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THE AGONY OF GUS: We hear from Mindaugus Blaudziunas — just call him Gus, it’s a lot easier — that the shuttered Our Lady of Vilna Church was recently put on the market for $13 million by the New York Archdiocese. Massey Knakal is brokering the sale of the old church, at 568 Broome St., just steps east of the Holland Tunnel entrance. “This development site represents an opportunity for a large resedential [sic] and commercial development with possible 45,636 buildable square feet. Delivered vacant,” the listing states. Ironically, the former congregants just marked the sixth anniversary of the humble Lithuanian Catholic church’s closing by Edward Cardinal Egan, during which they renewed their vows to keep hope alive to reopen it as a house of worship. Making a very good point, Gus told us, “Because of the proposed growth of the population in the area from 4 percent to 25 percent under the Hudson Square rezoning, and no churches (except Our Lady of Vilna) existing in Hudson Square, I took part in the rezoning hearings and advocated for the reuse of the building to serve the community needs. I wonder what the archdiocese of New York City or Trinity Real Estate would say about a nonexisting plan for serving the faithful in the area.” He’s in the process of gathering information to submit to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in hopes that the beloved church can finally be designated a landmark, and is reaching out to local elected officials. And if it doesn’t get landmarked, is there, he prays, another “angel” like the one who gave $20 million to save St. Brigid’s Church in the East Village from demolition — or maybe the same angel — who will rescue St. Vilna from the wrecking ball? We assume the development pressure has ratcheted up on the old church site because City Planning recently agreed to remove the lower-height Subdistrict B (located around the Holland Tunnel entrance) from the Trinity-led rezoning plan and raise these blocks’ height cap and F.A.R. up to the same level as the rest of the rezoning district.
NOT RID OF HER — NO WAY! Whatever happened to Jessica Berk of RID, a.k.a. Residents in Distress, the self-dubbed quality-of-life group that was the scourge of Christopher St.? Well, she’s still around — and, in fact, has desperately been trying to claw her way back into Scoopy’s column, so this should make her day — actually, her week! (We are a weekly, after all.) But it was touch and go there for Berk not too long ago. She was suffering from pernicious anemia and was in the hospital in a nearly comatose state. RID and everything else were far from her mind — since her mind was almost gone. “My doctor told me I was completely out of it,” she told us. Not helping matters at all, her boyfriend wasn’t being permitted by hospital staff to make life decisions for her. But she pulled through, and due to the difficulties her beau experienced helping her during her hospital stay, they officially became domestic partners down at the Marriage Bureau. Now Berk’s taking one final shot at trying to start up a Christopher St. Business Improvement District. Two prior attempts to bring a BID to life failed — so, she said, if this one goes thud, that’s it, strike three, it will be her last try. And, just for the record, no, she is not still trying to have a baby with any sperm donors, whether they be gay cloning advocates like Randy Wicker (formerly of the Christopher Light Store), Sixth Precinct police officers… or (gulp) Scoopy! (And that’s another story…).
(NOT) WORKIN’ AT THE CAR WASH, WHOA! WHOA! The car wash at Broome St. and Sixth Ave. is all boarded up, making us think the long-delayed development project for that site and the cleared former gas station site to its north is getting ready to roll. It was either going to be a hotel or residential building, by our recollection, and had changed from one to the other at some point. We won’t miss the car wash, which always created congestion at that corner, with cars lining up both in the street and on the sidewalk in front of the place. Hopefully, the new project won’t create as much car traffic.