By Patrick Hedlund
The Slacktivist manifesto
The so-called Lower East Side Slacktivists, who’ve staged anti-gentrification rallies at Downtown development hotspots, are at it again — with plans for another themed protest and a fundraiser in the works.
The group, which recently garnered headlines for its protest outside an East Village wine bar, will bring its brand of guerilla activism to the contentious rent-regulated building at 47 E. Third St. next month as part of an ongoing series of neighborhood demonstrations.
Activist leader John Penley has used the pages of The New York Post to publicize his fellow rabble-rousers, whom Post scribe Richard Johnson termed the “slacktivists” earlier this month in his Page Six column.
Now, with an official name and front-page ink flowing in The New York Times and Observer newspapers, Penley has sought to strengthen the group’s clout by reaching out to Harlem anti-gentrification activist Nellie Bailey of the Harlem Tenants Council for a joint benefit against the citywide development creep.
In addition to a July 11 rally at the 47 E. Third St. building, Penley and his merry band of crusties are working to raise funds for the reintroduction of a band shell in Tompkins Square Park — this time a solar-powered stage conceived of with the help of a local green architect.
“We’re going to start raising money for it, even though there’s no official plan to [build one],” Penley said of a renewed push to bring a performance space back to the park after the original was demolished in 1991. “If it doesn’t pan out, we’ll donate the money to one of the local neighborhood food banks.” He confirmed that embattled nightspot Le Souk has agreed to host the fundraiser, although no date has yet been set for the event.
Meanwhile, Penley has softened his stance against the Bowery Wine Bar, the site of the recent protest affectionately known as “Die Hard Yuppie Scum,” after an article in The Observer profiling the bar’s owner revealed his character as a tried-and-true New Yorker. In the story, bar co-owner Chris Sileo offered demonstrators free pizza at future protests because of the publicity they brought his establishment, and Penley plans to accept the pies as a “unilateral truce” after next month’s rally.
The event will be a well-fed affair, as activists are encouraged to bring cake and donuts to the rally called “Let ’Em Eat Cake” in regard to owners Alistair and Catherine Economakis’ attempt to evict their tenants so they can have the building for their own personal mansion. And the tagline for this round of protesting?
“Economakis to the neighborhood: Let ’em eat cake,” Penley said. “The neighborhood to Economakis: Let ’em eat s—t.”
Soho’s European union
As with seemingly every new luxury Downtown development, the innovative Soho Mews condominium complex now rising has gone global in its search for residents, kicking off an international tour this week promoting the buildings to prospective buyers from abroad.
According to a press statement, exclusive sales agent Corcoran Sunshine plans to visit “Europe’s most fashionable cities to provide insight about the flourishing real estate market in Lower Manhattan and its most cosmopolitan district, Soho.” (Mixed Use actually had to reach out for this release, rather than it landing in our inbox, due to the Mews media team’s thought that local interest would be lacking.)
The tour starts this Thursday with a cocktail reception in Milan, Italy, followed by an event in Rome next week to call attention to the upscale lofts, located on W. Broadway between Grand and Canal Sts. near the Tribeca border.
“With a favorable currency rate, international interest in NYC properties remains incredibly strong, but savvy European buyers are seeking real long-term value for their investment,” said James Lansill, senior managing director of Corcoran Sunshine, in the statement.
And with the Trump Soho condo-hotel rising only blocks away from the Mews and also courting an international clientele, what happens if the area starts to develop a distinctly non-New York accent?
“Well, Soho is already full of Eurotrash,” said Sean Sweeney, president of the Soho Alliance. “I hear more English spoken in Chinatown these days than on Prince St.”
A European émigré himself, the Scottish Sweeney called Soho the “quintessential American neighborhood” because of its cast-iron architecture, but chalked up the international influx to the area’s European architecture and thriving arts community.
Still, these were not reasons for Sweeney to move in back in 1976: “I was attracted because it looked the slum in Glasgow I was born in,” he said.
Gottlieb property auction
A piece of the Gottlieb family’s vast Village property portfolio will come up for auction this summer, after a court decision regarding a dispute between the building’s co-owners ruled for the sale.
The building, a five-story brownstone at 79 Horatio St. between Washington and Greenwich Sts., is part of the Gottlieb Management Company’s extensive West Village holdings, which have a estimated total value of approximately $1 billion.
According to a recent New York Times article, a long-running dispute between property co-owners Gottlieb and Vicky Gabay over the building’s management led to the State Supreme Court ruling in 2005. Gabay had charged that after Gottlieb Management patriarch Bill Gottlieb died in 1999, his relatives ceased communication with her and refused Gabay access to the building. Following a series of appeals that stalled the sale, Manhattan Surrogate’s Court recently named new executors to the Gottlieb holdings, allowing for the auction to finally occur sometime in July, the Times reported.
The property contains 10 apartments comprising more than 6,300 total square feet, with two rent-regulated tenants currently residing on the top floor. A lawyer for Gabay told the Times that bidding would start at around $5 million.