Volume 77 / Number 28 - December 12 - 18, 2007
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

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Mixed Use

A crowd of 3,000 people waited to get into the new Apple Store on W. 14th St. last Friday.

By Patrick Hedlund

Chabad up in smoke?
Does a head shop count as community space? For one building owner, peddling bongs is apparently just as good as offering religious sanctuary.

A tipster tells Mixed Use that the property at 120 St. Mark’s Pl. in the East Village received a community facility bonus from the city to build higher by planning to add a Chabad Lubavitch center at the property.

Instead, St. Mark’s Pl. resident Anna Sawaryn reports that the building currently houses a veterinary clinic on the basement level, a tattoo parlor and head shop on the first floor and residential space on the second floor — with no Chabad in sight.

“Where is it?” Sawaryn asked in an e-mail to Mixed Use. “A tattoo parlor and a residential space do not qualify as a community facility.” She also claimed the property is not zoned for a veterinary clinic, but that all the floors are now occupied.

The building, owned by Ben Shaoul, has endured a troubled history, including last year’s eviction of squatters that included Jim “Mosaic Man” Power.

While some frequent visitors to St. Mark’s Pl. might consider a head shop to be a vital community facility, Mixed Use believes the city almost certainly disagrees.

South Village support
A group of about 200 preservationists turned up at Our Lady of Pompei Church on Monday night to strategize for the designation of the South Village Historic District — the former stomping ground of beatniks, bohemians and Bob Dylan.

The meeting, co-sponsored by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and Community Board 2, looked forward to realizing the designation of the triangular-shaped district, located between W. Fourth St. south to Watts St. between Seventh Ave. S. and LaGuardia Pl., and from Houston St. south to Watts St. between Sixth Ave. and W. Broadway.

C.B. 2 has strongly endorsed the proposal, and both Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Assemblymember Deborah Glick showed support for the designation at the meeting.

The district has received broad support from local businesses, block associations, elected officials and neighborhood tenant New York University, with no expressed opposition, said Andrew Berman, G.V.S.H.P.’s director. Attendees promised to seek out anyone not on the list to ask them aboard.

G.V.S.H.P. will continue writing the mayor and Landmarks Preservation Commission, after first applying for the designation last year.

Already abutting the proposed area is the Greenwich Village Historic District, the Soho Cast-Iron Historic District and the Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District, while the South Village has been left blowin’ in the wind.

Harassment hearing
A postponed City Council hearing to address issues of tenant harassment has been rescheduled for this coming Mon., Dec. 17, according to Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s Office.

The Council decided to move the Dec. 6 hearing because of a prior scheduling conflict, said Quinn spokesperson Andrew Doba, plus that original date for the hearing also fell on the same day as a meeting regarding illegal hotel conversions.

C.B. 2 member Doris Diether originally alerted Mixed Use of the double bill, which would have taken on two increasing concerns facing city residents on the same day. She also complained that the hearing was poorly advertised to the public, although The Villager notified readers last week in an article spotlighting the problem.

Tenant activist Susi Schropp agreed that the original event wasn’t publicized enough and expressed doubt the hearing would accomplish much.

“I’m really skeptical about how successful it will be,” she said, adding the 10 a.m. start time cuts into tenants’ work schedules. “We need new laws and better enforcement of the laws. … It’s riddled with loopholes.”

Doba said the issue continues to be a pressing one for Quinn.

“The tenant harassment bill remains a high priority for the speaker,” he said.

NYCHA keen on green
It seems going green is no longer a trend reserved for upscale developers, as the New York City Housing Authority recently announced an initiative aimed at outfitting its 2,600-plus buildings with energy-efficient technologies.

NYCHA, partnering with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, former President Bill Clinton and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, announced its sustainability plan last week to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and conserve energy through green retrofitting.

The authority will gain access to low-cost, energy-saving technology and resources through a purchasing consortium aided by the former president’s Clinton Climate Initiative. The comprehensive plan seeks to provide building retrofits as well as modernized heating systems to help access cleaner energy and reduce emissions. The plan includes revisions to buildings’ heat and hot-water systems and upgrades to apartment and common-area lighting fixtures.

The program falls in line with the goals sought by Bloomberg’s PlaNYC proposal to reduce carbon emissions, as well as a recent City Council measure passed to the same effect.

“This is a step in the right direction in the fight against climate change that will reduce New York City’s carbon footprint, while saving money for taxpayers and residents at the same time,” Clinton said in statement. 

Turns out it is easy being green.


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