Dont 86 Chumleys: Chumleys, the bar and restaurant at 86 Bedford St. that still hides behind what looks like a residential front, as it did in 1928 when it was a Prohibition speakeasy, is facing an uncertain future.
The facade at 86 and 84 Bedford Sts., adjoining buildings in the heart of the Greenwich Village Historic District, is buckling and the buildings owner proposes to replace it in a project that would mean closing the bar and restaurant for four months.
However, the owner of Chumleys, Steve Shlopak, insists the structural work could be accomplished without closing down the entire bar and restaurant. It would only need closing 8 feet of the dining room, he said on Monday.
Shlopak and other tenants in the building told Community Board 2 on Feb. 20 that they believed the proposal to vacate the building for four months during the reconstruction was a ploy to force them out of the building.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission, which must decide on the appropriateness of changes in a historic district, held a hearing on Feb. 27 about 86 Bedford St. and gave approval of the plans that would recreate the 1920s facade. The commission, however, called for old timber to be used for the front door and more historically appropriate dormers and light fixtures.
While acknowledging that it has jurisdiction only on the aesthetic aspect of the design, the commission suggested that the building owner work with Chumleys and the Department of Buildings to see if the facade could be replaced without disturbing the restaurant or the two apartments above it.
Assemblymember Deborah Glick submitted testimony at the L.P.C. sharply critical of the owner of 86 and the adjacent 84 Bedford. Last May, the chimney at 84 Bedford collapsed, forcing the displacement of seven residential tenants. To this date, tenants displaced by the chimney collapse have not been able to return and have been forced to go to court to recover their homes, Glick said.
The owner originally told the Community Board 2 Landmarks Committee that it planned to replace the buckling front of 86 Bedford with a facade that recalled the 1820s. The committee voted against the proposal and called for the work to reflect the 1920s design.
We feel that since the tenants and Chumleys restaurant are long-term parts of the Village, the landlord should meet with them and make every effort to assure their continued occupancy in the building, said the unanimous C.B. 2 committee resolution on the issue.
Zodiac mystery: The other week as we were walking out of Washington Square Park, we noticed a 2-foot-by-2-foot square ad for Zodiac, the new true-crime movie about Californias Zodiac killer, pasted right on the sidewalk outside the park on the corner of MacDougal St. and Washington Square N. Had the Parks Department leased out its sidewalks to the highest bidder? Apparently not. Ashe Reardon, a Parks spokesperson, said: Obviously, it was not done with our approval. Were going to remove the poster and if we identify who put it up, we will issue a summons.
To impeach or not to impeacH? On Thurs., March 15, the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club will hold a forum to weigh the case for impeaching President Bush and whether its even attainable. Former Brooklyn D.A. and Watergate House Judiciary Committee member Liz Holtzman will moderate and discuss her new book about impeaching Bush. All local politicians have been invited. The event will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Fulton Center at the Hudson Guild, 119 Ninth Ave., between 17th and 18th Sts. Village Independent Democrats and Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats are co-sponsors of the event.
Little woman? Westbeth resident Jessie McNab says she was absolutely incensed at Andrew Bermans referring to Jane Jacobs as a little woman in his Progress Report column in The Villager last week and intends to fire off a letter about it.
Potshots: Dana Beal called to clarify last weeks Scoopys item on the annual pot-legalization parade. First of all, its called the Stop the Drug War Parade, he said. Second, the permit for the event is NEVER in his name. As for the location, he said hed actually prefer if the rally after the May 6 march was at Battery Park, as usual, since its more accessible to transportation, compared to what hes calling the fallback, Tompkins Square Park, which he said would attract more neighborhood people and be smaller. Also, changing the location will confuse people, he said yeah right, especially if theyre stoned! Beal added that High Times was never banned from the upcoming Yippie Museum kickoff event in April featuring medical marijuana crusader Ed Rosenthal. In fact, we now hear that because of last weeks Scoopy item, High Times will definitely be attending the event. What did we do?
A night for New Orleans: Radical comic artist Seth Tobocman says the upcoming benefit for the Loisaida New Orleans Caravan is going to be a blast. The event, at the Sixth St. Community Center, at 638 E. Sixth St., on Sat., March 10, starting at 7 p.m., will feature some great acts, including violinist Rebecca Moore and her band, along with video; R & B singer Nana Soul; and Amaru, a Latin band. There will also be slide shows of art related to New Orleans and a video of activists and tenants occupying housing that New Orleans wants to demolish. The suggested contribution is $7 to $20. The caravan includes 17 people who will be going down to N.O. to help with construction on homes damaged by Katrina.