Penny for your lane thoughts:
As the Grand St. protected bike lane controversy boils over, Ian Dutton, vice chairperson of Community Board 2’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, told us last week that cycling advocates hope to head off similar merchant eruptions on Eighth Ave., where another protected bike lane is currently being installed down to Bank St. in the Village. Dutton said an outreach effort to local businesses will be done by the Sixth Precinct and Transportation Alternatives to try to allay shop owners’ concerns. The protected Eighth Ave. bike lane should be finished by the end of the month, Dutton said; it will resemble the Ninth Ave. bike lane, which is protected from traffic by a concrete median. The new Grand St. protected, cross-town bike lane, on the other hand, uses a row of parked cars to do the trick. “The Department of Transportation’s plan, over time, is to do all the avenues [in Manhattan] like Ninth Ave.,” Dutton informed us. Uh-oh, we’re totally in favor of bike lanes — but better start the outreach now!
Park and penthouse:
Our eyes popped last week when we saw in a Corcoran real estate advertising insert inside The New York Times that the penthouse of One Jackson Square is being marketed for a whopping $21.75 million. With more than 5,500 square feet of interior space with a small pool or large Jacuzzi — a spokesperson wasn’t exactly sure what to call it — on the rooftop deck, the place offers panoramic views thanks to its “undulating glass” exterior. Believe it or not, that isn’t even a record price for a Village-area condo, since Julian Schnabel has been selling — or, rather, trying in vain to unload — the units in his Palazzo Chupi on W. 11th St. for at least that much. Then we considered the irony of the fact that Jackson Square Park, right across from the new One Jackson Square — which is still under construction — has been a favorite stomping ground for the homeless. But it seems One Jackson Square, along with a new group to which it belongs, the Jackson Square Alliance, has been addressing that issue. The group has already raised $100,000 for the little park at the intersection of Eighth and Greenwich Aves. and Horatio St. One of the first things they’ve done is to pay for two Park Enforcement Patrol officers from the Parks Department who are being stationed in the park. A spokesperson for the Hines development organization said the guards’ main function is “to keep people from sleeping in the park.” Cristina DeLuca, a Parks spokesperson, clarified that the pair of PEP’s share one shift at the park during the hours it’s open — basically, daylight hours. “Working with the Police Department and local residents,” DeLuca said, “the Parks Department has increased PEP presence in Jackson Square Park to ameliorate a significant problem with panhandlers and intoxicated individuals frequenting the park and disturbing patrons. Because it is a small park, we could not otherwise devote full-time staff dedicated to quality-of-life issues; but thanks to funds from generous, civic-minded individuals, PEP officers have been working in the park since June. This partnership with community members enables a constant, uniformed presence to staff the park, ensuring that the rules and regulations of the park are upheld. While the Police Department is responsible for crime prevention in parks, we believe that an involved community with strong public-private partnerships, such as the one at Jackson Square Park, is a better solution to driving out any negative behavior.” It’s certainly not the first time a private group or institution has paid for PEP presence: New York University funds the Washington Square Park PEP’s. The new Jackson Square Alliance has also wired the park with Wi-Fi so that One Jackson Square’s residents and others can surf the ’Net on their laptops to their hearts’ content while enjoying the homeless-free park. The group has also helped fix up Jackson Square’s pavement and fountain and plant flowers, the developer’s spokesperson said. (When we visited the closed park last Friday on a blustery, chilly evening, however, there were lots of holes and asphalt-patched areas in the park’s perimeter slate sidewalk — so we’re guessing they mean they fixed the paving inside the park.) The new group is also intent on increasing cultural activities in Jackson Square. The first will be a lighting of holiday decorations — actually, it’s the third annual, but it seems like it’s being taken to another level this year — on Wed., Dec. 3, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be music, gifts from local shops for children and hot refreshments. Café Cluny and Mxyplyzyk are among the local sponsors. Well, unless you’re a homeless person looking to catch a few Z’s on a bench, it all sounds pretty good. … But then there’s still that pigeon problem: Lunch eaters in Jackson Square sit at the peril of being pigeon bombed. That’s another job for the alliance to tackle… . (By the way, just in case you were wondering, “Mxyplyzyk,” mentioned above, was the name of a Superman nemesis, and was derived from a scrambled word from a Linotype, or hot type, machine back in the day.)
Wine, women and song — But where’s the cheese?
We went to the opening of Michael Dorf’s new City Winery on Varick St. last week and it looks like a great space for music performances, of which he plans to put on many. The place’s “first crush” of grapes has been finished, with 250 barrels filled. For those who have trouble choosing between a cabernet or a merlot or even a white or a red, City Winery won’t simplify things any: There will be 500 types of wine by the bottle and 50 by the glass. Dorf said City Winery combines two things that just go together: wine and music. Well, as the saying goes, “Wine, women and song.” O.K., so two out of three ain’t bad. (Or if you’re a heterosexual woman, “Wine, men and song.”) The space will officially open New Year’s Eve, and upcoming shows will see performances by the likes of Lenny Kaye, Suzanne Vega and Steve Nieve (Elvis Costello’s former keyboardist); Dorf, who used to run the Knitting Factory in Tribeca, hinted that a “special guest” might drop by for Nieve’s gig, which will be on Nieve’s birthday. Anyone say “Elvis?” The opening was all well and good, but we were truly disappointed that the Murray’s Cheese part of the operation wasn’t up and running. We sincerely hope there will be a “cheese opening” soon. Oh yes, City Winery will also be offering a Sunday klezmer brunch. So after catching the gospel brunch nearby at Lola on Watts St., you can eat a la klezmer at Dorf’s place — well, maybe not on the same day.
One of our former super interns, Lucas Mann, is now interning at The Nation, writing for its online edition. His assignments so far have included covering Jesse Jackson leading a rally on Wall St. and graffiti art’s role in the Obama campaign. “You were his mentor,” his mom, Livvie Mann, proudly told The Villager.