Gramercy block is co-named for former Children’s Court building

(Pictured L-R) Some of the project committee members gather at the sign unveiling: Claude L. Winfield; Judge Andrea Masley; Lois Rakoff; Tiffany Townsend; Dr. Samuel D. Albert; Louise Dankberg; Molly Hollister; Michelle Deal Winfield; Dr. David Christy, provost of Baruch College; and Council Member Rosie Mendez (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday afternoon, a crowd of around 30 people, mostly community activist types, gathered at the northwest corner of East 22nd Street and Third Avenue for a ceremony to co-name the block “Children’s Court Way.”

The project was in the works for the past two years, and was the idea of East Midtown Plaza resident Michelle Deal Winfield.

The Children’s Court used to be located on East 22nd Street, in what is now home to Baruch College’s Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute. Today, there is just a bit of lingering evidence as to what the building’s prior purpose was, like the marble water drinking fountain built specifically for a child’s height, as well as some of the stairs in the building that are four and a half inches high instead of the standard eight.

According to Gramercy: Its Architectural Surroundings, a book published by the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates in 1996, a court for children was first established in Manhattan in the former Department of Public Charities Building on Third Avenue and 11th Street. This was in response to a push by reformers to treat juvenile delinquents differently from adult criminals and take their family circumstances into account. However, this court, a division of The Court of Special Sessions, was still required by law to treat children in the same manner as adults.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Woman arrested in connection with fatal butt injection on East 21st Street

Aug3 Fatal butt injection

LATESHA BYNUM

By Sabina Mollot 

Police have arrested a Queens woman believed to have been involved in the death of a woman who received a fatal cosmetic butt injection last summer in an unmarked building near Peter Cooper Village.

Allison Spence, 44, has been arrested on charges of manslaughter and unauthorized practice of profession for the injection. Spence, who police said turned herself in, allegedly acted as a nurse during the procedure, for which the suspected doctor has still not been arrested. Police said they have identified the man but haven’t disclosed his name. That man is not a real doctor, according to a story in CBS New York, but police told Town & Village they couldn’t confirm that at this time.

The procedure was performed at a third floor apartment at 319 East 21st Street, between First and Second Avenues on July 15. Later police were summoned in response to Bynum complaining of dizziness and chest pains. She was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, but 12 days later was taken off life support after being pronounced brain dead.

The medical examiner has deemed the death of 31-year-old mother Latesha Bynum, a Harlem resident, a homicide.

A lawyer for Bynum’s family told CBS New York the doctor is a phony who used a Dunkin Donuts as his waiting room, and that a fake nurse greeted her. The attorney also said the doctor had a pattern of injecting unsuspecting women with “silicone poison into his patients’ buttocks and/or thighs.”

Meanwhile, Spence’s sister told the Daily News her sister denied giving any injection, saying she only prepped the patient by massaging her muscles.

 

UPDATED: Gramercy woman reported missing

Aug24 missing

Olivia Novik

UPDATE: Police report Novik has been found and is safe.

Police are asking for help in finding a missing Gramercy woman who was last seen on Monday, August 14 in the East Village.
Olivia Novik, 26, is a resident of the Gramercy Arms building at 145 East 15th Street.

She is described as approximately 5’6″ tall, 140 lbs. with brown eyes and long brown hair and has a tattoo of an olive branch on her back. The missing might be wearing a brown and white blouse with dark leggings and sandals.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto tnypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

UPDATED: Eleven-year-old boy reported missing, last seen at School of the Future

Apr27 Campello

Marcus Campello

UPDATE at 10:26 a.m.: Police said Marcus Campello has been found safe although a spokesperson for the department didn’t have details.

 

An 11-year-old student at School of the Future was reported missing early Wednesday, with police saying he was last seen at the Gramercy school Tuesday afternoon.

Marcus Campello, who lives on East 41st Street, also went missing last week. Police issued a similar alert last Friday morning, although Campello was found later in the day.

One law enforcement source said he ran away from home.

School of the Future is located at 127 East 22nd Street and Lexington.

 

 

 

Man gropes woman inside East 24th Street building

Mar30 groperCops are on the lookout for a man who followed a woman into her building on East 24th Street and Lexington Avenue and groped her before taking off.

According to police on Monday, March 20 at around 6 a.m., the suspect followed the woman into the building and into the elevator. Once inside he grabbed her breasts over and under her shirt. The victim managed to push him off though, and he ran out of the building, heading east on 24th Street.

The victim, 54, wasn’t injured.

The suspect is described as black, 45 to 50 years old and 5’6″ to 5’7″ tall. He last seen wearing a green hat, a green jacket, black and white sweatpants and black and white sneakers.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Inauguration fails to inspire most people we spoke with

jan26-inauguration-at-community-center

The inauguration is screened to a mostly empty Stuyvesant Town Community Center. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With the majority of New York City residents not having voted for Donald Trump, the televised inauguration, which happened on Friday, wasn’t exactly must-see TV, at least not for too many people in Stuyvesant Town and Gramercy.

This became clear during the pre-inaugural ceremonies when this reporter, attempting to get some local reaction at Cooper Town Diner on First Avenue, was told “no comment” repeatedly.

But out of those who did comment, most, unsurprisingly, weren’t happy.

Josh Thompson, a Stuyvesant Town resident and Democrat candidate for mayor, once previously told T&V he considered Cooper Town to be his second office. But on this day, he was taking his food to go.

Asked for this thoughts, Thompson, an avowed “Obamacrat,” said he had recorded the inauguration of President Obama in 2009 and would go home to watch that instead.

“I’m going to do that for the day,” he said before rushing off.

Continue reading

Cops looking for man stealing from lockers at New York Sports Club gyms

jan19-gym-thief1

Gym locker theft suspect

 By Sabina Mollot

Cops are on the lookout for a thief who’s been raiding lockers at Manhattan gyms for cash, clothes, laptops and other electronics since last September.

Police are currently aware of 14 thefts downtown, midtown and in Murray Hill and Chelsea as well as one incident in Gramercy, all at different locations of the New York Sports Club.

In the Gramercy incident, on October 13, the thief stole a 22-year-old man’s credit cards and keys from an unlocked locker at the New York Sports Club at 113 East 23rd Street near Park Avenue South. Based on surveillance photos, the white, very short-haired suspect is easily able to blend in, arriving to each place in workout gear or in casual clothing.

The first gym hit was the NYSC at 1221 Avenue of the Americas and 43rd Street, where the man made off with a backpack from an unlocked locker. He also took the victim’s shoes, headphones, credit cards and clothing.

jan19-gym-thief2

Police say he stole 14 times from different Manhattan locations of the gym.

Back in October, the commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney warned the community at a meeting about a rash of gym locker thefts. New York Sports Club, he noted, was an especially popular target. He recommended that gym users get master locks that require keys.

Anyone with information about the gym thefts is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Flatiron gets in the holiday spirit with SantaCon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

SantaCon participants got creative with their costumes as usual, including a group with real pine trees in their backpacks. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Revelers donned their best Santa, elf and reindeer costumes for the annual SantaCon pub crawl last weekend, which started in the shadow of the Flatiron building this year. Neighborhood residents let their opposition be known when the Santas gathered on the plaza at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and while the NYPD said there was no record of an arrest, NBC News noted that a handful of the protesters were escorted out of the plaza by police.

The NYPD also noted that no drunk or fighting Santas were arrested as in previous years, and while many in the community were not convinced of their noble intentions, organizers seem to be attempting to clean up the event’s reputation. Organizers on the plaza this past Saturday could be seen picking up bits of trash while the crowd started clearing out by late morning and one Santa berated a photographer climbing onto a planter, yelling at her not to be disrespectful of public property.

Continue reading

Naked men removed from Gramercy storefront

men-cart-statue

Workers remove a statue from 281 Park Avenue South. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last summer, the installation of nine anatomically correct male statues into a storefront in Gramercy raised a few eyebrows, with neighborhood residents wondering if it was an art exhibit or a marketing gimmick. It didn’t help anyone’s confusion that there was a neon sign in the window indicating the space was for rent.

As it turns out, the answer is it was a bit of both. On Monday afternoon, workers emerged from the storefront at 281 Park Avenue South and 22nd Street, moving out the larger-than-life-size sculptures. Asked where they were going, a worker at the scene said the naked men were headed to storage, since the ground floor space had been leased to a restaurant. However, Dan Turkewitz, one of the brokers marketing the space, later said nothing was finalized, so he wasn’t sure why the statues were being evicted. “We’re talking to a lot of different people,” he said.

Continue reading

Divine signs of the times

Church uses humor to connect with community

collage-color-new

Gustavus Adolphus Pastor Christopher Mietlowski started the sign campaign seven years ago and has since seen an increase in church membership. (Photo collage by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

It’s not unusual for signs in front of churches to have uplifting messages. Often they’re lifted from biblical passages. Other times they’re behavioral suggestions, and if there’s room, there’ll be a bingo schedule included, too.

But in Gramercy, one church has managed to stand out from the parish pack for the messages on its signs, which have become so popular, they’ve actually boosted membership.

That church would be Gustavus Adolphus, a 150-year-old Lutheran church where a recent sign suggested: “Come, search for Pokemon — stay, find God’s grace.”

Another, inspired by pop song “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor, read: “We’re all about dat grace, bout dat grace, no Devil!”

And another reminded passersby: “That love thy neighbor thing — I meant that — God.”

Last winter, during particularly frigid temperatures, a sign pointed out, “On the bright side, we haven’t seen a mosquito in months.”

The signs, which get changed around twice a month, are the brainchild of the church’s pastor, Christopher Mietlowski, better known to his flock as Pastor Chris.

Continue reading

‘Cave’ at St. George’s becomes home to the arts

Program organizers Alex Nguyen, Dusty Brown, Arlene Harrison and Rev. Dr. Tom Pike (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Program organizers Alex Nguyen, Dusty Brown, Arlene Harrison and Rev. Dr. Tom Pike (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

An old furnace room in St. George’s Church on East 16th Street in the past year has become gathering place for New Yorkers to experience the arts on a budget. Known as the Cave, the space has played host to jazz concerts, literary readings and plays, and until recently the programming operated parallel to each other but separately. But the three organizers have now come together to create the Olmsted Salon with the combined goal of getting the community more involved in the arts.

“That’s the core of the program,” said Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association, which has been working with organizers Alex Nguyen, Dusty Brown and Maria Bowler. “There are underserved populations and we want to connect people through art, culture and conversation.”

Continue reading

Gramercy author’s new thriller inspired by Son of Sam murders

Dick Belsky, who writes under the name R.G. Belsky, is releasing the fourth in a series of novels written from the perspective of an investigative reporter. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Dick Belsky, who writes under the name R.G. Belsky, is releasing the fourth in a series of novels written from the perspective of an investigative reporter. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Gramercy resident and novelist Dick Belsky, who’s written three books about an investigative reporter named Gil Malloy, has just completed the fourth in the series.

The novel, scheduled to be released (by Simon & Schuster, $16) on October 18, is called Blonde Ice.
Like the previous books, the story revolves around the disgraced but still ambitious Daily News reporter, who this time, is trying to uncover the identity of a female serial killer.

The killer, a sexy blonde, picks men up at New York City bars and clubs, and then brutally murders them.

Belsky, who up until recently, spent his career as a journalist, said his inspiration for the character came from the Son of Sam. Having lived in New York and worked in newspapers at that time, he remembered the way the strings of shootings paralyzed the city. Bars were empty and women dyed their hair blonde since the killer, David Berkowitz, targeted brunettes.

Continue reading

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace will reopen in October

The site will be included in Open House New York, walking tours of important buildings. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The site will be included in Open House New York, walking tours of important buildings. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace on East 20th Street, which has been closed for renovations for 16 months, will soon be reopening.

An official for the site, which is overseen by the National Parks Service, said there will be a soft opening on Tuesday, October 11.

It will then be included in Open House New York, a series of tours of important buildings in the city, which will take place on the weekend of October 15-16. There will also be a birthday celebration on October 29 although the time and other details are still being worked out.

Continue reading

Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood returns

Guests at Taste of Gramercy

Guests at the Taste of Gramercy (Photos by Maya Rader)

By Maya Rader

On Saturday, September 24, about 400 people gathered on Irving Place between 17th and 18th Street for the Taste of Gramercy food festival. There were 22 vendors, most of them from neighborhood restaurants. Caitlin Azzolini, a worker at a stand for the Italian restaurant Paul & Jimmy’s, said the restaurant has had a stand at the event for the past four years. She said the event is a “really great opportunity to be supportive of the neighborhood.”

The Paul & Jimmy’s stand served homemade meatballs and sauce.

Julie Fox, an attendee of the event, commented, “It’s nice to get samples from all of the places.” Her friend, Jess Panos, continued, “I really liked them all, especially the lobster roll and the truffle gnocchi.”

Continue reading

Former Gramercy police precinct to be auctioned off

June30 21st Precinct

327 East 22nd Street, originally home to the 21st Precinct (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Two years ago, a Gramercy building that was once home to the NYPD’s 21st Precinct was sold to developer Sam Suzuki, who planned to convert the building to luxury condos.

However, the building, located at 327 East 22nd Street, is now scheduled to be sold at a public auction on Thursday, June 30 at 11 a.m. The upcoming sale, which was mentioned in a public notice in the New York Times, will take place at the New York County Courthouse and is being facilitated by Mission Capital Advisors. In the notice, the property is referred to as “SCPD Gramercy 1 LLC.”

In April, 2014, Suzuki bought the four-story building between First and Second Avenues for $11.5 million, securing an $18 million mortgage. As a condition of the sale, Suzuki also got 7,000 square feet of air rights. In February of 2015 the owner got a permit to demolish the property. However, today it still sits — at least the outside of it — boarded up and covered by a scaffolding. The permit to fully demolish the building expired this February, and the owner hasn’t since filed for a new one.

Prior to this, the building was used as a home for LGBT young people, and run by Green Chimneys, a nonprofit based in Brewster, New York, that owned the building.

Continue reading