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

Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Pols talk legal-ease

A group of politicians announced the introduction of a new bill that would help tenants recoup legal fees in cases where they have been wrongly accused of breaking rent-stabilization rules.

The measure, which would extend even more rights to tenants on the heels of the recently implemented Tenant Protection Act, would serve as a strong deterrent for landlords to engage in legal proceedings that are not factually substantiated.

State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh made the announcement Sunday near the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village complex, which has a history of tenant abuses, joining the buildings’ tenant association as well as Councilmember Daniel Gardonick, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and Borough President Scott Stringer.

Under the bill, in instances where landlords knowingly pursue frivolous or baseless legal action using false allegations against tenants, the landlord would be required to pay three times the tenant’s legal fees.

In 339 legal cases at Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village alone, the landlord was found by the courts to be wrong, Garodnick observed.

Said Duane at the press conference: “Tenants who are victims of these scams presently have no financial recourse when they retain legal counsel to determine the meaning of and/or to respond to such notices unless the matter proceeds to court and there is a judgment against the landlord. This is both costly and cruel for those who are wrongly accused, and it is time we stop it.”

The bill is expected to be introduced in the state Senate and Assembly this week.

Market pressures

Village standby Jefferson Market, the longtime mom-and-pop grocer located on Sixth Ave., showed signs of succumbing to its big-box competitors with news this week that it had shuttered indefinitely.

A note just posted on the window of the store between W. 11th and W. 10th Sts. stated it “will be closed temporarily for restructuring of the store,” following a lean couple months for the market owned and operated by the same family for the past four decades.

The store had posted a sign to customers last month acknowledging “this rough patch we’re going through,” after shelves recently started appearing less stocked than usual. But co-owner Louis Montuori assured Mixed Use that the market could be reopening within a few weeks with the help of an as-yet-unnamed partner.

Montouri said he would soon be discussing future options with the partner, including possible renovations to the space, and added he hoped to restock the store in advance of the upcoming holiday season.

“I’ll still be there, most of the employees will still be there,” Montouri noted, adding, though, he still hasn’t “sealed the deal” on the mysterious new partnership.

Expect a resolution in the form of more handwritten window correspondence to come.

Black’s the new green

With the economy tanking and developers looking to lure new tenants by any means necessary — and let’s not forget those ungodly gas prices! — one Downtown complex is now giving residents brand-new bicycles as a way to promote alternative forms of transportation.

The developers of 211 Elizabeth, a collection of 15 one- and two-bedroom homes in Nolita, have partnered with Dutch bicycle maker A Black Bike to provide new residents with custom-made two-wheelers to accompany their purchases.

The building also includes an on-site bike room for storage, and proceeds from each bicycle will go to the World Bicycle Relief Fund, said A Black Bike owner/creative director Muna Whitfield.

“Around the world, we’ve seen how bikes can have serious environmental, social and economic impact,” she added, noting the Dutch-designed models feature leather handgrips, an embossed leather saddle, rear mud shields and a bell. No word yet on whether they’re also considering providing Lycra bodysuits.

A shore thing

Mayor Bloomberg signed legislation this week requiring the Department of City Planning to submit a comprehensive plan for the city’s waterfront by the end of 2010 and each decade thereafter.

The bill, introduced by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, calls for City Planning to present its proposal to the council, borough presidents, public advocate and community boards by Dec. 31, 2010, subsequently revisiting the issue every 10 years.

As Bloomberg explained it, “The plan, to be drafted in consultation with other regulatory agencies and stakeholders, shall examine all aspects of the city’s 578-mile waterfront, including public use and access, protecting the environment and natural areas, and pursuing new development opportunities while strengthening existing businesses along the working waterfront. Additionally, it shall contain a statement of planning policy that takes into consideration the city’s 10-year capital strategy and other relevant planning documents and outline proposals for implementing that strategy.” 

Quinn originally announced the plan in late July.

Gray days

Some of the saddest news to come out of the economic crisis: Gray’s Papaya, at Sixth Ave. and Eighth St., the Village’s venerable hot-dog purveyor, has been forced to up the price of its always-affordable “Recession Special” by nearly a buck. The meal deal — which has featured two wieners and drink for the thrifty price of $3.50 since 2006 — will increase to $4.45 after founder Nicholas Gray acknowledged rising rents food costs necessitated the hike.


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