Reaction to spider bite sends Stuy Town man to hospital

Roommates and friends Mohammed Tavakoli (left) and Andrew Garber

Roommates and friends Mohammed Tavakoli (left) and Andrew Garber (Photo courtesy of Mohammed Tavakoli)

By Sabina Mollot

For Mohammed Tavakoli, a Stuyvesant Town resident and law student, last Wednesday evening started out as a typical weeknight. The 24-year-old was at home with his two roommates, who are also his friends and fellow students at New York Law School, and had been watching a movie. At one point, the roommates headed outside for a smoke, Tavakoli joined them and then they went back inside.

About a half hour later, Tavakoli started to break out in hives. At first no one noticed, even him, since it was dark in the room. But then Tavakoli started to feel short of breath, and figured he would just go to bed. His roommate, Andrew Garber, was more concerned, thinking the symptoms pointed to an allergic reaction, and he suggested that Tavakoli go to the hospital. But he refused.

“I hate hospitals,” Tavakoli admitted in an interview with Town & Village this week, “and I’m stubborn. He was persistent, but I didn’t want to do it.”

Instead, Tavakoli figured he would just take some Benadryl. But in just 15 minutes, which is the time it took for Garber to return from the store with the medicine, Tavakoli had taken a turn for the worse. His airway was blocked. Garber “wanted to call me an ambulance, but I didn’t want one,” said Tavakoli, who insisted on walking to the hospital himself. “It’s across the street.”

He quickly changed his mind once they got outside, though, since the men spotted a cab dropping someone off in Stuy Town and hailed it. At this point, “I was about to black out,” said Tavakoli. “I was gasping for air.” The next things that happened were a blur. Within seconds, Garber had asked the driver to pull over.

Then, he warned Tavakoli he’d be feeling a punch and jammed an EpiPen into his friend’s thigh. Garber happened to have the pen because of his own severe allergy to nuts and he suspected Tavakoli might need it, too.

This was fortunate since it likely helped save his friend’s life. Tavakoli recalled that though he started to black out, a few seconds after being shot with the pen, he felt fine again.

Still, a few minutes later he was being admitted to Beth Israel hospital, and this time he didn’t try to refuse medical attention. It was at Beth Israel, where doctors gave Tavakoli anti-venom and kept him at the hospital overnight for observation.

“The doctors said that if I hadn’t received the EpiPen when I did, my life could have been in serious danger,” said Tavakoli.

They also explained to him that he’d gone into anaphylactic shock, which was the result of being bitten four times on the arm by a spider. With the hives that had appeared earlier having gone down, Tavakoli was able to see that the spider’s fangs had left marks that looked like large mosquito bites. No one at the hospital could tell Tavakoli exactly what kind of spider it was, other that it was a big one.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d get bitten by a spider,” said Tavakoli who suspected it happened outside his building. “We’ve ever noticed any spiders inside.”

Not having previous known he was allergic to spider bites, he was naturally grateful for Garber’s knowledge of allergy symptoms and how to treat them in an emergency.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Tavakoli, “but he can never eat a cupcake without fear there could be a trace of nut in it. We ended up joking about it, like, ‘Who knew your allergies would come in handy some day?’”

Though the experience left Tavakoli somewhat shaken up, he said he’s doing fine today. He contacted T&V, he explained, to make sure his friend gets some recognition for his actions.

“So far, the only recognition Andrew has received for his quick thinking is a few pitchers of cheap beer and a Batman cupcake,” said Tavakoli.

Mohammed Tavakoli, Andrew Garber and Danilo Castelli at a recent event at the 69th Regiment Armory that Tavakoli and friends were hosting

Mohammed Tavakoli, Andrew Garber and Danilo Castelli at a recent event at the 69th Regiment Armory that Tavakoli and friends were hosting

But odds are Garber is aware of Tavakoli’s gratitude. The men, along with being roommates, are best friends, despite their religious differences. Tavakoli is Muslim and Garber is Jewish. Additionally, their other roommate, Danilo Castelli, who is also a good friend, is Catholic.

Not shy about poking fun at their different faiths, the invitation on their housewarming party read like the opening line to a joke. “What happens when a Jew, a Muslim and a Catholic get together?”

As for how they deal with the prickly subject of Middle Eastern politics and the current Israeli incursion in Gaza, Tavakoli admitted he and Garber generally just try not to bring it up. Instead, the three roommates often spend their free time cooking dinner in their apartment, listening to oldies in their extensive record collection or playing Area 51, a 90s-era arcade game they also have at home.

“We’re a bunch of grown men, so it’s a little sad, but we shoot aliens together,” said Tavakoli.

Other times, they just make the most of living in Stuy Town.

“There are squirrels and chipmunks,” said Tavakoli. “We have friends who are a few apartments over so we have each other over. We really love it.”

Tavakoli, a native of Toronto, Canada, met Castelli, 25, and Garber, 24, at New York Law. The third year students moved to the community two months ago, after previously living in a dorm and now live in a converted three-bedroom apartment.

Gramercy food tasting festival to return

Paella is served at the Casa Mono table at the 2013 Taste of Gramercy event. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Paella is served at the Casa Mono table at the 2013 Taste of Gramercy event. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood, a food festival and fundraiser that debuted last year by the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates (GNA), will soon return for a second helping on Irving Place.

The event, which was attended by over 400 people last year and had 20 restaurants participating, will be held this year on Saturday, September 13 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. This time, there are 22 restaurants that will be offering tastings of their signature dishes, including the new Indian restaurant A Spice Lane and Almayass, a Lebanese restaurant. Also involved for the first time is Farm to Me, an organization that distributes farm products to retailers and consumers. The name, too, is new. Originally, the event was just called Taste of Gramercy.

Like last year, Taste will take up one block, Irving Place between 17th and 18th Streets. How much the event costs depends on how much attendees want to eat. A $30 ticket will buy tastings from six booths. (This is the early bird price through August, though. Tickets go up to $40 in September and $50 on the day of. An $80 ticket on the day of the event entitles an attendee to have a tasting from every restaurant. Proceeds from the event will then go towards expanding the healthy lunch options at two neighborhood schools: PS40 and School of the Future. Any unserved food will be brought to the Bowery Mission.

Alan Krevis, president of the GNA, said he’s hoping that the event will appeal to foodies around the city as well as people living within walking distance. “I think there are already more than just local people,” he said. “What we saw a lot of last year, because it was such a beautiful day, people would just happen to walk by and say, ‘This looks great.’ They were primarily neighborhood people, but we also saw a lot of people staying at the W.”

Gramercy Neighborhood Associates volunteers at last year’s event including Gary Horowitz, GNA President Alan Krevis and Antonella Napolitano

Gramercy Neighborhood Associates volunteers at last year’s event including Gary Horowitz, GNA President Alan Krevis and Antonella Napolitano

The tasting menus have not yet been decided on by the participants, but last year popular dishes included the meatballs, gnocci and eggplant rollatini from Paul & Jimmy’s, tuna tartare cannoli from The Stand and shrimp paella from Casa Mono, all of whom are returning in September. A few other participants are Ichabod’s, Giorgio’s of Gramercy, Ainsworth Park, Jack’s Sliders and Sushi and ExKI NYC. Water will be provided by sponsors Watermelon Water, Fogo and Trader Joe’s and coffee will flow at the 71 Irving stand.

What there won’t be are alcoholic beverages, with GNA board member Ellaine Day explaining the permits were just too difficult to get.

“That’s a nightmare of permits,” she said. “It’s very expensive to sell alcohol.”

“We don’t want to grow too fast,” Krevis added. “That’s why we stayed at the one street level, because we want to keep a handle on it.”

Meanwhile, Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood almost didn’t happen at all. Last year, when a GNA board member first suggested the idea to Krevis, he initially shrugged it off, thinking it would be way too big for a small organization like his to handle. “Honestly, it is a lot of hours for us to put in,” he said, “so we’re just focused on this event right now.”

As a result, another fall event the GNA is known for putting on each year, the Canine Comedy Parade, has been put on hiatus. “It needed a rest,” said Krevis. Instead, the GNA will be organizing an event with Baruch High School and College in October.

For tickets to Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood, visit 

This week in history: Bellevue South redevelopment

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Town & Village newspaper has been providing news for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for over 65 years and we’ve decided to start taking a look back to see what was going on in the community 50 years ago. Here are a couple of snapshots from the August 27, 1964 issue of Town & Village.

Bellevue South Redevelopment

Phipps Plaza, known as Kips Bay Court, between First and Second Avenues at East 26th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Phipps Plaza, known as Kips Bay Court, between First and Second Avenues at East 26th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A handful of articles in this 1964 issue of Town & Village dealt with the city’s proposal for what was known then as the Bellevue South neighborhood, located between First and Second Avenues from East 23rd Street to East 30th Street. The urban redevelopment plan called for essentially bulldozing the entire seven-block area and rebuild to include more affordable housing. The project envisioned 17 residential buildings from six to 32 stories tall, containing 2,260 lower to middle-income apartments.

Residents of the neighborhood had recently drafted their own alternative plan in an attempt to fight the plan proposed by the city. The group presented themselves as the Bellevue South Planners Group and presented their proposal for the Board of Estimate. Their plan included the development of buildings which, by their description, sound similar to what Waterside Plaza became: low and middle-income housing surrounding a central park area and use of air rights above the FDR.

The plan was in contrast to that of the city’s, which they said would “plow through” 23rd to 30th Street, “uprooting thousands of tenants, destroying hundreds of businesses and ending employment for more than a thousand workers.”

Another story in this issue of T&V noted that residents had debated the merits of the city’s redevelopment plan at a public hearing the previous Thursday. Opponents of the plan insisted that the area wasn’t a slum and wanted to encourage the developers to consider making improvements on the existing buildings rather than razing the whole area. They also felt that the proper plans weren’t in place to relocate the residents and businesses that would be displaced.

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Patients First center has closed

By Sabina Mollot

Patients First had reduced its hours before finally closing.

Patients First on First Avenue had reduced its hours before finally closing.

Patients First medical center, a family health practice that had done business in Peter Cooper Village for 21 years, closed its doors on August 21.

Patients of the clinic, which had previously been run by Dr. Glen Marin, were alerted in a written notice two weeks ago that if they couldn’t continue to see Marin at another practice he runs in Oakland Gardens, Queens, that they could contact an internist named Veronica Zaharia.

An employee reached at Zaharia’s office on Tuesday confirmed that Zaharia is now taking appointments for any interested former Patients First patients. Her practice is located at 237 East 20th Street.

In July, Town & Village reported that Patients First had reduced its hours to just two days a week and had reduced its staff.

At the time, an employee said the office at 350 First Avenue was in danger of losing its lease. CWCapital declined then to comment on lease negotiations and this week declined to comment about what future plans, if any, there were for the space.

However, Marin may have had other problems besides his lease. When asked this week for the reason for the closure, an employee at the Queens office would only say that the Manhattan location “had some issues.”

But there were also license issues.

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Letters to the Editor, Aug. 28

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Playground is supposed to be for everyone

I recently had two unpleasant experiences at Playground 4 while supervising my grandchildren at the showers.

In one, children had covered the drain with a plastic bag, creating a pool. When I asked them to remove it because it is a drain and it created an unsafe condition for the little kids, their father got irate with me… calling me a grumpy old lady and that I shouldn’t be reprimanding anyone’s child and they were having fun.

Just today, I brought my granddaughter out. Every adult who had a toddler was sitting along the railing because a group of boys from a local soccer team were having fun running, racing and pouring water on one another. When I asked them not to run near my granddaughter, their coach (I assume) pointed out to me that “the playground was for 5-12-year-olds” and the baby shouldn’t be there. My reply is that it was a hot day and certainly we all could enjoy the sprinklers and the boys could run around in other parts of the playground. Later when I reread the sign – it was about the equipment – on one side it is for kids 5-12 years old and the other side 2-5 years old.

I get it; the older kids have other ideas about water and sprinklers… and they need to expend their energy, but these facilities Stuyvesant Town has beautifully kept up are for the use of everyone in the development. I feel there is utter disregard for responsible behavior towards one another. (And don’t let me get started on dog owners not picking up after their pets, letting them run around in fenced areas.) It is not just what you and your child or team wants. It is about respecting others’ right to enjoy the same space.

J.Thomas, ST

The unaffordable zone

As I run and walk around Manhattan, I can’t help but notice all the buildings being demolished so they could put up luxury buildings. In Brooklyn, the old Domino Sugar factory is now gone. On South and Pitt Street, the Pathmark is gone so they could put up a 65-story building.

What happened to all the zoning laws on height of buildings? Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport is gone so they could put high-end stories in. And right on 14th Street between Avenue A and B, they are going to put mainly luxury buildings with a few affordable apartments.

Now, we could blame the greedy real estate moguls and the Republicans but this is a Democratic town. I blame all the politicians who former Mayor Mike Bloomberg paid off so he could make New York the way he thinks it should be, besides other reasons.

Shame on all of them. Just look around Stuyvesant Town, how they are constantly eliminating parking spots. This only hurts the middle class, the very people they say they’re fighting for. Like President Reagan said many times, “I work for the people, not the other way around.”

Name withheld, ST

Just an observation on letters

Re: Letter, “Why limit topics in T&V letters?” T&V, Aug. 21

I read Mr. John M. Giannone’s letter and agree that he is fortunate that T&V publishes him. As many times as I tried to makes sense of his last two paragraphs, they came off as cryptic.

If, however, Mr. Giannone read the New York Observer-– a County centric paper that lapses into Brooklyn – cover to cover every week, his letters to T&V would soon be crisper.

Billy Sternberg, ST

A few suggestions on ‘petiquette’

Elevator etiquette: If an elderly neighbor, or family with a baby, toddler, or small children are on the elevator, take the following elevator. You might have to wait 30 seconds but you will communicate a considerate and caring concern for others in doing so.

When outdoors, always be mindful of how close you and your dog are to an apartment window or building entrance. Move along if your dog starts to bark or howl.

Always always always clean up. Forgot your bag? Ask a person walking their dog to give you one of theirs. Never leave a mess no matter what. Come back later if you have to and pick up.

Steer away from the Oval for your dog’s first walk of the day.  Save the pleasure of an Oval stroll with your pooch until after she/he has already finished going and his/her bladder is empty.

Train your dog to never pee or poop where people walk. Head straight for the curb, gutter, or walk to the cobblestones on the perimeters of the PCVST property, or the border areas that separate the walking path from the black garden fencing.

Still, accidents can and will happen so carry a small squeeze bottle with water and diluted dish liquid (such as Dawn brand which is plant and wildlife-friendly). Squirt the mild soapy solution once or twice anywhere the dog pees or leaves a mark.

Don’t let a dog pee on or around park benches or seating. Practice odor-control. Never deposit any bagged pet waste in a trash receptacle near bench seating.  Don’t use retractable leashes.

Name withheld, ST

Canine cameos

Thank you so much, Town & Village, for featuring our beautiful four-legged friends on your photo gallery page of dogs (“The Dog Run,” Aug. 7). The article is fantastic as usual! We appreciate your continued support.

Cathryn Duhigg, President, Cauz for Pawz

Police Watch, Aug. 28

Police arrested 31-year-old Carlos Garcia for assault last Wednesday at 1:33 a.m. at East 16th Street and First Avenue. The victim told police he got involved in an argument with Garcia, who allegedly punched him in the face, causing a cut and bleeding to his upper lip. Garcia attempted to flee before he was arrested.

Police arrested Manuel Diaz, 43, for assaulting his girlfriend at Mount Carmel Place and East 26th Street last Saturday at 1:37 a.m. The victim told police that she went to the car to find Diaz there, drinking a can of beer.
She threw the can out of the car and Diaz then demanded money for more beer. The girlfriend refused so Diaz allegedly slapped her in the face, knocking out two fake teeth, causing a cut on her upper lips and gums. She left the car and Diaz allegedly struck her again. Diaz had a cut on his right hand, which is believed to be from the false teeth.

Police arrested two people for possession of burglar’s tools this past week in unrelated incidents.
Pedro Aponte, 42, was arrested in front of 11 West 25th Street last Wednesday at 2:33 p.m. Aponte was seen casing several bicycles on West 25th Street. He then allegedly attempted to remove a bike from the location when he noticed a plain-clothes officer. He was found in possession of wire cutters, police said.
Police arrested 52-year-old Rafael Fuentes in front of 60 West 23rd Street last Thursday at 3:12 p.m. Fuentes was allegedly casing a bike rack in front of the location when he pulled out a pair of wire cutters and attempted to cut a bike lock.

Jamar Young, 30, Shantina Scott, 26, were arrested for petit larceny in front of a Starbucks at 10 Union Square East last Tuesday at 4:52 p.m. Young and Scott were allegedly working together and took a bag from the back of a chair without permission. They were found to be in possession of the stolen purse, which contained cell phones, police said.

Police arrested 53-year-old Keith Anderson for harassment in front of 1124 Broadway last Tuesday at 7 p.m. Anderson was allegedly following several women and appeared to be rubbing his crotch as he did so.

Police arrested a 15-year-old girl for forgery last Tuesday at 7:49 p.m. at 620 Sixth Avenue. The girl was attempting to purchase a handbag from one of the stores at the location. The bag was valued at $108.86 and the teen was found to be in possession of counterfeit money totaling $420. The girl’s name is being withheld due to her age.

Police arrested 32-year-old Jonathan Poteat for weapons possession on Monday at 6:16 p.m. in front of 115 East 27th Street. Poteat allegedly had a gravity knife clipped to his left pants pocket open to public view

Police arrested 28-year-old Jessica Aviles for grand larceny last Thursday at 11:45 a.m. in front of the Santander Bank 251 Park Avenue South. With alleged intent to defraud another, Aviles allegedly withdrew $2,900 on August 13 and returned to the location on Thursday and attempted to withdraw $2,300 from the same bank account. She was also found in possession of a forged Pennsylvania driver’s license, police said.

Police arrested Elliot Jemal, 47, for forgery in front of 38 East 23rd Street last Thursday at 2:30 p.m. Jemal was allegedly displaying eight pieces of jewelry that bore a trademark counterfeit for Cartier. A representative from Cartier confirmed that the merchandise was counterfeit, police said.

Thirty-five-year-old Qarache Redouane was arrested for petit larceny on Tuesday at 3:02 p.m. in front of 23 West 23rd Street. Redouane allegedly took money from a food cart and when he saw an officer nearby, attempted to flee on foot. When arrested, he was found to be in possession of the cart’s money.

Police arrested 32-year-old Moosa Livingston for criminal trespassing last Wednesday at 1:25 a.m. on East 14th Street and Union Square West. Livingston allegedly entered Union Square Park which, at the time, was barricaded with barriers that said “Police line, do not cross.” He was told to stop and he allegedly ignored officers’ orders.

Thirty-one-year-old Darien Bailey was arrested for possession of burglar’s tools at First Avenue and East 28th Street last Wednesday at 4:44 a.m. Bailey allegedly broke into a car parked at the location with a screwdriver and remove property. While police attempted to arrest him, Bailey flailed and flexed his arms to prevent being handcuffed.

Dana Harris, 23, was arrested last Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Stuyvesant Cove Park at Avenue C and East 23rd Street. Harris was allegedly stretched out and sleeping on a park bench inside Stuyvesant Cove Park in violation of park rules and regulations. He was unable to provide valid identification and he refused homeless services.

Police arrested 66-year-old Ernest Crews in front of 490 Second Avenue, Kips Bay Court, last Thursday at 9:36 a.m. Crews was allegedly drinking a 25 ounce can of Bud Light Mangorita beer in plain view on a public sidewalk.

Police arrested 27-year-old Esther Lelievre for robbery last Thursday at 8:39 p.m. in front of the CVS Pharmacy at 750 Sixth Avenue. Store security informed a nearby police officer that Lelievre removed items from the shelf and attempted to conceal them in her bag. She allegedly attempted to leave without paying. Store security tried to stop her at the door but she pushed him out of the way, police said, causing him to lose his balance. He grabbed a nearby pole to prevent himself from falling and in the process got a cut on his hand.

Police arrested Lawrence Reid, 49, for criminal trespassing in front of 902 Broadway last Monday at 10:07 a.m. Reid allegedly entered the office building at the location after being told numerous times by an officer and employee of the building that he had to leave. He had no reason to be in the building and had no permission to be in the building, police said.

Not so special delivery on company name change

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, when residents get mail that looks like it came from the legal department of the owner, their response isn’t generally one of enthusisasm. So last week, when residents received notices that they’d been sent certified letters from CWCapital, some were worried about what this meant.

Francine Silberstein, who was among those worried, recalled the mood at the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office when everyone standing on line was from Stuyvesant Town.

“One old lady was saying, ‘They’re going to try to get us out,’” recalled Silberstein of her visit to the post office last Monday. Silberstein, too, was a little worried. “Our lease was just renewed. Are they taking it back?”

But in actuality, the reason for the mailings was far less terrifying. The letters were, in fact, just notices that ST/PCV tenants would need to mail their rent checks to a new ownership entity. For Stuyvesant Town, it would be ST-DIL LLC instead of the old company name, ST PC Owner LP, and for Peter Cooper tenants, checks would need to be made out to PCVS-DIL LLC rather than PCV ST Owner LP.

But after learning this, the tenants on line had another gripe. Specifically… they’d just waited on line at the post office for over 30 minutes to be told that? Silberstein noted how the change in ownership names was mentioned in a prior mailing. “So they already told us.”

Meanwhile, some tenants, herself included, didn’t even learn about this during the post office visit because, after reaching the teller window, they learned the letters weren’t even there. So the next day, said Silberstein, her husband went to the post office, but he too left empty-handed. “He said they couldn’t find anything.” He made a third visit later in the day, but the letter still wasn’t there. Finally, he returned to the post office a few days later and got the notice, after a relatively brief 15-minute wait. “It was a waste of money and it was a waste of a lot of people’s time,” said Silberstein.

Oddly, other tenants, like Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg, got the certified letter in their mailboxes. Steinberg however was left wondering about the cost of mailings being sent to all ST/PCV’s apartments. “At about $3.35 a letter, that’s nearly $38,000!” said Steinberg.

A spokesperson for CW, Brian Moriarty, would only comment to say that the certified mail “is a USPS issue.”

Police still on lookout for Stuy Town groper

Stuy Town groping suspect in surveillance photo

Stuy Town groping suspect in surveillance photo

Police are still looking for a man who groped two women in separate incidents, and have released additional photos of the suspect.

The bearded man in the photos had grabbed two women’s butts as they were walking in the hallways of their buildings, one in Stuyvesant Oval, the other on East 14th Street.

Stuy Town groping suspect in surveillance photo

Stuy Town groping suspect in surveillance photo

The first incident was on May 18 at around 3 in the morning, when the unknown man grabbed a 24-year-old in her building on East 14th Street, then took off. Police think the same man struck again on June 15, this time at around 2 a.m., touching a 22-year-old woman’s buttocks at Stuyvesant Oval, before running away. The exact addresses were not specified.

The suspect has been described as being 25-35, 5 ft. 10 ins. tall and weighing 175-200 lbs. His race isn’t known. He was last seen wearing a black sports jacket black dress pants, a light colored dress shirt, with black dress shoes.


Waterside holds international food festival

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Booths at the Waterside Plaza international food festival (Photo by Yenneca Ketzis)

Booths at the Waterside Plaza international food festival (Photo by Yenneca Ketzis)

Waterside Plaza took advantage of one of the last weekends of summer last Saturday to host an international food festival for residents of the complex as well as the public. Yenneca Ketzis, organizer of community activities for Waterside Plaza, helped put together the event, which featured cuisine from Germany, Greece, Spain, India, Italy and the United States.

Ketzis said that management had been working on the idea for an international-focused event for a while.

“We have such a diverse population at Waterside that we wanted to do something to reflect the culture of the community,” she said. “We didn’t have time for a potluck or a sit-down dinner kind of thing but we figured that anything involving food is a community building activity, so we figured we would host an event where people could come and mingle with neighbors.”

The original idea was to have a number of different vendors from local restaurants come to represent a number of different cultures but she said that since the event was put together quickly, there wasn’t enough time to find participants willing to make the trek to the plaza with all the necessary equipment. Luckily, the company that runs Waterside Plaza’s cafe, Robbins Nest, also has a catering company that was able to help out in a pinch.

George Gaspar, director of operations at the catering company, Robbins Wolfe, said that one of his intentions was to emulate the San Gennaro festival that happens downtown every September, so including the iconic sausage and pepper heros was a must. They were also able to get cannolis from Ferrara Bakery and those two together represented Italy. There were also Bavarian pretzels for Germany, empanadas to represent Spain, lamb souvlaki for Greece and pulled pork sandwiches to represent the United States.

“We thought about doing hamburgers and hot dogs for America but figured we would go with something a little more unique,” Gaspar said.

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Former precinct stationhouse becomes gallery for graffiti writers

A former police precinct stationhouse located at 327 East 22nd Street became home to an exhibit of graffiti and street art that opened last Thursday. Fifty artists participated in the show, which will be open again this weekend. (Photo by Jowy Romano.)

A former police precinct stationhouse located at 327 East 22nd Street became home to an exhibit of graffiti and street art that opened last Thursday. Fifty artists participated in the show, which will be open again this weekend. (Work by Pesu/Photo by Jowy Romano.)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A former police precinct is probably the last place one would expect to find rooms plastered in graffiti and street art, but one local organization took to the walls of the former 21st Precinct at 327 East 22nd Street and covered the space in art.

Art collective Outlaw Arts collaborated with a group of about 50 graffiti writers and street artists who have been tagging, spraying and wheatpasting inside the four floors of the building for the previous three weeks.

Curated by Rob Aloia of Outlaw Arts and street art publication VNA Mag, the show features work from Elle, Pixote, RAE, Smells, Ghost, RAMBO, Sheryo and The Yok, Lexi Bella, Esteban del Valle, Li Hill, Vexta, Never, Mr. Toll, Faust and others. The work debuted in a private opening last Thursday and was open to the public on both days last weekend.

According to New York-based blog Daytonian in Manhattan, the East 22nd Street building was the former home of the neighborhood’s police precinct in the late 1800s before the area was renumbered the 13th and moved to East 21st Street. It has, until recently, functioned as a foster care group residence for LGBTQ young people.

The building’s current developer, Suzuki Capital, is planning to demolish the building at the end of the month but in the meantime, allowed the artists to freely decorate the walls, like an indoor version of Five Points. Unfortunately, as is also the case with Five Points, the art will soon be gone when the building is torn down to make way for more luxury condos.

The exhibit will be open one final weekend, August 30 to 31, from 1 to 6 p.m. both days.

Click through for more photos from the exhibit. (All photos by Jowy Romano.)

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Letters to the editor, Aug. 21

That moment when you’re hit by a Citi Bike

After a visit to Chinatown on a recent Sunday afternoon, I was walking north along the river to Waterside, my home. I stayed close to the railing since I am 77 years of age and wanted to avoid being hit by distractions: bikes, skateboarders, etc.

I was enjoying the estuary’s sea air when something hit the back of my left knee with a bang and sent me flying into the air. My glasses flew off, my shoulder bag left my body and I landed with a heavy thud on my lower back and thought, “It is over, I will never walk again.”

I have osteoporosis, arthritis and all the muscular ailments that beset 77-year-olds. As I lay on the ground, I slowly turned my head to my left and saw the wheels of a bicycle. After the initial shock, I began to slowly move my body as I had learned to do as a fitness/health instructor. I saw a bicycle lying beside me and then saw a bicyclist, a young man, standing beside his bike looking shaken.

He said, “I am so sorry, I am so sorry.”

I slowly managed to get up off the ground and when I was on my knees, I groped around for my glasses. He waited until I had my glasses and again apologized. I told him I had to call the police to report the accident since I was afraid I had really damaged my body. He said, “Do not do that. I was not looking and did not see you. I am sorry.”

When I asked him his name he began to shake and said, “I am from Hong Kong.” He then picked the bike off the ground and took off on his Citi Bike. I knew the bike had a number so I looked at the back of the bike for its number. There wasn’t any. I later learned the bike numbers are on the sides of the bike and not the back.

The incident happened near the toilets along the East River esplanade so I slowly, like a beaten animal, limped over, washed up and very slowly, psychologically and physically, limped towards home. At home, I took all the precautionary measures to help my body heal.

The following day, I called Citi Bike to tell them about the incident. They informed me that they are not responsible. If I had a police report and the bicycle number, Citi Bike would then contact the cardholder of the Citi Bike.

I suggested to Citi Bike: the bicycle numbers should be placed on the backs of the bikes as well as the sides so one could follow through if one is accidentally hit by a Citi Bike, especially if the bicyclist takes off.

Arpine Dod,
Waterside Plaza

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TA blasts CW for short or no notice on work in apts.

Garodnick drafting bill to protect tenants from unauthorized entry

By Sabina Mollot

In CWCapital’s ongoing effort to renovate as many apartments as possible, tenants in neighboring units have also been made to allow work to get done in their own apartments to replace pipes in support of the work on the adjoining renovation projects. In the process, some of those neighbors have been getting inconvenienced in ways that have, in at least a couple of instances, been disturbing, according to the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

In a notice that will soon be shared with neighbors on the TA’s website, the TA noted how management hasn’t been giving tenants sufficient notice before breezing on in, in several cases. In one complaint, the TA heard how a teenage girl, alone at home, got scared when maintenance workers unexpectedly banged on and then opened her apartment door.

In another case, a tenant, who gave no authorization for her apartment to be entered, recently returned from a vacation to find her cabinets emptied. The cabinets’ contents were left strewn on the counters, with no explanation. Meanwhile, the work takes one to two days to complete, leaving the kitchen unusable.

“Despite the gross inconvenience, management has not offered to compensate affected tenants for the loss of use of the kitchen and the disruption to the tenants’ right to quiet enjoyment of their homes,” the TA said.

In a case of short notice, the TA said, a tenant was given notice on a Thursday that workers would be entering the apartment on the following Monday. “That’s just four calendar days; the city requires seven calendar days,” the TA said. Additionally, the TA said, management is only supposed to be entering apartments for non-emergency work if tenants’ have given their explicit permission, “and these renovations are not emergencies.”

In response to the TA’s concerns, Council Member Dan Garodnick is drafting legislation that would protect tenants from unauthorized entry or entry with very short notice.

The legislation would include provisions that in notices requesting apartment access, management would have to provide, along with a callback phone number, an email address or another electronic option for tenants to use if requesting a schedule change. Additionally, notices would have to be dated and sent to the tenants’ email address if the owner has one on file. Lastly, consent would not be assumed if the tenant doesn’t respond. However, if after 14 days there is no response, then an owner could enter the apartment.

“There has long been a feeling that people are finding themselves with unwanted visitors,” Garodnick told T&V, “just because they did not see a note or did not have time to respond. This has picked up recently where there are non-emergency improvements being made to neighboring apartments. In that context, we need to protect the sanctity of individual units.”

A spokesperson for CWCapital declined to comment on apartment access or the planned legislation. However, the owner and the TA have clashed on this issue in the past, like last year when management was conducting a round of apartment inspections on safety issues and lease policy compliance. At that time, the TA advised residents to consent to the inspection but be present for it to a recent spate of apartment burglaries that may have been committed by a contractor doing work for CW.

CW asks court to toss lenders’ lawsuit

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, CWCapital tried to get a lawsuit that had been filed by representatives of a group of junior lenders last month tossed on the grounds that it was “a story-book portrayal of events.” In this latest court action, CWCapital and co-defendant Wachovia also accused hedge fund Centerbridge Partners, who is representing the lenders, of forming “shell entities” in order to buy into junior loans two months ago, for the sole purpose of suing the owner, the website first reported.

At that time, CWCapital had taken ownership of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village through a deed instead of holding a previously planned auction sale on some of the property’s mezzanine debt. The lenders, once unable to purchase a key piece of mezzanine debt, filed suit in which the company also accused CW of giving themselves a near $1 billion windfall while junior lenders received nothing. Centerbridge had called CWCapital’s takeover “executed on the flawed premise that the amount owed on the senior loan was greater than the value of the property.” CW represented that $4.4 billion was owed on the mortgage when the amount was really $3.45 billion, the lenders said.

But on Monday, CW and Wachovia countered that the plaintiffs were not junior lenders “at any relevant time,” Law 360 quoted the companies as saying in their brief. “Rather, plaintiffs are shell entities that acquired their junior loan positions after, and with full knowledge that, the senior lender had pursued the DIL [deed in lieu transaction], which automatically terminated the ICA (inter-creditor agreement).”

Further, CW argued, “Through this litigation, Centerbridge does not seek to recoup any alleged loss, but rather to earn more than $1 billion in profit on a highly speculative investment in litigation that it made with eyes wide open after the DIL and the termination of the ICA. New York disdains the commercialization of litigation, and its champerty statute is a full stop to what Centerbridge is trying to do here.”

When canceling the mezzanine auction that had been set for June 13, CW also entered into talks with the ST-PCV Tenants Association and the de Blasio administration on a plan that would preserve affordability at around 6,000 apartments. Although the 60-day deadline on those talks has since passed, all parties have agreed that the conversation would continue.

In a mid-July meeting between Mayor de Blasio, the Tenants Association and local elected officials, de Blasio said the TA’s idea of maintaining affordability by going condo would be considered. However, the TA also said it was told by the mayor at that time that his “main thrust is affordable rentals.”

A spokesperson for CWCapital and a spokesperson for Centerbridge did not respond to a request for comment by Town & Village’s press time.

Update: In response to the court action, the Tenants Association issued the following statement.

“We are carefully monitoring this lawsuit because its outcome may affect the stability and long-term affordability of thousands of apartments people call home. Of course the elephant in the room is the multibillion-dollar debt saddled on this great community by speculators and predatory equity. We remain determined to prevent that from happening again.”

Police Watch: Rogue food cart, masseuses arrested

An NYU medical school graduate who completed his residency recently jumped off the roof of his dorm at 334 East 25th Street on Monday around 2 p.m., police said. Gothamist reported that the man, 26-year-old Sean O’Rourke, plunged 26 stories to his death and was found in the dorm’s parking lot. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police arrested a food cart operator on Monday after his cart, which was being towed by the car he was driving, came loose and crashed into the sidewalk and flipped over into a crowded bus stop.
Arturo Garcia, 32, allegedly left the scene at Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street at 12:58 p.m. However, police said he returned 20 minutes later and admitted that the food cart was his. He was arrested for reckless endangerment.



Melissa Morales

The NYPD is seeking the public’s assistance in locating a woman who was reported missing last Wednesday. Melissa Morales, 31, was last seen on Tuesday, July 7 around 7 p.m. near her apartment at 99 Avenue C at East 7th Street. She is described as 5’7”, approximately 200 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. She was last seen wearing multi-colored slacks and a t-shirt.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at or by texting TIP577 and their tips to 274637 (CRIMES).

Police arrested a 12-year-old and 17-year-old for grand larceny in front of 344 East 28th Street last Wednesday at 8:05 p.m. The two stole a cell phone, credit card, money and other items from a woman and the teen was found in possession of the cell phone by using the Find My iPhone application. The names of the two perps are being withheld due to their age.

Police arrested 19-year-old Kelith Appolon for forgery last Monday at Union Square West and East 15th Street at 6:58 p.m. Appolon allegedly attempted to use a fraudulent $100 bill to purchase items. After he was arrested, he was found to be in possession of 11 counterfeit $100 bills.

Police arrested multiple masseuses this week for offering rubdowns without a license.
Xiaoli Xu, 52, was arrested in 101 West 17th Street at Pine Tree Health Improvement last Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Xiu Ling Fu, 37, Jian Yi Gao, 26, and Qingling Chai, 36, were arrested inside Qin Spa at 132 East 23rd Street last Thursday at 5:45 p.m. The three masseuses allegedly massaged customers for one hour in exchange for money and could not produce a valid New York State massage license.

Police arrested two men for fraudulent accosting last Wednesday at 4:31 p.m. in front of 246 Fifth Avenue. Jose Fernandez and Kelvin Dunbar, both 54, allegedly approached pedestrians and attempted to sell them fake cell phones.

Police arrested 24-year-old Benjamin Pitman for grand larceny in front of the NoMad Hotel at 1170 Broadway last Saturday at 3:56 a.m. The victim told police he was working security at the hotel when Pitman allegedly grabbed his portable radio from him and fled. The victim then chased him outside and held him until police arrived.

Tory Lugo, 18, was arrested for robbery on East 20th Street last Saturday at 9:05 p.m. Lugo allegedly grabbed the victim around the neck from behind, went into his pockets and tried to take his property.

Police arrested 27-year-old Kevin Vallejo for criminal mischief last Sunday at 3:21 a.m. in front of Tonic at 411 Third Avenue. A security guard told police that he saw Vallejo being removed from the bar by two other guards when Vallejo allegedly grabbed a metal garbage can and threw it at the front window of the bar, causing the glass to break. The manager of the bar said that the damage is about $800 to fix the window.

Police arrested Timothe Fitzgerald, 30, for criminal mischief inside L’express at 249 Park Avenue South last Sunday at 7:12 a.m. Fitzgerald got into an argument with another patron, which allegedly led to him throwing things all over the restaurant, causing damage.

Police arrested 18-year-old Heidi Merk for possession of marijuana in front of 5 Union Square West last Sunday at 12:52 p.m. Merk was allegedly smoking a joint inside the park in public view.

Police arrested Alhassane Dieng in front of 1201 Broadway last Sunday at 4:05 p.m. for forgery. Dieng allegedly displaying seven watches for sale that had a counterfeit trademark for Gucci. A representative for Gucci confirmed that the trademark on the watches was counterfeit.

Hello, Microsoft scammer calling

microsoftIn the June 19th issue of Town & Village, a Stuyvesant Town resident, wanting to warn neighbors, shared her story about being called by a scammer pretending to be from Microsoft who claimed to need to fix her computer. In this column, the author writes about a similar experience he had and how he dealt with the situation.

By Rob Engelhardt

I picked up my phone and heard, “Hello, I’m calling you from the Windows service department. I’m receiving error messages from your computer.” Meanwhile, my computer is at home turned off. I get these calls twice a week sometimes. I’ve been getting them for months. So finally I decided I’m going to have some fun with these people.

The lady who called me with an Indian accent gave me her fake American name as Rachel. So I asked her if her life has really come to the point where she needs to do this. Had it become so bad that she has to work for this scam, because if it is that bad, then she has nothing more to live for.

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