Volume 73, Number 50 | April 21 - 27, 2004

Scoopy's Notebook

Grade-A reversal:
“Wow! I get to say something positive for once!” said David Rabin, president of the Meat-packing District Initiative business improvement group, when asked for comment about the Department of Building’s stunning reversal yesterday of its ruling that would have allowed a 32-story, half-residential, half-hotel tower, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, to be built on 848 Washington St. Rabin, whose more familiar hat is as president of the New York Nightlife Association, said, “It’s a welcome sign from the administration that they recognize the Meat-packing District is a functioning around-the-clock ecosystem of meatpackers, nightlife and retail — with no residents to be disturbed.” The Villager wants to thank D.O.B. spokesperson Jennifer Givner for giving us the heads up yesterday on the reversal. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said he was pretty impressed D.O.B. broke the news to The Villager before anyone else — even G.V.S.H.P., we might modestly add, which led the fight against the tower, along with Rabin’s M.D.I. and Save Gansevoort Market, of which Berman is also executive director.

That pseudo-’70s guy:
Ashton Kuchar was filming “The Interpreter,” his new romantic movie, around the East Village last week, including in Tompkins Sq. Park on Thursday, where the number of paparazzi outnumbered young female fans — maybe their interest is so high because of Kuchar’s recent marriage to Demi Moore — and on E. 10th St. and Second Ave. on Sunday, where the crew created a downpour of artificial rain.

Will Hil respond?
Village Independent Democrats have been trying hard to get one of their heroes, Senator Hillary Clinton, to come speak, but it isn’t looking good. Said a disappointed Chad Marlow, club president, last week, “She’s apparently busy until the end of time.”

Healthy move:
The Downtown health-food store Healthy Pleasures has changed name and ownership and is now called Wholesome Market. Under the new ownership the store will now only carry health and organic products, whereas before they sold gourmet foods as well. The stores were taken over by Omar Bashar, 35, who previously worked at the store for just over eight years and managed the business for five years. Bashar bought the business from Helene Burgess, a member of Community Board 2, in November of last year. Bashar has a BA degree in business administration and has worked in the health-food industry since he was 17. Healthy Pleasures came under investigation just over a year ago when the store was accused of repacking regular meat and produce in organic packaging, therefore selling the product at a higher price. Bashar said the store was cleared of these allegations by the Manhattan district attorney, after an investigation where all their records and sources were double checked and verified. Wholesome Market’s two Downtown locations are 93 University Pl. (212-353-3663) and 489 Broome St. (212-431-7434).

Please don’t RSVP:
We hear from a disgruntled source that on Tuesday night, Councilmember Margarita Lopez planned to host a meeting at her office on ideas on how to redesign Peter Cooper Park. The chairpersons of Boards 2 and 3, Jim Smith and Harvey Epstein, were reportedly invited and also members of the Astor Pl. Joint Task Force of Board 2 and 3. However, one resident who asked not to be identified, said community members were angered they weren’t invited. Some neighbors fear that the park is being improved in conjunction with a planned narrowing of Fourth Ave., which they think will cause traffic congestion.

So goes Soho:
Sean Sweeney of the Soho Alliance appeared on New York 1 this week to sound off on the impact of the new Soho Bloomingdale’s, which opens this Saturday. Sweeney also told The Villager that inspired by Dara Lehan’s talking point article on the new suburban-style traffic signage on Houston St. (which he read last week in Downtown Express, The Villager’s sister newspaper), he plans to raise the question with the Landmarks Preservation Commission as to whether such jumbo signs are appropriate or legal in a historic district, such as the Soho Cast-Iron Historic District.

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