lottery and cigarette sales (a now-former employee was said to sell cigarettes to an undercover minor).

From noon to 2 p.m., a steady stream of customers came through the venerable shop to buy egg creams and put in an order for a Gem Spa T-shirt (a popular item now).

As previously noted, Gem Spa was adorned with signage and logos for "Schitibank," a play on Citibank, an alleged interested party in the space. (Citi denied they had any interest in the storefront.)

EVG contributor Stacie Joy was at Gem Spa and shared these photos (and find Jeremiah Moss' recap here) ...

[Parul Patel, daughter of owner Ray Patel]

And here's a look at some of the signage that Tommy Noonan and Doug Cameron of the design firm DCX Accelerator created pro bono for the event...

Previously on EV Grieve:
• Get your Gem Spa t-shirts or photos of Madonna — at Gem Spa! (Aug. 16)

• A July 4 moment at Gem Spa (July 4)

• Will you buy a Gem Spa T-shirt? (June 28)

• The Gem Spa Zoltar is alive and well and telling fortunes an L-train ride away in Bushwick (June 19)

• "Gem Spa is open!" (June 18)

• What is happening at Gem Spa? (June 11)

• A visit to Gem Spa (May 10)

2nd Avenue gas explosion trial enters 2nd week

[Photo from March 26, 2015 by peter radley]

The Second Avenue gas explosion trial enters its second week in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Maria Hrynenko, contractor Dilber Kukic and unlicensed plumber Jerry Ioannidis are standing trial on a variety of charges, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for the March 2015 explosion at 121 Second Ave. that killed two men and injured nearly two dozen people.

They illegally tampered with the gas line at No. 121, where the restaurant Sushi Park was the retail tenant, then failed to warn those in the building before the blast, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's office. The defense is attempting to shift the blame away from the three, putting the responsibility on Con Edison and others.

The trial is expected to last three months.

An EVG reader, who went to part of the trial last week, shared the courtroom information:

Supreme Court, New York County
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, (1-2 p.m. lunch break)
100 Centre St., Room 1536.
Judge Michael Obus is presiding

And unlike federal court, people can bring in smartphones, computers and books into the courtroom.

Here are a few headlines from the trial last week:

• Jurors see gruesome photos of two men who died in East Village blast (The Post)

• FDNY hero injured fighting 2015 East Village blast: ‘I live in pain’ (The Post)

• East Village gas explosion trial starts; Defense focuses on Con Ed, missing valve (The Villager)

• Video of East Village building explosion aftermath brings landlord on trial to tears (Daily News)

Previously on EV Grieve:
Updated: 2nd Ave. explosion — landlord, 3 others charged with 2nd degree manslaughter; showed 'a blatant and callous disregard for human life'

RIP Nicholas Figueroa

RIP Moises Ismael LocĂłn Yac

A family continues to feel the loss on 2nd Avenue

Exclusive: 2nd Avenue explosion sites have a new owner

Dedicating Moises LocĂłn Way and Nicholas Figueroa Way on 2nd Avenue at 7th Street

Jury selection starts for defendants in 2nd Avenue gas explosion that killed 2 men

Day 1 recap of the 2nd Avenue gas explosion trial; opening statements and emotional testimony from Nicholas Figueroa's father

[Updated] The Associated on 14th Street in Stuy Town is said to close by year's end

The Associated Supermarket on 14th Street between Avenue A and First Avenue along the southern border of Stuy Town isn't expected to stay open for much longer this year.

Stuyvesant Town General Manager Rick Hayduk emailed residents with the news on Friday afternoon (thank you to the EVG readers who shared this):

We share the community's disappointment that after 26 years, Associated Supermarket on 14th street, has decided to close its doors.

Know that we have and will continue to work with Associated's owners in an effort to accommodate their needs, including offering free rent in an attempt to keep the store open through the holidays. But even with this offer, Associated cannot guarantee that the store will remain open through the end of the year.

The owners have told us that the competitive environment for supermarkets, both locally and online, have led them to this unfortunate decision.

As for "tomorrow", StuyTown Property Services is working on finding a new tenant with full understanding that a local grocery store is important to the community; but this will take some time.

We're grateful to the owners and employees of Associated Supermarket for serving the needs of the Stuyvesant Town community for over two decades.

So the Associated owners are chalking this up to "the competitive environment," which will become even more competitive once the Trader Joe's opens across 14th some time in 2020.

The Associated here has had a turbulent few years. In 2015, the current Stuy Town management reportedly tried to buy out the lease. A Morton Williams was set to takeover the space, but they backed out upon learning of Trader Joe's impending arrival. The owners of Associated were able to work out a new lease in 2017.

The area surrounding the supermarket has also been chewed up during the L-train rehab work that started here in the summer of 2017.

Updated 1:30 p.m.

Per Crain's:

Joseph Falzon, the store’s owner for the past 26 years, said a confluence of factors had cut business nearly in half and made it impossible to continue.

“We were very lucky to be open for a long time,” Falzon said. “Everything hit at once, like a perfect storm.”

Construction on 14th Street for the L train obscured the store with a 12-foot-tall fence, he explained, slowing business further just as the city’s minimum wage hit $15 an hour.

"I have people that have been with me a long time and make a lot more than that," Falzon said, but he added that the higher minimum wage increased payroll "quite a bit."

Previously on EV Grieve:
Report: Associated owners not having any luck shopping for a lease renewal on East 14th Street (34 comments)

Petition drive underway to help save the Stuy Town Associated on East 14th Street

Report: New Stuy Town owner pledges to keep a grocery story on East 14th Street, but it may not be Associated

Report: Morton Williams will take over the Associated space on 14th Street (27 comments)

Report: Morton Williams won't be taking over the 14th Street Associated after all

The all-new 149 Avenue B emerges

[Photos by Steven]

149 Avenue B — sandwiched between the Christodora House and the Charlie Parker Residence — has been under renovation in recent years... and the new-look residential building emerged from behind the construction netting and plywood late last week...

First, what the five-story building was: The longtime home of the New York Gospel Mission. The property hit the market for $5.5 million in October 2012.

According to its website, New York Gospel Mission was founded in 1895 by Dr. Bernard Angel. He died in 1929, and his daughter Ruth became the director. In 1944 the mission purchased No. 149 and named it Angel Memorial House after the founders.

[149 Avenue B as seen in 2012]

As for what's next ... as you can see, the building has been transformed, including a "rear horizontal enlargement," into a 4-unit residence, including a top-floor duplex. Jeffrey Cole Architect is the architect of record. The developer is Florida-based Tompkins Square Holdings LLC, who bought No. 149 for $4.65 million in December 2012, according to public records.

No word just yet on pricing or luxury amenities at the moment.

Workers officially reach the top at 11 Avenue C, where a 10-floor building sits on the neighborhood's last gas station

This past week workers hoisted flags atop 11 Avenue C (aka 350 E. Houston St.), marking that they have officially topped off the 10-story building here at Second Street.

Here's a look from different angles ...

Foundation work started in December 2016 on this triangular lot that housed the neighborhood's last gas station.

Rotwein + Blake are the architects of record. Here's more about the development via their website:

The narrow triangular site, presented numerous challenges from its odd shape to zoning constraints, Rotwein+Blake crafted a well thought-out solution to maximize potential development opportunity for the client. At ten stories, the building will have 4,600 SF of ground level retail, 46 residential apartments and a landscaped roof terrace.

The buildings retail component engages the more lively Houston Street side on a pedestrian level, with an abundance of storefront glass, awnings and stone details, while the residential entrance on 2nd Street, creates a more private and embracing gesture. The brick and zinc façade blend a modern twist to a historic warehouse style, reminiscent of the now, chic residential adaptive reuse projects of Soho and Tribeca.

The plywood rendering still states the project's completion date as March 2018.

Previously on EV Grieve:
You have a little longer to get gas on Avenue C

Plans filed for new 9-story building at site of Mobil station on East Houston and Avenue C

State seizes Mobil station on Avenue C and Houston for nonpayment of taxes

New residential building for former Mobil station lot will be 10 floors with 0 zero affordable units

A look inside the last East Village gas station

Pile driving for new building on Avenue C prompts arrival of crack monitors next door

Orientation underway at the Boys' Club for the 2019-2020 school year

The Boys' Club of New York (BCNY) is prepping for one more school year at their Harriman Clubhouse on Avenue A at 10th Street.

In early August, news broke that Aaron Sosnick, an East Village resident and founder of the investment fund A.R.T. Advisors LLC, was the new owner of the Harriman Clubhouse, as Crain's first reported.

He bought the 7-story building for $31.725 million, and reportedly plans to sell the property, "potentially at a substantial loss," to a nonprofit that would maintain its civic use.

Lost in some of this transaction hoopla: What the Boys' Club was going to do for the near future in this neighborhood.

In a press release from July, Stephen Tosh, BCNY's executive director and CEO stated:

"We remain committed to serving our Harriman members and their families and, through an arrangement with the buyer, will stay in the building for another year. This will allow time for BCNY to secure a smaller permanent space in the neighborhood to provide programming."


The sale provides BCNY with the opportunity to continue many of its flagship afterschool programs — art, music, physical education, and academic enrichment — for its current members. Proceeds from the sale will also be used to expand BCNY’s services to neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

The Boys' Club quietly began the sales process in June 2018, as I first reported. Tosh said at the time that the sale of the East Village building would allow the organization the opportunity to start new programs in other neighborhoods in need of its services. (To be clear, the Boys' Club decided to sell their building — they were not forced out. The building was pitched for educational purposes as well as residential conversion.)

Meanwhile, according to the BCNY website, registration is open for both current and new BCNY members. The Harriman Clubhouse has also been hosting parent orientations in the past week.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Local elected officials urge Boys' Club officials to postpone sale of the Harriman Clubhouse

Boys' Club of New York selling East Village building; will remain open through June 2019

During noon rally today, local elected officials will seek postponement of Boys' Club building sale

[Updated] Exclusive: The Boys' Club of New York puts the Harriman Clubhouse on the sales market for $32 million

Boys' Club fast tracks sale of East Village clubhouse as final bids are due Oct. 30

RUMOR: The Boys' Club building on 10th and A has a new owner; will remain in use as a nonprofit

157 2nd Ave.is for rent

[Photo Friday by Steven]

The rather beleaguered restaurant space at 157 Second Ave. is back on the rental market.

In late August, the Marshal seized Savor Por Favor, the Mexican restaurant-bar opened here between Ninth Street and 10th Street last October. The previous tenant, Yuan, which shut down in July 2018, also didn't make it to a 1-year anniversary.

As noted in previous posts on No. 157, this has been a challenging space to make work for any length of time. Before Yuan, Biang! — the sit-down Chinese restaurant via Xi'an Famous Foods owner Jason Wang — closed in March 2017 after 15 months in business.

The previous tenant, Wylie Dufresne's bistro Alder, called it quits after two-and-a-half years at the end of August 2015. (There was a rumored rent increase, per Eater.) Other recent restaurants here (before 2013) included Plum and Cafe Brama.

In previous posts, some commenters have questioned the landlord's role in these closures.

No sign of a listing for No. 157 just yet.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

4 opportunities to talk with the 9th Precinct about crime-safety concerns

[9th Precinct file photo]

The 9th Precinct is hosting three Sector Safety Summits this month for East Village residents and business owners.

The next one is scheduled for Wednesday evening (Sept. 18) at 6:30 at Cooper Union for those in Sector D...

The Sector B meeting is Set. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Campos Plaza...

The Sector C meeting is Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Standard East Village...

Use this link to find out what Sector you're in for sure, and what meeting you should attend. Find the sectors and the responsible officers here.

As for these Sector meetings: "This is an avenue for you to voice your grievances or concerns with issues in and around the neighborhood."

This is part of the NYPD's initiative called the Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCO) program. The 9th Precinct is split up into four sectors, with two officers assigned to each sector. (And not sure when the next meeting is for Sector A!)

Meanwhile, on Tuesday night at 7, the 9th Precinct hosts its monthly Community Council meeting at the station house on Fifth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

This is an opportunity for residents to address any concerns and ask 9th Precinct officials for their input on recent crime statistics. (Find the PDF of the most recent crime stats here.)