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

Seniors Plead to Save their Village Community Center

[caption id="attachment_391" align="alignleft" width="300"]A place for companionship for seniors is threatened in the Village A place for companionship for seniors is threatened in the Village[/caption] Older residents of the Village are afraid that their much-loved senior center will be closed down when their lease expires on June 30. Our Lady of Pompeii Senior Center, located at the church with the same name at 25 Carmine Street, is threatened with closure by the church’s pastor, Father Walter Toneletto. He told the leaders of the center that as soon as their lease is up he will expel them in hopes of renting the space for more money to film crews. In wake of this possibility the seniors began to circulate a petition which begs Cardinal Timothy Dolan to let them renew their lease and remain in their present quarters.
"We the undersigned implore you to intercede for us," reads the seniors' petition to Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. "Help us to keep our home away from home safe and accessible for our use."
Brad Hoylman, the district’s state senator, has gotten involved. He said that the prospect of the center closing has alarmed many area seniors who benefit from the center. Hoylman wrote a letter to Dolan for the seniors, requesting that he work together with Toneletto to allow the seniors to remain in the church.
"It’s important to me because so many of our seniors who are vulnerable use this center,” Hoylman said. "It’s a population that we should respect and cherish and support. They built our community and we owe them to keep the center at this location."
The center has been housed in the basement of Our Lady of Pompeii for over 40 years. It was first established in 1973 when staff from St. Vincent’s Hospital reached out to local churches to find ways to help their elderly patients who had little or no family support. Seniors released from hospital without a support network could face malnutrition or other dangers if they are alone after surgery of other medical procedures. In addition to Hoylman’s signature on the letter to the Cardinal, City Councilman Corey Johnson, Councilwoman Margaret Chin, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Congressman Jerrold Nadler also signed. The seniors say that at least half of the seniors involved in the center are from Tonelotto’s parish. They also say that the value of the center goes way beyond the mere provision of inexpensive lunches and exercise classes. The center also provides the seniors with a warm place to go in the winter, and a cool place in the summer, and even more importantly, it “provides socialization preventing isolation and a lonely death for the elderly."
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Halloween Parade Haunts the Village

Parade goers turned out in force for the 41st annual Village Halloween Parade on Friday night. The parade began at 7pm with revelers marching down Sixth Avenue from Spring Street down to 16th Street. [caption id="attachment_387" align="alignright" width="300"]41st Annual Village Halloween Parade 41st Annual Village Halloween Parade[/caption] The theme of the parade this year was the Garden of Earthly Delights, with the grand marshal of the extravaganza none other than Whoopi Goldberg. Paraders were all dressed in costumes to imitate characters from the Broadway show “On the Town.” Parade goers were dressed in a diverse selection of costumes, including Victorian ghosts, Elvis, clowns and more. Read More

Authentic Fake Mona Lisa for Sale in Village Café

[caption id="attachment_384" align="alignright" width="271"]Landis and Mona Landis and Mona[/caption] What if a forged copy of the famed Mona Lisa portrait were in the Louvre, and the real Da Vinci masterpiece were hanging right here in a lovely café in Greenwich Village? Considering the difficulties of a close-up look at the oil painting hanging in a distant Paris museum the version in the Louvre might as well be a fake, especially when one of the premier masterpiece forgers has his own version of Mona hanging up right here in the neighborhood. Think Coffee, located at 248 Mercer Street has a forged version of the Mona Lisa, in this case called the “Fauxna Lisa,” hanging in its shop, which even experts would be hard-pressed to differentiate. And why would that be? That is because this New York copy was done by pre-eminent art forger Mark Landis. On sale for a sweet $25,000, a price which attests to the skill with which Fauxna Lisa was rendered, this painting could be considered a masterpiece in its own right, even if it does look exactly like the original. Landis forged his reputation composing artworks which are such amazing spitting images of the originals that he was able to hand them off to a list of over 40 museums, one of them being the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery. The story of his career was brought to the screen in the documentary “Art and Craft” which was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. In 2010 Landis’ forgeries were exposed, but he was not arrested. That is because he never took money for his work- they were all donations to the institutions that were led astray. As a matter of fact, when Fauxna Lisa is finally sold, the $25,000 asking price will be donated to the Lauren Rogers Museum in Laurel, Mississippi, Landis’ hometown, and one of Landis’ victims of his amazing forging skills. Read More