Hoylman takes aim at ‘high rent blight’

Various empty storefronts in State Senator Brad Hoylman’s District, the subject of his recent study, “Bleaker on Bleecker” (Photo collage courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

State Senator Brad Hoylman, whose district includes Stuyvesant Town, Gramercy, Chelsea and Greenwich Village, recently conducted a study that found a high percentage of vacant storefronts in the district, with some retail corridors about 10 percent vacant and on Bleecker Street, a vacancy rate of 18.4 percent.

This is no breaking news to area residents of course; but the senator’s study “Bleaker on Bleecker,” which focuses on what’s been dubbed “high rent blight,” has led to his offering a few proposals to combat the problem.

In particular, the phenomenon of landlords of choosing to keep a space vacant “suggests waiting for Marc Jacobs instead of renting to Jane Jacobs,” the study quotes economist Tim Wu as saying.

The study also mentions the closure last year of the Chelsea Associated Supermarket, which had seen its $32,000 rent jump by $100,000. The now-shuttered store had the same owners as the Associated in Stuyvesant Town, the future of which is still murky.

Continue reading

Police Watch: Bus driver accused of slapping special needs child, Slashing at Boxers

BUS DRIVER ACCUSED OF SLAPPING SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD OUTSIDE WATERSIDE
Police arrested 55-year-old Lucien Magliore for assault and endangering the welfare of a child in front of 10 Waterside Plaza last Tuesday at 9:08 a.m. Police said that Magliore, a bus driver, caused physical injury to one of the students who was on his bus while attempting to restrain him. Police said that the victim was a 10-year-old special needs child who was acting out on the bus. According to the District Attorney’s office, Magliore slapped the victim on the back, causing substantial pain, redness and a handprint on the child’s upper back.

MAN ARRESTED FOR SLASHING AT BOXERS
Police arrested 25-year-old Tevin Gingles for slashing two people inside Boxers NYC, a gay sports bar, at 37 West 20th Street.
One of the victims told police that on March 26 at 2 a.m. he was trying to breaking up a fight at the bar that involved his friend. That’s when Gingles allegedly slashed him in the shoulder with a box cutter, causing a puncture wound.
Gingles also allegedly slashed another victim on the right hand, causing a deep cut.
Following the incident, the first victim got into a cab and went to Harlem Hospital, where he received 16 stitches. The second victim received five stitches for the cut on his hand.
Gingles was arrested inside the 13th Precinct last Wednesday at 9 p.m. and was charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

Continue reading

West 14th Street Associated closes

Politicians at a rally to save the supermarket in March (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Politicians at a rally to save the supermarket in March (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

The Associated supermarket on West 14th Street, which residents of Chelsea had been trying to save since March, has closed.

The supermarket, which faced a $168,000 rent hike from landlord Pan Am Equities, according to Gothamist, closed after May 1. The store, which is owned by the same group of owners who run the Associated supermarket in Stuyvesant Town, had been paying $32,000 in rent.

Reached this week at the Stuy Town location, principal owner Joseph Falzon said he wouldn’t be opening another supermarket in the Chelsea neighborhood.

“We checked around. The rents are ridiculous.”

Continue reading

Landmarked Flatiron church gutted by fire

Police at the scene of the fire at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava closed off the block in case the destroyed church on West 25th Street collapsed. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Police at the scene of the fire at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava closed off the block in case the destroyed church on West 25th Street collapsed. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A four-alarm fire gutted a Serbian Orthodox church at 24 West 25th Street on Sunday evening, following services earlier that day that took place for Orthodox Easter. Because the services ended earlier in the afternoon, no one was inside the church at the time the fire broke out around 6:50 p.m. but the blaze left the interior of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in shambles, burning the roof off of the landmarked structure that has been in the neighborhood since 1855. FDNY said that one civilian and four firefighters were taken to Bellevue Hospital for smoke inhalation and no other injuries were reported.

Police at the scene on Monday morning said that the street would be closed until investigators could determine that the remaining part of the building still standing was structurally sound and wouldn’t collapse. The officer noted that a collapse was unlikely but the street remained closed as a precaution. Only employees working at buildings on the street were allowed past the police barricades. FDNY noted on Wednesday morning that the cause is still under investigation but the fire is considered non-suspicious.

Continue reading

Stuy Town Associated owner’s Chelsea store is facing closure

Customers and elected officials attend a rally in support of the supermarket at West 14th Street. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Customers and elected officials attend a rally in support of the supermarket at West 14th Street. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents of Chelsea and Greenwich Village, along with local elected officials, this past Sunday protested the impending closure of an Associated Supermarket on West 14th, which is run by the same owners as the Stuyvesant Town Associated.

The store, located at 255 West 14th Street near Eighth Avenue, is in the tenth year of a 15-year lease but principal owner Joseph Falzon said it will likely be forced to close in May because of a stipulation that says the rent can be increased to market value in the last five years of the lease.

It was previously reported that the rent would be increased to $200,000 and although the actual increase would be half that at $100,000, it is still substantially more than the store’s current rent of $32,000.

“Even if we came to an agreement, the rent can’t be much more than what it is now anyway or we won’t survive,” Falzon said.

Continue reading

Teens busted for armed ‘robberies’ near Stuy Town and in Gramercy Park

Nov19 Robbery suspects

Robbery suspects (via NYPD)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested three teenagers for multiple armed robberies throughout Manhattan last Wednesday, with one incident taking place on East 20th Street near Stuyvesant Town and another along Gramercy Park North within the last month.

In post-Miranda statements, the 14 and 15-year-olds who were arrested told police that they had committed two to three robberies each night multiple times when they came into Manhattan from Brooklyn in an SUV allegedly driven by 18-year-old Daniel Jean-Louis, who was also arrested in connections with the robberies last Wednesday.

According to the District Attorney’s office, the two younger teens mugged one victim on November 7 at around 1 a.m. near 346 East 20th Street, west of First Avenue. The victim told police that one of the teens hit him from behind while reaching into the victim’s pocket to swipe his cell phone and ID. Police said that the victim suffered injuries to his face, hands, elbow and knee from running after the two suspects.

Police said that the 14 and 15-year-olds held up a woman at gunpoint in front of 45 Gramercy Park North last Sunday at 2:28 a.m., mugging her and her friend.

In one incident in Chelsea near 331 West 21st Street on November 7, one of the teens simulated a gun and stole a victim’s wallet around 2 a.m. In another incident in Chelsea on November 15, the 14 and 15-year-olds approached a man at 1:40 a.m. in front of 439 West 22nd Street and threatened a man with a silver-toned gun. A third incident in Chelsea took place in front of 416 West 20th Street last Sunday at 2:30 a.m. when the two younger teens pointed a silver handgun at the victim and demanded her property. The victim told police that she asked for help from a person who was parked in a white SUV nearby and he told her to get away from the car. The 15-year-old who was arrested later told police that it was Jean-Louis who told the victim to move.

Police said that the two younger suspects were seen on surveillance footage from the McDonald’s on Park Avenue South using stolen credit cards to buy food after robberies on both November 7 and November 15.

Police said that the 14-year-old also ordered items off of Nike.com using his own address, his mother’s cell phone number and the stolen credit card number of a card he stole last Sunday.

Jean-Louis, of East 29th Street in Brooklyn, was charged with nine counts of robbery, while the younger teens were each charged with five counts.

Police looking for two men behind separate patterns of bank robberies

HSBC and Apple Bank robbery suspect

HSBC and Apple Bank robbery suspect

Police are on the lookout for two bank robbers believed to be responsible for different heists in Union Square, Flatiron and other neighborhoods.

With regards to the first suspect, on Wednesday, September 9 around 2:10 p.m., a man walked into the HSBC Bank located at 80 Eighth Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets in Chelsea, approached a teller and demanded money. However, the teller refused and the man fled empty handed.

At 2:35 p.m., the same man walked into the Union Square Apple Bank located at 4 Irving Place and East 14th Street, approached a teller and demanded money. This time the teller complied and the suspect fled with an undetermined amount of cash.

The suspect has been described as a thin black male, 30 to 40 years old and 6’2″ tall.

Chase and HSBC Bank robbery suspect

Chase and HSBC Bank robbery suspect

Police are also looking for another man they believe to be behind three separate bank robberies, in Times Square, Chelsea and most recently, the Flatiron District.

The pattern is as follows:

On Friday, September 4, at around 12:40 p.m., the suspect walked into a Chase Bank at 615 8th Avenue and 40th Street, approached a teller and passed a note demanding cash. He then fled with $2,850.

On Tuesday, September 8 at approximately 5:10 p.m., the same man walked into a different Chase Bank at 475 West 23rd Street and 10th Avenue and slipped the teller another demand note. This time he fled empty-handed.

The next day, on Wednesday, September 9 at around 2:15 p.m., the suspect was back at it, at an HSBC Bank at 145 5th Avenue and West 21st Street. After handing a teller a demand note, he got away with $1,992.

The suspect is described as Hispanic, approximately 5’3″ tall, 195 lbs. and in his 30s.

Anyone with information about any of these incidents 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 http://www.crimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Police arrest man suspected of office burglaries

Surveillance photo of burglary suspect

Surveillance photo of burglary suspect

On Friday, police collared a man they believe is behind a string of burglaries at offices, swiping mainly computers and cash.
Darnell Lawson, 50, of St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, was arrested after police found him shortly after midnight allegedly attempting another burglary inside 28 West 36th Street.
The burglary spree began over two months ago in the confines of the 13th and Midtown South Precincts.

Police listed the following incidents:

On April 11, a man entered a business at 247 West 36th Street and swiped two MacBooks.
On Monday, April 28, he got inside the office of Michael Alan Group, an event marketing business at 22 West 38th Street, and took an iPad, a Mac book Air and cash.
On Friday, May 9, he broke into 114 West 26th Street, home to magazine and website publisher Hay Market Media, and grabbed a Dell Laptop.
On Saturday, May 24, he entered the office of Crossmedia Inc., 22 West 23rd Street and took several Mac Books and a bottle of bourbon.
On Friday, May 30, he went inside the APICA office at 20 West 23rd Street and left with a laptop.
On Monday, June 2, he went back to the Michael Alan Group office and got away with some cash.
On Thursday, June 12, the man got into Best Apartments, a real estate firm at 119 West 23rd Street, but left without taking anything. However, that same evening, he made off with five laptops from 153 West 27th Street.
On Friday, June 13, he returned to 22 West 38th Street for the third time, this time to the office of Prompt Business and took laptops and cash. He also went to 363 7th Avenue and stole laptops from Soft Tech Health.
On Friday, June 20, he made off with an undetermined amount of cash from a business at 24 West 23rd Street.

Chelsea resident goes missing

Donald Allen Phillips went missing since Feb. 28

The NYPD is seeking the public’s assistance in locating a missing person who resides within the confines of the 10th Precinct. The details are as follows:

Donald Allen Phillips was last seen at his residence, located at 231 West 25th Street, on Tuesday, February 28, at around 6 a.m. Mr. Phillips is described as a white male, with a height of 5 feet 8 inches and a weight of 160 lbs. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, tan slippers, a black “Korean Veteran” hat and a brown flannel jacket.

Anyone with information in regard to this missing person is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (5477) or submit tips at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM.