Volume 77 / Number 30 - Dec. 27 - Jan.2, 2007
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

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Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

No American Apparel!

If you plan to shop at the newly expanded Lower East Side American Apparel store at E. Houston and Orchard Sts., then nearby designer Doron Braunshtein, a.k.a. Apollo Braun, doesn’t want your business.

The owner of the eponymous Apollo Braun, the avant-garde clothing store at 193 Orchard St. down the block, Braunshtein recently posted a sign in his boutique’s window stating that American Apparel bags would not tolerated in his shop.

“American Apparel to me defines the end of the creative, unique and legendary Orchard Street,” said the Israeli-born artist and self-proclaimed “new Andy Warhol” in a written statement. “After American Apparel expanded their store, I knew for sure that soon enough more and more wonderful and creative boutiques will disappear, and instead of them we will see Starbucks, Banana Republic and Gap in every corner.”

Braunshtein claimed the rent at his five-year-old store was raised after American Apparel’s expansion on Orchard St., alleging that the trendy chain’s presence caused the hike.

“The way I see things, every time you buy a T-shirt from the American Apparel stores, you are giving a green light to your landlord to raise the rent for your personal apartment or your business, because companies like American Apparel can pay any amount of rent,” he continued. “But we, the small business owners, just cannot.”

One might question whether the “unique and legendary Orchard St.” still exists with the abundance of nightlife destinations on the block. But, when Mixed Use spoke to him, Braunshtein quickly noted that these establishments are generally independently owned and operated — unlike American Apparel.

“They have the power to make art. Instead, they sell T-shirts for $38,” he said. “It’s the beginning of the end.”

Trump ‘monster’ message

Preservationists opposed to the 42-story Trump Soho condo-hotel have made clear their feelings on his new Downtown skyscraper, but now even the graffitists are starting to weigh in.

A note etched into the pavement on the corner of Spring and Varick Sts. stating “Trump Is A Monster,” right across from The Donald’s rising development, captures the feelings of many in the community who have protested the building since construction began.

“Vandalism begets vandalism,” said Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance, which is currently threatening legal action against the developer. “This is the community’s reaction to the vandalism and smearing of our landscape that Trump did.”

Sweeney said he even thought of posting a sign in the window of his Soho loft to the same effect, and mentioned “Trump Is A Schlump” as a possible slogan. He noted that the Alliance has never taken a position on graffiti, but that the scrawl qualifies as “political free speech.”

“I hope it stays there forever,” Sweeney added.

Bowery burger bonanza

Lower East Siders won’t be at a loss for quality burgers when two legendary restaurateurs bring their flame-broiled flair to the Bowery next summer.

Renowned East Village diner Veselka has confirmed the opening of its third location at 9 E. First St., while celebrated Uptown chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud announced his newest dining venture at 299 Bowery just around the corner. The locations are both in AvalonBay’s new Avalon Bowery Place building.

Boulud spokesperson Georgette Farkas said that the unnamed restaurant — once speculated to open as DBGB (for Daniel Boulud Good Burger) — “will be drawing on the Bowery’s history as a restaurant-supply neighborhood” in its design aesthetic. She said the 120-seat eatery will offer “brasserie foods,” including creative burger options, as well as ice creams and plenty of beers on tap, when it opens sometime next summer. Farkas could not comment on rumors that the burgers will hover in the $30 price range, but noted, “the most important thing for Daniel to offer is value.”

Meanwhile, neighborhood standby Veselka just signed a lease to open its own 120-seat restaurant, to be called Veselka Bowery, hopefully by Labor Day 2008, said general manager Jason Birchard. The new location, which will essentially offer the same menu as the East Village restaurant, comes as a result of increased popularity at the Ukranian eatery.

The approximately 5,000-square-foot space will be slightly larger than the original E. Ninth St. and Second Ave. location and offer three times as many outdoor seats, he added.

“That area is lacking something like Veselka down there,” said Birchard, whose father owns the original restaurant and said he’d welcome competition with Boulud.

“We’re going to try to stay true to the neighborhood and not bring Park Avenue to the Bowery,” he said.

Love for West Village?

As U2’s Bono reportedly bears down on Julian Schnabel’s pink Palazzo Chupi in the West Village, rocker-actress Courtney Love has apparently decided to head for the celeb-infested neighborhood, as well. According to a link provided by real estate publication Curbed.com, the spell-check-averse former wife of late Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain wrote on her MySpace.com blog that she was considering taking space in four-floor residence in the neighborhood:

“i think/hope we foundteh PERFECT plaCE, its a w village 4 floor house 2 floors are being rented by the owners, itllcost ...alot...to returjn it to a house biut fbc doesnt need to have all that space til she moves here at 18 and its a great invesment. thats exciting,” the post read.

Mixed Used believes “fbc” is a reference to Love’s daughter with Cobain, Frances Bean Cobain, who will, for West Villagers’ sake, hopefully prove a more regular face in the neighborhood than her lighting-rod-for-controversy mom.


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