Volume 78 / Number 21 - October 22 - 28, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Glad that Met gets lease

To The Editor:
For the past six months — since the expiration of the prior lease between the Met Food supermarket at 107 Second Ave. and the building’s owner, New York University, we have been assisting the parties to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. We are delighted that the exceptional cooperation of all concerned has resulted in a new, long-term lease between N.Y.U. and Michael and Steven Schumacher, who own and operate the market. 

We always believed that there would be a positive outcome and we wish to express our appreciation to N.Y.U. for the fairness and good faith with which it engaged in these lease negotiations, to the Schumachers for the flexibility and patience that they showed during the process and to the community for trusting us to help bring this matter to a happy resolution. 

It was particularly important to us that the Schumachers, whose family-owned food market has served this community for more than 20 years, be offered a sustainable, long-term renewal lease. We were concerned not only because affordable grocery stores are becoming exceedingly scarce, but also because of the Schumachers’ exceptional commitment to and connection with this community. 

N.Y.U. heard the outpouring of support for the Schumachers from us, as well as from hundreds of patrons and supporters, and the university came through for us all.  We are fully aware that N.Y.U. could have sought a more lucrative lease with a different tenant, and had at one time contemplated plans to convert the bottom floor of 107 Second Ave. to academic use. We value the university’s decision to renew, nonetheless, the Schumachers’ lease at fair and reasonable terms. This decision is emblematic of the spirit of community collaboration that we have seen emerge at the university in the past year and a half, and is clear evidence of the university’s commitment to supporting community sustainability.

Although N.Y.U. made sacrifices to accommodate Met Food’s new lease, we believe that the supermarket’s continued presence in the community will be beneficial for N.Y.U. and its students, as well as for the Schumachers, their customers and the neighborhood as a whole.  

Certainly, the negotiating process was lengthy, and we are especially grateful to Alicia Hurley and Gary Parker, from N.Y.U.’s Office of Government and Community Affairs, and to Michael Schumacher for always keeping the lines of communication open and negotiations moving forward.   

Now that N.Y.U. and the Schumachers have agreed on a new, long-term lease, we are confident that the Met Food at 107 Second Ave. will continue to serve as a valuable resource for the East Village and N.Y.U. communities for years to come.  This is truly a victory we can all celebrate.

Rosie Mendez, city councilmember
Tom Duane, state senator
Christine Quinn, City Council speaker
Scott Stringer, Manhattan borough president
Deborah Glick, state assemblymember

Setting the record straight

To The Editor:
Your recent article (“Agency rep’s all prescribe O’Toole site as best option,” Oct. 15) seriously misstates the testimony before the Landmarks Preservation Commission regarding the St. Vincent’s Hospital proposed expansion, and does a grave disservice to your readers by misrepresenting the facts.

Let’s set the record straight. The officials from City Hall, although they “supported” the application, did not consider specific alternatives to St. Vincent’s present proposal. Ms. Cohen, representing Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, specifically testified that she had not considered renovation of the existing campus. Her response to questioning from the L.P.C. commissioners made clear that she was supporting the need for a hospital on the West Side, not the specific need to locate this hospital at the O’Toole site, in the precise form that St. Vincent’s is pressing.

Michael Meola, testifying for the city’s Economic Development Corp., specifically did not testify that there were no alternatives to demolishing O’Toole, only that the limited alternatives he considered were considerably more expensive than using the O’Toole site. But the expense of alternatives to that of the proposed “new” St. Vincent’s on the O’Toole site is utterly irrelevant, because the hospital did not make its hardship application on the basis of any claim of financial hardship. Financial hardship is simply not an issue in this matter, since St. Vincent’s chose not to claim any financial hardship as the basis for applying to demolish O’Toole.

Mr. Meola also conducted his alternative-site search under inconsistent and illogical restraints. He valued the O’Toole Building based on a two-year-old appraisal of it in its then use and condition. In valuing his alternatives, however, he used present value, based upon highest and best use. This cannot be considered a fair or impartial comparison.

In addition, Mr. Meola also did not consider any sites that did not currently have zoning equal to that which would be required for the proposed new hospital. This is fatal to the false limitations he imposed on his search — not even the O’Toole site is presently zoned for the proposed hospital tower. Since use of the O’Toole site for the hospital would require upzoning, it was unfair and improper to exclude the many other, suitable sites that would also require upzoning if used for a hospital tower.

The testimony of Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Young from the New York State Department of Health was particularly misrepresented by your article. Those witnesses did not testify “in favor of St. Vincent’s Hospital’s hardship application,” as your article states. Rather, both witnesses were scrupulous in making clear that they had neither seen nor considered the specifics or viability of St. Vincent’s proposal because no proposal had yet been submitted to them. They were extremely careful not to take any position with regard to the specifics of the application before the L.P.C. as it related to the destruction of O’Toole or whether other locations were viable alternatives.

The fact is that if the hospital is permitted to demolish the O’Toole Building, it will irreparably damage the fragile weave of architecture, culture, light and air that makes the Village a unique treasure to the city and to the world. Your suggestion that city and state officials all support this misbegotten plan does not reflect the fair and thoughtful coverage that I would have expected of The Villager. Your readers deserve better.
Delia Guazzo

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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