Carousel Arrives in Manhattan

carouselA carousel just landed at Manhattan’s southern tip. Well, that is what it looks like. It actually could be mistaken for an alien ship but it’s not. According to Battery Conservancy founder, Warrie Price, “It's the memory of the first New York Aquarium of 1896 when 5,000 people a day would go. The magic of the undersea is still as viable 119 years later.” It has been a project in the making for the last decade, costing $16 million dollars. Seaglass is a 3 minute ride and it is anticipated that six million will visit it per year. There are of course many other carousels already in New York City, that also tell a historical tale. For example, Jane’s Carousel at Brooklyn Bridge Park (in use since 1922, hailing from Idora Park, OH), the Bug Carousel at Bronx Zoo (known for its larger-than-life bugs rather than traditional horses), the Central Park Carousel (built back in 1908, which is one of America’s largest carousels), and the Flushing Meadows Carousel (created in 1963 for the Worlds Fair), etc. This new one in Manhattan has an interesting structure. According to WXY Architecture and Urban Design, Claire Weisz, “it plays off the idea of not being a building but kind of a sculptural being in that you're the creature crawling out of the shell.” Bugs, fish, what next for New York’s carousels?   Read More

Missing Pigeons bring Mixed Feelings

[caption id="attachment_423" align="alignleft" width="219"]Bunch of pigeons Bunch of pigeons[/caption] Have you ever wondered what New York would be like without its ubiquitous pigeon population? Now that about 100 of our pigeon pals have gone missing from Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, we are given a rare chance to truly contemplate this question. No one knows exactly where our feathered friends (or foes) have gone to, but the park is certainly a different kind of place without them. Our question is: is it different good, or different bad? One observer was elated to say “good-bye to a huge flock of ‘rats’,” not caring to differentiate between mammals and birds. Another commentator was more sympathetic. Tina Trachtenberg, an animal activist was concerned about how “these innocent, trusting, loving pigeons” were being treated. Those speculating on the whereabouts of the birds seem to believe that they were lured and then captured by hunters, perhaps for food, or perhaps for some other use, that would not sit well with Trachtenberg. Whether the consensus is that the birds are a nuisance or rather a welcome reminder that we share the world with other living things and not just concrete, buildings and the occasional plant or tree, it is definitely kind of creepy to suddenly not to be sharing the space with these commonplace creatures.   Read More

NYU Gets Go-Ahead for Major Expansion

[caption id="attachment_419" align="alignleft" width="300"]NYU Campus, Photo By Cincin12 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons NYU Campus, Photo By Cincin12 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]Despite the best efforts of Greenwich Village community activists, New York University was granted permission to go ahead with a planned campus expansion. The expansion will add 2 million square feet to its campus, at the expense of a neighborhood public park, which the activists claimed was permanently designated for such use. Last year a lower court ruled that some parts of the plan would need legislative approval because of the parkland conflict. However, an Appellate Division court later reversed that decision, and on Tuesday the New York State Court of Appeals agreed. They said that just because “a portion of the public may have believed that these parcels are permanent parkland” does not mean NYU can't build there. The NYU expansion plan will create new high rise buildings on two blocks between West Third and Houston Streets and La Guardia Place and Mercer Street. NYU spokesperson John Beckman expressed satisfaction with the court’s decision.
“We look forward to moving ahead with the project, which is vital to meeting NYU’s pressing academic space needs,” Beckman said.
The director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Andrew Berman, was less happy.
“We are deeply disappointed, not only because of the effect this will have in terms of green-lighting NYU’s massive expansion plan, but also in terms of undermining the protection of public park land.”
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New Owners Ousting Long Time Village Businesses

[caption id="attachment_416" align="alignleft" width="320"]Corn beef Reuben sandwich: Photo by Michaela Den Corn beef Reuben sandwich: Photo by Michaela Den[/caption] In the wake of the recent sale of a piece of Greenwich Village property which includes 116 University Place and 32 East 13th Street around the corner, two businesses located there have been given their marching orders. One business, University Place Gournet Deli has been serving hungry neighborhood residents for years at the southwest corner of 13th Street. Manager Celsio Aquino said employees of the deli, located at 116 University Place, received notices from the lawyers of the new owners last Saturday night that the store was closed for good as of Monday. One person, a relative of the previous owners, said that the completion of the building’s sale took place a week ago on Monday. The only thing he knew about the new owners was that the deal was handled by a limited liability corporation. Around the corner at 32 East 13th Street a worker at Just iPhone Repair said they are closing permanently as of Saturday, also because of the new landlord. Read More

Song Sways Judge that Elderly Woman is Fit to Live at Home

[caption id="attachment_413" align="alignleft" width="300"]Broadway Tunes Helped Elderly Woman Get Back Home. Photo credit: Randy Lemoine Broadway Tunes Helped Elderly Woman Get Back Home. Photo credit: Randy Lemoine[/caption] Ruth Berk, a 91-year-old former Broadway singer, used her singing abilities to convince a judge to let her return to her home after she had been sent to a nursing home against her will. Berk persuaded Manhattan judge Tanya Kennedy that she could successfully live in her Greenwich Village apartment by singing the famous show tunes, “My Little Valentine” and “Summertime.” Arthur Schwartz, Berk’s lawyer, stated in court papers that at her hearing, “although the justice refused to allow her to speak, [Berk] interrupted the court and told the court that she wanted to go home. She then began to sing for Justice Kennedy.” Berk’s daughter, Jessica, 55, said that the judge was more than a little surprised by the unrehearsed performance. Jessica said her mother could be likened to a mixture of Bea Arthur and Elizabeth Taylor in her heyday.
“[The judge] stepped off the bench, took [her] robe off and shook her hand and said, ‘Mrs. Berk, that was wonderful. Thank you very much for honoring me with that,’?” Berk’s daughter stated.
After the hearing Berk was allowed to return to her home, where she has resided since 1960. But the dispute about where Berk is to live in the future is still not resolved. Lloyd Goldman, owner of Berk’s rent-stabilized apartment, has filed an eviction notice in an attempt to kick Berk and her daughter out of their $700/month penthouse. According to Goldman’s lawyer, Lawrence Wolf, the mother and daughter owe their landlord $27,000 in back rent for their two-bedroom apartment at 95 Christopher Street. Berk’s lawyer as well as her guardian, Mr. Schwartz, explained that the two have withheld their rent payments because their apartment has been allowed to deteriorate by the landlord, who is guilty of multiple violations of the law as far as upkeep of their apartment is concerned. Schwartz asserted that Goldman has brought 21 unsuccessful landlord-tenant actions during the course of 20 years.
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Alec Baldwin “Outa Here”

[caption id="attachment_409" align="alignright" width="188"]Alec Baldwin: Photo by David Shankbone Alec Baldwin: Photo by David Shankbone[/caption] Actor Alec Baldwin has decided to sell his one bedroom condo in Greenwich Village. He is apparently fed up with his fans and other paparazzi bothering him and his family. His disillusionment is so far-gone that he almost feels homesick for his old neighborhood in Southern California.
"Everything I hated about L.A., I'm beginning to crave," he said. "L.A. is a place where you live behind a gate, you get in a car, your interaction with the public is minimal. I used to hate that. But New York has changed. Manhattan is like Beverly Hills. And the soul of New York has moved to Brooklyn, where everything new and exciting seems to be."
Baldwin is not too impressed with how the city is run, either. After expressing his outrage to police for being issued a ticket for riding his bicycle the wrong way down Fifth Avenue, he was handcuffed, thus prompting this diatribe on Twitter. Baldwin described New York as “a mismanaged carnival of stupidity that is desperate for revenue and anxious to criminalize behavior once thought benign." So Baldwin is throwing in the towel and moving to somewhere more user-friendly. His 840-square-foot, one bedroom condo in the Devonshire building at East 10th Street is available for $2.35 million. According to the description in its listing the apartment was entirely renovated in 2012, and not often used by Baldwin.
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Women in Architecture Celebrated in NYC Exhibit

[caption id="attachment_405" align="alignleft" width="266"]Pepsi Cola World Headquarters, 500 Park Avenue, Manhattan: Natalie de Blois, Senior Designer, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Photo © Ezra Stoller/Esto Pepsi Cola World Headquarters, 500 Park Avenue, Manhattan: Natalie de Blois, Senior Designer, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Photo © Ezra Stoller/Esto[/caption] An exhibit showcasing the key role women have played in building design in New York City opened on March 4, 2015 at the Center for Architecture in the West Village. The show is called “Built By Women NYC” or “BxW NYC” and features the work of 100 women architects, landscape architects, and engineers. Their work encompasses dozens of locations all across New York’s five boroughs, and was created by the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation. Beverly Willis started the foundation in 2002 for the same reasons she organized BxW NYC. "At that point, I was very concerned about women not being in the historical narrative, not being in history books," Willis explained. What was true back in 2002 is still true today, Willis says. "So many companies, particularly the large companies, are still working under beliefs and values that go back to the 20th century, to the 1950s, when there were articles in the paper that said women did not have talent," Willis said. "What is so great about 'Built by Women' is that we're demonstrating that a lot of these buildings are, in fact, built by women." The buildings featured in the exhibit go back to at least the 1960s. That is when Natalie de Blois designed the Pepsi Cola Corporate headquarters on Park Avenue. She was a senior designer at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill at the time. Willis would like to see more events like this throughout the country, perhaps BxW NYC becoming a “prototype of a national movement.” Designer of the Diana Center at Barnard College, Marion Weiss, praised the exhibit for its focus on “fantastic women designers and landscape architects and engineers."
"What's so terrific about this event is this is unlike any kind of awards," said Weiss, who was recognized in the exhibit for her building at 3009 Broadway in Manhattan. "All of a sudden, we're understanding that the panorama of what we see in New York is from an enormous cohort, so many of whom are women."
The Center for Architecture is located at 536 LaGuardia Place, between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets. For more information call 212-683-0023.
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The Terminal Stores: Up and Coming Commercial Space in Chelsea

[caption id="attachment_401" align="alignleft" width="202"]"Terminal Warehouse Central Stores Building closeup" by Beyond My Ken Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons - "Terminal Warehouse Central Stores Building closeup" by Beyond My Ken Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons -[/caption] Ever since the High Line elevated railroad opened in 1934, the warehouse complex known as The Terminal Stores, along with the surrounding neighborhood, went into decline. Through the years the 1.2 million square-foot brick building was used mostly as a self-storage facility plus the home of a nightclub called The Tunnel. Today the area is undergoing a sea-change: not from the ground up; but let’s say from the sky down. The uniquely elevated High Line Park draws over 5 million people a year, and its popularity is contributing to the desirability of the neighborhood for new retail enterprises to sprout up. “Everybody loves this neighborhood, and it’s just going to become more spectacular each year,” said Coleman P. Burke, the managing partner of Waterfront NY, which owns the Terminal Stores property together with investment firm GreenOak Real Estate. The building is now immersed in a huge renovation project expected to take three years at a cost of $50 million. With some parts of the building dating back to 1891, and its location within the boundaries of the West Chelsea Historic District, many changes to the building will have to pass muster with the historic neighborhoods board for approval. Whatever special complications are involved in the renovations seem to have had no relevance to those seeking out space within The Terminal Store’s premises. Uber, the crowd-sourcing taxi company, is taking over a 54,000 space there, while a large array of bars, restaurants and cafes are making plans to move in when the renovations are completed. At the moment rents are quite reasonable in the area, priced at about $50 per square foot. That compares favorably with nearby Chelsea proper whose rents float at about $59 per foot. According to Alexander Chudnoff, a vice chairman of the New York branch of the commercial brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle, The Terminal Stores is hoping to attract a large percentage of high tech tenants, such as Uber, to transform the building into a kind of tech campus. “They needed to be in a space that was hip, for lack of a better word,” Mr. Chudnoff said. Mark Van Zandt of GreenOak, which has a 49 percent stake in the building, which GreenOak values at about $300 million, believes that more restaurants in the building will motivate more businesses to rent office space in The Terminal Stores. Read More

Marisa Tomei’s Parents Suing John Lennon’s Son

[caption id="attachment_397" align="alignleft" width="306"]Typical Village Townhouses; photo by Beyond My Ken Typical Village Townhouses; photo by Beyond My Ken[/caption] The parents of actress Marisa Tomei, Gary and Addie Tomei, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court against the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon. The suit alleges that the 60-foot-tall ailanthus tree growing in Lennon’s front yard is invading the concrete foundation of the Tomei’s Village Townhouse, destroying it and the front stoop, dislodging the railing. According to the filing, the tree has “compromised the basement wall and interior ... (causing) irreparable damage to the structural integrity of the building.” The Tomei’s are seeking $10 million in damages. The Tomei’s alerted Lennon to the problem a year ago, but the court papers say Lennon, who is 39, never took action.
“He refuses to do anything. He’s owned it for six years and neglected it. I like him personally but he’s stubborn and he has a lawyer who is very belligerent," said Gary Tomei in a home interview.
“I hate to see this tree come down, but it’s destroying my stoop,” Tomei said. There are cracks everywhere. The masons don’t want to make repairs because they say it’s just going to happen again. I want him to take the tree down and pay my expenses. It’s not cheap. I tried but you can’t talk to him. He’s always traveling,” he said of Lennon, who is also a musician, like his father.
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The Weathermen, Paddington Bear and Greenwich Village

[caption id="attachment_394" align="alignright" width="300"]Welcome to New York, Paddington Bear-Photo by  Brian & Jaclyn Drum Welcome to New York, Paddington Bear-Photo by Brian & Jaclyn Drum[/caption] Almost 45 years ago a radicalized leftist group protesting the Vietnam War had a “work accident” in the basement of 18 West 11th Street. Three members of the group were killed when a homemade “nail bomb” blew up prematurely. The bomb was meant to explode at a dance event for non-commissioned officers at Fort Dix in New Jersey. This incident helped make the Greenwich Village address somewhat notorious. Fast forward to 1978, when Norma Langworthy and her husband David bought the empty plot of land and built a redesigned home there for $80,000. Langworthy was a philanthropist and theater aficionado who also had a soft part in her heart for Paddington Bear. After the Langworthy’s moved into their new digs on West 11th Street, Norma began to put her Paddington into the front window, always appropriately dressed. On rainy days Paddington was turned out in raingear; on sunny, warm, spring days-a lovely sun hat; holiday season- a Santa cap. In 2012, when Norma died,  Paddington wore a black funeral suit. A few weeks later, when the house went up for sale, Paddington could be seen sporting a Corcoran tee shirt. We mention here this interesting tidbit because Paddington Bear is about to embark on his very own rise to stardom as a result of the recently released eponymous movie. We wouldn’t want Paddington’s Greenwich Village connection to go unnoticed. Just as an aside, the house was recently purchased by Justin Korsant of Long Light Capital for a cool $9.25 million. Read More