Volume 76, Number 9 | July 19 - 25, 2006

Scoopy's Notebook

Landmark moment: The City Council’s Landmarks Subcommittee and Land-use Committee on Tuesday approved designation of the two new historic districts in the far West Village: the extension of the Greenwich Village Historic District and new Weehawken St. Historic District. It was expected the full Council would approve the two new districts on Wednesday afternoon. About six blocks total are included in the new districts. When we called her office late Tuesday afternoon, Council Speaker Christine Quinn was reportedly warming up to throw out the first pitch at the Yankees game, but she had earlier issued the following anticipatory statement, “While protecting these two new areas of the Village is a step in the right direction, the city has a lot of work ahead of it to make sure we preserve the history of our communities and develop in a way that harnesses the strength of our neighborhoods, and doesn’t detract from it.” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said the key approval was in May when the Landmarks Preservation Commission O.K.’d the districts, and that the full Council’s approval was never really in doubt. “This is the final leg of the journey,” he said, speaking the day before the vote. Berman said signs look good that the city may now move ahead with designating eight more buildings as individual landmarks in the far West Village later this summer.

Approve no wine (license) before its time: European Union, the E. Fourth St. gastropub that has been fighting for its life — and for any kind of alcohol license — in the face of stiff community opposition, was dealt a another setback last week, when the State Liquor Authority advised E.U. to postpone its application for a beer and wine license until next month so that the gastropub’s owner, Bob Giraldi, can negotiate further with the block association. The block association, which had fought against a full liquor license for the place, which the S.L.A. denied, recently finally agreed to negotiate with Giraldi on conditions of operation, but claimed it did not have enough time before last week’s S.L.A. hearing, and asked Giraldi to postpone. He opted not to. The S.L.A. agreed with the block association. Susan Stetzer, district manager of Community Board 3, called it a “huge victory.” She said about five residents opposing the license, as well as Giraldi’s attorney, attended the S.L.A. hearing. Patti Greaney, Giraldi’s wife and partner in E.U., said the stumbling block was that the block association wanted all the conditions in writing and approved by a lawyer from each side. “We were very close to accord,” Greaney said, adding she felt that a written contract wasn’t needed, since it seemed the two sides had established a degree of “trust.” Greaney said E.U. is footing costs of up to $30,000 a week, including paying the chef, rent and insurance, amounting to $300,000 for the two and a half months they’ve been closed while unable to serve alcohol. She said the conditions included closing times, closing windows and doors at certain times and turning off “nonessential lighting” at a reasonable hour. “It’s not that far off between what we want and what they want,” she said. “I’m sure we can come to an agreement.”

Chuck Close picture sharpens: The application for two variances by the developer of the former Jones Diner location on Great Jones St. pulled out of the Community Board 2 Zoning Committee meeting at the last minute last Thursday. Doris Diether, the committee’s chairperson, said the applicant wants to have further discussions with painter Chuck Close. Considered among the world’s top 10 living artists, Close protests that if the new project is built, it will block the natural light to his studio and he’ll have to leave the city.

Freaking out: “Mosaic Man,” Jim Power, called to say he’s being hassled by the man. Police were poking around his shelter in front of 120 St. Mark’s Pl. the other night, and one was fingering his pistol in an intimidating manner while seated in his car, Power claimed. One cop tried to enter Power’s tent, but Power demanded to see a search warrant. Power tried to tell them he’s watching the building — where he used to live — which is being developed by Ben Shaoul, who bought him out of the former artists’ squat.

Horse sense: Artist Frank Stella recently sold his longtime studio at 126-128 E. 13th St. and G.V.S.H.P. is working to stop the new owner from demolishing it. The building was formerly a stable and an auction mart for horses and carriages, where prominent families like the Belmonts and Vanderbilts used to buy their horses.

Correction: Last week’s article on the East Village/Lower East Side preliminary draft rezoning stated that it includes a commercial overlay on St. Mark’s Pl., but it doesn’t, according to Arthur Huh of the Department of City Planning.

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