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DOWNTOWN
POST NYC 
 
News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
 
 
Volume 1, No. 125  Oct. 1, 2014
IN THIS ISSUE
Quote of the Day: 
"We have a devastated community...People who were good friends now hate each other." - John Fratta, Southbridge Towers resident and board member, on the contentious battle over privatization at the 1,651-unit Mitchell-Lama complex

* Southbridge Towers residents vote to exit Mitchell-Lama program
* Dine Around Downtown attracts more than 15,000 people
* Tribeca's PS150 honored with National Blue Ribbon Award 
* Bits & Bytes: Lawyer sues NYPD for false arrest; Robuchon coming to Battery Park City
* Downtown Bulletin Board: Public hearing for CB1's capital budget; Free senior swim
* Community Board 1 meetings: Week of Sept. 29
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to www.DowntownPostNYC.com

Noguchi's "Red Cube" at 140 Broadway. Sept. 30, 2014. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 



 

SOUTHBRIDGE TOWERS RESIDENTS VOTE TO EXIT MITCHELL-LAMA, REMOVING 1,651 UNITS FROM AFFORDABLE HOUSING ROLLS

The residents of the Southbridge Towers cooperative, with 1,651 apartments, have voted to remove themselves from the subsidized Mitchell-Lama program.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

After almost eight years of wrangling over whether or not to privatize Southbridge Towers - a 1,651-unit Mitchell-Lama co-op in the South Street Seaport - the residents have finally voted. By a margin of 10 votes, they have declared that they want to leave Mitchell-Lama's subsidies and enter the open market where, they believe they will be able to sell their apartments for half a million to a million dollars each.

Under Mitchell-Lama, Southbridge Towers residents who wished to leave the complex had to sell their shares back to the cooperative in return for their initial equity plus accrued interest. Under privatization, they can sell their apartments for whatever the market will bear.   

The votes were tallied on Tuesday evening by the Honest Ballot Association. Of the 1,606 apartments that were eligible to vote with one vote per apartment, 1,082 voted in favor of privatization, 373 voted against it, and 150 apartments didn't vote, which counted as a "no" vote.

In order to pass, two-thirds of the eligible residents had to agree to privatize. That meant that 1,072 votes were needed.

The Southbridge Towers complex of nine buildings dates from 1969 and is bounded by Pearl, Frankfort, Gold and Fulton Streets. Many people have lived at Southbridge Towers for more than 40 years. They would have paid between $5,000 and $28,000 for their apartments, where maintenance fees were also subsidized so that a two-bedroom apartment with a balcony, for instance, could have cost a resident as little as $800 a month.    

   

"I am hopeful that all current residents of Southbridge Towers will be able to maintain their affordable apartments," said Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer. "But removing over 1,600 apartments from the affordable housing pool in Manhattan will only make the borough's affordable housing crisis worse."    

 

The issue of whether or not to privatize has been incendiary. "There are no winners," said John Fratta, the only member of Southbridge's 15-member board of directors to oppose privatization. "Before this issue came up, we had a real, united community and now we have a devastated community - a divided community - where people who were good friends now hate each other."

  

The animosity resulted in shouting matches and even in death threats.  

  

In the weeks before the vote, which took place on Sept. 28, 29 and 30, people placed flyers under doors, pro and con. Then, during the days of voting, according to Paul Hovitz, "It was a circus. People in favor of privatization were marching in front of every building and in every lobby, with T-shirts and buttons being given out. It was like a political convention."

  

Though many people voted in person, many voted by proxy. Hovitz said that he knew of one board member who favored privatization who was knocking on doors "collecting proxies from people and offering to put those proxies in for them downstairs in the lockbox."

  

With the vote being so close, some of those who oppose privatization now want those proxies to be scrutinized. "We said from the get-go that these proxies should have been notarized just as our affidavits have to be notarized," said Hovitz. "DHCR [the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, which administers the Mitchell-Lama program] did not enforce that."

 

Proxies were barcoded by apartment and then accepted by the Honest Ballot Association just on the basis of an unwitnessed signature.   

  

"I have notified management and copied the assistant commissioner of DHCR and the board president that we intend to challenge the proxy vote," said Hovitz. Two tenant groups at Southbridge - the Shareholders' Association and the Shareholders for Mitchell-Lama - are the ones requesting this.

"Our understanding is that there were 373 proxies cast," Hovitz said. "The judgment of the signatures was supposed to have been done by someone who was an expert in handwriting. Management was supposed to have been kept out of the process and was not because of the fact that management holds the signature records. We feel that those signatures should be re-evaluated by an outside agency or by DHCR to confirm the results."

"
We're asking DHCR for an audit of the whole election process on the grounds that it's a very narrow margin," said Victor Papa, who was president of the Southbridge Towers board of directors from 1992 to 1999 and is a founding member of SBT Cooperators for Mitchell-Lama.     

Papa said that a margin of error could possibly exist because of three things: a miscounted tally, improper signatures and the certification process for eligible voters. "This needs to be examined," he said. He asserted that last week, DHCR certified disqualified voters while other shareholders were disqualified.

"On what grounds were some shareholders disqualified from voting?" he asked.

Papa said that on Oct. 1 he had sent a request for verification to Rich McCurnin, Assistant Commissioner of DHCR.

If the vote holds up, Papa believes that
Southbridge Towers is about to undergo "a very profound change. The last substantial piece of affordable housing in Lower Manhattan will be lost. The other thing that occurs that I think is very serious and very profound is the sense of community that we lose," he said. "A slew of apartments may be purchased by investors, therefore making those apartments commodities. I worry about that." 

Assuming the vote is not overturned, over the next 90 days, Southbridge Towers shareholders will have to decide whether they want to opt in to the newly privatized co-op. If they choose not to, they can sell their shares in Southbridge Towers back to the cooperative, retrieve their equity (which might take two years to pay out) and stay on as renters, subject to rent increases of up to 5 percent per year. Or they can retrieve their equity - again, with a possible two-year wait - and leave.

Fratta believes that those who choose to opt in and stay at Southbridge Towers may be unpleasantly surprised when maintenance starts to go up, as it probably will. Many Southbridge shareholders "have very limited incomes," he said. "When they start to feel that, then they'll realize that they probably made a mistake."

But he also believes that it's time to move on. "We have to try to find a way to bring Southbridge back together whether we're a private co-op or a Mitchell-Lama co-op," he said. "I think people are tired of it. It's been eight years now. I just want the issue to go away at this point. People spoke. That's the bottom line."

  

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 



 

DINE AROUND DOWNTOWN ATTRACTS MORE THAN 15,000 PEOPLE
The Harlem All-Stars playing on Chase Manhattan Plaza during Dine Around Downtown. (Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

























"Dine Around Downtown" brought 42 restaurants to Chase Manhattan Plaza on Sept. 30 for a four-hour food fest - a visible testament to the way the oft-repeated comment of the past -"not too many great places to eat south of Canal Street," has morphed into "too many choices!"

A growing residential population plus millions of visitors a year want to be fed. Numerous restaurants have opened in the last couple of years, with more in the pipeline. Lower Manhattan now offers a range of excellent options from informal to fancy and from inexpensive to wallet stretchers.

The more than 15,000 people who attended Dine Around Downtown could choose food from a variety of ethnicities: Irish, Italian, German, French, Mexican, Swedish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, New Zealand and of course, American.

Steamed buns from Lubolang Restaurant.
In addition to the local restaurants, there were two guest participants from Shanghai, China: Lubolang Restaurant and Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant. After most of the other Dine Around restaurants had closed their booths for the day, the Lubolang Restaurant still had a line of people who wanted to buy five steamed buns for $5.
 
The Downtown Alliance event was co-presented by Fosun International and sponsored by South Street Seaport/Howard Hughes Corporation, with additional media sponsorship from Observer Media. This was the 13th iteration of Dine Around Downtown. It had been absent from the Lower Manhattan scene for three years because of construction at One Chase Manhattan Plaza, the event's location for many years.
 
Fosun International now owns One Chase Manhattan Plaza. According to Andrew Breslau, vice president of communications and marketing for the Downtown Alliance, Fosun executives didn't know what to expect from Dine Around Downtown. "They were delighted by the event," he said. "They wanted to know when we could do this again."

Breslau assured them that this would definitely happen again but, he said, once a year is enough. It takes a lot of work to pull this off.
 
Hamburgers from MarkJoseph Steakhouse.
Participating restaurants included: Adrienne's Pizza Bar; ATRIO Wine Bar | Restaurant; The Bailey Pub & Brasserie; Barbalu; Bavaria Bierhaus; Beckett's Bar & Grill; The Beekman Pub; Bill's Bar & Burger; The Black Hound; BLT Bar & Grill; BonChon Chicken; Bobby Van's Steakhouse; The Capital Grille; City Hall Restaurant; Clinton Hall; Delmonico's Steakhouse; The Dubliner; Financier Patisserie; Gigino at Wagner Park; The Growler Bites & Brews; Harry's Caf & Steak; Harry's Italian; Haru; Kitchenette; Les Halles; Lubolang Restaurant; Mad Dog & Beans; MarkJoseph Steakhouse; Mike's Noodle House; Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant; Nelson Blue; Num Pang Sandwich Shop; OBAO Water Street; Pound & Pence; Route 66 Smokehouse; Smrgs Chef; Southwest NY; Stone Street Tavern; Stout Fidi; SUteiShi Japanese Restaurant; Trinity Place; and Ulysses' Folk House.
 
- Terese Loeb Kreuzer





TRIBECA'S PS 150 HONORED WITH NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON AWARD
A student from PS150. (Courtesy of PS 150)
































As students and their families arrived at PS150 on the morning of Oct. 1, they were jubilantly greeted with blueberry muffins. The day before, principal Jenny Bonnet had received word that the school at 334 Greenwich St. had been cited as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

The coveted awards are bestowed on just a handful of schools nationwide based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps for student subgroups.

PS 150 won for academic excellence. It was one of 17 elementary schools in New York State to win a National Blue Ribbon Award. Only 337 schools in the entire country were Blue Ribbon winners. In a ceremony scheduled for Nov. 10 and 11 in Washington, D.C., the school will receive a plaque and a flag in recognition of its Blue Ribbon status.

New York City Department of Education statistics, available on the school's website, show that compared to other schools in the city serving students with similar characteristics, PS150's average scores are statistically higher.

PS150, with 181 students in grades pre-K through 5, is a District 2 option school with one class per grade. Option schools are alternative choices for parents who, for whatever reason, don't want to send their children to zoned neighborhood schools.

As an option school, PS 150 is not required to offer a seat to every child requesting one. Students who live in District 2 are given priority as are the siblings of students currently enrolled in the school.

In April of 2013, the New York City Department of Education tried to close PS150 on the grounds that one class per grade was not a viable model in a school district plagued by overcrowding. The DOE wanted to fold the PS150 students into a school being built at 17th Street and Sixth Avenue in Chelsea, thus freeing up the PS150 premises for other uses.

However, PS150 parents protested so vigorously that the DOE dropped this plan.   

"To think, the DOE almost eliminated our little choice school," said Wendy Chapman, a member of PS150's PTA, in an email about the National Blue Ribbon Award. "We like to tell ourselves that we are the little school that does big things -- what a great big ending to this little story!"

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 




Bits & Bytes
LAWYER SUES NYPD FOR FALSE ARREST; LEYVA'S TRIBECA TOWER;
TOUR TRIBECA LOFTS; ROBUCHON COMING TO BATTERY PARK CITY    
 
Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street protestors assembled last year and a lawyer who is now suing the NYPD, was arrested. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)




























"Lawyer Arrested Near Zuccotti Park Sues NYPD," New York Law Journal, 9/29/14. "Stephen Kass, an environmental partner at Carter Ledyard & Milburn, is suing New York City and four police officers claiming he was falsely arrested, handcuffed and detained near a protest," says the New York Law Journal. "Kass, 74, said he was arrested on Sept. 17, 2013 in downtown Manhattan after briefly speaking to protesters standing behind barricades in Zuccotti Park, who were part of Occupy Wall Street commemorating the movement's second anniversary. He said he stopped to comment on a sign that said 'Tax the Rich when an officer told him to keep walking. Kass replied that he was 'a citizen who wanted to hear what the protestor was saying and ... had a right to do so,' according to Kass v. City, 14-cv-7505, filed in the Southern District. Kass said in court papers that the officer called for backup and falsely claimed he was blocking the sidewalk. He said an officer twisted his arm sharply behind his back and handcuffed him." For the complete article, click here.

"Peek Inside Ismael Leyva's Futuristic, Skinny Tribeca Tower," Curbed.com, 10/1/14. "19 Park Place, which was, at one point, calling itself the Tribeca Royale but is now apparently back to being 19 Park Place, has launched its website and with it a slew of new renderings," says Curbed.com. "While the original pair of renderings, displaying the 21-story, Ismael Leyva-designed tower's leanness and rounded balconies, inspired both awe in some and derision in others, the new ones give a sense of how that shape will manifest itself on the building's interiors. It's most noticeable in the lobby (featuring a living green wall, 19-foot waterfall, and custom art by sculptor Amanda Weil) and amenity spaces (private full-floor lounge with an outdoor landscaped garden, and more), while the units themselves look relatively normal (but very nice)." For the complete article, click here.

"Inside Four Stunning Tribeca Lofts You Can Actually Visit," Curbed.com, 9/29/14. "Every year for the last decade and a half, Tribeca denizens open up their fancy, beautifully crafted homes to the public as part of the Inside Tribeca Loft Tour, with proceeds from tickets going to support two of the neighborhood's green lungs: Duane Park and Bogardus Park," says Curbed.com. "Held this year on October 19 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., shell out $60 in order to gain access to nine of the coolest, savviest apartments in the area." For the complete article, with many pictures, click here.

"Jol Robuchon to Reopen L'Atelier in Battery Park City," New York Times, 9/30/14. Florence Fabricant reports that Jol Robuchon "plans to reopen in Battery Park City, becoming the jewel in the crown of Brookfield Place, at the southern end of the complex. It will occupy an expanse of some 11,000 square feet, giving it room for the counter and table seating in L'Atelier, which will look like the London location." Fabricant also mentions that Eataly will be opening at 4 World Trade Center in around a year. For the complete article, click here.

Downtown bulletin board
PUBLIC COMMENTS SOLICITED FOR CB1'S FY2016 BUDGET;
FREE SENIOR SWIM; VCF ENROLLMENT DEADLINE APPROACHING

Public hearing for Community Board 1's capital and expense budget priorities for FY2016: A public hearing on Oct. 28 provides an opportunity for members of the Lower Manhattan community to let Community Board 1 know what their budget priorities are for the district. The board will finalize its priorities during the business session of the meeting following the hearing. Anyone in the community may attend and speak. This is a link to the budget priorities for FY 2015. For more information call (212) 442-5050 or email MAN01@cb.nyc.gov. Place: National Museum of the American Indian, 1 Bowling Green, Diker Pavilion, 1st floor. Time: 6 p.m.

Free senior swim:
Seniors can swim for free at the Downtown Community Center, 120 Warren St. from Monday through Thursday, 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. The Community Center offers aerobic water classes for seniors on Mondays and Thursdays at 12:45 p.m. To register, click here or call Lily at (212) 766-1104, ext. 221.

Deadline near to enroll in Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund:
If you were diagnosed with a 9/11-related eligible cancer before Oct. 12, 2012, you may be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Registration preserves your right to file a claim in the future (before the VCF ends on Oct. 3, 2016). Registration is not the same as filing a claim and you are not required to file a claim even if you have registered. Register online at vcf.gov by Oct. 12, 2014. For more information click here or call VCF's toll-free helpline at (855)-885-1555 (or 855-885-1558 for the hearing impaired).


COMMUNITY BOARD 1 MEETINGS: Week of Sept. 29

Doors on 20 Exchange Place, an office building constructed in 1930-1931 for City Bank Farmers Trust and now rental apartments. This building was discussed at CB1's Financial District Committee meeting on Oct. 1. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 
 
Community Board 1 meetings take place at 49-51 Chambers St., Room 709, and start at 6 p.m., unless otherwise noted. All are welcome to attend. Bring photo ID to enter the building.

Oct. 2: Street Fair Task Force
* 2014 Community Board 1 street fairs - Update by Joe Giovanni, Mardi Gras Productions
* Sponsorship of Street Fairs for Fundraising by CB 1 in 2015 - Resolution 
.

 


CALENDAR: Week of Sept. 29
The Floating Library aboard the historic lighthouse tender, Lilac, moored at Pier 25, gave visitors a chance to read and participate in workshops. The Floating Library is open through Friday, Oct. 3. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
























 
 

 

Oct. 2: Through the entire month of September, the historic lighthouse tender, Lilac, moored at Pier 25 in Hudson River Park, was transformed into a Floating Library. The project, created and organized by artist Beatrice Glow, offered opportunities aboard the ship for reading, writing, research, debate and "fearless dreaming." Oct. 2 and 3 are the last days for this installation. Place: Pier 25 in Hudson River Park. Time: 3 p.m.-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2; 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3. Cost: Free. For more information, click here.       
 
Oct. 5: Compline by Candlelight featuring Byrd's Cantiones Sacrae performed by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street. A meditative musical service in historic St. Paul's Chapel (built in 1766) on Broadway at Fulton Street. Time: 8 p.m. Free.

Oct. 5: The 12-member Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, a Serbian Gypsy brass band, plays at Pace University's Schimmel Center. Their music moves between Turkish Gypsy rhythms and ballistic Balkan and funk grooves - all solidly based in the old traditions of the Roma. Place: Michael Schimmel Center, 3 Spruce St. Time: 7 p.m. Tickets: $39. For more information, click here.

Oct. 5: In a three-hour workshop, Ali Osborn of Bowne Printers (part of the South Street Seaport Museum) teaches the basics of carving and printing linoleum blocks. Bring some ideas to the workshop, and Osborn will show how to transfer them to linoleum, carve the blocks and print them by hand. At the end of the class Osborn pulls some prints of everyone's blocks locked up together on Bowne Printers' vintage Vandercook press. Each student goes home with his or her own block, individual prints, and one limited edition poster of everyone's prints together. All materials supplied. Registration required. Suitable for ages 12 and up. Place: Bowne Printers, 209 Water St. Time: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Cost: $50; $40 (South Street Seaport Museum members). For more information or to register, click here.  
   
Ongoing: Go for a walking tour of the historic South Street Seaport with an educator from the South Street Seaport Museum. Place: Meet on Pier 16 at the Visitors Services kiosk. Tickets: $12; $8 (students and seniors); $5 (children); free (members). Oct. 2, Oct. 4 and Oct. 5 and other dates at varying times. For more information and to buy tickets, click here. The ticket price includes admission to the museum's historic ships, Peking and Ambrose.   

Ongoing: "A Town Known as Auschwitz" is an exhibit of photographs at the Museum of Jewish Heritage tracing the history of a town called "Oswiecim" in what is now Poland, where Jews and non-Jews lived side by side for centuries. When German forces occupied the town in September 1939, they renamed it "Auschwitz" and established a concentration and death camp there. More than 1 million people died at Auschwitz, including 90 percent of the town's Jews. The museum is at 36 Battery Place. For information the exhibit, click here. For information on the museum's hours and admission fees, click here.
 
Ongoing: Poets House in Battery Park City presents "A Painter and His Poets," the first major retrospective show of George Schneeman's collaborative paintings, collages, prints, and books, with portraits of his poet friends, spanning 40 years. "A sort of utopia in the visual field filled with pleasure, quickness and wit" is how Schneeman himself described his collaborative work with poets. Exhibition on view through Saturday, Nov. 15, during regular Poets House hours. Place: 10 River Terrace. Free. For information about Poets House, click here.

Ongoing: The South Street Seaport Museum's lightship Ambrose and its barque Peking welcome visitors Wednesdays to Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Pier 16 (on the East River at Fulton Street). The Ambrose, launched in 1908,  once guided large ships through the Ambrose Channel into New York harbor. Peking was launched in Hamburg, Germany in 1911, one of the last commercial sailing ships ever built. She was used to carry goods from Europe to South America and to return to Europe with nitrate. The museum's Visitors Services associates explain all of the fascinating details of the ships and their relevance to the history of New York as a port city. Cost: $12 (adults); $8 (students, 12-24 and seniors); $5 (children 2-11); under 2, free. To buy tickets, click here.

Ongoing: "Defining Lines: Maps from the 1700s and early 1800s" at the Fraunces Tavern
Museum. Twenty-seven maps provide a perspective on the evolving nation's place in history. A map from 1804, never before exhibited, shows the U.S. postal routes. Place: 54 Pearl St. Time: Noon to 5 p.m., daily. Admission fees: $7; $4 (seniors, students with ID, children, 6 to 8 years old. Children, 5 and under, free. Active military with ID, free. For more information, click here.
  
Ongoing: The National Museum of the American Indian is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with free admission. It offers free films, docent-led tours of its exhibitions and tours of its premises, the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, designed by Cass Gilbert. The building, which was completed in 1907, is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One Bowling Green. Phone: (212) 514-3700. For the museum's calendar, click here.

Ongoing: "Give Me Liberty," a solo exhibition of new works by Brooklyn-based artist Sylvanus Shaw, is at the Fraunces Tavern Museum. In this site-specific exhibition, Shaw utilizes images from the Museum's permanent collection, invoking imagery of early American statehood in media ranging from oil on panel to collaged holograms, security envelopes, and other mediums.
Through March 16, 2015. Place: Fraunces Tavern Museum, 54 Pearl St. Museum hours: Mon.-Sat., noon to 5 p.m. Admission: $7; $4 (seniors, students, children 6-8); free (children under 5 and active duty military). For more information, click here



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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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