The area known as Two Bridges, below the Lower East Side, melting into Chinatown and hemmed in by the waterfront, has long been defined by its mix of mid-rise low-income public housing and affordable housing buildings. Now, within a matter of years it will suddenly have at least two towering skyscrapers in its midst.
We all remember when superstorm Sandy plunged the East Village into darkness after a 14-foot storm surge caused an explosion at the ConEd station (in fact, there’s a movie out Friday set during that very historical moment in 2011). Luckily, we haven’t seen any storms of that scale since, but Mayor Bill de Blasio isn’t taking any chances. Today he announced more funding for the city’s climate resiliency plan as part of the 2017 city budget. The waterfront plans aren’t just going to protect Manhattan from more flooding– they’ll also double as a huge new public space.
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The ink has barely dried on the special election for Sheldon Silver’s 65th district state assembly seat and we’re already sprinting towards the general primary in September. Less than a week after Alice Cancel won a controversial election for the seat, Jenifer Rajkumar, a Democratic district leader in the financial district, officially threw her hat in the ring and announced her campaign for the position.
In Japan, a tiny studio apartment is often known as a “rabbit hutch”–usually a cramped little space for young people to get a foothold in the big city. So when Chef Yoshiko Sakuma found a little nook for her first restaurant on a quiet stretch of Forsyth Street, the name stuck. Rabbit House, her 14-seat wine-and-sake bar, is a refuge and lab for her whimsical culinary experiments, drawing inspiration from around the world to create unexpected European tapas dishes dusted with Japanese moxie.
More than 100 Chinatown residents and their supporters crowded onto the sidewalk in front of 83 and 85 Bowery yesterday afternoon, marching around the block and gumming up traffic. The rally was part of the Coalition to Protect Chinatown’s ongoing effort to draw attention to tenant harassment cases and push for height limits and rent stabilization in the neighborhood.
“People are going to come and say: ‘How does this place stay in business?'” Brian Shevlin, the founder of Con Artist Collective said, talking a mile a minute and gesturing around Lazy Susan, the new itsy-bitsy gallery at 191 Henry Street still in the midst of a “mini facelift.” But that doesn’t bother Shevlin– maybe it won’t manage to stay “in business” in the traditional sense, but he hopes it’ll succeed as a rag-tag, largely artist-run project space that’ll surprise and delight in a way more bottom-line driven galleries don’t.
“We thought: wouldn’t it be awesome if Con Artist Collective could have a space that we could just sort of have the keys to and give it to an artist and say: do whatever the hell you want, you’ve got this many days?” Shevlin said. “It doesn’t matter what they do. They make money or they don’t make money. They sit in the room or they don’t open at all. It doesn’t really matter, it’s your space.”
Another bites the dust… on Record Store Day, no less. Deadly Dragon Sound System, a mecca of Jamaican vinyl, has announced that it will close after April 16, since its landlord has declined to renew its lease. The store was founded 11 years ago by Jeremy Freeman (aka Scratch Famous) and Jason DeBeck (Selector DJ), who got their start in Chicago and moved to New York to produce shows and throw parties at spots like Happy Ending, APT and Pianos. In 2005, they opened the shop on Forsyth Street, packing the tiny, off-the-beaten-path nook with some 500,000 sleeves of ska, reggae, and dancehall. Here’s the goodbye message, which indicates the store will soldier on online while looking for a new space.
The Department of Transportation thinks your graffiti is vulgar, and will power-wash it into oblivion until New York City is restored to the sparkling shiny gem it once was. At least, that seemed to be the general message at this morning’s press conference with DOT commissioner Polly Trottenberg, held under an overpass of the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown.
It was freezing outside, but the 60-odd Chinatown community activists gathered in front of Gracie Mansion yesterday were fired up. In English, Spanish and Chinese, they decried Mayor de Blasio’s rezoning plan and ties to the real estate industry, flinging insults and calling for his resignation. “Coward!” “Racist!” “Shame!” they yelled. As the sun set, they even left him with a “gift.”
The first rows of the City Council chambers were packed with red shirts yesterday. Members of the AARP were there to support Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to tackle the city’s affordable housing crisis and create 200,000 units over the next decade. But council members representing North Brooklyn aren’t so sure about the plan.
It’s not usually the case that filling out a revealing questionnaire, waiting in line, and encountering someone with a lot of tools at their disposal ends up being fun. Like, ever. But people who participated in Custom Melodies, an exhibition held last summer by Grey Gersten (aka the musician known as Eternal Lips) left not with a sinking sense of shame, but an original song composed according to their unique personality traits and experiences. You can explore the melodies on this special, interactive website, which launched Tuesday, February 2nd. To celebrate the project’s penultimate realization, Gersten’s throwing a party at Chinatown Soup Gallery. Rumor has it there will be some fire water on hand.
Read more about the project here.
“Retail diversity” is taking on a whole new meaning in the Lower East Side. Scrappy indie publishers Badlands Unlimited, launched in 2010, recently moved from a studio in Sunset Parks’ Industry City to a real five-person office on 24 Rutgers Street (ok, maybe that’s more Chinatown than LES). Hoping to integrate with their new surroundings, they struck up a partnership with the 99-cent store beneath their office and dubbed the experience “Y.oung P.ublisher 99¢ & Up.”