Volume 80, Number 37 | February 10 - 16, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy's Notebook

New C.U. president:
Dr. Jamshed Bharucha, provost and senior vice president of Tufts University, was introduced on Tuesday to students, faculty and alumni of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art as the school’s 12th president starting July 1. Bharucha, introduced by Dr. Mark Epstein, chairperson of the Cooper Union board of trustees, spoke briefly at the Feb. 8 convocation in the school’s Great Hall on Astor Place. Bharucha will succeed Dr. George Campbell Jr., who has been Cooper Union’s president for the past 11 years. The incoming president of the school has made a career of bridging arts and science with local and international engagement. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1978 from Vassar College, majoring in biopsychology, earned a master’s degree from Yale in 1979, and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Harvard in 1983. He also earned a diploma in violin — which he learned as a teenager in his native city of Mumbai, India — from Trinity College, London, in 1973. His research explores how the brain responds to music. He spent most of his academic career at Dartmouth, where he was a professor of psychology and brain science and became dean for social sciences and dean of arts and sciences and provost. He moved to Tufts in 2002 where as provost he oversaw seven schools and recruited deans and faculty that put the university among the forefront of international education.

Nursing-home condo conversion:
The 2007 sale of the old Village Nursing Home, at W. 12th and Hudson Sts., finally closed on Feb. 1 for $33.25 million, Paul J. Massey, of the Massey Knakal real estate firm announced last week. The new owner, FLANK, the architectural and development firm that converted the historic Washington Square Methodist Church on W. Fourth St. into residential lofts in 2006, plans to covert the former nursing home into 10 residential condos, according to the announcement. The original sale contract cleared the way for VillageCare, the nonprofit operator of the Village Nursing Home since 1977, to build its new rehabilitation and nursing facility at 510 W. Houston St. The new facility opened last fall. “The fact that this transaction has stood the test of time and closed four years after the contract signing shows the strength of the New York City real estate market,” Massey said. The seven-story, elevator building, completed in 1905 as a hotel on the west side of Abingdon Square, was converted to nursing home use in 1958. It was renovated in 1981 when a penthouse was added, creating a total of 56,800 square feet, including a finished basement with an 11-foot ceiling. The conversion of the building, which is within the Greenwich Village Historic District, will create condo apartments of between 3,300 and 9,000 square feet, with ceiling heights between 9 and 15.5 ft. Massey Knakal, which arranged the sale, has closed on 2,500 deals in the New York metropolitan area since 2001, with an aggregate value of $12 billion.

Home at Last:
“I’m moving back to the neighborhood for the fourth time — I think it’s officially a record!” Jim Power, the East Village’s “Mosaic Man,” told us this week, glad that he has, at long last, landed a unit in The Lee, the new supportive-housing building at East Houston and Pitt Sts. run by Common Ground. The LEED “Silver” energy-efficient facility will house 262 residents, including adults with special needs, low-income working adults and young adults aging out of foster care and at risk of homelessness. Power said “chronic homelessness” over the years has been his problem. His small, 10th-floor studio is 15 feet by 15 feet and overlooks Houston St. He’ll pay one-third of his income toward his rent. As part of the process, he had to get his permanent resident card from Homeland Security, and also, after 50 years, Power, who immigrated to New York from Ireland at age 12, is finally getting his citizenship. The “Mosaic Man” will have a roommate to keep him company — his longtime canine companion, Jesse Jane. “She’s the only dog in there, because they know she’s an official service dog,” Power noted. “She helps me with my mobility and my stress.” He said he and Jesse Jane should be moved in by Monday and ready for their photo-op. Some residents of The Lee are already in their apartments. Power’s relief at his living situation, however, pales in comparison to his passion over the city’s proposed closing of Astor Place between Fourth Ave. and Lafayette St., which he fears will decimate his array of tile-mosaic street lampposts and planters festooning the intersection. “I’m asking that Community Board 2 resign,” he declared, “because they thought that was a very good design — that’s ridiculous! This is still our neighborhood!” A key part of Power’s counterstrategy will be to create a special new mosaic zone. “The plan is simple,” he explained, “an international flag on each lamppost, intended to establish this as an international neighborhood.” Decision-making power will then shift to, well, Power. “Will I run it?” he said. “Yes. Will I control it? Yes. Will I set policy? Yes… .” He’ll be cooking up his master plan at The Lee.

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