It was a year and a half ago that the Astor cube got boxed up and carted away, and the city hasn’t been the same since. I’m neither a psychologist nor a geologist, but I’m willing to bet that the removal of the Alamo took the very earth off of its axis, causing the mass imbalance of brain chemistry that led to the imminent nomination of Donald J. Trump.
Housing + Development
While low-income tenants at 83-85 Bowery have been fighting tooth and nail to stay put in their rent-stabilized tenements, just up the street it’s easy to see why pressure to evict them is at a fever pitch.
Landlords are on notice–yesterday Steve Croman was charged with 20 felony counts and using illegal tactics to push tenants out of his buildings. Today Public Advocate Letitia James and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez kept up the heat, using their clout to influence the outcome of a prominent tenant-landlord dispute in Chinatown. Standing outside the state supreme courthouse, the two railed against landlord Joseph Betesh (also owner of the Dr. Jays streetwear brand), accusing him of using “illegal practices” to evict 27 families at 83 and 85 Bowery.
Just a month ago we followed faith leaders and tenants as they tried to meet their landlord, Steve Croman of 9300 Realty (and honoree on The Village Voice‘s New York City’s 10 worst landlords list twice–once in 1998 and again in 2014). They wanted to deliver letters from 32 different religious figures, decrying Croman’s alleged tenant harassment tactics, such as cutting gas and heat, dangerous construction, low buyouts, and threatening frivolous lawsuits.
Aby J. Rosen, owner of the gloriously graffitied Germania Bank building at 190 Bowery (soon to be outfitted as a high-end office building for fashion agencies and archives) is in the news today for something other than his disruptive real estate moves on landmarked buildings (in case you forgot, he also pissed off preservationists two years ago, when he displaced The Four Seasons restaurant and its Picasso curtain painting from the Seagram Building).
Couldn’t get enough of Los Sures, the time capsule documentary of life in Puerto Rican Williamsburg back in 1984? You weren’t alone. The film, originally slated to run a week at Metrograph, the Lower East Side’s new arthouse film mecca, grossed $25,000 its first week and was extended for a second week. Playing mostly full houses, it eventually netted a holy-moly $60,000.
As he rang in 2015, Fabrice Grinda, a 41-year-old tech entrepreneur from France, took stock of his life. He’d been living out of suitcases for the past four years, globetrotting and swinging between upscale hotels and top-notch Airbnbs. He decided it was time to “partially re-materialize.” Not settle down with a white picket fence (horrors!) — nothing drastic — but simply find a simple New York landing pad he could call his own.
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.
If you care about the gold rush sweeping Brooklyn and you haven’t been listening to WNYC’s There Goes the Neighborhood podcast…well, you must be living under a rock (or maybe in Tribeca). The eight-episode capsule podcast, hosted by The Nation‘s Kai Wright, is required listening. From studying landlord and developer tactics to understanding people’s complicated relationships with their homes and neighborhoods, it goes beyond the constant stream of tenant harassment cases to really try to make sense of the historical and social context around the recent developments in the changing the city.
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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A few hundred longtime residents marched through Bushwick this morning to protest fast-paced gentrification and demand stronger rent stabilization laws and an end to legal loopholes. Students, clergy leaders, business owners and families displayed signs in English and Spanish, loudly drummed on buckets, and chanted slogans such as “Fight, fight, fight, ‘cause housing is a right!” Halfway through the march, the crowd stopped on Knickerbocker Avenue for a common prayer for “more justice to save our community.”
Last January we brought you our 10 favorite ghost signs. April brought another batch, followed by more in July. The fourth in our series features an additional 10. Click through the slideshow to see our picks.