Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Another look at conditions in and around the Mariana Bracetti Plaza public housing complex

On Jan. 14, EVG contributor Stacie Joy reported on the crime and quality-of-life issues inside the Mariana Bracetti Plaza public housing development along Avenue C between Third Street and Fourth Street. (Read more from the interview with resident Kanielle Hernandez right here.)

We heard from another resident who lives in the complex. 

"I grew up here, and when I say this building has become more dangerous than it was in the 1970s and 1980s, I am not kidding," said the resident, who shared a few photos to illustrate the squalid conditions ... such as in the blood-stained elevators and atop the trash-strewn sidewalk bridge, which lines the property and provides cover for some of the illegal acts that residents have reported without much success...

Have you seen the new Vision for Union Square?

Yesterday marked the official launch event for the Union Square-14th Street District Vision Plan.

As you may already have seen (The Wall Street Journal first had the scoop on Jan. 19), the Union Square Partnership's $100-million Vision Plan would result in a 33 percent increase in public space for the Union Square-14th Street neighborhood. 
"Initiated as a response to the proposed L train shutdown, this Vision Plan evolved as COVID-19 upended our world, and with it, our relationship with public space," Jennifer Falk, executive director of the nonprofit Union Square Partnership, said in a statement. "More open space, safer pedestrian and cyclist travel, better transit, and more outdoor seating and greenery — all of these changes are called for in this plan and will benefit our community immeasurably as we chart the district’s next chapter."

The Vision Plan proposes five key improvements: 
  1. Transform 14th Street into a world-class boulevard and transitway.
  2. Convert Union Square West into a seamless pedestrian plaza by extending the park all the way to the surrounding buildings. 
  3. Create an expansive new open space at the park’s southeast corner. 
  4. Build a Broadway Gateway at 17th Street as a permanent extension of the park. 
  5. Develop a new Master Plan for Union Square Park. 
The Vision Plan, two years in the making, must still undergo an extensive review process by the city and public, as the Journal pointed out.  

And, importantly:
There is also the question of who will pay for it. Partnership officials said they are prepared to kick in millions of dollars through fundraising and a possible bond issue but added that it will be up to the city to fund a significant share and largely handle the construction.

Partnership officials also noted that the project’s estimated $100 million cost will cover not just expansion of the park's footprint, but also other upgrades and improvements, including construction of a new accessible subway entrance with elevator and escalator.
You can read a lot more about the proposal right here. Streetsblog also weighed with some thoughts at this link.

Image via Marvel/Union Square Partnership

The 25th anniversary of 'Rent'

This week marked the 25th anniversary of the very first performance of "Rent" ... the musical, which would later win the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award, debuted on Jan. 25, 1996, at the New York Theatre Workshop on Fourth Street between Second Avenue and the Bowery. 

NPR published a look back at "Rent" this week (find the article here), recounting how the performance almost never happened as creator Jonathan Larson died that morning of an aortic aneurysm.

On March 2, the New York Theatre Workshop is hosting a virtual fundraiser in honor of "Rent"'s anniversary.

Per the invite:
This virtual celebration of "Rent" and its impact on the collective cultural consciousness will feature a selection of iconic songs by some of today's most beloved recording and theatre artists, exclusive content uncovering how "Rent" came to life, and reflections on the driving force of Jonathan's legacy in the American theatre.
Scheduled performers include Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Billy Porter, Anthony Rapp and Daphne Rubin-Vega, among many others.

Tix for the fundraiser start at $25. Find more details about "25 Years of Rent: Measured in Love" at this link

"Rent," which was based on Puccini's "La bohème," later made its Broadway debut on April 29, 1996. You can read more about the musical's East Village connections here

And this year will mark the 10th anniversary of the closing of Life Cafe, where Jonathan Larson wrote "Rent" while hanging out in the early 1990s, on 10th Street and Avenue B.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Tuesday's parting shot

Photo this morning in Tompkins Square Park by Derek Berg... 

Hopefully the for-rent sign wasnt going up outside the Park office. "Amenities include 10.5 acres of outdoor space, a basketball court, playgrounds, dog runs, a kiddie pool and 4.5 bathrooms."

The East Village establishments taking part in NYC Restaurant Week To Go

Updated 1/30: Restaurant Week To Go has been extended through Feb. 28!

As you may know, NYC Restaurant Week To Go is underway... now through Sunday. 

Here's the official word via NYCgo:
What: A takeout- and delivery-only version of NYC Restaurant Week, offering lunch or dinner for a set price of $20.21. The offer includes a prix-fixe entrée and at least one side. Plus, if you purchase your meal with your registered Mastercard®, you’ll get $10 back.
A record 571 restaurants have signed up for the semi-annual event... including 16 in the East Village — La Palapa, Cafe Mogador, Pangea, Hearth and Veselka among the participating venues. Find the EV list here... and the full NYC list at this link.

NYC Restaurant Week has taken place twice per year since it launched in 1992. The pandemic forced the cancellation of the summer 2020 edition.

Talk again of privatization at Village View

We're hearing that there's another privatization effort underway — at least by one resident — at Village View, the 1,200-plus-unit Mitchell-Lama co-op between First Avenue and Avenue A, from Second Street to Sixth Street.

First, a little recent history: Back in August 2016, there was news that the residents/shareholders of Village View were mulling over whether to withdraw from the affordable housing program. 

By November 2016, the Board met ... and passed a motion: "to cease any further discussion of privatization, including a feasibility study, unless and until such time there is a clear indication from a large percentage of shareholders that there is an interest in learning more about privatization."

In recent weeks, a tenant — also with a Westhampton address — named Jerry Hackman has been leaving numerous flyers on doors and in mailboxes, according to one resident, who shared a copy of a missive here (click on the image below for more detail) ...
The message includes the claim that privatization is a "free gift for you without any risk." The letter ends with a promise: "Let Santa come early this year."

The resident who shared the above flyer described the message as "disgusting." The resident elaborated:
"We cannot close the path for others to affordable Mitchell-Lama housing, however rare this path remains. I hope neighbors are aware and talk to folks they know at Village View about the importance of preserving affordable housing in NYC, now more than ever."
Village View, which opened in 1964, consists of seven buildings.

Top photo via EVG archives

99 Favor Taste looks to have closed (again) on St. Mark's Place

Multiple readers have pointed out that 99 Favor Taste at 37 St. Mark's Place has closed here just west of Second Avenue. 

The business has not been open in recent months... and the location has been removed from the 99 Favor Taste website (there are four other NYC locations). 

This isn't the first time that it appeared 99 was done for. Late this past summer, a "14-day notice demanding payment of rent" notice arrived on the front door. According to the paperwork, the restaurant owed $34,986 for the August rent along with a balance of the July rent and real-estate tax for a sum totaling more than $52,000.

There was also the ongoing construction that blocked entry to the restaurant. However, to some surprise, 99 Favor Taste did reopen in the late summer and early fall.

The restaurant, which offers traditional Korean-style barbecue and Chinese hot pot meals at multiple NYC locations (and free birthday meals), opened in the East Village in July 2017.

Photo by Steven

Monday, January 25, 2021


A reader mentioned this today in a previous post about curbside seating... someone has moved into the unfinished outdoor space outside Lucy's on Avenue A between St. Mark's Place and Ninth Street.

Steven and Eden shared these photos... not sure if people are living here now or just they just opened a store or lending library...
Not sure when Lucy's was last open... likely until the 25-percent indoor capacity was revoked in December...

Cemetery hawk

A juvenile red-tailed hawk has been hanging around the New York City Marble Cemetery on Second Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue... where Steven captured this nice shot. 

And what have Amelia and Christo, the resident red-tailed hawks of Tompkins Square Park, been up to of late? As Goggla reports, they're gearing up for nest-building season!

Longtime resident revisits the neighborhood for 'A Walk Around the Block'

Today marks the 10th anniversary that Victoria Linchong, who was born and raised in the neighborhood, was evicted from her East Village apartment.

In commemoration of that life-changing event, Linchong — aka Viva Lamore — is releasing a web series that she started in 2014 titled "A Walk Around the Block."

Here's more about the series:
It's a simple idea: Victoria takes a longtime East Village resident on a walk around their block. A hundred years of history are revealed as they say hello to shopkeepers, reminisce about long gone stores, check out the street art, poke through community gardens, and gaze at the architectural curiosities of this unique neighborhood. 
And a preview of the upcoming episodes...
In 2009, Victoria first took a walk around her block and documented her connection with the shops, the school, and the many community gardens. Three years after she was evicted, she is back on the block, surveying the changes that have occurred and saying hello to old friends who have remained. Special double episode, combining the original walk around the block in 2009 with a walk around the same block in 2014. 
Victoria and photographer Richard Sandler walk around his formerly Italian block, finding not only the world's largest cannoli, but also traces of Jerry Rubins, Basquiat and the Beastie Boys. 
Victoria goes for a walk with actress/director Elizabeth Ruf and the late filmmaker Roland Legiardi-Laura on their block, which seems to be the immigrant epicenter of the old Lower East Side, with vestiges of former Irish, German and Jewish enclaves where Puerto Rican pride now runs strong. 
Victoria and housing activist Frank Morales reminisce about Diggers, dealers, dissidents, DAMP and the Avenue D Boys on a walk around his block.

Linchong said that she'd like to do more episodes, and is hopeful of securing some financing to make it happen. 

After her eviction, she lived in Berlin for four years. These days, she's living in the Park Slope/Gowanus area.

"I've not been coming by the East Village that often — especially with the pandemic," she told me via an email. "But I do still have a lot of friends in the neighborhood and I come around sometimes to see them."

And what would she like people to take away from her series?

"The value of the East Village is its community. No other neighborhood in the whole world has been so shaped by its residents. Every episode shows this ...  Yet the longtime residents that make the East Village so great are rapidly being displaced by short-sighted moneyed interests," Linchong said. "I want people to see that the longtime residents of the neighborhood are valuable and their continued presence needs to be protected. What is a neighborhood if it doesn't have residents who are invested in their neighborhood, who have been part of the area's struggles, who know the story of every block?"

The episodes debut on the above dates at 7 p.m. on Vimeo ... as well as Facebook Live.

Batteries not included: Food and drinks options on this block of 7th Street

Last week, we reported that the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop would not be reopening on Seventh Street between Avenue A and First Avenue. When it debuted in 2011, this was the very first storefront for co-founderDoug Quint and Bryan Petroff.

In a letter about the closure, the founders understandably cited the challenges of running a business during a pandemic, and how difficult it would be to make it work on Seventh Street ... they also noted that what was once one of "the hottest food blocks" in the city wasn't what it used to be... that "[t]he batteries have gone a bit dim on that street."

It's true that Caracas Arepa Bar decided to close in November after 17 years, continuing on with their Williamsburg location instead. In addition last year, the now-global Luke's Lobster shut down their Seventh Street location, having outgrown the space. And there was the loss of Porchetta a few years back.

Still, we heard from a lot of readers who took exception to the claim that the block between Avenue A and First Avenue was dimming. While they appreciated the good cheer that Big Gay Ice Cream brought to Seventh Street for nearly 10 years, some readers contend the block has never been more vibrant — even during the pandemic. (The readers were also sorry to see the ice cream shop close, and hope that it can reopen elsewhere in the neighborhood some day.)

For starters, Pylos, Butter Lane and Ruffian (among others, like Papilles and Giano as well as dessert spots mochii and Jell & Chill) continue on.
Ravi DeRossi has three restaurants — Saramsam, a Filipino restaurant at 111 E. Seventh St. that opened in September, Ladybird and Avant Garden — on the block. (They are currently closed for a winter break.) His Overthrow Hospitality is preparing for the opening of a fourth establishment this year on the block — Cadencea take on southern soul food via chef Shenarri Freeman.

Meanwhile, several of the newer businesses seem to be a hit, including Ho Foods and 787 Coffee, which is a welcomed lively spot in the morning.

Meanwhile, four quick-serve businesses have opened in recent months... Shinn East ... Los Tacos ... plant-based, a vegan bakery, and the newly opened Medan Pasar, the Malaysian restaurant that has drawn rave reviews from Eater and Gothamist this year. 
In addition, Trash & Vaudeville still holds forth on the block... now in its 46th year of business (No. 5 on Seventh Street) ...
... and a look at the block from this past September...

Tamam is now open on 14th Street

The plant-based Tamam Falafel (first reported here) is now open on 14th Street at Third Avenue right next to Joe's Pizza. (Thanks to Pinch and Nick Solares for the tip!)

Tamam is operated by Simon Oren, whose credits include 5 Napkin Burger. 

Here's part of a review of the UES location when it opened last summer via The Beet:
The name, Tamam, which is Arabic and Hebrew slang for "thumbs up," definitely elicits that kind of response for all sampling its tasty — and affordable — fare and Oren clearly hasn't lost his edge in the falafel-verse. The short menu has several standouts. 

First, the Eggplant Sabich Plate ($11.50) is a must, with the crispy eggplant savory and crunchy, and the perfect complement to a drizzle of amba sauce, a piquant condiment made of pickled mangoes and spices. Served on a bed of quinoa with a side of Israeli salad or cabbage salad with delectable hummus—extra creamy and mild — and warm chickpeas, along with freshly baked fluffy pita, the generous portions mean you may just have late-night leftovers to anticipate.
Tamam replaced the 5 Napkin Burger Express outpost. Find their menu here.

A message for Short Stories

Short Stories is currently on a winter hiatus here on the Bowery between Third Street and Fourth Street.

And perhaps no one is around to mind the store on a full-time basis... as such, a neighbor left a sign on the door asking the bar-restaurant to clean up its curbside dining space...
... seen worse, but...
This has been a common complaint among some residents when a bar or restaurant temporarily closes... who's taking care of the curbside space... and, in some cases, if the venue closes, who's responsible to take down the structure... ?

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Sunday's parting shot

Lola Saénz today made a large card for Ray... who is celebrating his birthday this month... the card is up at Ray's Candy Store, 113 Avenue A, for anyone to sign.

As previously noted, the Ray's Annual Birthday Celebration isn't happening this year...  organizers instead are asking Ray fans to record a video message here

Week in Grieview

Posts from this past week included ... (with an optical illusion on Seventh Street via Derek Berg) ...

• Report: Man shot and killed on Avenue C and 3rd Street (Tuesday)

• In open letter, community groups seek answers over recent removal of 2 CB3 committee chairs (Tuesday

• Big Gay Ice Cream founders say goodbye to their very first shop (Friday

• How you can record a virtual 88th birthday greeting for Ray (Monday

• Halloween Adventure is hoping for one more Halloween (Friday

• This week's NY See panel (Thursday

• Gallery Watch heads to Paige Beeber’s Farbe at Freight and Volume Gallery (Wedensday)

• Phony Express returns with "Laurie Anderson" (Friday

• The former Meet Noodles space is for rent on 3rd Avenue; Taste Wine looks closed next door (Tuesday

• 2021 development watch: 38-46 2nd Ave. (Wednesday

• Amsterdam Billiards reopens (Wednesday

• Happy trails: the sidewalk bridge has been removed from the all-new 619 E. 6th St. (Tuesday

• Taiwanese noodles for 7th Street? (Wednesday

• Camellia will not be reopening on 3rd Avenue (Wedensday)

... and are the cones getting larger at Van Leeuwen on Seventh Street? Pic by Derek Berg...
Follow EVG on Instragram or Twitter for more frequent updates and pics.

Layers of signage on Avenue A

Workers yesterday removed the layers of signage at 36 Avenue A between Second Street and Third Street. 

Until this past September, this storefront was home to Native Bean. The coffee shop was here since January 2015, having moved the one block from 50 Avenue A

The Native Bean sign always looked rather temporary here, stuck over the name of the previous tenant – Angelina Cafe, which moved across the Avenue in 2012 (before closing and becoming Bin 141 on Third and A in 2019!). 

Anyway, the rumor is that another coffee shop is opening at 36 Avenue A... something to keep an eye on in the weeks ahead.

Previously on EV Grieve:

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Bernie meme goes offline in the East Village

The ubiquitous bemittened Bernie meme is now a wheatpaste... as seen above on 13th Street at Avenue A... and here on Bleecker and the Bowery...
... and outside Overthrow, the boxing gym on Bleecker near the Bowery... Bernie is wearing boxing gloves instead of hand-knitted mittens...
Art by @zui_nyc

Saturday sunrise

From 14th Street just west of First Avenue ...

Friday, January 22, 2021

Friday's parting shots

EVG reader Andrew shared these photos from 7:45 a.m today on Fourth Street between Avenue A and Avenue B. 

"We thought an apartment in our building was on fire, but instead it was a DSNY truck."

Mind the 'Store'

New York-based trio Palberta have a new release out this week... Palberta5000 is the band's fifth record. 

The video here is for "Corner Store." 

You can read a interview with the band, who have drawn comparisons to Captain Beefheart and the Raincoats, among others, at NPR.