Volume 80, Number 5 | June 30 - July 6, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Villager photo by Scoopy`

Seen in Hudson Square — and all over Downtown. If found, please return to…oh, O.K., it’s just more “ironic” poster art.

Scoopy's Notebook

Selling off St. Vincent’s:
The St. Vincent’s Hospital residential building at 555 Sixth Ave. at 16th St. has been sold at auction for $67.3 million to a real estate unit of Stonehenge Partners, according to Crain’s New York Business. If the sale of the building — with 178 apartments and a parking garage — is approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the transfer is scheduled for July 15. The building formerly housed St. Vincent’s medical residents. Stonehenge in 2008 invested about $220 million in Manhattan property. To satisfy creditors, the assets of the St. Vincent’s estate are being sold to pay off the bankrupt former Village hospital’s debt of more than $1 billion.

Gerson double dose:
Former City Councilmember Alan Gerson called us last week to report that his mother, Sophie Gerson, had just gotten out of N.Y.U. Medical Center where she had spent a month and a half recovering after emergency, “very serious” surgery. “Thank God, she’s making a full and complete recovery,” he said. “It was an ordeal over the past six weeks,” added Gerson, who noted, if people hadn’t seen him around lately, it was because he was spending so much time at the hospital with his mom. Without going into too much detail, he said that Sophie, 85, had a stomach rupture that also affected her intestine. A former president of Community School Board 2, Sophie was also a physical-education teacher, which the doctor said was a plus during her distress. “The doctor said all those years of jumping jacks probably helped her make it through,” Alan said. Although the former District 1 representative said his “focus has been on the home front” lately because of his mom, he let drop that he’s poised to start a new job by the end of July. But he said he couldn’t provide details because “the agency” has told him not to jump the gun on the official announcement. We still pressed him anyway for some hints, but all Gerson would say is that his new post “will allow me to continue some of the input into what I was doing [as a councilmember]. … It’s not L.M.D.C.,” he said, adding, “I have much broader horizons.” He was referring to the post-9/11 rebuilding agency the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Gerson said he’s also looking forward to the upcoming July 11 harbor cruise for Mercy Corps, a group helping Haiti relief efforts. Gerson is part of Mercy Corps’ Downtown coalition.

Bakery on a break:
Like all the rest of us, Bakery 44 is feeling the effects of the heat wave. The wildly popular Sunday morning stoop bakery at 44 Jane St. is on a heat-induced hiatus. As Jenny Klion tells us, “Due to serious heat, no outside refrigeration, melting pastries and need for further brainstorming, Bakery 44 will be taking some time off until further notice. In the meantime, my walnut sour cream coffee bundt cake makes a return appearance at Bonsignour, at Jane St. and Eighth Ave., starting today.”

The what’s what on squats:
According to City Limits magazine, it’s estimated that in the 1990s there were at least 500 — possibly as many as 1,000 — squatters illegally living in 32 abandoned buildings in the East Village and Lower East Side. But as neighborhood real estate prices rebounded, evictions progressively whittled away at the squats’ numbers. In 2002, the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, or UHAB — born in the ’70s to protect squatters’ rights — bought 11 of the 12 remaining East Village squats from the city for a symbolic price of $1 each, and promised to help the “homesteaders” (they were no longer officially called squatters) bring the buildings up to code and sell the units to the residents for a mere $250 each. That process is complete for 209 E. Seventh St., a 111-year-old building with 19 apartments, as of June 24. This is the third of the 11 former squats to be completed. “Three down, eight to go,” said UHAB Chief Operating Officer Michael Heitler. The tenement is now being turned over to the residents, who are buying shares in what is now officially a “low-income cooperative.” Michael Shenker, a 209 E. Seventh St. resident, made some noise a couple of years ago when he objected to the cap on resale prices for the units. Others in Shenker’s building shared his view at the time, and the story was reported by The Villager. But when we spoke to Shenker this week, he said he isn’t fighting the conversion anymore, since he just doesn’t have the energy to do it right now. The state attorney general has already given approval for three more former East Village squats to be legally converted soon, including See Skwat, at 155 Avenue C, said Heitler. (We’ve been told there is no correct spelling for See Skwat, but that’s how Jerry The Peddler told us we should, or could, spell it.) The other two buildings reportedly in the pipeline for conversion soon are 733 E. Ninth St. and 719 E. Sixth St.

An article in last week’s Villager on ambulance response and delivery times in the wake of St. Vincent’s Hospital’s closing incorrectly stated that an E.M.S. station being planned by the Fire Department for either Greenwich Village or Chelsea would be the first in Manhattan south of Harlem. In fact, it would be the first E.M.S. station on the West Side south of Harlem.

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