West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 25 | November 21 - 27 2007

MIXED USE

By Patrick Hedlund

S.V.A. rat problem
The School of Visual Arts continues building its newest dormitory on the Lower East Side to house hundreds of students by next fall, the college confirmed, regardless of a menacing-looking, 15-foot inflatable rat (below) overseeing construction.

A group of workers from the New York City District Council of Carpenters has been protesting construction, with the red-eyed rodent as their mascot, alleging that the laborers being used at the site are underpaid and haven’t received proper safety training.

The planned 20-story, 80,000-square-foot residence hall, located at 101 Ludlow St. at Delancey St., will have 350 beds in a mix of private and semi-private rooms, said Michael Grant, the design and art school’s spokesperson.

Grant deferred judgment on the allegations to the city’s Buildings and Labor Departments, while Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3 district manager, said the union has asked the board to take a position at next month’s meeting regarding worker wages and safety conditions.

“This has only come up once in the past,” Stezter said, noting that C.B. 3 “is not an investigatory board.”

The locally based Charles Blaichman Real Estate Development Corp. approached S.V.A. to develop the project, which has only been built to about three stories so far and also endured D.O.B. stop-work orders.

Blaichman, who has developed extensively in the Village, did not respond to requests for comment.

Andres Puerta, an organizer for the carpenters union, said his workers — with their fanged friend — plan to protest each weekday, “hopefully until they open the front doors,” he said. “We’re not going to give up.”


Bowery battle royal

There’s a battle brewing between residents and “radicals” on the Bowery, with locals slinging mud on either side of the stretch.

Concerned community members who felt slighted at a Nov. 8 C.B. 2 Zoning Committee meeting — at which the committee voted in favor of recommending a 15-story residential building at 37 E. Fourth St. — claim committee chairperson David Reck shut out the opposition by avoiding criticisms from those against the project. (See letter on Page 14).

Some lodged allegations that Reck ignored or cut attendees off, and the chairperson himself admitted to stifling further discussion when the crowd “became completely unruly and uncontrollable.”

“It’s really sad that there’s a group of radicals over on the Bowery that just don’t want to pay attention,” Reck said of his choice to close the comment period.

Doris Diether, C.B. 2 Landmarks Committee vice chairperson, said Reck refused to call on her during the meeting, despite the fact that she was constantly holding her hand up, requesting to speak. The meeting also was reportedly attended by some elderly or disabled members of the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged living near the proposed project.

“These are not unruly people,” said Anna Sawaryn, of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, who didn’t attend. “This is why they came to the meeting — to find out what is going on.”

JASA residents technically live in C.B. 3 territory, but the two boards have worked together on past development along the Bowery.

Last week, the full Board 2 voted to approve the project following the committee’s recommendation, and the matter now moves to the Department of City Planning.


Noho Historic District

The Landmarks Preservation Commission will meet next month to discuss the expansion of the Noho Historic District to include nearly 60 additional buildings.

The public meeting, to be held jointly with Councilmember Alan Gerson, will focus on the properties loosely defined as located on E. Fourth St., Great Jones St. and Bond St., between Lafayette St. and the Bowery.

“This has been a long time coming,” Gerson said in statement at last week’s C.B. 2 meeting, “and we hope that you will be able to come and support the designation and once and for all protect what remains of Noho’s special built character for generations to come.”

Mixed Use wonders if any “radicals” from the Bowery’s east side — along which eight of the buildings in the proposed expansion front the west side of the street — will make a show of force at the Dec. 3 meeting.


D.O.B. spiffs up threads

Don’t expect to see them sashaying down the catwalk at Fashion Week, but the Department of Buildings has unveiled a new wadrobe for its inspection staff in a continued effort “to further the professionalism and integrity of the agency,” the department announced last week.

D.O.B.’s 300 inspectors and field responders will now sport jackets, shirts, pants, shoes and hats emblazoned with the department logo, said spokesperson Kate Lindquist. The various articles range from blazers for managerial staff to more utilitarian cargo pants for inspectors.

The total price tag for D.O.B.’s shopping spree? $385,000.

“I think that they appreciate the new uniforms, and they recognize that it’s bringing a level of respect to their profession and helping them do their job better,” said Lindquist of the mostly navy, light-blue and khaki duds.

Workers will be required to don their department IDs as part of the uniform.

Whether these new N.Y.P.D.-like duds will make it easier for inspectors to enforce the law at worksites remains to be seen.

mixeduse@thevillager.com

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