Volume 1, Number 27 FREE East and West Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown January 27 - February 2, 2011
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A long and bitter 43-year stale-
mate over future development of a
7-acre parcel of land at the foot of
the Williamsburg Bridge came to a
successful conclusion this Monday
when Community Board 3’s Land Use,
Zoning, Public and Private Housing
Committee voted almost unanimously
to approve a set of general guidelines
that would pave the way for action on
the long-dormant Seward Park Urban
Renewal Area, or SPURA.
The historic 20-to-1 vote marked the
end of two years of contentious debate
over details of the general guidelines
by members of the committee. The
approval of the guidelines signaled to
the Bloomberg administration that area
residents and stakeholders have finally
reached some kind of consensus and
are now ready to get down to details
In historic vote, C.B. 3 O.K.’s
SPURA redevelop guidelines
Photo by J.B. Nicholas
A Lower East Sider aired her views Monday about SPURA.
Continued on page 13
Fire Department offi-
cials and former Mayor
Rudy Giuliani were among
those attending the Jan. 21
funeral in Greenwich Village
of 9/11 survivor Josephine
Harris, whose story was one
of the most miraculous of the
World Trade Center attack.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Harris
was rescued from the W.T.C.
North Tower by six firefight-
ers from Chinatown’s Ladder
Co. 6, miraculously helping
them all escape death.
Cardinal Edward Egan
celebrated the Mass of
Resurrection at St. Joseph’s
Church, at Sixth Ave. and
Washington Place, for
Harris, who died at her
home in Brooklyn Wed.,
Jan. 12, at age 69. Her steel
coffin — with “Josephine
Harris Guardian Angel of
9/11” engraved on its lid
— was borne by firefighters
Non-artist residents
feel like ‘criminals’
in Soho, lawyer says
Two of the city’s trendi-
est neighborhoods have a
regulation in their zoning
law that some loft residents
say is outdated and want the
city to do away with.
Other area residents,
however, might be displaced
if the regulation is abol-
The artist certification
for residents of Soho and
Noho, established in the
early 1970’s, when art-
ists began populating the
area, requires at least one
member of households to
be a “creative” artist. They
must prove their status in
an application to the city’s
Department of Cultural
Soho and Noho’s special
zoning allows for residential
use in artists’ joint work-
living quarters — in keeping
with the neighborhoods’ his-
Funeral director,
firefighters help
‘angel’ take wing
Continued on page 12
Continued on page 16
A-list yogis, p. 21
2 Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011
Monday night, a group of activists dem-
onstrated in front of the Continental, on
Third Ave. at St. Mark’s Place, to condemn
what they claim is the bar’s door policy
of racist and discriminatory behavior that
denies entry to blacks and gays.
However, the bar’s owner, who identi-
fied himself as Trigger Smith, denied the
accusations. Most know him simply as
“I do have a dress code, I don’t have a
color code,” Trigger said in an interview on
Wednesday morning.
Trigger’s denials come despite accusa-
tions of racism by the ANSWER (Act Now
To Stop War and End Racism) Coalition
and by numerous complaints on Web
There is even a Facebook page criticiz-
ing the bar, Boycott Continental Bar in
NYC (http://www.facebook.com/group.
Some of the comments by the page’s
131 members include one from August
2010, when Robert Cabassa wrote, “Last
year I was turned away for ‘baggy clothing’
while caucasian kids with flip flops, shorts
and t-shirts were being let in without a
second look. Racist, without question. The
bouncer admitted it, as well, but said there
was nothing he could do about it, since it
was his job to do what the owner says.”
Web posts on Clubplanet.com, Yelp.
com and New York magazine’s Nightlife
site have also charged racist treatment by
the bar’s staff.
“There are a lot of people up in arms
over my door policy,” Trigger said. “I’m
paying New York rents. I’m not going to
let anyone else run my business.”
In the bitter cold last Monday night,
Shaniqua Pippen, 25, from Brooklyn, stood
quietly with other protesters while holding
a sign reading, “Stop Racial Profiling.”
Last June, Pippen said she and three
friends, after eating at a nearby restaurant,
decided to cap their Saturday night with
some drinks. Walking by the Continental
and its prominent sign declaring, “5 Shots
of Anything $10,” they tried to enter.
Although Pippen noticed the bar was
nearly empty, she said a bouncer told her
and her friends that they were not allowed
to enter, “because we had to be a regular
or they had to know us.”
Pippen asked the bouncer about the
handful of people who had entered just
before them.
“If you know all these people, why
are you still checking their ID’s?” Pippen
asked, saying the bouncer replied that he
didn’t make the rules.
“Do we need to be regulars or do we
just need to be white?” Pippen pressed
on, saying the bouncer, who was black,
replied, “Your people don’t know how to
Pippen told a friend about her experi-
ence, who referred her to ANSWER. That
group sent a letter to Dominic Pisciotta,
chairperson of Community Board 3.
Jinnette Caceres, a community organiz-
er with ANSWER, said C.B. 3 forward-
ed the complaint to the New York City
Commission on Human Rights.
Trigger said the longevity of the
Continental, which he has owned almost
20 years, can be traced to its door policy.
“Within six months, these flash-in-the-
pan new clubs are closed when there’s no
door policy,” he said. “We probably turn
away more people than these hot, trendy
Meatpacking clubs.” Until a few years
ago, the Continental was a live-music club
known for punk rock. But Trigger said only
now that he has transformed it into a bar is
he finally turning a profit.
“I don’t have a racist bone in my body,”
Trigger said, adding he even took out an
ad in a local paper celebrating Barack
Obama’s 2008 victory. Trigger, who grew
up in Brooklyn, said Caceres wanted him
to meet with Pippen in the ANSWER
office. Trigger suggested a neutral location
but ultimately the meeting didn’t happen.
“There are people, black, brown, in my
bar seven nights a week. I’m very offended
by all of this. I’m not giving in,” Trigger
Wednesday afternoon Pippen was
scheduled to meet with an attorney from
the Commission on Human Rights. Betsy
Herzog, a commission spokesperson, noted
there is already one complaint outstanding
against the Continental.
“The bar is under investigation,” she
The commission’s investigation could
result in fines, the awarding of damages
or mandating a policy change. If an issue
can’t be settled by the commission, the
next step is court.
ANSWER plans to picket the Continental
this Sat., Jan. 29, at 8 p.m.
Shots bar comes under fire
for alleged ‘racist’ door policy
Photo by Jefferson Siegel
Shaniqua Pippen, who says she was
denied entry to the Continental, picketed
the bar Monday.
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Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011 3
SHOWING LOVE FOR SHOPS: Extremely concerned
about the plight of small businesses that have been dev-
astated by the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital last April,
Assemblymember Deborah Glick and other local elected
officials are teaming up with the Greenwich Village-Chelsea
Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a “Love the Village” event
on Sat., Feb. 12. Starting at 10 a.m., “Love the Village” will
be a daylong scavenger hunt that will encourage the public to
shop at businesses hurt by St. Vincent’s closure. Participants
will be given a map of businesses on Greenwich, Sixth and
Seventh Aves. and, after shopping at these businesses, will
have an opportunity to exchange their receipts for raffle tick-
ets and the chance to win prizes donated by local businesses
at a raffle held at the Lesbian and Gay Center on W. 13th
St. In a show of Valentine’s Day appreciation, giveaways will
include specially designed “Love the Village” T-shirts for all
who take part. “I envision this will be a fun, community-
building day for everyone involved,” Glick said. “In these
distressed times it is important for all of us to unite together
and pitch in to help the community.” More details about
“Love the Village” will follow.
of St. Vincent’s, Yetta Kurland and her allies continue to
insist that Community Board 2 has “land locked” the for-
mer Greenwich Village hospital campus so that it can only
be used as a hospital in the future. Plus, they now claim,
Community Board 6 has also gotten onboard the “land lock”
bandwagon, having recently passed a resolution of support.
So said Evette Stark, a member of Kurland’s Coalition
for a New Village Hospital, speaking before C.B. 2’s full
board meeting last week. A few days before, Kurland had
put out an e-mail blast trumpeting the “victory.” However,
C.B. 2 member Lois Rakoff took exception, saying she
had read the East Side community board’s resolution on
St. Vincent’s, and that nowhere in either C.B. 2 or C.B.
6’s resolutions does the word “land lock” appear. Stark
shrugged. Jo Hamilton, followed up Rakoff, emphasizing,
“We never used that word [land lock]. No, we don’t know
that word. Our resolution was to preserve zoning that
allows hospital and healthcare uses at the site.” (According
to the Department of City Planning, there is no such term
as “land lock” in New York City zoning. Also, to say that
only hospital uses are allowed at the St. Vincent’s site
would actually represent a change of the zoning, since the
site does currently allow other uses.)
PLAZA PLANS: In other C.B. 2 news, the Greenwich
Village / Soho community board last week unanimously
backed the city’s Astor Place / Cooper Square reconstruction
plan. C.B. 2 in its resolution, however, did support members
of C.B. 3, the East Village / Lower East Side community
board, who had expressed strong opposition to open seating
areas in what would be called “Village Plaza,” to the south
of the current Peter Cooper Park. “Therefore it is resolved
that C.B. 2 approves this reconstruction as proposed if
seating opportunities that cannot be locked or removed at
night are eliminated from the areas below Seventh St.,” the
board’s affirmative resolution stated, in part. A representa-
tive of Grace Church School, which plans to open a new
high school on the west side of Cooper Square, announced
at the meeting that they have “an agreement” with the city
“to maintain” Village Plaza. “We will use it as a teaching
spot,” she said. “We will have our life sciences kids down
there.” (We’re not sure what sorts of wildlife species they’ll
be studying on the plaza; hopefully, not “drunken hooligans,”
for C.B. 3 members’ sake.) A Noho representative said that,
moving forward, they hope to get more information on
whether some sort of business improvement district (BID)
will be overseeing the open plaza areas that are to be created.
Meanwhile, Jim Power, the East Village’s “Mosaic Man,”
called us several times, simply beside himself at the idea of
Astor Place being closed between Fourth Ave. and Lafayette
St. as part of the pedestrianization plan. This is nothing but
a blatant land grab by the new building to the south of “The
Alamo” cube sculpture, Power fumed. Plus, he added, agitat-
edly — what would happen to all his mosaic-tile planters and
lampposts that dot the intersection?
CORRECTION: Clearly, new Schools Chancellor Cathie
Black went a bit too far when, addressing the issue of Lower
Manhattan’s exploding population, she quipped at a School
Overcrowding Task Force meeting two weeks ago, “Could
we just have some birth control for a while? It would really
help us all out.” Unfortunately, we, in turn, went a bit farther
still in our article’s headline, which referred to Black’s having
made an “abortion remark,” which she did not do. While birth
control and abortion obviously both have to do with repro-
duction, they are obviously not the same thing at all. Our only
explanation for the gaffe is some combination of brain lock
and the rush to meet the deadline. We regret the error.
Photo by J.B. Nicholas
Bundled up in a long down coat with a big hood in the
frigid weather, on Sunday Maggie Gyllenhaal arrived
at the Classic Stage Company, near Union Square,
where she is appearing in the Chekhov classic “Three
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In an effort to prevent the type of bed-
bug epidemic that swept the city in 2009,
the Department of Housing Preservation
and Development and the New York City
Housing Authority joined forces last week
with Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who
co-sponsored two community forums on
how to prevent and combat such infestations
in one’s home.
The first forum was held Tues., Jan. 18,
at Health Professions High School, 345 E.
15th St., and focused on residents living
in private housing. The second forum, on
Thurs., Jan. 19, was held at P.S. 188, 442
E. Houston St., and was geared to NYCHA
Mendez, whose district includes the East
Village, Gramercy, Union Square and part
of the Lower East Side and reaches up to
E. 35th St., said she was somewhat disap-
pointed with the small turnout at both
forums, but blamed inclement weather for
the poor showing.
The councilmember said she initiated the
series of forums because in the past year her
office had been receiving a greater than nor-
mal amount of complaints about bedbugs.
“Just looking at what’s happening in the
city and with all the news about bedbugs, I
thought it was important to do these forums
and bring in housing experts from the pri-
vate housing stock and public housing stock
to talk about procedures on how to identify
them, what you can do on your own and, if
you live in public housing, how to get man-
agement involved to do something about the
problem,” she said.
The councilmember said that while she
was “very happy” with the city’s participa-
tion in both forums, it was unfortunate
there wasn’t a greater showing by resi-
“The most important thing here is educa-
tion — people have to know how to prevent
and combat bedbugs,” she said. “And once
they know, they can pass that information
on to their neighbors. So I was hoping for a
larger turnout.”
At the Thursday night forum, which was
attended by 15 residents — mostly from the
Bernard Baruch, Lillian Wald and Samuel
Gompers developments — Joseph Roeder,
deputy director of NYCHA’s Manhattan
Borough Office, said there was no evidence
of an epidemic of bedbugs in public housing.
“This infestation is happening all across
the city,” Roeder said. “But at the New York
City Housing Authority, we’re not calling it
an epidemic yet.”
He read off a list of NYCHA-run devel-
opments and the numbers of bedbug com-
plaints received from each. He said that,
in general, the number of such complaints
were low.
Roeder cited the Baruch Houses as an
example. He said there are 2,391 dwelling
units in that development, but that only 152
bedbug complaints were received last year.
“That’s about 6 percent and the figures for
the rest of the developments in Manhattan
are pretty much the same,” he said.
Roeder noted, however, that the Housing
Authority was somewhat short-staffed in
pest control inspectors and exterminators.
“We only have 20 exterminators in
Manhattan,” he said. “That’s one of our
drawbacks. We only have two teams assigned
every day just for bedbugs.”
The deputy director said his agency was
working to correct the problem by hiring
more outside contractors.
“This will help free up our own exter-
minators who are busy with rat and roach
control,” he said.
Mendez called the staffing short-
age understandable because, she said, the
Housing Authority was “still going through
a chronic fiscal crises.” The councilmember
added, however, that she would look into
the staffing issue both in Manhattan and the
other boroughs and see if there is any way
to increase the number of inspectors and
Earlier in the forum, Jamal Rashid, tech-
nical services adviser for NYCHA’s Technical
Services Department, discussed ways for
residents to prevent bedbug infestation and
how to safely get rid of the pests.
Rashid reassured public housing resi-
dents that while the dreaded, blood-
hungry bedbugs are a nuisance, they are
not known to spread disease. He said
bedbugs can enter homes by latching onto
used furniture, luggage and clothing, and
by traveling along connecting pipes and
“Never bring bed frames, mattresses,
box springs or upholstered furniture found
on the street into your homes,” he cau-
tioned residents. “You should also avoid
buying refurbished and used mattresses
and furniture. And if you suspect you
have bedbugs, call your management office
Rashid strongly cautioned residents
against trying to treat the problem on their
own. The pest control expert said that
excessive use of pesticides could lead to
Some signs of bedbug infestations, he
explained, include bloodstains on linen,
dark stains on mattresses from bedbug
waste, musky odors and bite marks. He
said that bedbug bites can be very itchy
and irritating and, in some cases, cause
skin rashes and allergic reactions.
Mendez told residents to contact her
office if they did not get a swift response
to their bedbug complaints from their
management office.
“We’ll follow up on it,” she said. “The
New York City Housing Authority doesn’t
want this to become an epidemic.”
NYCHA officials say 6 percent of units have bedbugs
Photo by Lesley Sussman
Councilmember Rosie Mendez checked out a captive Cimex lectularius, otherwise
known as a bedbug, at last Thursday’s forum.
‘At NYCHA, we’re not
calling it an epidemic yet.’
Joseph Roeder
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Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011 5
A push was made last Thursday night
to get Community Board 2 to recom-
mend reducing by half the footprint of
the famed San Gennaro Festival, but the
motion failed by a vote of 20 to 13.
Traditionally, the feast, which lasts a
full 11 days in September, has stretched
along Mulberry St. between Canal and
Houston Sts. However, new designer bou-
tique owners, restaurateurs and residents
in stylish Nolita, at Little Italy’s northern
end, have grown increasingly opposed to
the event. They say the neighborhood has
changed. And the 85-year-old festival isn’t
authentically Italian anymore, they say,
but is just like other generic street fairs
and, most of all, is a major disruption for
the neighborhood for close to two weeks
each year.
Unfortunately for Nolita’s boutique
owners, the feast also coincides with
Fashion Week and Fashion’s Night Out,
keeping fashionistas away during what
should be a highpoint of the year.
The Charlotte Ronson boutique, near
Spring St., owned by hip music producer
Mark Ronson’s sister, simply closes for
two weeks during the festival, said assis-
tant manager Jessica Pimentel, speaking
the day after the C.B. 2 meeting.
“The average price of our goods is
$100 and made in America,” one boutique
owner testified at the meeting. The aver-
age price of San Gennaro wares is “$5 and
made outside this country,” she said.
The festival “becomes an 11-day bar-
ricade to the stores,” stated another shop
Giving them a newfound sense of com-
munity empowerment, however, Nolita
residents last year successfully organized
to defeat Danny Meyer’s plan for a Shake
Shack at Prince and Mulberry Sts. Lacking
sufficient seating, the sure to be wildly
popular hamburger takeout would have
overwhelmed the neighborhood, they
argued, before Meyer ultimately pulled
out due to their opposition.
The recent petition effort to shorten
the San Gennaro Festival at Kenmare St.
was an outgrowth of this positive expe-
rience fighting Shake Shack, said two
Nolita denizens, Kim Martin and Sharon
“You can only take so much after
awhile,” said Gary, a physical therapist,
and a Prince St. resident for more than
20 years.
Through the work of its Street
Activities & Film Permits Committee,
C.B. 2 did succeed in getting a number of
concessions from Figli di San Gennaro,
the nonprofit board that runs the festi-
val. The group has agreed that, at this
year’s festival, there will be no “Dunk
the Clown,” since people complained it
was too raucous. Also, there won’t be any
karaoke, no booths selling or playing CD’s
— unless the music is directly related to
the festival’s theme — and no vulgar or
mafia T-shirts for sale, either.
Figli di San Gennaro has also agreed
to strict guidelines on shutdown times
for each night and will rotate the sound-
stage’s location so as to spread the noise
impact around equitably. Also under the
stipulations, no building of structures will
take place overnight.
The community board, in its resolution,
recognized that the festival “is an impor-
tant and symbolic annual event.” At the
same time, the resolution states that C.B.
2 “strongly urges [the city] to consider
cutting back the size of San Gennaro by
stopping the street fair at Kenmare St. so as
not to disturb the emerging business com-
munity in Nolita who expressed significant
concerns about lost profits and disruptions
caused by the festival.” Yet stopping the
festival at Kenmare St. wasn’t a deal-
breaker for the board’s granting its advisory
approval for the event.
In 1996, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani
brought the formerly corruption-plagued
festival under tight control, and its activi-
ties are still monitored. The event’s orga-
nizers note it has given out about $2
million in charitable donations in the past
15 years.
Vivian Catenaccio, a San Gennaro
board member, noted that Old St. Patrick’s
Cathedral, between Prince and Houston
Sts., was only just recently designated a
basilica. To think of excluding this block
from the festival, “it’s an insult to the
basilica,” she said.
Emily DePalo, another San Gennaro
board member, also noted the festival’s
religious foundations.
“We have two religious processions.
It’s a grueling three-to-four-hour pro-
cess,” she said. “One of them they walk,
one of them they float.” On Sept. 19, the
cathedral is packed for a big Mass for San
Gennaro feast day, she added.
Catenaccio added she sees few actual
customers in the Nolita fashion bou-
“I feel sorry for them,” she said, noting
they pay high rent.
Effort to shorten San Gennaro Fest falls short
Out for this year’s festival:
‘Dunk the Clown,’
karaoke, mafia T-shirts —
and no live baby tigers.
Continued on page 10
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Dealers ‘in’ the news
Police arrested two men in the early
hours of Thurs., Jan. 20, and charged them
with running a 24-hour cocaine and marijua-
na business catering to New York University
students, patrons of East Village and Lower
East Side bars and Tribeca residents.
The arrests were the result of a three-
month Police Department investigation and
sting operation that was uncovered when a
court employee told police he found business
cards offering coke and pot for sale that were
tucked in the pages of The Village Voice in
a box in front of an N.Y.U. dorm on Third
Ave. at E. 10th St. The drug-pushing cards
had also been shoved under the apartment
doors of Independence Plaza in Tribeca,
according to the complaint.
The defendants, Thomas Zenon, 49, and
Miguel Guzman, 43, were arraigned on
Fri., Jan. 21, and were being held in lieu
of $1 million bond or $750,000 cash bail,
according to the office of Special Narcotics
Prosecutor Bridget Brennan.
Undercover police had made 12 buys
from Zenon and Guzman between Oct. 19
and Jan. 20, including two $1,110 buys of
more than a half-ounce of cocaine, according
to the complaint. Both suspects had previ-
ously served time for federal drug convic-
tions, according to sources. Guzman, identi-
fied as a former Ohio State football player in
a Daily News item, was carrying 16 grams
of cocaine, more that $1,600 and four cell
phones when he was arrested. Zenon had
more than $600 on him and a stash of 20
bags of marijuana inside a coffee thermos in
his car when he was arrested, the complaint
One N.Y.U. student told the Daily News
that one of the suspects offered him cocaine
outside the 10th St. dorm and handed him
a card with a cell phone number and the
words, “Blow your Mind.”
Burglary-series arrest
Police on Thurs., Jan. 6, arrested a sus-
pect in connection with a series of 13 Lower
East Side and Chinatown burglaries and
home invasions between Oct. 12 and Nov.
15. But the suspect, Irving Walker, 31, who
admitted to three of the burglaries, was not
the Irving Walker, 41, whom police thought
they were looking for in November.
The innocent suspect, whose name and
former Bronx address were included in the
N.Y.P.D. call for help issued to the media,
had moved away a decade ago and was in a
doctor’s office in Virginia Beach, Va., during
one of the incidents. Although he received a
letter from a detective that he was no longer
a suspect, he said he is afraid to visit his old
Bronx neighborhood, where residents might
not know that he is cleared in the case.
A spokesperson for the Manhattan
district attorney said the Irving Walker
who was arrested Jan. 6 has admitted
being involved in three of the robberies
with another suspect, Kenneth Harden-
Photo by Jefferson Siegel
Miguel Guzman, center, and Thomas Zenon, right, were arraigned in Manhattan
Supreme Court last Friday. They are charged with advertising drug sales by inserting
business cards into The Village Voice.
Continued on page 7
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Smith. Harden-Smith, arrested earlier, is
charged with committing all 13 burglaries
on Madison, Catherine, Eldridge, Forsyth,
Monroe and Henry Sts. and East Broadway
during the four-week period last autumn.
Steal a flashlight!
Two burglars who entered a ground-floor
apartment on E. Seventh St. near Avenue
A around 11:30 p.m. Wed., Jan. 5, acciden-
tally set fire to the place with a lighter that
they were using as a flashlight, police said.
Firefighters who responded to the blaze,
which was confined to the apartment, had
the fire under control in a half-hour. Two
firefighters sustained minor injuries. The
images of the burglars, who made off with
two laptop computers and jewelry, were
recorded on a surveillance tape.
Arrest in shooting
On Tues., Jan. 18, detectives arrested Daniel
Claudio, 31, a resident of 225 E. Second St.,
and charged him with attempted murder and
first-degree assault in a shooting in front of the
location six days earlier. Police had responded
to the location at 9 a.m. on Jan. 12, where the
victim was found wounded with a gunshot
to the abdomen. The victim, 33, was taken
to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. The
shooter and victim are reportedly cousins.
Roofer fatal fall
Police found a man lying on the ground
unconscious next to Gouverneur Hospital
at 227 Madison St. across from the Alfred
E. Smith Houses around 11:26 p.m. Wed.,
Jan. 19. An Emergency Medical Service team
declared Richard Smith, 46, dead at the
scene. He was working for a roofing contrac-
tor at the hospital and apparently fell to his
death. There was no criminality involved in
the incident, police said.
Phony officer
A motorist who approached another
driver at the curb at the southeast corner of
Sullivan and W. Third Sts. around 5:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 22, said, “I’m a cop. Move your
car,” and flashed a police shield. But Sixth
Precinct police who arrested the driver dis-
covered the shield belonged to a captain in
the Dade County Sheriff’s Office in Miami.
Dino Doda, 42, a resident of Boca Raton,
Fla., and not a policeman, was charged with
criminal impersonation of a police officer
and possession of a fraudulent instrument.
Police assaulted
Police who were arresting Louis Navarro,
28, of the Bronx in front of 179 W. Fourth St.
between Barrow and Jones Sts. at around 12:37
a.m. Thurs., Jan. 20, had a hard time subduing
the angry defendant. The 6-foot-1-inch, 220-
pound suspect punched the arresting officer sev-
eral times and resisted handcuffing, police said.
Around 4:40 a.m. Mon., Jan. 17, a woman
threw an unidentified missile at a passing police
car at the corner of Bleecker and Sullivan Sts.
and then threw several punches at the two offi-
cers who got out to arrest her. She then fled to
a deli, where she grabbed a bottle of beer and
tried to hit an officer who chased her in the
face with it. He blocked the blow with his arm.
During the arrest the suspect flailed her arms
to resist being handcuffed. Joslin Mota, 24, of
the Bronx, was charged with assaulting a police
officer, larceny and resisting arrest.
Sway glass bash
A man visiting from Peoria, Ill., was in
Sway, the bar at 305 Spring St. between
Greenwich and Hudson Sts., during the
early hours of Sun., Jan. 23, when a woman
hit him in the face with a drinking glass,
police said. The woman, Casey Tatum, 24,
was arrested and charged with assault.
Marc Jacobs lifters
A man and a woman entered the Marc
Jacobs boutique at 163 Mercer St. around 2
p.m. Fri., Jan. 21, and walked around for a
while until the man grabbed a handbag val-
ued at $1,295 from a mannequin and passed
it to the woman, who put it in her bag. The
couple then left, undetected by the electronic
anti-theft system, although the store’s secu-
rity camera recorded them on tape.
Cuts out with iPod
A man who got on an E train at Roosevelt
Ave. in Queens at 4:30 a.m. Sat., Jan. 15, fell
asleep, missed his stop and woke up at Canal
St. to discover that his right front pocket
had been cut and his iPod stolen. The victim
didn’t report the theft to police until he was
notified that a suspect carrying his iPod had
been arrested at Stillwell Ave. in Brooklyn.
Alber t Amateau
Continued from page 6
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Lynne Stewart — the onetime Downtown
radical civil rights lawyer, convicted of
materially aiding international terrorism
— began 2011 in a sprawling Fort Worth,
Texas, prison complex called Carswell.
It’s the only medical facility for women in
the federal Bureau of Prisons and houses
about 1,400 female inmates.
Stewart, 71, and her supporters had
hoped she would be transferred to the
federal lockup in Danbury, Connecticut,
to be close to family and friends.
But her husband, Ralph Poynter, said
B.O.P. “unilaterally and bureaucratically”
disregarded their pleas and flew Stewart to
Carswell last month. She had been detained
since November 2009 at the Metropolitan
Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan
after a panel of Second Circuit judges
from the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld her
2005 conviction, revoked Stewart’s bail
and ordered her to begin serving jail time
The appellate panel also ordered U.S.
District Judge John G. Koeltl, who had
presided at Stewart’s nine-month trial,
to reconsider the 28-month sentence he
imposed on her in 2006, calling it too
light. During an emotional hearing at
Foley Square last August, Koeltl sharp-
ly increased her sentence to 10 years
for helping the imprisoned Omar Abdel-
Rahman, a.k.a. “The Blind Sheik,” com-
municate with his militant Islamic fol-
lowers in Egypt through press releases. In
resentencing her, Koeltl claimed Stewart
had shown a “lack of remorse.”
Stewart’s allies feared she would die in
prison sooner rather than later, given her
poor health (she’s a cancer survivor) and
the generally bad food and lack of exercise
at many jailhouses in the U.S. Poynter,
however, who visited his wife over New
Year’s weekend, said Carswell is a “mixed
bag.” He said conditions there are an
improvement over M.C.C., “where she
slept on a steel bunk. She now has a real
mattress,” he noted.
He added, “She’s in a hospital room on
the first floor and it’s across from a lake.
She gets one telephone call a day. She’s
been in worse places...and she’s not going
to let this get her down” while her case is
on appeal.
Stewart, in a recent “letter” posted on
her Web site, described her prison room
as having “four bunks” amid two tiers of
similar rooms with an “atrium in the mid-
dle with tv sets and tables and chairs.” She
estimated there about 500 inmates in her
unit. “Lots are doing long bits, victims
of drugs (meth etc) and boyfriends,” she
wrote. “We wear army style (khaki) pants
with pockets tee shirts and dress shirts
long sleeved and short sleeved. When one
of the women heard that I hadn’t ironed
in 40 years, they offered to do the shirts
for me. (This is typical of the help I get —
escorted to meals and every other protec-
tion, explanations, supplies, etc.)”
She noted that one drawback is “not
having a bathroom in the room — have to
go about 75 yards at all hours of the day
and night — clean though.”
Before her imprisonment, Stewart was
derided in some press accounts for being
chubby and un-chic in her courtroom
appearances. Poynter said she has “lost
weight” behind bars and tries to eat only
one meal a day at Carswell because of
the difficulty she has walking up several
flights of stairs to a dining hall in a sepa-
rate building. In her letter, Stewart noted
the jailhouse grub at Carswell is far better
than the eats at M.C.C.
“Food is vastly improved,” she wrote in
late December. “Just had Sunday Brunch
real scrambled eggs, PORK sausage,
Baked or home fried potatoes, Butter
(sweet whipped M’ God!!) Grapefruit
juice Toast, orange. I will probably regain
the weight I lost at MCC! Weighing
against that is the fact that to eat we
need to walk to another building (about
as far as from my house to the F Train)
Also included is 3 flights of stairs up and
down. May try to get an elevator pass and
try NOT to use it.”
She would also welcome “commis-
sary money” to pay for the phone and
e-mail and for other items and foods that
the prison doesn’t supply, like “pens!”
Stewart concluded her letter on an excep-
tionally upbeat note, stating that at
Carswell she enjoys views of “gorgeous
sunrises and sunsets. The place is very
open and outdoors there are pecan trees
and birds galore.... The full moon last
night gladdened my heart as I realized it
was shining on all of you I hold dear.”
Stewart’s mailing address is Lynne
Stewart, Federal Medical Center, Carswell,
53504 -- 054, Unit 2N, P.O. Box 27137,
Fort Worth, Texas 76127.
Lynne Stewart tries to make
best of Texas; Chow’s better
File photo
Lynne Stewart at a rally for her in Foley
Square before her sentencing in October
Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011 9
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If the storeowners want to participate
in the festival, they can set up vending
tables on the sidewalk, at a reduced rate,
to sell their merchandise, she said.
In addition, she said, “We welcome
them to do a fashion show on the stage.”
Reducing the festival’s space would be
a safety hazard, according to Catenaccio,
with the same amount of people packed
into fewer blocks.
Opponents complained about public
drunkenness at the festival. But Catenaccio
countered there is “no tolerance” for it.
The day after C.B. 2’s vote, Julie
Dickson, owner of Fox & Boy hair salon
on Mulberry St. between Prince and
Houston Sts., said she’d love it if the fes-
tival wasn’t outside her store.
“That would be awesome,” she said.
“It’s kind of dangerous, the element it
attracts. We don’t have any walk-ins that
Instead of walk-in customers, drunk
guys from the feast will stick their heads
into the salon, and with a cigarette dan-
gling from their hand, say, “Hey, what do
you think of my hair?” she said.
Dickson said that while the street fair
seems nice and authentically Italian down
where the old-style restaurants are, north
of Prince St. the vendors are, well, pretty
Last year, she said, “There was a card
table outside and a guy on a microphone
screaming. … There was a clown-dunking
tank a year ago, and that guy was scream-
ing insults at people, like, ‘You belong
on Christopher St.’ — I mean what year
is this? — or ‘Hey lady, you’re not ugly,
you’re just fat.’ ”
Told “Dunk the Clown” and karaoke
were definitely out this year, she said
with relief, “That’s fantastic.”
There were even live baby tigers at
San Gennaro last year, at least briefly,
she said. Her understanding was they
were quickly removed after it was found
there weren’t proper permits.
“They were there for 10 minutes,”
said Figli di San Gennaro’s Bob Marshall.
A local resident had been given control
over the concessions on that block and
thought a “petting zoo” would be fun,
he said.
“We thought it was going to be lambs
or sheep,” Marshall said. “When we saw
what it was, it was immediately shut
down. No one was ever in danger.”
Nicolas Dutko, a co-owner of Tartinery,
a new French restaurant at 209 Mulberry
St. at Spring St., said he supports stop-
ping the festival at Kenmare St.
The restaurant had to pay $3,400 to
reserve the sidewalk space in front of it,
and put tables out, but the smoke from
food vendors was so bad, no one wanted
to eat outdoors. Meanwhile, festival-
goers passing by would keep asking if
they could buy beer at the outdoor
tables, he said.
“And the people are very rude that
come” to the festival, Dutko added.
“It’s one thing to celebrate your Italian
heritage. Up here north of Broome St.,
they’re just doing it to make money. It’s
affecting us a lot.”
Les Schechter, who does the festival’s
P.R., said the street fair is essential for
Little Italy’s restaurants.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” he said. “They
depend on that every year. Those 11 days
bring them a lot of income.”
Effort to shorten San Gennaro Fest falls short
Continued from page 5
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The faithful and stubborn former parish-
ioners of Our Lady of Vilna, the Lithuanian
Catholic church closed by the New York
Archdiocese nearly four years ago, are still
hoping to win a permanent injunction barring
demolition of the building, located right near
the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. Should
they prevail, it would represent a stunning
precedent under which parishioners — and
not the Catholic Church — would have the
ultimate power to determine the fate of their
church buildings.
A core group of men and women who still
hold 1 p.m. Sunday vigils on the steps of the
1910 church on Broome St. are basing their
hope on their petition to the Court of Appeals
in Albany, the state’s highest state, to reverse
lower court and appellate rulings affirming the
archdiocese’s right to demolish the building.
“We are energized that the Court of
Appeals in Albany considers our issue an
important one and decided to look into it,”
said Mindaugas “Gus” Blaudzinas, a member
of Our Lady of Vilna parish for the past 15
Despite the fact that the congregation
lost in two courts, they were able to stop the
demolition because the courts issued a tem-
porary restraining order against demolishing
the building.
Harry Kresky, attorney for the congrega-
tion, received permission from the Appellate
Division on Nov. 4 last year to continue
the appeal because one judge on the five-
member appellate panel found in favor of
the group. Kresky filed a 33-page brief on
the appeal on Jan. 12, which was within the
60-day filing deadline.
A Court of Appeals hearing on the matter
is not likely before May, after lawyers for the
archdiocese reply to the brief and Kresky has
an opportunity to respond.
In February 2007, Cardinal Egan, then
archbishop of New York, decided to disband
the parish and demolish the building because
of the roof, which was found to be unsafe, and
because church functions like weddings and
funerals had not been held there for a year.
But Blaudzinas said this week that the
Masses, held in the church’s basement after
the main sanctuary was closed for roof repairs,
were crowded with parishioners.
“Of course no one would have a wed-
ding in a church where the roof was being
repaired,” Blaudzinas observed.
The issues involved in the Our Lady of
Vilna appeal are similar to those in the long
court fight to save St. Brigid’s Church on
Avenue B, said Kresky, who also represented
the parishioners of that East Village church.
But St. Brigid’s legal issues were not settled
because the court cases were withdrawn after
an unidentified “angel” donated $20 million to
the archdiocese to restore the badly deteriorat-
ed 1849 building, revive the parish — which
had been disbanded in 2004 — and endow the
parish school.
“Our angel is still not imminent,” said
Blaudzinas. So the legal issues remain to be
thrashed out in the Our Lady of Vilna case
before the Court of Appeals.
The question is whether the state’s Religious
Corporations Law, on the books since the turn
of the 20th century, prohibits demolition of a
Catholic church building without the approval
of the parishioners, says Kresky’s brief. The
archdiocese and the lower court held that
demolition does not require parishioners’
Indeed, the courts and the archdiocese
held that submitting such a question to a civil
trial would involve a court in “matters that are
ecclesiastical in nature,” and run afoul of the
First Amendment. Another issue, according
to Kresky’s brief, is whether the parishioners
have any right to sue after the archdiocese
disbanded the Our Lady of Vilna parish. The
court and archdiocese lawyers say no, but the
Our Lady of Vilna congregants say yes.
Blaudzinas noted that Lithuanian immi-
grants, many of whom were longshoremen
who worked on the nearby Hudson River
piers, erected the church. Another wave of
Lithuanian immigrants came around World
War II, and a third Lithuanian immigration
wave came after 1991 when the country
became independent from Russia.
Blaudzinas recalled that in April 2007,
the president of Lithuania issued a statement
after a visit with Pope Benedict XVI, noting
that Lithuanian immigrants in Manhattan
built Our Lady of Vilna Church with their
own money “to have a place for worship and
witness their love and faith in God.” With
time, the church also became a center foster-
ing Lithuanian culture and national identity,
the statement said.
Asked whether the congregation would sue
to compel the archdiocese to reconstitute the
Our Lady of Vilna parish, as well, Blaudzinas
said, “Down the line it might be a next step,
but there is no precedent for that.”
Instead, Blaudzinas said the congregation is
looking into “the possibility of starting a new
dialogue.” Leaders of the congregation met
with New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan
and hope that he finds favor with their cause,
Blaudzinas said.
A spokesperson for the archdiocese said
there would be no comment while the matter
is the subject of a court action.
The church is named for the Virgin Mary,
who appeared in visions 400 years ago in
Lady of Vilna appeal goes to state’s highest court
Plaintiffs say the Church
is flouting the Religious
Corporations Law.
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12 Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011
who honored her memory.
Found unconscious by an Emergency Medical Service
team who could not revive her, Harris was declared dead of
an apparent heart attack during the early hours of Jan. 12.
The story of her rescue from the World Trade Center nine
years ago was the subject of a History Channel documentary
in 2006, “The Miracle of Stairway B.”
A bookkeeper for the Port Authority, Harris was making
her way down stairway B from the 73rd floor in the North
Tower and was near exhaustion at the 15th floor. Ladder
Co. 6 firefighters, who had climbed to a higher floor before
being ordered to go back down, were descending when they
encountered Harris and decided to help her to safety.
At the fourth floor, Harris collapsed and yelled at the
firefighters to leave her but they stayed on. It was then that
the tower around them collapsed leaving Harris and the
six firefighters alive in stairway B, which did not collapse
between the fourth and first floors.
“You could say that if she were not there for us to save her
we probably would not have made it,” said Deputy Chief John
A. Jonas, who was the captain of the Ladder 6 crew at the time.
The Ladder 6 firefighters dubbed Harris their guardian angel.
More recently, however, she had been unemployed for
several years. She was subsisting on disability assistance, had
unpaid bills and had filed for bankruptcy before her death,
according to her sister, Thelma Johnson.
Her body was unclaimed at the morgue for two days until
Peter DeLuca, owner of Greenwich Village Funeral Home,
learned from Johnson that there were no funds for a funeral.
He then pledged to provide a funeral free of charge.
DeLuca said he was moved by Harris’s plight because
his 13-month-old son had been killed in the collapse of his
building on Sullivan St. in 1987.
A viewing for Harris was held at the funeral home, at 199
Bleecker St., and the funeral, with firefighters as pallbearers,
was at St. Joseph’s on Friday morning Jan. 21. Burial was in
Cypress Hills Cemetery on the Brooklyn-Queens border.
Funeral director, firefighters help ‘angel’ take wing
Photo by William Alatriste / NYC Council
Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop emeritus of New York, celebrated the Mass of Resurrection at St. Joseph’s
Church for Josephine Harris last week, as former Mayor Giuliani, seated to the left of the coffin, listened.
Continued from page 1
Photo by Albert Amateau
After the service, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani gave Peter DeLuca, owner of Greenwich Village Funeral Home, a grateful pat on the back. DeLuca covered all the funeral
expenses for Josephine Harris, who had filed for bankruptcy before her death.
Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011 13
about the site’s development.
Tuesday night, the measure went before
C.B. 3’s full board at its monthly meeting,
and was passed unanimously. But first, mem-
bers of the housing advocacy group Good
Old Lower East Side (GOLES) and other
activists protested the previous day’s vote
and blasted board members for “not repre-
senting low-income people” and “selling out
the community.”
The guidelines next get sent to various
city agencies for further tweaking. Under the
guidelines, about 1,000 housing units would
be built at the site, roughly half of which
would be allocated to middle- and low-
income individuals, along with retail shops,
green space and, possibly, a new school and
nursing home for the elderly.
Over the years, various city adminis-
trations had shied away from developing
the empty swath of land because of the
fierce disagreement that has surrounded it.
Currently used as open-air parking lots on
the south side of Delancey St., it is the larg-
est site of undeveloped city-owned land in
Manhattan south of 96th St. The property
fell idle more than 40 years ago after the
wholesale razing of blocks of residential
buildings by the city for a never-completed
urban renewal plan
The committee’s Monday night action
drew immediate praise from several political
leaders and strong condemnation from one
public member of the committee, Damaris
Reyes, executive director GOLES.
GOLES has been demanding that 70 per-
cent of the new units be allocated for afford-
able housing for low- and moderate-income
families and for senior citizens.
But the new guidelines, worked out by
committee members and local residents —
who for the past two years have been strug-
gling to come up with an income-mix formula
for any housing to be built on the site — calls
for only 50 percent affordable housing and,
the rest, to be market-rate units.
Reyes told reporters after the marathon
three-and-a-half-hour meeting — during
which committee members continued argu-
ing until the last minute over the proposal’s
language and other details — that she was
“deeply disappointed” by the committee’s
“There are a lot of good points to this
plan and a lot of strong efforts were made,”
she said. “But in the end, I think we should
have seized this opportunity to restore the
units of affordable housing that have been
lost in this neighborhood over the last 40
“I’m not disappointed that we’re finally
doing something with this land, but I’m
deeply disappointed by the percentages,”
Reyes added. “They’re not reflective of the
needs of this neighborhood. They’re not
reflective of what a majority of the people
who spoke tonight wanted.”
Also issuing statements — but in strong
support of the new guidelines — were
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who, over
the years, has been perceived as oppos-
ing developing the site for predominantly
low-income housing, state Senator Daniel
Squadron, City Councilmembers Margaret
Chin and Rosie Mendez and Congressmember
Nydia Velàzquez.
In his written statement, Silver said:
“I want to commend the leadership and
members of the Community Board 3 Land
Use, Zoning, Public and Private Housing
Committee for their effort to achieve, at long
last, a true consensus about the future of
Seward Park. From the outset, this process
was conducted openly, transparently and
fairly and went to great lengths to give voice
to the broad range of views that make up our
extraordinarily diverse community.
“While there were, at times, deep and
principled disagreements among stakehold-
ers, I believe that ultimately this process
brought our community together,” Silver
said. “The final guidelines that were approved
by the committee tonight strike an appropri-
ate balance between the needs and concerns
of all stakeholders and will result in a devel-
opment that will ensure our neighborhood
continues to thrive.”
In his written statement, Squadron said:
“The community board vote is a huge win
for the community. It is appropriate that
after 43 years, a community-driven pro-
cess has moved SPURA forward. Over the
last few months, I was honored to work
with members of the committee, community
members and my colleagues in government
— Speaker Silver, Councilmembers Chin
and Mendez and Mayor Bloomberg — to
support an open and productive process that
will lead to real results.”
Chin, whose district also includes SPURA,
issued the following prepared statement:
“I applaud the SPURA Development Task
Force [committee] for reaching a consensus
on the proposed guidelines for the develop-
ment of the Seward Park Urban Renewal
Area. After 43 years, I am pleased to say
that the guidelines that will shape the future
development of the area were derived, in
large part, from the surrounding community.
Community Board 3 members and residents
spent countless hours envisioning what type
of development would be the most beneficial
for such a diverse community. This process
not only brought the community together
but laid the groundwork for the near unani-
mous vote achieved yesterday. I want to
thank the chairperson of Community Board
3, Dominic Pisciotta, and C.B. 3 District
Manager Susan Stetzer, and in particular
Task Force Chairperson David McWater. …
This vote has shown both the diversity of the
Lower East Side and the strength of unity in
this neighborhood.”
Chin added, “I would also like to com-
mend my colleagues in government for their
support of the process, and in particular,
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for his
prompt statement of support last night. I will
continue to work on behalf of the commu-
nity to obtain the resources that will move
this project forward while ensuring a variety
of housing options that meet the needs of the
community as a whole.”
In her statement, Mendez said, “Although
the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area is
not in my Council district, I want to add
my voice to the many others in praise of a
process that has resulted in guidelines for the
land’s redevelopment. Anyone who has been
involved in the Lower East Side community
during almost half a century was aware of the
controversy that left a huge parcel of highly
valuable land standing idle for far too long.
Over the years, very disparate opinions have
sometimes been expressed with anger and a
lack of respect, and it was not easy for all of
that to be overcome. But the process which
Community Board 3 began, and which was
open to broad participation by all aspects of
the community, and was aided by city agen-
cies and facilitated by a skilled urban planner,
has resulted in a compromise. I join with
many others who wish we could get even
more affordable housing from the site, but
salute all who were able to agree to find a
middle ground to move a process forward.”
In a statement of her own, Congress-
member Velázquez said, “The Lower East
Side has always drawn its strength from
the neighborhood’s diversity. It is therefore
fitting that the Seward Park area’s future
is being determined through an open and
inclusive process which takes into account
the views of local residents. These guide-
lines represent a big win in the fight for
affordable housing and true compromise
that balances the community’s many com-
peting needs.”
The standing-room-only Monday evening
meeting, at the Henry Street Settlement’s
Youth Gym, 301 Henry St., was attended
by nearly 300 residents, along with a large
contingent of GOLES supporters, who, at
times, demonstrated their displeasure with
committee members by extended clapping of
hands, cheers, jeers and catcalls.
Before the members got down to their his-
toric vote, more than a dozen local residents
addressed the committee, most of them advo-
cating for more affordable housing units on
the site rather than market-rate, for the devel-
opment of parks and open space, and the
preservation of the Essex St. Market, which is
being included in the SPURA redevelopment
plan and is at risk of being razed.
Ed Delgado, a former SPURA resident
whose family lived there 43 years ago and who
hopes to be allowed to move back when the
In historic vote, C.B. 3 O.K.’s SPURA guidelines
Photo by J.B. Nicholas
Lower East Siders packed the Henry Street Settlement’s Youth Gym Monday night
at C.B. 3’s Land Use Committee for the vote on the SPURA guidelines.
Continued from page 1
‘The guidelines strike
an appropriate balance
between the needs
and concerns of all
Sheldon Silver
‘With this plan we have a
compromise — and it’s a
good one.’
David McWater
Continued on page 23
14 Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011
Seward Park success
After more than four decades of frustrating
inaction at the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area,
Monday night’s vote at Community Board 3’s Land Use
Committee, at last, smashed through all the inertia.
Now, finally, this long-vacant eyesore of dirt can be
redeveloped with new housing and community ameni-
ties, and put back on the tax rolls, generating jobs and
revenue for the city.
Of course, the board’s passing the guidelines is just the
first step; the Bloomberg administration next will refine
the plan — all the while, hewing to C.B. 3’s guidelines —
an environmental impact statement (E.I.S.) will be done;
requests for proposals (R.F.P.’s) will be issued to develop-
ers. SPURA’s redevelopment will be years in the making.
Monday night’s committee vote, followed by Tuesday
night’s unanimous full-board vote, were the result of hard
work and many hours logged over two years by key C.B.
3 members, local residents and area stakeholders. From
the outset, committee chairperson David McWater said
he intended to make this process inclusive, so that all
stakeholders felt invested in the process. Previous efforts to
redevelop SPURA had crashed and burned. The disconnect
between advocates for affordable housing, on one hand,
and co-op residents who feel the area already has enough
affordable housing, on the other, created paralysis.
McWater and Dominic Pisciotta, C.B. 3’s chairperson,
made sure that everyone was onboard. With McWater
ever pushing the process forward and Pisciotta acting as a
conciliator, they were a persuasive and effective team.
The nearly unanimous 20-to-1 committee vote is a tes-
tament to the process. The lone No vote was by Damaris
Reyes, executive director of Good Old Lower East Side,
who to the end fought for more affordable housing. In a
constantly gentrifying Lower East Side, one can’t criticize
her or GOLES for advocating for their belief that more
affordable housing is sorely needed.
Yet, we feel the approved guidelines are the right com-
promise. Fifty percent of the housing will be market rate,
which will, in turn, subsidize moderate- and low-income
housing, including senior housing. Forty percent of
SPURA will have welcome retail and commercial uses.
This new housing and its population, coupled
with retail and commercial uses, will revitalize this
part of the Lower East Side, which has basically been
“offline” for the past 40 years, and is currently used as
a gigantic open-air parking lot. That the area is crying
out for revitalization was recognized by the new co-op
residents’ group SHARE, which strongly supported the
guidelines and played an important advocacy role.
C.B. 3 and its leadership deserve immense credit for
defying the naysayers and pulling this off. For McWater,
this is his second coup, having spearheaded the East
Village / Lower East Side rezoning a few years ago that
capped building heights and eliminated the community-
facility bonus that allows monster-sized dorms.
Plaudits are also due the Bloomberg administration,
which believed in C.B. 3 and nurtured and facilitated
this “bottom-up” planning process.
Our elected officials also added to the momentum
behind the guidelines’ passage. Notably, Assembly Speaker
Sheldon Silver quickly came out in favor of the guidelines
— in fact, he issued his “e-mail blast” support statement
two hours before the committee even voted! Similarly,
support by state Senator Dan Squadron, Councilmembers
Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez and Congressmember
Nydia Velázquez was also critical and appreciated.
But Silver’s endorsement was key. With his voter
base on Grand St., where he lives, and as the state’s
second most powerful elected official, he has always
had the power to make or break any SPURA proposal.
We’re grateful he was able to balance all the competing
interests and endorse this plan wholeheartedly.
Time for progress at SPURA!
To The Editor:
Re “Time for justice at Seward Park Urban Renewal
Area” (talking point, by Joel Feingold, Jan. 20):
The saga of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area has come
to a climax with Community Board 3 voting this Monday night
on guidelines for a mixed-use development that would replace
dilapidated parking lots with multi-income housing, retail prop-
erties, green spaces, cultural/educational institutions and more.
The future of SPURA impacts everyone on the Lower East Side.
As a Grand St. resident and founder of SHARE (Sustainable
Housing and Retail Expansion), I believe the guidelines will
prove most beneficial to our neighborhood and therefore warrant
the community’s support.
The empty SPURA sites were once a community of
diverse residents and shops. The guidelines envision a future
where an active neighborhood exists once again. However,
some are opposing the development guidelines for allocating
half of the housing for affordable units by invoking images of
failed public housing projects. This concept is not what the
guidelines propose. Housing for low-, moderate- and middle-
income levels is included, reminiscent of the multi-income
residents that make up the Grand St. co-ops — plus, a full
50 percent allocation for market-rate units. Also, the way
affordable housing is built today is vastly different from how
it was built years ago. Nowadays, developers take advantage
of tax benefits to erect “80/20” buildings, a co-existing mix
of 80 percent market-rate and 20 percent affordable units,
which would be the template for a SPURA development.
We should note that while a 50 percent affordable hous-
ing allocation is too little for some residents, for others
who see the neighborhood as already containing significant
amounts of affordable housing, this number is too high. The
debate over how much affordable housing should be built on
SPURA has been argued for decades now. If we want to con-
tinue this argument for decades more, that is an option. But
it will not do anything to address the real and varied needs
of our community in the near term, and will definitely cause
everyone to lose out for the foreseeable future. The current
mix of housing is fair to all parties and politically realistic.
Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.
Some have argued that selling the SPURA lots at any-
thing less than market value is reason alone to oppose the
guidelines. However, the SPURA sites adjacent to Grand St.
are owned by the Department of Housing, Preservation and
Development, whose mission is to build housing, not maxi-
mize income from city-owned property. The city’s overall
goal would realize enormous economic benefits for the city
and the Lower East Side in the long term from taxes col-
lected on the creation of new jobs and housing.
Why, as some suggest, would we want to sell this land
for maximum profit and build housing in the outer boroughs
when that money and infrastructure can be invested right
here in our neighborhood? Also worth noting are studies
that have demonstrated how mixed-income developments
like the one proposed on SPURA have a neutral-to-positive
effect on nearby property values.
We should feel satisfied that the process of arriving at these
guidelines included community input every step of the way.
The wants and needs of our diverse community were consid-
ered in the formation of these balanced and sensible guide-
lines, and we will continue to have a hand in influencing the
design and character of SPURA as this process unfolds. If the
option existed to simply sell the SPURA land to the highest
bidder, do we really think that the developer would consider
the community’s input in such a meaningful way?
The opportunity to finally develop SPURA means the Lower
East Side will gain vibrant, new neighborhood assets for all to
use, rather than us having to endure more years of blighted lots.
Just as the Grand St. co-ops themselves advanced a 19th-century
neighborhood into the 20th century, so too can a dynamic SPURA
development bring the Lower East Side into the 21st century and
create a more prosperous future for all of our residents.
Brett Leitner
Leitner is founder, SHARE (Sustainable Housing and Retail
Commends Mendez
To The Editor:
Re “Mendez’s asthma-free act is law” (Your Health
article, Jan. 20):
Congrats to the councilwoman! I used to live in Greenwich
Village, and I hope that this kind of legislation takes hold all
over the country. These types of places are why childhood
asthma is so prevalent in the U.S., and shady landlords are
definitely part of the problem.
Nick Smith
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Governor Cuomo is trying to cut the fat out of Albany.
Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011 15
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The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and
11 other people is tragic. But it is not shocking. It isn’t even
What is surprising — weird, even — is the response of the
corporate-owned political and media establishment. They’re
coming out against violent rhetoric. Not real violence. They
want to stop talk about violence.
Liberals accuse right wingers of creating an atmosphere of
hatred that fuels incidents like the Arizona shootings.
“We need to put the gun metaphors away, and permanently,”
urged Keith Olberman on MSNBC. If he gets his way, a lot
of people in Hollywood are going to be out of work. “Violent
rhetoric causes actual violence” is a liberal meme.
“Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin,” tweeted Markos
Moulitsas of DailyKos after the Tucson shootings. Moulitsas
noted that the Web site for Palin’s PAC featured an image of Rep.
Giffords’s district with crosshairs over it. There is, however, no
evidence that the accused gunman ever saw Palin’s Web site.
Righties counter that the really inflammatory rhetoric
comes from the left. From, for example, the likes of me: “Left-
wing cartoonist Ted Rall’s most recent book calls for a violent
response from the left against the right,” Erick Erickson of
RedState whined after Giffods was shot. “The point of all of
this is not to blame Ted Rall,” he then backtracked. Like hell.
The cognitive disconnect between reality and self-perception
in American society and politics is bizarre and frightening.
Whenever there’s a school or workplace shooting spree,
Americans act shocked! shocked! shocked! To hear media com-
mentators, you’d think this was a peace-loving nation of Dalai
Lamas rather than a bunch of brawlin’, trash-talkin’, gun-totin’,
foreigner-bombin’ yahoos who drive around Iraq shooting
people while listening to death metal.
“Violence, or the threat of violence, has no place in our
democracy,” said Keith Olberman. Does he live in America?
Americans worship violence. Kicking ass is our national
religion. “Violence and threats of violence” are part of our
daily lives. As a kid, I got beaten up by bullies. As an adult,
I collect death threats in response to my cartoons. When I
ride my bike, motorists try to run me off the road. Most of
my female friends have been raped.
When I served jury duty in New York prospective jurors
were asked whether they or someone close to them had ever
been the victim of a violent crime. Down the line they went, 50
at a time. They went through 150 people. Every New Yorker
there had suffered the effects of a brutal assault or the murder
of a loved one.
The first time I felt any self-respect was when I sent a high
school bully to the hospital.
Sorry, Keith. Violence has plenty of place in our lame excuse
for a democracy. Remember how Bush became president in
2000? He hired goons to assault Florida election workers and
had a representative threaten a coup on national television.
“Such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in
a free society,” chimed in President Obama — who was either
coming from or en route to a meeting with Pentagon generals
to discuss America’s wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, or
perhaps the occupation of Haiti, or expanding the new concen-
tration camp at Bagram. How many assassination orders have
you signed so far, Barry? How many extraordinary renditions?
How many torture memos?
As I recently explained to an interviewer: “The reason I
oppose this particular regime is because it is so aggressively
And I’m not talking about gun violence.
I’m talking about the wholesale over-the-top violence of
neocolonialism abroad, fueled by a cult of militarism here at
home. U.S. forces are currently engaged in combat opera-
tions and propping up puppet regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq,
Colombia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and many
other countries. They are hated and reviled there. Here every
other car’s bumper urges us to “Support Our Troops.”
We kill so many civilians we can’t be bothered to count
them; not even America’s wimpy phony left opposes the kill-
ing of “enemy” uniformed soldiers who die defending their
homelands. Military action is America’s default response to
every major news story. The 9/11 attacks? Kill them all — even
if we’re not sure who “they” are. Hurricane Katrina? Send in
the troops — not help. Indian Ocean tsunami, earthquakes in
Pakistan or Haiti — anything and everything is an opportunity
to invade, corrupt, pillage and murder.
The young man accused of shooting Rep. Giffords is
portrayed as sick, deranged and fond of oddball conspiracy
theories. In these things, he is a typical American. “Typical”
Americans, after all, believe in angels and creationism and that
Bush found the W.M.D.’s in Iraq and trickle-down economics.
Typical liberal Americans think it’s perfectly fine to give tril-
lions to bankers while millions lose their jobs and get no help
The Tucson gunman is accused of an act of “senseless vio-
lence.” Here, too, he is just another face in the crowd. We all pay
our taxes. None of us loses a minute of sleep as those taxes are
used to make bombs and hire men and women to drop them on
innocent people, who then blow into bits of flesh and bone.
Then there is the covert violence all around us: the tens of thou-
sands of Americans who die annually because they can’t afford
to pay for a doctor’s visit; the millions of children who go to bed
hungry every night; the millions evicted from foreclosed homes
(tell them it’s not an act of violence); the hundreds of thousands
who sleep outside, and the millions who couch-surf with friends
and relatives because shelter is too expensive. We don’t even think
about getting serious about solving these problems.
Like terrorism, political violence is a relatively minor issue.
And as guys named Lincoln and Garfield and Charles Sumner —
who was nearly beaten to death by a fellow member on the floor
of the U.S. Senate in 1856 — could attest, it is not a new one.
The brutality being carried out by the political system and its
corporate sponsors is responsible for the equivalent of tens of
thousands of Tucson-level shooting sprees each year in the U.S.
alone. For example, a peer-reviewed scientific study published
in 2005 found that the death toll directly attributable to income
inequality is “comparable to the combined loss of life from
lung cancer, diabetes, motor vehicle crashes, H.I.V. infections,
suicides and homicides.”
But the ruling classes don’t want us to think about reality.
They want to make us shut up. Thus their calls to ramp down
high-octane political speech.
Scared by political violence? Stop violent politics
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Sure, everyone rooted for the Jets. But Sunday on Thompson St. in Soho, “The
Jetsons” also had a fan.
16 Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011
toric light-manufacturing character.
Section 12-10 of the New York City
Zoning Resolution refers to individual lofts
in Soho and Noho as “arranged and designed
for use by…not more than four nonrelated
artists,” including “adequate working space
reserved for [each] artist.”
The rule is “a stopgap measure designed
to appease both artists and building owners
who did not want the violations for illegal
occupancy,” according to Margaret Baisley, a
Soho-based real estate lawyer who strongly
opposes the zoning law’s artist-in-residence
Residents who apply for artist certifica-
tion must submit a “professional fine arts”
résumé, two letters of recommendation and
other material that demonstrates at least five
years of commitment to a particular fine-art
Successful applicants are permitted to
have commercial jobs in the arts or side jobs
in other fields, but must exhibit a “profes-
sional,” noncommercial involvement in the
creative arts, according to the application.
Interpretive artists, such as musicians, actors
and dancers, are generally ineligible for
certification. D.C.A. claims not to aestheti-
cally judge the applicants’ artwork. A D.C.A.
spokesperson did not respond to questions
by press time.
In 2009, the city rejected half the artist-
certification applications it received.
The administration has recently stepped
up enforcement of the law, which it ignored
for several years, according to Baisley. The
Department of Buildings now denies cer-
tificates of occupancy for buildings until
each residential unit has an artist certificate.
D.O.B. also requires proof of certificate for
Soho and Noho loft occupants who apply to
renovate their spaces.
Nevertheless, many residents violate the
rules, and occupy their lofts illegally, accord-
ing to various sources.
Baisley said only about 20 to 30 of her
Soho clients per year make the effort to
comply with the zoning rules. About half of
them get approved, while the other half get
denied. Several others sell their lofts rather
than bother hunting down artist tenants to
occupy them.
Baisley helps her clients avoid fines and
appointments at the agency administrative
court by gathering together every bit of
evidence attesting that they are, indeed,
creative artists.
One attorney she represented didn’t want
the stigma of living illegally in Soho, so she
moved elsewhere.
“We don’t think you should make crimi-
nals of people who want to come into
this area,” Baisley said. The Buildings
Department, she continued, should focus
on collapsing cranes and other hazardous
issues, rather than hire “artist police” to
penalize Soho and Noho residents who lack
artist certification.
Baisley also objects to the moral impli-
cations of a zoning requirement that sets
occupational parameters.
“Are we going to have a protected class of
zoning for every profession?” she said. “We
don’t zone for butchers, bakers or candle-
stick makers.”
Some Soho residents, however, like Sean
Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance,
appreciate the law’s restrictions. A non-
profit community organization overseeing
the neighborhood’s quality of life, the Soho
Alliance would be influential in any potential
effort by the city to rezone Soho and Noho.
Sweeney said the law discourages aggres-
sive landlords from taking over the area and
hiking maintenance fees in an effort to evict
longtime artist residents.
“It’s really an affordable housing ques-
tion,” said Sweeney. “By maintaining the
zoning, you’re maintaining the ability of
artists — of whom there are thousands — to
live here.”
But, conversely, artist residents who have
certification and wish to leave the area are
bearing the financial burden of an outdated
law, according to Baisley.
Their lofts, often their biggest invest-
ments, are now tricky sells. Buyers are
cautioned by lawyers and financial advisers
instead to look at other desirable neighbor-
hoods, like Tribeca, to avoid the risk of
violating the zoning law.
And since the city began cracking down
on illegal residents in the mid-2000’s, banks
are more wary about giving loans to resi-
dents in the area, according to a New York
Times article last November, since they fear
that lofts that foreclose would be difficult
to resell.
“It’s very tough to find buyers who com-
ply with the statute, and can pay the price, or
who want to assume the risk of moving into
this area and living illegally,” said Baisley.
As a result, elderly Soho and Noho resi-
dents looking to sell their homes and move
to warmer climates or into retirement homes
will get the short end of the stick, accord-
ing to a Broome St. resident who requested
“The only asset they have is their home,”
he said. “Because of this law, they’re going
to take less money, when it’s desperately
needed? It’s ridiculous.”
Echoed Baisley, “They should be able to
sell them at a fair price, not at an artificial,
depressed price because a statute from 40
years ago is suddenly being enforced.”
The artist-in-residence rule, Baisley said,
is also financially damaging to the city, which
loses millions of dollars in transfer taxes
from fewer sales at lower prices.
In response, a spokesperson for the
Department of City Planning, said, “As was
recognized at the time the Soho zoning was
established, creative communities are criti-
cal to the city’s future and are an important
component of our economic base.”
The Broome St. resident has artist certifi-
cation, but deems the law archaic and hypo-
critical, in that many current Soho residents
aren’t artists and live there illegally.
Some residents, he said, go as far as to
assemble a phony artist’s portfolio.
In some cases, others who are legitimate
artists and would presumably fit into the
“creative” category, still are not granted
certification. David Carlin, who has lived
on Wooster St. since 1978, was recently
denied certification because he didn’t pres-
ent enough artwork as evidence to prove
being an artist is his primary vocation. He
described the application procedure as “kind
of rough.”
“They wanted me to submit more pictures
of my work from shows — more than I was
able to,” he said. It wasn’t worth his time or
energy, he said, to appeal the decision. He isn’t
required to have artist’s certification, though,
since he and some other longtime tenants in
his building were grandfathered into the spe-
cial zoning when it was amended in 1986.
Carlin, a sculptor by trade who is now
semi-retired, ran a sculpture shop at The
Cooper Union, on E. Seventh St., for 30
years. He feels offended the city doesn’t
consider him to be part of the Soho artists
“It seems like an elite club that’s got its
own kind of standards,” he said.
Like many Soho residents, Carlin believes
the requirement is unrealistic and should be
Other residents, however, depend on the
law in order to avoid being evicted from
their lofts. One couple — the wife is a film-
maker, and the husband is a television direc-
tor — said the zoning is designed to protect
artists who have lived in the neighborhood
for decades.
The couple, who live on Crosby St.,
requested anonymity for fear of retaliation
by their landlord.
“I understand that all these people want
to move here, ’cause it’s a hot neighbor-
hood now, but isn’t it unethical?” the wife
said of non-artists living in Soho. “It seems
like downright greed that they just want to
change the rule, and put the people living
here at risk.”
The couple’s landlord has tried to evict
them and their neighbors every year since
the 1980’s, when they moved in. The land-
lord, who owns a grocery store on the
ground floor, purchased the building in
1990, thinking he got a great bargain and
would be able to drive out the artist tenants,
according to the wife.
“What has protected us is that we have
artist’s certification, and he doesn’t,” said the
wife. This is why, she explained, the landlord
is denied the right to vacate the building
every time he tries to evict his tenants.
The wife works at Christie’s, the well-
known fine-arts auction company, as an
art historian and producer, but gained her
artist’s certification from her side work in
independent film production.
Becoming certified, she recalled, was
Attorney: Non-artists feel like ‘criminals’ in Soho
Photo by Aline Reynolds
Attorney Margaret Baisley thinks the artist-certification requirement for Soho and
Noho residents should be lifted.
Continued on page 23
Continued from page 1
‘It seems like downright
greed that they just want
to change the rule.’
Crosby St. resident
‘We’re not interested
in throwing artists out
on their ear.’
Margaret Baisley
Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011 17
Few of us back in grad school could tolerate Henry
James. His tedious, twisting sentences were too long
and filled with many commas and compound-complex
phrases within each other — and his sluggish, compli-
cated characters certainly didn’t seem like New York.
Not when we’re strolling over to Ginsberg’s on East
7th or spotting James Baldwin or Cummings in the
Village. That was New York: The Stork Club and Scott
Fitzgerald, Whitman and Langston Hughes, Holden in
a cheap hotel and anything about the Brooklyn Bridge.
Certainly Henry James was not New York. But of course
he was, and both his work and some of that world are
among us every day.
At 6:30pm on February 3, the eminent author and
lecturer David Garrard Lowe is speaking at the glori-
ous Church of the Ascension, at Fifth Avenue and 11th
Street. Lowe is a brilliant New York architectural histo-
rian, and his lectures are as richly rendered as his books.
He is the author of, among others, “Beaux Arts New
York” and “Art Deco New York.” Lowe’s book “Stanford
White’s New York” was the favorite of its editor, Jackie
Kennedy Onassis.
The event is co-sponsored by the Beaux Arts Alliance,
of which Lowe is the president. A New York organization
that “celebrates the cultural links between the United
States and France,” the Alliance proudly boasts that it
“found New York a city of sooty brownstone and left it
one of bright marble, furnished it with palaces and gal-
leries, caravansaries and public monuments.”
“It was the Beaux Arts style,” Lowe declared, “that
made New York dare to be extravagant and also to be
beautiful.” Dedicated to celebrating French creations,
the wit of Molière, elegant boulevards and Burgundy
wine, the Alliance also is concerned about the “cultural
current set in motion by American writers like Henry
James” — who is the topic of Lowe’s lecture, “Henry
James: A Child of the Village.”
Henry James is one of those rare writers claimed by
both the United States (he was born in New York City
in 1843) and England — to which he claimed citizenship
in 1915 owing to the reluctance of the U.S. to enter The
Great War.
In the advertisement for Lowe’s approaching lec-
ture, one of James’s works, cited from his many vol-
umes of writing (24 volumes when issued in 1918), is
“Washington Square.” The novel — at 198 pages, short
compared to most of his other novels — is set in a
Greenwich Village of the 1840s, 40 years earlier than the
time James wrote it. The central character is Catherine
Sloper — the dull, unattractive daughter of a renowned
physician. At a party, Catherine meets Morris Townsend
and is enthralled by him. Catherine’s father disapproves
of the relationship. Believing that Townsend only courts
his daughter for his money, he declares he will leave
nothing in his will for Catherine if she insists on mar-
rying Townsend. Catherine breaks with her father, but
Townsend rejects Catherine when she tells him of her
father’s ultimatum. Despite two other offers of marriage
during her lifetime, Catherine becomes that antiquated
vision of an unmarried woman: a spinster. Fearing the
return of Townsend, when the doctor dies, he leaves his
daughter but a small piece of his fortune. The story ends
with Catherine, lonely and aged, sitting in a parlour with
her knitting “for life, as it were.”
James was born into a wealthy, prominent and educat-
ed family residing at 21 Washington Square, perhaps the
city’s most elegant neighborhood of its day. Soon after-
wards the family moved to 11 Fifth Avenue and, in 1848,
to 58 West 14th Street. It was this home that “became
to me,” wrote James, “for ever so long afterwards a sort
of anchorage of the spirit,” and though traveling through
much of Europe in his youth (then educated in Newport
before entering Harvard to study law), his world of New
York was generally confined — save for a few pleasant
visits to the new Central Park — from 14th Street and
Fifth Avenue down to his grandmother’s house along
Washington Square.
The home of Doctor Sloper was actually the home of
James’s grandmother. This small section of the city (14th
down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square) had a refined,
established, prosperous air. It provided a sort of buffer to
the crowded, miasmic ghettos far downtown.
When James writes of New York at this time, he
states it is “small, warm, dusky” and, ideally, “homog-
enous.” But James was born into a New York undergoing
enormous and rapid change. At the time of his birth the
city’s population was 391,114 — but with the arrival of
many thousands of Irish fleeing starvation and Germans
escaping political repression, the city swelled to almost
two million when “Washington Square” was published
in 1881.
And James was horrified.
He despised the destruction of so much of the city
in its ramped expansion Uptown. The demolition of the
home where he was born had the effect, James wrote, “of
having amputated half of my history.” But he especially
loathed the unending swarm of filthy immigrants who
turned New York into what he called a “terrible town”
with its horrid discord of accents, their lack of good
manners, the “denizens of the New York Ghetto, heaped
as thick as the splinters on the table of a glass-blower,”
how the tenement fire escapes had become “perches and
swings for human squirrels and monkeys,” and the city
itself was festering with “the swarming…ant-like popula-
tion [that] darted to and fro.”
That James hated what New York had become per-
haps explains why he set “Washington Square” 40 years
earlier than when he wrote it — back to the time of his
birth, before the surging waves of untidy, often unedu-
cated immigrants, before the destruction of so much of
the city’s glorious architecture, before the loss of his
own youth. Though he had tried capturing a portion of
his beautiful, irretrievable past, perhaps he realized he
had failed to do so (which may explain why he omitted
“Washington Square” from a collection of his New York
Whatever David Garrard Lowe speaks to us about
on the evening of February 3 will be enlightening. He
lectures widely in the U.S. and Europe. At New York’s
Metropolitan Museum of Art, he is its most popular
lecturer, selling out audiences — weekly — of over 500
His lecture will conclude with commentary on the
renovation of the Church of the Ascension, where the
event is held. The first church ever built on Fifth Avenue,
it was consecrated in November 1841 just prior to the
time in which James’s “Washington Square” is set. Some
of New York’s richest and most powerful citizens once
sat in its rented pews, August Belmont and William
B. Astor among them. When poet and Revered Percy
Stickney Grant was appointed as rector in 1893, he
would accept the position only if use of the pews was
free. The church agreed though strongly encouraged
voluntary donations.
The New York writing of Henry James, like the stately
architecture created then, preserves a portion of some of
New York’s most elegant and refined times. No one will
present to us this time and that work better than David
Garrard Lowe.
Henry James and Old New York
Lowe’s lecture charts cultural current set in motion
Photo courtesy of The New York Public Library (nypl.org) and The Miriam and Ira D.
Wallach Division of Art (Prints & Photographs, Print Collection).
Henry James in 1889, from the portrait by Mrs. Anna
Lea Merritt.
A Lecture by David Garrard Lowe
Presented by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic
Preservation and the Beaux Arts Alliance
Thurs., Feb. 3, 6:30-8:30pm
At the Church of the Ascension (12 W. 11th St. at 5th Ave.)
Free (reservations required)
rsvp@gvshp.org or 212-475-9585, ext. 34
Visit gvshp.org and beauxarts.org
18 Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011
What’s old is new on the London stage.
I saw a lot of revivals among nine plays at
Yuletide in the West End, most of which
were like fine wines –– a 1603 Shakespeare,
an 1895 Wilde, a 1938 J.B. Priestly and
a 1980 Aykbourn, along with a few new
plays. I even saw Sheridan’s “The Rivals”
(1775) at the very Theatre Royal Haymarket
where it was revived in 1821 to open the
“new” building of what started as the “Little
Theatre in the Hay” in 1721.
The oldest and greatest in the lot, “King
Lear,” made my trip to “Frozen Britain” –– as
the BBC blared for days –– worth it. Seeing
“Lear” in the intimate, 250-seat Donmar
Warehouse (to February 5; donmarware-
house.com/pl114.html) was like having a
volcanic domestic dispute erupt in a living
room. With a furious and riveting Derek
Jacobi in the lead, a splendid supporting cast
and brisk direction by Michael Grandage,
it was almost too much to bear witnessing
–– the true test of a great “Lear.” (A very
good recent vintage Lear, Sir Ian McKellen,
was in the audience.) Grandage, the artistic
director of the Donmar who gave us the
Tony-winning “Red” last season, continues
his run of excellence.
This dark tale is brightly lit on a bare
stage surrounded by sloppily whitewashed
walls. The kingdom is in transition and the
bad relations are moving in.
The intensity and truth with which these
players interacted and drove the story for-
ward made me forget that I was watch-
ing a 17th-century tragedy in verse. It felt
as if it were really happening, not just
being declaimed — though the incomparable
Shakespeare poetry comes through. And I
was blown away by the unique and subtle
way of handling the storm scene. I’ll let that
be a surprise because there are ways you can
see it soon.
This production is being telecast world-
wide as part of the NT Live series (nation-
ing/usa-venues.html#list) around the world,
including NYU’s Skirball on February 3.
This cast will appear in the flesh at BAM
(bam.org/view.aspx?pid=2653) from April
28 to June 5.
How Jacobi’s ferocious performance will
play on a flat screen and in the larger BAM
Harvey Theater time will tell, but he’s the
best Lear I’ve ever seen. Gina McKee’s oily
Goneril, Gwilym Lee’s tender Edgar, and
the Earl of Gloucester of Paul Jesson (who
played the bluff dad of a gay son in “Cock” at
the Royal Court last season) were exception-
ally fine, but there wasn’t a wrong note in a
taut three hours.
Still another tale of a screwed-up fam-
ily gets a new twist in Matthew Bourne’s
“Cinderella,” his dance version at Sadler’s
Wells (to Jan. 19; sadlerswells.com/show/
Matthew-Bourne-Cinderella) set in the
London blitz of 70 years ago. Bourne first
produced this show in 1997, but it is said to
be substantially revised.
While I’m partial to his “Swan Lake,”
just revived in New York, and “Play with-
out Words,” “Cinderella” brings out all the
darkness, humor and joy he’s famous for in
this fairy tale choreographed to Prokofiev’s
magnificent score.
Kerry Biggin as Cinderella and Sam
Archer as her RAF ace beloved shine, as do
Lez Brotherston’s breathtaking sets and cos-
tumes. There are even several sweet tributes
to gays in the military. This show should
become a perennial.
Written in 1938 and set 30 years earlier,
J.B. Priestly’s “When We Are Married” (at
the Garrick to February 26; whenwearemar-
ried.com) concerns three upright, uptight,
upper middle class couples on the verge of
celebrating their mutual 25th anniversaries
in small-town England. But instead of cutesy
nostalgia, the characters get twisted in hilari-
ous knots by the revelation that unknowingly
they may never have been legally married.
Under Christopher Luscombe’s direc-
tion, it’s a fun send-up of marriage with a
great ensemble including Michele Dotrice,
Maureen Lipman and Rosemary Ashe as the
wives and comic great Sam Kelly as one of
the husbands.
Marriage is also center stage in Oscar
Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband,” getting a wor-
thy revival at the Vaudeville (to February
26; vaudeville-theatre.co.uk) directed by
Lindsay Posner, with sumptuous sets by
Stephen Brimson Lewis. Alexander Hanson,
so good as Frederick Egerman, the male
lead in the Broadway revival of “A Little
Night Music,” is equally fine as Sir Robert
Chiltern, whose successful life in business
and politics is upended by a shady request
from Mrs. Chevely (Samantha Bond, in a
deliciously malevolent turn), his own past
and being put on a pedestal by his noble wife
(Rachel Stirling).
The drama is compelling, the comedy a
bit less so, as Wilde’s aphorisms were not
landing with the shock and laughter they
ought to. Not sure if that’s due to Elliot
Cowan — who is an able actor — as the
Wilde stand-in Lord Goring, to the direction
or to the fact that the play is more than a
century old.
A riot of revivals in London
Jacobi’s “Lear” tops list — and is New York-bound
Photo by Johan Persson
Derek Jacobi offers a furious and rivetingly unforgettable King Lear.
Continued on page 19
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Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011 19
I had never seen Sheridan’s “The Rivals”
(at the Royal Haymarket to February 26; the-
atre-royal-haymarket.com) and was happy to
be introduced to it by this stellar production
led by the delightful Penelope Keith (as
Mrs. Malaprop) and Peter Bowles (as Sir
Anthony Absolute), who were co-stars of
the old popular BBC comedy “To the Manor
Born.” Directed by the legendary Peter Hall,
“Rivals” has lavish sets by Simon Hughes.
Heterosexual romance has been touted as
normative for centuries, but Sheridan makes
us see how difficult it can be to negotiate.
Tam Williams also shines as Absolute’s son
Jack, who tries to win the woman for whom
he is intended by pretending to be someone
else so that she will really love him. It’s com-
plicated, as they say on Facebook.
Finally, the Tricycle Theatre took a break
from the trenchant political theater for which
it is known and staged “Midsummer (a play
with songs)” (to January 29; tricycle.co.uk), a
two-hander about unlikely early middle-aged
lovers, written by David Grieg and Gordon
McIntyre and performed amiably by Cora
Bissett as Helena and Matthew Pidgeon as
Bob. It was a hit at the Edinburgh Festival and
has considerable charms, yet could do with
some judicious trimming –– but please not the
priceless chat Bob has with his penis!
Coming up in the West End: For those
of you planning trips to London later in the
year, here are a few noteworthy productions
coming up. You can read more about them
and others at londontheatre.co.uk.
Penelope Wilton is in Albee’s “A Delicate
Balance” at the Almeida (May 5-July 2);
Danny Boyle is directing “Frankenstein”
at the National (February 5-April 17), with
Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller
alternating as the doctor and the monster
and choreography by Bill T. Jones, whose
“Fela!” opens there January 13 (both will be
telecast in New York by NT Live);
Peter Hall is directing “Twelfth Night,”
with Simon Callow as Sir Toby Belch and
Rebecca Hall as Viola at the National’s
Cottesloe (January 11-March 2);
Ian Rickson is reviving “The Children’s
Hour” at the Comedy Theatre (January
22-April 2), with Keira Knightley, Elizabeth
Moss, Ellen Burstyn and Carol Kane;
“The Lord of the Flies” is set for the Open
Air in Regent’s Park (May 19-June 18);
Shakespeare’s Globe is offering “All’s
Well that Ends Well,” “Much Ado about
Nothing,” “Doctor Faustus” and “Anne
Boleyn,” among others, including a cover-to-
cover reading of the King James Bible for its
400th anniversary!
“War Horse,” which I saw in 2009 and
loved, is still running at the New London
Theatre and is finally coming to Lincoln
Center on March 15. Not to be missed.
London calling — all revivals
Samantha Bond, deliciously malevolent as Mrs. Chevely, and a fine Alexander
Hanson as Sir Robert Chiltern in Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband.”
Photo by Somon Annand
Kerry Biggins shines in the title role of Matthew Bourne’s “Cinderella.”
Continued from page 18
155 1st Avenue at East 10th St.
Reservations/Info 212-254-1109 Buy Tickets Online at www.theaterforthenewcity.net
Written & Directed by MATT MORILLO
Wed - Sun, January 26 - 29
Thu-Sat 8pm, Wed & Sun 7pm
All Seats $20/tdf
Thursday - Sunday, January 27 - 30
Thu - Sat 8pm, Sun 3pm
All Seats $15/tdf
Thurs - Sun, Jan 27 - Feb 13
Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 3pm $15/tdf
Annual Dance Concert & Pow-wow
Friday - Sunday, Jan 28 - Feb 6
Fri-Sat at 8pm, Sat-Sun at 3pm
All Seats $10/Children under 12 $1
(Matinee performances only)
20 Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011
Red Fern Theatre Company’s latest project charged several
playwrights with the task of exploring the “different truths” sur-
rounding the gentrification of New York’s neighborhoods. The
short plays of “Gentrifusion,” we’re assured, will reach beyond
the clichéd ideas of gentrification to explore how imposed
changes on the place where you live both improves and dimin-
ishes the community. What they’ve found out already is that
“both long-time residents and the new crop of gentrifiers ben-
efit and suffer in different measures and different ways.” The
roster of short plays are supported by projections created from
photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Dennis Ho (dwho.
com). Jan. 27 through Feb. 13. Thurs. at 8pm, Fri. at 8pm,
Sat. at 8pm, Sun. at 3pm (Super Bowl Sun., Feb. 6, at 2pm).
Additional performance on Mon., Feb., 7 at 7pm. Running
Time: 120 minutes, with intermission. At LABA Theatre at the
14th Street Y (344 E. 14th St. btw. First & Second Aves.). For
tickets ($25), visit redferntheatre.org or call 866-811-4111.
“Culturally deprived?????” asked the terse but accurate
letter we received in the mail this week because of last
week’s silent film star SNAFU. A photo we ran incorrectly
referenced Buster Keaton when the gentleman in question
was Harold Lloyd. An anonymous letter-writer took us to
task for the mistake — with a clipping of the photo taped to
custom-made black cat stationary.
We were wrong, of course, and we’re sorry. So we’re run-
ning the photo again with an amended caption, and hoping it
draws an audience to the deserving event listed directly below.
See page 21 for that photo.
Arts World Financial Center’s “Silent Films/Live
Music” series (Feb. 2-4, 7pm each night) features some of
Hollywood’s greatest physical comedians — backed by the
sounds of found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics
(courtesy of the three-man ensemble, Alloy Orchestra).
Wed., Feb. 2, 1920’s “One Week” stars Buster Keaton;
1919’s “Back Stage” stars Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle; and
1917’s “Easy Street” stars Charlie Chaplin. Thurs., Feb. 3,
1928’s “Speedy” features Harold Lloyd as the eponymous
hero who attempts to save the last horse-drawn trolley bus
from greedy railway magnates. It was shot on location in
NYC and features several landmarks including Yankee
Stadium, Luna Park, Columbus Circle, and the Brooklyn
Bridge. Fri., Feb. 4, 1926’s “The Black Pirate” has Douglas
Fairbanks as a man who, bound by honor, vows to avenges
the death of his father at the hands of a pirate gang.
FREE. At World Financial Center (220 Vesey St.). For
info on these and other events, call 212-945-0505 or visit
Wish legendary composer and performer David Amram a
happy 80th birthday — and many more — when you attend
this celebration in his honor. Amram first performed on the
Bowery at The Five Spot, along with Charles Mingus and
other noted jazz greats, in 1956. He wrote the music for,
and acted in, 1959’s “Pull My Daisy.” For more background
on his formidable list of achievements, spend five minutes
on Google and emerge sufficiently impressed and inspired.
The $10 admission fee will go to support writing programs
for elementary school children. Amram will be performing
with his quartet, as well as with friends (including John
Ventimiglia of “The Sopranos”). Sun., Jan. 30, 8pm, at The
Bowery Poetry Club (308 Bowery).
It’s got a beat, and you can think to it — and while the
sounds are pleasurable, Sufi music is not the stuff of bubble
gum pop diversion. Instead, it’s a reflection of Sufism views on
the afterlife. This unique performance is a programming event
accompanying the NYPL’s insightfully curated and philosophi-
cally sound “Three Faiths” exhibit (on display at the 42nd St. &
Fifth Ave. branch through February 27). Hear the mystic sounds
of Sufi, which include the kanun (a string instrument found in
Near Eastern traditional music); the ney (an end-blown flute);
and the def (a frame drum). The music will be accompanied by
the poetry of Rumi. Light Turkish food will be provided. FREE.
Sat., Feb. 5 at 1pm. At the Jefferson Market Library (425 Ave.
of the Americas, at 10th St.). For info, call 212-243-4334 or visit
nypl.org. This event is fully accessible to wheelchairs.
Sadhus — the mystics, ascetics, yogis and wandering
monks of South Asia — renounce worldly life, earthly
possessions and social obligations. Instead, they devote
their lives to religious practice and the quest for spiritual
enlightenment. The tradeoff for all that self-denial? They
look damn good (not that they need the ego boost). Good
thing for us, though, that Thomas L. Kelly’s exhibit “Body
Language” is brimming with photographs documenting
the enigmatic, vividly decorated (or nude) ascetics of
Hinduism. Hot bods and life at a level of discipline and
dedication that’s utterly foreign to most of us is reason
enough to get you through the door — but the contempla-
tive folks at the Rubin Museum of Art hope you’ll emerge
from this and other exhibits with more doors open than the
one that’s just let your libido out. Maybe you’ll find enlight-
enment, illumination and transcendence of the physical
body by looking (and leering?) at these Sadhus — whom
Kelly describes as “disturbing, annoying, inspiring, exasper-
ating, irrational, wise and powerful.”
Just Do Art!
Photo by Dennis Ho
Don’t go gently: See “Gentrifusion.”
Continued on page 21
Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011 21
Jan. 28 through May 30, at the Rubin
Museum of Art (150 W. 17th St.). Call 212-
620 5000 or visit rmanyc.org. Admission is
$10 for adults; $5 for seniors and students
(with ID) — free for seniors the first Monday
of every month, and free for children under
12 and for museum members. Gallery admis-
sion is free to all on Fridays between 6pm and
10pm. The museum is open Mon., 11am to
5pm; Wed., 11am to 7pm; Thurs., 11am to
5pm; Fri., 11am to 10pm; Sat. & Sun. from
11am to 6pm (closed on Tues.).
After several years living out of the country,
“America’s Tenor” makes his long-awaited
return to New York — and Chelsea Opera
(home of his operatic debut as Canio in
“Pagliacci,” circa 2006). The return is made all
the more sweet given that the program has a
notable February holiday on its mind. “Daniel
Rodriguez — A Valentine Homecoming” is
a benefit concert at which Rodriguez will
be joined by soprano Marla Kavanaugh and
mezzo soprano Leonarda Priore. Their eclectic
repertoire will range from pop standards to
Broadway favorites to heart-wrenching oper-
atic arias. See it with someone you love…and
bring tissues! Sun., Feb. 13, 3pm, at Christ &
St. Stephen’s Church (120 W. 69th St.). For
tickets, go to chelseaopera.org/events or call
Parsons Dance returns to The Joyce
Theater with three programs. Their typi-
cally busy and ambitious schedule includes
three world premieres, two new pieces
by David Parsons and one by Monica
Bill Barnes. All three programs include
Parsons’ “Caught.” That 1982 work —
an internationally renowned stroboscopic
dance masterpiece — features a solo danc-
er performing more than 100 leaps in less
than six minutes. Each leap is “caught”
by the flash of a strobe light, to create a
breathtaking illusion of flight. “Caught”
has been performed thousands of times,
worldwide, for more than 27 years (and
shows no signs of slowing down). Parsons
Dance performs Jan. 26 through Feb. 6
at The Joyce Theater (175 Eighth Ave. at
19th St.). Tues., Wed. & Sun. at 7:30pm.
Thurs., Fri. & Sats at 8pm. Sat. & Sun. at
2pm. Tickets begin at $10. To order, call
212-242-0800. For a full schedule of the
featured pieces in Programs A, B & C,
visit joyce.org and parsonsdance.org.
Just Do Art!
No photo credit
Know your silent film stars: Harold Lloyd checks out his reflection, in 1928’s
“Speedy.” See “We Bustered.”
Photo by Paula Lobo
Abby Silva Gavezzoli, Eric Bourne and Sarah Braverman get with the (Parsons)
program. See “Parsons Dance.”
Photo by Thomas Kelly
Who said a life of contemplation means
you can’t look fabulous? See “NYPL.”
Continued from page 20
Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Playhouse
Catch a vegetable — and this show — if you can.
Once upon a time, composer/libret-
tist Michael Kosch and choreographer/cos-
tume designer Rachael Kosch created a suite
of savory vignettes designed for children
and their families. Sometime later (the pres-
ent day to be exact), “The Festival of the
Vegetables” is poised to return for its fifth
annual production. Metropolitan Playhouse
presents, proudly we’re assured, this music-
dance-poetry-theater piece in which a troupe
of dancers and actors (ages 5 to 45) perform
a series of lighthearted poems and dances
that reveal the secret life of vegetables. It is
set in a vast supermarket where a toddler,
shopping with mom, nods off to sleep. The
child dreams of vegetable adventures —
each story introduced by a couple of bum-
bling yet eloquent produce clerks. Vegetable-
people of all varieties jump and whirl in a
whimsical salad. Duncan Broccoli dances
a Scottish reel; King Potato holds veg-
etable court; lithe String Bean Fiddler twirls
and trills; Colonel Corn stalks the scary
SpinWitch; Arugula weds ravishing Radish;
and Rotund Rutabaga perches on pointe.
If your kids won’t eat their vegetables after
this show, maybe they’ll at least appreciate
the entertainment value supplied by all that
stuff that grows in the ground, helps you
grow and is very, very, very good for you!
Sats. and Suns., 11am, Feb. 6-20 (with a
special opening evening performance Feb.
5, at 7pm). At the Metropolitan Playhouse
(220 E. 4th St., btw. Aves. A & B). Tickets
are $10 for children 12 and under; $15 for
adults. For reservations, call 212-995-5302
or visit metropolitanplayhouse.org.
22 Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011
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Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011 23
straightforward and painless.
“I told them I had a job, but also showed
them footage and projects I had produced
independently that were nonprofit,” she said.
Peter Reginato, a sculptor who rents a loft
on Greene St., agreed that the artist’s certifica-
tion requirement protects artists from predatory
tactics by landlords, like his own, who has tried
to evict him several times in the last 30 years.
“I’d be completely vulnerable myself to
having my landlord take back the loft,” he
said, were the artist residency requirement
Like in the Crosby St. couple’s situation,
the arbitrator in Reginato’s case continues to
dismiss it because the landlord isn’t a certified
D.O.B. began enforcing the artist-in-res-
idence law in the mid-2000’s, according to
Baisley, when Patricia Lancaster was appointed
Buildings commissioner.
“Lancaster developed a system of rotating
inspectors from borough to borough every
few months so they wouldn’t develop close
relations with the developers whom they were
inspecting,” Baisley said.
Soon enough, the inspectors were knock-
ing on the doors of Soho lofts and demand-
ing to see certification, which was also
required back then for the building to gain a
valid certificate of occupancy. The buildings’
doormen, Baisley said, would laugh them out
the door, telling them the statute hasn’t been
enforced in 25 years.
But when the inspectors returned with the
proper paperwork, she said, they would start
doling out violations to anyone living there
Baisley stressed that she and others who
wish to see the certification law repealed don’t
want longtime artists to lose their lofts.
“We’re not interested in throwing artists
out on their ear,” said Baisley. “We just want
everyone to live in peace in their own homes.”
In order for rezoning to occur, a group of
Soho and Noho residents might have to band
together to create a 197-c rezoning plan, a
time-consuming and costly endeavor. Hiring
a private consulting firm to compile demo-
graphic data, Baisley said, would cost about
$1 million.
Trying to tally the total number of artists in
the area by knocking on doors or otherwise,
would be a useless venture.
“No one will put their hand up and say, ‘I’m
living here illegally, please rezone the neighbor-
hood,’” she said.
The Bloomberg administration recently said
it would only consider rezoning Soho if there
was a communitywide campaign behind it.
And, until Sweeney receives a groundswell of
complaints about the current zoning, he said,
there will be no such campaign.
Artists and non-artists in Soho
Continued from page 16
site is redeveloped, told the jampacked meet-
ing that he was pleased by the guidelines.
“I never thought a day would come when
we could sit down and speak to each other,”
he said. “If we don’t speak to each other, the
only ones who will have a voice in the devel-
opment of this site are people with money.”
However, Luther Stubblefield, vice
president of the Baruch Houses Tenants
Association, sounded a more angry note.
“It was a shame that the city and the
mayor are constantly focusing on money and
high rents,” he said. “If that happens to this
site, even retired police officers and firefight-
ers couldn’t afford to live here.”
After residents had their chance to speak,
John Shapiro — the hired facilitator for the
committee’s SPURA process — and com-
mittee members got down to business. They
heard from committee chairperson Dave
McWater, who said that while this was a
“watershed moment” in the development of
the SPURA site, “it’s not the final moment.”
McWater noted there is still a long way to go
before the dream of development comes true.
“Right now, we just want to make sure
our basic tenets are here,” he said. “We still
have to hear from various city agencies.”
McWater said the site’s development
would result in affordable housing for 1,500
people, jobs for 600 to 700 local residents
and opportunities for home ownership, more
open space and even a new school.
“With this plan we have a compromise —
and it’s a good one,” said McWater, who is a
former chairperson of the community board.
Current C.B. 3 Chairperson Dominic
Pisciotta also spoke in support of the con-
sensus guidelines.
Committee member Joel Kaplan, executive
director of the United Jewish Council of the
Lower East Side, previously had spoken in sup-
port of more market-rate — rather than afford-
able — housing on the site. But on Monday
night he backed the consensus guidelines.
Kaplan told this newspaper after the
meeting that the vote was “a victory for
everybody. I think the overwhelming vote in
favor of the guidelines was indicative that
most people felt this was the best way to
move forward,” he said.
After the vote, Pisciotta praised the commit-
tee members’ for the process and historic vote.
“It’s been more than 42 years in trying to
find a compromise,” Pisciotta said. “I want to
acknowledge the hard work committee mem-
bers have put in the past two years. This is a
tremendous first step. Now we need to take the
next step and get down to more details.”
At Tuesday night’s full board meeting,
McWater said, “Last night was a monu-
mental night I never thought I would see.
Twenty-two people on our committee repre-
senting different groups and different agen-
das found out that we had more in common
than we didn’t have in common.”
McWater added he was well aware that
advocates for more affordable housing on
the site were disappointed, but that what’s
most important is that “the neighborhood
showed it could work together and that it
now expects results from the city.” The next
step, he said, will be for C.B. 3 to ask the city
to conduct an environmental impact state-
ment (E.I.S.) for the SPURA site.
At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Madelyn
Wils, an executive vice president at the city’s
Economic Development Corporation, spoke
briefly. She praised and thanked the board
for all its work in drafting the guidelines and
for its process, and pledged that the city will
now be working closely with the community
in the ongoing redevelopment of SPURA.
Historic vote to develop SPURA
Continued from page 13
A plague of fire
strikes a Lower
East Side block
In an eerie coincidence, fires have
broken out in two different spots on the
same Lower East Side block this month.
On Jan. 7, Claudette Rivera, 72, died after
her clothes caught fire as she was trying
to keep warm by the heat of her stovetop
burners in her first-floor apartment at 124
Ludlow St. near Rivington St., near right.
Last Thursday at 8:11 p.m., a blaze struck
at The Three Monkeys, a restaurant on the
ground floor of 99 Rivington St. at the
corner of Ludlow St. The fire was under
control in a half-hour and the cause was
under investigation.
Photos by Clayton Patterson
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24 Januar y 27 - Februar y 2, 2011
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