W. 13th St.

Voice of the W. 13th St. 100 Block Association, Inc., 155 W. 13th St., New York, N.Y. 10011 Issue No. 9 April 2003

President’s Message: A Tribute to Bill Borenstein

Whither Goest the Association?

Bill Borenstein, Treasurer and Since we lost Bill, who dynamic member of our Association, performed the work of several Board passed away last autumn. He was also members, and another officer is leavpresident of the Greenwich Mews coop ing the block, we welcome the (church building at 143 W. 13). participation of other neighbors. It would take pages and pages to list Our Association has been very all of Bill’s outstanding qualities, as well as active over the past six years. That his contributions to the Association, but to activism was the result of an involved name just a few, Bill was intelligent, and forceful Board of Directors and a gregarious, affable, vital, loquacious, civicsupportive membership. minded, and pleasantly cantankerous. He If other concerned activists do was also a loving husband and companion not come forward, our Association to his wife Laura and an affectionate, faces the danger of becoming just caring father to his children, Leah and another moribund group that speaks Louis. Our hearts go out to them. on occasion as the mouthpiece for the I and all the others on the block who people who are its titular leaders. We The late Bill Borenstein knew Bill will miss his smile, warmth, and invite you to join the Association, bevitality. The Association greatly suffers his loss. come involved in its activities, and volunteer to become Bill was always a Board member. available to assist me in Big Dig: Shock & Awe resolving problems on the The forces are digging in block, and was personally Tues., April 29, 2003, 8:00 P.M. for a long siege. Massive available to aid businesses At the Markle Residence equipment arrives daily. and residents. Beyond We’re shocked and awed as 123 W 13th Street that, he was a man of the project gets bigger and the initiative, who single4th Floor Lounge noise gets louder. Now that handedly arranged the it’s begun, we’ll just have to see it through: the 6th installation of the old-fashioned streetlamps that adorn Ave. Subway will be ventilated! From your corresponour street. He also single-handedly obtained more atdent’s aerie at 105, the view into the murky m aw is tractive and efficient garbage cans for our corners, got spookily exciting, and the daily noise controllable with planters for the front of 105, rid graffiti from walls, earplugs. Others are not so thrilled. lampposts, and mailboxes, and was our most effective Here is an account from one of the brownstones dues-collector. on the south side of the street: “Oh, where to begin? The Association will, within the next six months, First, our water main was left exposed and plant a new tree on the block with a plaque in Bill’s

Annual Meeting:

honor.—GARY TOMEI Page 1

Bergonzo, may be reached at (646) 252-4788. The contractor’s (J.P. Picone) project manager, Ralph Barlow, may be reached at (516) 239-1600.

The Block Association has made arrangements through Juan Moro of Community Board No. 2 to have the City plant a tree in front of 123 (Markle Residence) to replace the one that was blown down last year. Mr. Moro has told Gary Tomei that the planting will be done in May. In order to protect our plants and flowers, the Association has purchased signs to encourage people to curb their dogs.

we had no water on a Saturday morning in early January (though it was thawed within hours by the contractors). The jackhammering and vacuum truck are deafening, but nothing compared to the earthquake-like shaking (glasses rattling, etc.) of the huge hydraulic drill, and, apparently, nothing close to how bad the pile driving will be. We’re unable to load or unload our car in front of the house when we go away for the weekend, and we pray for a metered spot on 6th Ave. just to bring in the groceries. We’ve doubled our insurance, and are having our foundation monitored by a privately hired engineer. The restaurant’s garbage service is refusing to pick up. The gates had to be taken off our stoop for the boardwalk to be installed--which will attract people and garbage once the weather gets warmer. Con Ed spent a morning in our basement rerouting our gas service. The list goes on. Mostly, we’re nervous about the long-term damage this must be inflicting on our poor little foundation.” The account continues: “Fortunately, the contractors have been wonderful about communicating with us and addressing our concerns. No deaf ears there, thank goodness.” We’ve also heard from a psychoanalyst in the middle of the block who can’t carry on her practice because of the noise. We were apprised that the parking garage at 107 was without water for a few weeks beginning Jan. 20. The water froze in pipes exposed by the construction in front of the building. The owner of the garage r equested help from Councilmember, Christine Quinn, with the Association joining in the request. Questions or comments regarding the Big Dig should be directed to Adrienne Taub at (718) 6945125. The NYC Transit construction manager, Carlo Page 2

New School Dorm
In fall 2002, the New School opened its dorm at 118, formerly Katherine House. Although we anticipated problems from disruptive students, and have heard some grumblings from residents immediately across the street from the site, we believe that the problems have been relatively minor. Last August, Alan Jacobs, 2nd VP of the Association, met with Linda Abrams Reimer, the New School’s Senior Vice President for Student Services, to air our concerns. Ms. Reimer said that the type of students who attend the New School do not ordinarily cause the kinds of problems associated with those who go to party schools. There are 180 freshmen housed at 118 along with 7 fulltime staff, including an administrator and security guards. Students are not permitted to use the roof and the doors leading to the rooftop have alarms to prevent student access. For problems with the residence, contact Ms. Reimer at reimerl@newschool.edu.

Although we have lost Nipotino and Antonio as restaurants on the block, we are fortunate to have the superb restaurant, Gonzo, open in the space formerly occupied by Antonio. The chef/owner at Gonzo is the renowned Vincent Scotto, formerly of Scopa & Fresco. The space at Nipotino remains vacant, although for the last year a sign in the window has heralded a new restaurant, Arawak. At the lower end of the price scale, the one-dollar Whopper washed down by a $2 scoop of ice cream is

no more. The Burger King/Häagen Dazs store on 6th Ave. (bet. 13th & 14th) closed its doors in February. But on the same block, Hanami Japanese Cuisine has opened, and offers an $8 lunch special that includes sushi, a California roll, miso, a spring roll, and salad. For those of us who work at home or nearby, it’s a great location for a quiet, nutritious and tasty lunch.

A car window was smashed and its contents stolen on January 23 in front of 155 W. 13th St. There’s also been a report of drug use on the apartment roof of 117 W. 13th.

Architecture in the Neighborhood
Gansevoort Market: On Dec. 11, 2002, Gary Tomei attended 2 meetings--one at the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and the other at the NYC Board of Standards and Appeal--to express opposition to a proposed high-rise in the meatpacking district. The district, now called Gansevoort Market, is west of 9th Ave. and mostly south of 14th St. We also stand in favor of preserving Gansevoort Market as a historic district. We are working in conjunction with the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation to preserve the unique architectural heritage of the Village, including the low-rise vernacular architecture of the meatpacking district. Our Block: There has been a spate of renovation of brownstones on our block, which enriches and enhances our architectural heritage. Renovation is in progress at 132, & 134 and has recently been completed at 156.

Growing Up on 13th Street
In 1980--on February 8th, to be exact -- my parents and I journeyed from our apartment on 12th St. and 5th Ave. all the way over to 13th and 6th to settle in the brownstone that has been our home since I was eight. Now I’m 31, and I’ve moved all the way downstairs, to the parlor floor apartment, where I live with my husband. Except for five years away at college and abroad, I have, conveniently, never had to file a change of address with the post office. As I sat down to write this, I figured I would illuminate the differences between then and now. Some Page 3

neighbors tell me they still remember the sight of my 6’ 5" dad walking me to P.S. 41, pushing along his enormous green bicycle and wearing a bright orange helmet. At ten, I began hopping the crosstown bus to Friends Seminary, and for high school, I mastered the art of finishing calculus homework in the last car of the rumbling 2, 3 train. But truly, the view out our windows hasn’t changed much (except for the gigantic excavation pit). There’s the garage, whose cars have been expertly orchestrated by maestro Reggie for as long as I can remember. And the doormen at 105, who very possibly know more about whom I dated and what time I came home than my parents do. Growing up, we lived above fancy French food (the renowned La Tulipe that survived only slightly longer than the Reagan administration); now, we live above a savory Syrian restaurant, Salaam, and the owners, our downstairs neighbors, send their two kids to P.S. 41. We mourned the departure of Siegler’s next door but are still breathing a sigh of relief at the arrival of the elegant Synchronicity. The big news is that the block is, if anything, prettier than it was. The antique lampposts have been rightfully resurrected, thanks to the efforts of our devoted Block Association. People are planting more than they used to and looking after their trees. The streets feel safer than ever in our privileged enclave, and even the subway rides to and from home are now blissfully airconditioned and graffiti-free, compared to their nadir in the 70s. People I meet from outside New York can’t believe that I grew up in the city without ever having been mugged -- or worse. They are surprised that I don’t have a New York accent and they assume that I only wear black and go clubbing constantly. In fact, I’ve been known to wear primary colors, and I much prefer strolling down Seventh Ave. after dinner to get a scoop at Cones than trying to penetrate the velvet ropes at Nell’s. I’d rather type away on my laptop in the company of other writers at Cosi, wearing only my Tevas, than lunch at bank-breaking spots in midtown in u ncomfortable shoes. My point is that there are many New Yorks. I think of NYC not only as my hometown, but as my homestead. I live within two blocks of my elementary school and on the same block as my father’s (3 cheers for City & Country!), who grew up on

Bank St. When asked if I would ever move out of the city, I answer that I can’t imagine depriving my kids of such a unique childhood, one that is both safe and small and also dynamic and pulsing and large. Besides, there are no scarier words to me than these: Car Pool!--DAPHNE UVILLER (Daphne Uviller writes for Time Out NY.)

Who’s Behind Those 6th Ave. Festivals?
If you think a street fair is run to benefit the Community, think again! The Sixth Ave. “Festival” in Chelsea serves to make us miserable twice a year by backing up traffic on 6th Ave. and diverting traffic onto our block. The only “community organization” to be served by the next 6th Ave. Festival (Saturday, May 24, 2003) is called “Chelsea Midtown Democrats.” The Chelsea Midtown Democrats have such a small club that it does not even have a clubhouse and is not listed in the phone book. We obtained the address and phone number from two elderly ladies who sat during last year’s Festival at an unmarked card table outside of Staples. This was the Club’s official booth.

CLOSING THE AVENUE FROM 14TH TO 33RD STREETS!!! This event is Sunday, August 17, and benefits the “23rd St. Association/St. Cecile’s Scholarship Fund”, whatever that may be. And, by the way, a “festival” on our part of 6th Ave. (8th to 14th Streets) is scheduled for Sunday, October 12. However, this has less impact on our block’s traffic situation. Clearview Festival Productions is at 80 8th Ave., Suite 415, New York, N.Y. 10011 (Tel.: (646)2300489; Fax: (646)230-0718). Its website is www.clearviewfestival.com, which contains the details of all the festivals that Clearview will be foisting on neighborhoods this year. The community sponsor of the May 24 festival is Chelsea Midtown Democrats, P.O. Box 1671, New York, N.Y. 10011. Tel.: (212) 691-9206. Its president is Gene Glaberman, and vice president is Velma Hill.

Real Estate Report
Real estate sales in GV are very strong. Many apartments are on the market and many buyers out there. Generally, prices have dropped a bit from a year ago but are still relatively high. For year 2002, sales of 3 townhouses on our block ranged from $2.5 million to almost $3 million. Coop sales were strong with 2bedroom units selling in a range from the mid-$500’s to high $600’s. One-bedroom sales ranged from the mid$300’s to the high $400’s.
Currently, high-floor 2 bedroom, 2 bath coops on our block are priced at $725K and $830K with a terrace; 1bedrooms are asking mid-$500’s and studios are available in the $200K range. (Above information provide by Association member Kitty Sorell, Corcoran Group, 212-539-4968. )

Who’s mopping up on community “festivals”?

Other than mop sellers, backrub givers, and sausage servers, the only people to benefit are the owners of a commercial outfit called Clearview Festival Productions. Clearview profits by squatting on valuable NYC real estate for a day, collecting fees, and passing a small amount to a local organization. CLEAVIEW IS ALSO SPONSORING A 6TH AVENUE “MEGA-EVENT” THIS YEAR BY Page 4

Officers of the Block Association: Gary Tomei, President; Nancy Deckinger, Vice-President; Robert Kittine, Secretary; Alan J. Jacobs, Interim Treasurer. Steering committee includes: Officers plus Dorothy Graham (Beautification Committee chair); Larry Fruchter (Community Relations chair). Newsletter published by Alan J. Jacobs, 727-7462, or ajacobs@nyc.rr.com. Contributors: Gary Tomei, Daphne Uviller, Kitty Sorell. Edited by Nancy Deckinger.