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West 13th Street Gazette No. 18

West 13th Street Gazette No. 18

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Published by Alan J Jacobs
Newsletter of the W. 13th St. 100 Block Association
Newsletter of the W. 13th St. 100 Block Association

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Published by: Alan J Jacobs on Sep 05, 2013
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West 13th Street
Gazette
 
V
OICE OF THE
W
EST
13
TH
S
T
.
 
100
 
B
LOCK
 A
SSOCIATION
I
NC
.,
 
155
 
W.
 
13
TH
S
T
.,
 
NYC
 
10011
Issue No. 18
Fall 2009/Winter 2010
A
REA
151:
 
Endless Dig
Entire Back Yard Excavated Now the Excavator’s Broke
It’s been going on for a year and a half. Dozens of dumpster-loads of rock, sandy soil and debris – many tons – have beenremoved. And it’s not finished yet.Call it Area 151 – the endless excavation beneath the 160-year-old Greek Revival brownstone at 151 W. 13th, with thedecrepit gray work shed leaning off the front.After all that digging, the hole is now 19 feet deep, andextends beneath the entire back yard to the property line. Thesides of this pit must be shored up, since it hasn’t collapsed,but it’s impossible for a casual observer to tell, since(according to neighbors with a view of the yard) it is entirelycovered in plywood sheets.What is it for? The owner says only that this hugeunderground space will be used for “storage and recreation”– not a very satisfying answer.More worrisome is word that the excavation is not yetcomplete, and that the excavator has run out of money. Noword on what the owner plans to do about that, butmeanwhile the eyesore shed remains chained and locked, nowork being done.And now the owner wants approval to add two stories to theback of the house (which already has a one story extension)-c
ont. P.2
 
President's Message
 By Gary Tomei
Summer's over, so for those whohave been away, welcome back toour collective construction project – or perhaps we should say our “block in progress.”It seems there's hardly a building onthe block which is not being reno-vated and encased in scaffolding.However, take heart: 175 (the Cam- bridge) should have its scaffoldingdown in the fall and the City &Country School has to finish soon asschool starts in September.As reported in our headline story,the owners of 151, which had adumpster in front of its premises for ayear and a half, have advised us thattheir excavator has run out of moneyand that excavation project is nowstymied so the construction shed infront of that building remains and, itappears, will remain there as amemorial to the 2nd Big Dig on the block (the 1st being the infamousMTA job at the corner of 6th Ave.)Of great concern is the fate of 135-137, which is, and has been a messfor a years now. Renovation wasstarted and It has wooden panelsaround the ground floor but nothingseems to going on presently. I amconcerned that those panels, besides being eyesores, are perfect hiding places for muggers. The City should force the owner to remove them.
 -c
ont. P.2
 
You’re invited!
T
HE ANNUAL
W.
 
13
TH
S
T
.
 
B
LOCK
S
OCIAL
 
Sunday, October 4th, at Gradisca Ristorante
 
See last page for full details.
 
 Area 151 cont.
going out one foot beyond his present extension.On Aug. 31, The Landmarks Committee of Com-munity Board 2 held a hearing to consider this newapplication. Block Assn. President Gary Tomei andseven more of our neighbors attended to speakagainst the project.
 
For now, the extension application is on hold. Butthe nearly complete excavation is a done deal.And it remains to be seen how long it will continueas a blot on the block and a mystery to otherresidents. The Block Assn. will keep tabs on it andattempt to clarify just what’s going on in Area 151.
-Bruce Meyer, ed.
(For more on this and related matters, see thePresident's Message, p.1.)
 
President’s Message cont.
  Yet all of this will be just fun and games comparedto the Rudin/St. Vincent's project, if that ever getsoff the ground. Right now, though the LPC hasgiven St. Vin's and Rudin the green light to raze theO'Toole building and commence building two hugeedifices, Protect the Village Historic District ispursuing a lawsuit (I am one of the plaintiffs) toprevent this violation of the Landmarks Law. Weopened this proceeding in February, but – as usual– the wheels of justice turn slowly. Right now thematter is scheduled to be heard in NY CountySupreme Court on Nov. 23. I believe we have avery strong case and will prevail.Rudin and St. Vin’s still must go through TheUniform Land Use Review Process to obtain zoningvariances, since they plan to violate the zoninglaws as well as the Landmarks Law. But it almostcertainly will be approved. The truth is that the developers have thepoliticians in their pockets. Christine Quinn and BPStringer support the project, and have gotten hugecampaign contributions from the Rudin people. Thepoliticos are selling our historic, cultural andarchitectural heritage – the soul of this great City –for political contributions. And it is not justhappening in the Village. Take the area around the Brooklyn Bridge. Quinnand councilwoman Melinda Katz received at least$74,000 in donations through Two TreesManagement, a real estate conglomerate, whichalso spent $400,000 lobbying the Council and cityagencies to get approval for a 17-story buildingsteps from the Brooklyn Bridge – and towering 7stories above it. Despite opposition by the historianDavid McCullough, documentarian Ken Burns, and25,000 residents, Two Trees received City Councilapproval of the project.Our local politicians have become lackeys of thereal estate establishment and don’t truly give adamn about the people, history or future of NYC.We planned to print this issue before theDemocratic primary election, and I would havesuggested that you vote for those who are capableand true preservationists, specifically: for Mayor, Tony Avella; for Comptroller, David Yassky; forPublic Advocate, Eric Gioia, and for D.A., RichardAborn. Only David Yassky, running forComptroller, made it to the runoffs, and I urge youto vote for him on September 29.
(NOTE:
 
Theseare personal choices and not those of the Block Assn.)
Redesigned Website
Our website, www.west13.org, is changing. Wehired Raven Petretti, a local web designer, to giveus an overhaul, which is now in a shakedownphase. It's a new design, and the format will allowblogging by various contributors, feedback fromblock residents, and payment of dues or other feesvia your PayPal account. Eventually. We'll sendan email when we're ready for an official unveiling.
 
W. 13
th
St.
Gazette
Page 2
Fall/Winter 2009
The Real Estate Report
By Kitty Sorell
 Yes, recession is definitely here – but there isgood news about real estate on our lovely,landmarked block.Recent sales in a doorman building on ourblock included a one bedroom for $731,000 anda studio for $350,000.A single family townhouse on our block sold for$8,500,000 in January. Otherwise, for now,townhouse owners are taking a breather. Two bedroom apartments in doorman buildingson our block range in price from $1,150,000 to$850,000. One bedrooms range from $698,000to $649,000. A duplex one bedroom with agarden asks $1,195,000 and a townhouse onebedroom floor-through is priced at $1,470,000.Rental apartments are plentiful here now.Monthly rents for one bedrooms range from$1,950 to $2,950. Studios are asking $1,700. Two bedroom rentals range from $3,400 to$5,900.
Kitty is a W13BA member and VP, CorcoranReal Estate. For additional information, call her at 212-989-0101.
 
 
500 Steps: West
Exploring our Neighborhood
 A continuing series by Alan Jacobs
 Our block has become the Gateway to the Meat-packing District and the High Line. But they are notwithin 500 steps of our block. There are some un-heralded (until now) sights closer to our front doors.1.
Jackson Square Park,
a triangle bordered byGreenwich Ave., Horatio St., and Eighth Ave. Fol-low 13th St. west from our block and you come to afork at Jackson Square. In the East Village, vest-pocket parks abound, thanks to the numeroustenements that burned to the ground in the 1970s,replaced by community gardens. Small parks arerarer on this side of town, and our nearest one is Jackson Square. It had been frequented by lots ohomeless people, but not anymore, thanks to the Jackson Square Alliance, a group spearheaded bythe eponymous new condo build-ing on the square. The NYC parks website tells usthat this piece of ground was never officially named Jackson Square, but followers of Andrew Jacksonhad a meetinghouse at 2 Horatio on the square,named their meetinghouse Jackson Hall, and calledthe location Jackson Sqaure. The city has ownedthe land since 1826, but it was not until 1872 thatany reference to Jackson Square appeared on acity map. It contains no equestrian statue of theHero of the Battle of New Orleans, only a fountainand floral displays. On a recent Thursday after-noon, the park was a lovely place to sit: newly re-furbished, occupied by workers on their lunch hoursand tourists studying maps, a white pigeon wadingin the fountain letting water run over its feet.2.
Electrical Substation,
253 W. 13th St. The Atrain rumbles down Greenwich Ave. on its way from14th St. to W. 4th. And a building across from Jackson Square, right at that obtuse angle where13th meets Greenwich, helps provide electricity tothe subway. Electrical substations are all over town,converting AC power to DC, which is what the sub-ways run on (and why, if you steal a bulb from asubway station, it won't work in your lamp at home). The art deco station here dates from 1930 whenthe Independent lines were built. What's amazingis how well this building blends in with the rest of the block. A high-voltage power station sits here,yet it's no detriment to developers building luxurycondos right next door.
-cont. P.4
W. 13
th
St.
Gazette
Page 3
Fall/Winter 2009

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