Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Dinner with Christo

Photos by Steven 

Christo, one of the resident red-tailed hawks in Tompkins Square Park, poses pauses with dinner this evening shortly after 7...

Court proceedings: Checking in on the new mural for Tompkins Square Park hoopsters

We've heard a few grumbles about the temp closure of the Tompkins Square basketball courts. 

As noted, last Wednesday, workers fenced off the courts ahead of a mural installation titled "Gaze" by Na Chainkua Reindorf.
EVG reader Liz provided these next two photos ... and another perspective on the work that needs to be done before the mural can be painted.
"To all the naysayers, and I do understand their skepticism, the creation of the basketball court mural moves apace. I overlook the court, and I've watched the workers at it 9-5, Monday-Friday, a short break for lunch. In fact, I find watching them work very meditative. They've done a really careful and beautiful job of patching and resurfacing prior to the painting. I hope it can be admired in its glory before being tagged." 

This evening, workers were still there at 5:45...

Take a look at the all-new Delancey Street Pedestrian Bridge

From a distance, the only thing seemingly happening with East River Park's ongoing demolition and reconstruction is just more scorched earth and downed trees.

However, in a noticeable sign of progress, crews installed the new Delancey Street Pedestrian Bridge, one of the new access points for East River Park. (The previous bridge was removed in early 2022.) 

Work took place late this past Saturday night. (Both sides of the FDR were closed overnight from Exit 2, the Brooklyn Bridge, to Exit 5, Houston Street and the Williamsburg Bridge.)

According to a City Department of Design and Construction spokesperson, the $32-million bridge weighs 125 tons (much larger than the previous one) and is fully ADA-accessible. 

The 215-foot-long bridge was manufactured in Italy, assembled at the project site, and then installed by crane. It is expected to open for use by Sept. 1. 

Here's a look at the bridge installation action from late Saturday (pics courtesy of the DDC)...
A second bridge will be installed at Corlears Hook later this summer. 

The "phased work operations" began in November 2021 in Project Area 1 between Montgomery Street and 15th Street. As part of the billion-dollar-plus East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project, workers have been burying the 57.5-acre park under fill and cutting down trees. They are elevating the land 8 to 10 feet above sea level to protect the area from future storm surges. 

The city has said it will maintain public access to a minimum of 42% of the park throughout construction, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2026.

A taco test run at Carnitas Ramirez, opening June 21 in the East Village

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy 

This past Saturday, Carnitas Ramirez held another test run ahead of its grand opening on June 21 at 210 E. Third St., just east of Avenue B. 

Co-owner Giovanni Cervantes (left) and chef Yvon de Tassigny were working in tandem behind the counter, quickly and carefully plating up the tacos.
Cervantes, who hails from Mexico City, has said that his recipes come from Michoacán, aka the "carnitas capital of the world." 

While the slow-cooked pulled pork will be a big draw here, Carnitas Ramirez will offer a vegetarian option: tacos con papas y rajas (a poblano pepper and potato dish).
Co-owner Tania Apolinar was behind the counter. (Apolinar and Cervantes, who are also life partners, opened Taqueria Ramírez to great fanfare in Greenpoint in September 2021.)
There are a few stools in front of the taco-making station, several seating options in the back room, and a counter facing the street.
There will likely be another test run or two before noon on June 21, when Carnitas Ramirez officially opens — something the staff seems fired up about.
Carnitas Ramirez will just be open on weekends in the beginning. 

Here are the times starting June 21: 
• Friday: noon-10 p.m. 
• Saturday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
• Sunday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

The Marshal takes legal possession of Ace's on 2nd Avenue

That's apparently all for Ace's (sometimes Aces) at 197 Second Ave. 

The cocktail lounge-restaurant went dark, per an EVG reader, in mid-May. 

There's a Marshal's notice on the storefront, noting that the landlord is now in legal possession of the space just north of 12th Street... Google also lists Ace's as permanently closed.
Restaurateur Mike Dollaway, whose résumé includes management/ownership at several now-closed upscale spots, including Provocateur in the Meatpacking District and Lily Pond in East Hampton, was behind this neighborhood-ish bar concept that opened in the fall of 2022. 

No. 197 was previously Black Emperor, which shut down in August 2020. Shoolbred's closed here in June 2017 after nearly 10 years in business. This address was also Jade Mountain, home of the great Chow Mein sign, until 2007.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Reports of a passenger struck by a downtown 6 at Astor Place

Photos by Vinny & O 

There were a lot of questions about a significant emergency response this afternoon on Astor Place... (for a few people, seeing the multiple FDNY and NYPD personnel here sparked flashbacks to the random slashing near the Cube last Thursday)...
According to witnesses and social media accounts, a passenger was pinned between the subway platform and the downtown 6 around 3:30 p.m. John Stratidis, manager of the nearby Cozy Soup 'n' Burger, told @ScooterCasterNY that a man tripped and fell onto the tracks. 

Fellow straphangers tried to help the man, but witnesses said there wasn't enough time before the train entered the station. 

The Citizen app reported that "The victim has been removed from between the train and the platform and is being aided by medics." There's no word on the man's condition.

Community Board 3 adds a special meeting on congestion pricing to June's agenda

3rd Avenue photo by deberarr 

Community Board 3 has added a special meeting this month to address Gov. Hochul's decision to indefinitely pause congestion pricing, which was set to go into effect at the end of June. 

Here's more via an email from CB3 Chair Andrea Gordillo: 
Community Boards 1-6 have discussed signing on to a letter to all parties involved with the MTA's Congestion Pricing Plan, asking to reverse course on the Governor's decision. Given the unprecedented nature of the abrupt policy shift, its potential cost to the MTA, and public trust in government, Community Board 3 will convene this special meeting after the public session of its June Full Board meeting to discuss and vote on the contents of the letter which would ask the Governor to proceed with congestion pricing. 

We encourage members of the public to attend the meeting and sign up to give public comment, and we ask for your support in reaching out to our communities to inform them of the opportunity to comment on this important decision. 
The full CB3 meeting is Tuesday, June 25, at P.S. 20, 166 Essex St., between Houston and Stanton. 

The item was also added to tonight's (June 11) meeting of CB3's Transportation, Public Safety, Sanitation, and Environment Committee. 

Per Gordillo's email: "This decision to add this to the agenda after the agenda was posted, while also unprecedented, was made to ensure the broadest base of public comment, and exceptions like this are not to be granted again." 

Tonight's hybrid committee meeting starts at 6:30 at the CB3 office, 59 E. Fourth St. between Second Avenue and the Bowery. Limited seating is available to the first 15 people. Members of the public can also attend by Zoom here

In a statement last Wednesday, Hochul expressed concerns about the timing and state of the city's post-pandemic recovery. 

Under the congestion-pricing plan, most people driving passenger vehicles into Manhattan below 60th Street would need to pay a minimum of $15, with larger vehicles incurring higher charges. 

The MTA has already spent tens of millions of dollars to install cameras, sensors, license plate readers, and other equipment on city roadways in preparation for the plan's launch. The anticipated fee was projected to generate around $1 billion annually, benefiting subway and bus systems that serve approximately 4 million daily riders. 

The move also represents a dramatic reversal for public transit advocates, who had supported congestion pricing to raise money for NYC's struggling subway and commuter rail systems and reduce traffic on city streets.

Nearly 3 years later, city is finishing the Avenue C bike lanes

Top 2 photos by Dave on 7th 

DOT crews were out yesterday working on bike lanes on both sides of Avenue C between Eighth Street and Ninth Street.
This work comes nearly three years after the city first marked Avenue C for the new bike lanes. However, with the pandemic-era curbside dining structures still in place outside several establishments between Sixth Street and Ninth Street, cyclists were forced to enter into traffic for several blocks before the marked lanes picked up again in both directions at Ninth Street. 

However, earlier this spring, the remaining streetside structures were removed, and there is now a protected bike lane between Sixth and Ninth Street on the east side of the avenue. Here's a look at the buffer zones that will protect cyclists from cars and trucks ...
On the west side, despite the freshly painted bike lane, drivers were observed parking between Eighth Street and Ninth Street, posing a potential hazard for cyclists...
There are also a few mixing spots on Avenue C where the bike lane passes through a bus stop, like just below Eighth Street outside the Associated...
Several years in the planning stages, the DOT added the protected north/south bike lanes on Avenue C and East Houston Street to help offset the closure of the East River Park greenway. 

You can find many more details in the presentation that DOT officials made to CB3 in April 2021. (PDF here)

A new era for teen spirit at the Tompkins Square Library branch

The Tompkins Square Library branch recently (May 31!) celebrated the grand opening of a new-era Teen Center. 

A rep told us that this is part of the NYPL's larger initiative to meet the needs of this demographic.

"This library's newly expanded Teen Center is a space for teens to hone new tech skills and get creative," the rep said. "The center also comes equipped with video and photography tech, digital media tools, like a 3D printer, and other crafts."

Find more info here

The branch is at 331 E. 10th St. between Avenue A and Avenue B. 

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Photo courtesy of the NYPL

Monday, June 10, 2024

Monday's parting shot

Photo by Cecil Scheib 

Tonight's sunset with a Tompkins Square Park view...

A cat's tale

For anyone wondering about this missing black kitty from earlier today around Seventh Street and First Avenue ... Nugget and her owner have been reunited...

That's all, folks: Tacos El Porky closes on Avenue A after 3-plus months

Photo by Steven 

Tacos El Porky has shut down after three-plus months at 151 Avenue A between Ninth Street and 10th Street. 

On Saturday, the South Florida-based business announced via Instagram: "Our New York restaurant is closing its doors permanently. Thank You to all the people that came and tried our food; we’ll miss you! But… The Party continues in Miami!"

The taco shop debuted in late February ... taking over from its sibling El Primo Red Tacos, which came and went after four months. Owner Frank Neri previously told us they couldn't make enough money with the limited beef birria menu.

The closure comes after management appeared before CB3 for a beer-wine license last month and pitched to use the backyard space — a proposal with seven tables and 28 seats. (According to the minutes from the public meeting, they were also on the August 2020 docket for a similar ask but "refused to appear" before the committee.) 

While CB3 gave conditional consent last month for the beer-wine, the committee stated Tacos El Porky could not use the backyard space for dining. 

A lot of locals also spoke out against this applicant's quest to use the outdoor space. According to the minutes from the May meeting: 
We have received a petition in opposition to the backyard use, and late night/early morning hours, signed by 143 nearby residents. The neighbors state that the applicant has been using the backyard for staff use, including cleaning mats, pots and pans and other kitchen equipment late at night causing noise and disturbances, as well as letters in opposition from the church next door, and ...

We have received complaints about the applicant giving away and selling margaritas and shots. The applicant states that it was wine/agave-based tequila. We have photos of the applicant advertising these drinks, as well as a menu submitted that lists margaritas and shots, with no mention that it is agave-based. A resident asked the staff about the drinks and was told that it was real tequila and triple sec and shown a bottle of triple sec, and ...

Five residents, including a representative from the 9th St. A1 Block Association, a co-owner representing residents of 149 Avenue A, and a representative from a condo association at 272 E. 10th Street, appeared to speak in opposition to the late-night hours and any use of the backyard. 
As a reminder, tacos can work in these spaces (without the backyard). San Loco was in the south storefront at No. 151 for 15 years until February 2014.

The ongoing efforts to shutter unlicensed weed shops

Local law enforcement (under the New York City Sheriff's Joint Compliance Task Force) continues to crack down on unlicensed weed/smoke shops. 

For example, this past Thursday, authorities closed Smoke City Exotics at 166 Avenue B between 10th Street and 11th Street... well as the oft-busted storefront at 24 Avenue A between Second Street and Third Street...
On May 7, Mayor Adams announced the launch of Operation Padlock to Protect "to hold illegal smoke and cannabis shops accountable." 

After the first week, City Hall said that they had closed and sealed 75 shops and issued nearly $6 million in penalties. (And in the first month, the closure tally passed the 300-store mark.) 

In the past, some businesses were back in operation a day or two later, or they used evasive tactics such as removing the signage and only opening late at night when ownership figured they were safe from raids. 

The Task Force closed Hi Society at 97 Second Ave. between Fifth Street and Sixth Street on May 22. The shop, which had a velvet rope and doorman, was open the next day. The Task Force returned, and the shop has been shuttered ever since, with seven "seized" posters on the storefront.
Over the weekend, Colin Moynihan did a deep dive for the Times on the concern over the proliferation of unlicensed stores on the Lower East Side. The story includes local residents who "created a spreadsheet listing the locations of nearly three dozen unlicensed sellers, which they said they distributed to government officials, hoping to prompt enforcement." 

Some background from the article, which you can access here
Nearly 3,000 unlicensed cannabis stores are estimated to have opened across New York City since 2021, when a state bill was passed legalizing recreational marijuana and allowing for the distribution of retail cannabis licenses. There are 132 licensed adult-use dispensaries across the state, according to the Office of Cannabis Management, with 62 in the city. 
... and... 
... the rollout of the licensed shops has stumbled, tripped up by lawsuits, bureaucratic delays and a lack of financial assistance for retailers. At one point, policymakers promised to provide turnkey storefronts for new business owners. Those promises never came through. 

The article quotes Jeffrey Hoffman, a cannabis lawyer and legalization advocate who supports closing the unlicensed shops. Given their numbers and the clandestine actions of some of the operators, he predicted it would take months or longer to shut down all the unlicensed shops.

Meanwhile, what will happen to all the storefronts that landlords previously leased to illegal cannabis businesses? 


Photos 1 & 3 — Salim
Photo 2 — Steven
Photos 4 & 5 — EVG

Updated: What might be next for this 2nd Avenue storefront?

In recent months, the gate has been down in the north storefront at 128 Second Ave., and it appeared that Roasted NYC was, well, toasted. (We also spotted an eviction notice taped to the gate in March.)

Fast-forward to the other day... when the gate was (finally) up, and the space appears to either be ready for a new tenant or a for-lease sign here between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place. 

The coffee shop opened last summer, pivoting from the weed-related NYC Kind Cafe ... which took over for the short-lived Paint Puff "N" Peace in 2022 — one of the early unlicensed shops to arrive in the neighborhood. 

Updated 5 p.m. 

A for-lease sign arrived today... photo by Steven

Openings: Cafe 2BY2 on 10th Street

Cafe 2BY2 is in soft-open mode now in the upper storefront at 84 E. 10th St. between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue. 

The shop features homemade desserts (tiramisu, cream brûlée taro puff) and coffee, tea and matcha lattes. 

Posted daily hours: Noon to 10 p.m. 

The space was previously Avenues, the real-estate office-coffee bar combo... and before that, EVG fave Turntable Lab, which lives on online.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Sunday's parting shot

Photo by Derek Berg 

Along St. Mark's Place today...

Week in Grieview

Posts this past week included (with a photo along St. Mark's Place)... 

• Man slashed in an unprovoked attack on Astor Place (Friday... Saturday

• After 25 Years on Avenue A, Juicy Lucy will move following vandal attack (Thursday

• The former St. Emeric property could yield a 570-unit affordable housing complex on Avenue D (Wednesday)

• Carnitas Ramirez sets its opening date for new East Village taqueria (Wednesday

• From parked cars to luxury condos on 9th Street (Monday

• Mapping the public restrooms in the East Village (Thursday

• Asian Taste looks to be reopening this month (Tuesday)

• Plywood free, you can now walk along the all-new 360 Bowery and its 22-floor office building (Thursday)

• Opening up Jennifer's Cafe on the NW corner of 4th Street and 1st Avenue (Wednesday

• After 36 years in business, Ise Restaurant is closing its doors this month (Tuesday

• Greenmarket season begins on Astor Place (Tuesday)

• 40 years gone! Revisiting a classic New York magazine cover story from 1984 (Monday)

• Garage Sale Vintage bringing its nostalgic vibes to the Bowery (Monday

• Looking at two recent storefront reveals on 2nd Avenue (Wednesday

• Storefront renovations commence on the SW corner of the Bowery and Houston (Monday

• At the reopening of longtime East Village staple Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen (Friday)

• Openings: Kyuubi Omakase on St. Mark's Place (Thursday

• Friday night with The Damned at Hammerstein Ballroom (Sunday

... and this past week, we spotted workers inoculating trees in Tompkins Square Park to help protect them from Dutch Elm Disease (photo by Steven)...

We'll always have St. Mark's Place

As we noted this past Tuesday, workers removed the roof and walls of the entryway to the empty storefront at 22 St. Mark's Place, which briefly housed Mr. Kim, the tattoo and piercing studio between Second Avenue and Third Avenue. 

In the above recent photo, Ed Yoo captured a mosh-pit moment at the previous crash pad spot...

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Saturday's parting shot

A Pride Month mural outside the Second Avenue F stop... art by David Puck. This is the seventh Pride mural curated by photographer-filmmaker Daniel "Dusty" Albanese.