The following is an open letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio:
On Wednesday evening, December 12, Mayor de Blasio announced on TV that he’s getting $24 billion to fix apartments in public housing or New York City Housing Authority. Funding, he said, will come from federal, NY State, NY City, as well as from city land and air rights sold to developers.
I’ve been writing and talking to elected politicians for years about not selling our NY City land because they are only temporary employees elected to administer our property and all necessary services for the well-being of the real persons who reside in NYC.
The land should be rented to developers for 80 to 100 years and air rights should be very well-studied; then, the elected mayor selects qualified persons to verify and/or be sure that all is working well, according to signed contracts before the jobs have been performed.
The dolls come in sets of three: a father, a mother and a child, and each set tells the true story of a different family. (Photos by John King)
By Sabina Mollot
This holiday season, Stuyvesant Town boutique Ibiza Kidz is hoping to spread some cheer to Syrian women refugees, by selling dolls they’ve made with 100 percent of the money from the sales going towards helping them and others who are in the same position.
The elaborately embroidered dolls, which have just made their debut in the United States, arrived at the kids’ clothing shop last Friday. They come in sets of three (a mother, a father and child) and are meant to tell the stories of real refugee families.
Each one comes with a story parents are encouraged to read to their children that Ibiza Kidz owner Carole Husiak describes as “reality in a meaningful, kid-friendly way.
“It demystifies and explains the concept of people starting a new home, not to frighten children but explain what some families go through,” she said.
Dickensian Carolers stroll through Stuy Town. (Photo by David DuPuy)
On Friday evening, residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village gathered for the annual Christmas tree lighting on the Oval. Highlights from the event included Dickensian Carolers singing as well as General Manager Rick Hayduk reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Prior to the lighting, cookies and hot beverages were served.
In addition, Santa Claus will soon make his annual appearance on Monday, December 11 and Wednesday, December 13 from 5-7 p.m. for residents who wish to take pics with St. Nick. The venue is the ice rink (no rink admission required for photos).
The Hanukkah menorah lighting will take place on Tuesday, December 12. Rav Shoshana Mitrani Knapp will lead the blessings at 6 p.m. The menorah lighting will be followed by dancing, music, donuts and hot beverages until 7:30 p.m.
It’s almost impossible to get into Rolf’s German restaurant in Gramercy around holiday time unless you’ve made your reservation in October. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Rolf’s, a German/Bavarian restaurant in Gramercy, has been known for years for its stunning display of antique dolls complemented with rows and rows of Christmas ornaments and lights strewn throughout the space during the holiday season.
But few know the history behind the tradition, which began 35 years ago and has since made the venue world-famous.
It was in 1981 when the original owner of the restaurant, Rolf Hoffman, died due to lung cancer at the age of 49.
Robert Maisano, who now owns the place, knew Hoffman and recalled how he very much wanted to keep the place a German restaurant, serving up heaping plates of schnitzel, sausages and potato pancakes.
Maisano hasn’t strayed from this mission, though the emphasis on transforming Rolf’s into a winter wonderland each year is his own.
Re: Letter, “’Entitled’ to affordability?”, T&V Nov. 26
I hope that the comments that I made on a Blackstone survey might keep Associated, an affordable and well-run supermarket, in our community. This would save the jobs of its many employees and prevent them from being among the “proud-to-be poor” that Benita Therock described in her letter.
In her letter, Therock also bitterly and benightedly refers to ST-PCV rent-stabilized tenants as being “proud to be poor.” She claimed that we “lack the pride and dignity to carry our own weight.”
I suspect that most stabilized tenants are like me. We came to ST-PCV as young couples and young singles with careers decades ago. We have carried our weight as residents of this community. We worked, paid our taxes, voted, raised families, participated in a variety of ST-PCV events, donated and volunteered at local schools, religious institutions, and at community-based charities. We spent our weekends cheering on our kids at Little League and soccer games, just like other Americans across this country.
Some of us long-time residents have gown older. We retired, and despite our savings, our money doesn’t go quite as far as before. But through rent-stabilization, we are fortunate to be residents in the ST-PCV community and in New York, the city that we’ve worked for, lived in and loved. This is home.
Stuyvesant Town resident and vendor Mick Joseph notes one of the recent changes to the yearly market at Union Square, which is the addition of sections like “Lil Brooklyn.” (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
The Union Square Holiday Market, which, every year, takes over the south end of Union Square Park for the five weeks leading up to Christmas, has now been around for over two decades.
But UrbanSpace, the company behind the long-running event, has made some changes this year, including putting in two stages for performances, an area for children’s activities, and a new section called Urban Provisions for packaged food items. There’s also been an expansion to a recently introduced section called Little Brooklyn, with many additional booths run by craftspeople and merchants from that borough. Aesthetic changes include more lighting and tree branches fashioned into archways and logs placed here and there to give the market a more woodsy feel.
Taking a T&V reporter on a stroll through the market earlier this week to explore some of the new additions was Mick Joseph. Joseph, a resident of Stuyvesant Town, is a market veteran, having operated a booth for DezignMind, the company she runs with husband Claus Ronnex-Printz for the past 14 years.
For that company, the couple works with families in different countries, in particular Bali and Thailand, to produce items Joseph designs, from wooden percussion animals that make surprisingly accurate noises when brushed with a baton or used as a whistle to fragrant clove boxes and ornaments to decorative masks.
Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel, stands by some of the donated toys. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Each year during the holiday season, Town & Village holds a toy drive benefitting a local hospital and, thanks to our generous readers and other community members, hundreds of new toys were donated.
All of the toys (we stopped counting at 300 but there were plenty more) were brought to Mt. Sinai Beth Israel last Friday. As always, the toys are given to kids who are stuck spending their holidays in hospital rooms as well as the children of patients of the hospital’s outpatient programs and clinics. In many cases, those patients can’t afford for shop for presents for their kids.
For this drive, Town & Village partnered with Stuyvesant Town management, Waterside Plaza management and M&T Bank on First Avenue, who all provided convenient donation dropoff sites.
The drive, which began in mid-November, ended last Thursday. However, it was during the last week when many of the donations were made, including, in one case, an entire truck load at once. (This was after a Stuy Town family held a party at which guests were each asked to bring a donated gift.) The haul included Barbies, Lego sets, remote control operated helicopters, tricycles, sports equipment, jewelry making kits, board games, books, action figures, toy instruments and stuffed animals.
Bonnie Robbins, Ph.D., the coordinator of children and family services at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel, noted that the variety of donated items means it’s that much easier for hospital staffers to match gifts to kids’ interests.
While sorting out the toys at her office, Robbins said, “This year the community has really outdone itself in terms of its generosity and words cannot express how appreciative we are.
“The toys,” she added, “really make a difference between our kids having a happy holiday or not. Sometimes the presents they get from the program are the only gifts they receive. When they see them, their faces just light up and we want to thank each and every person for their thoughtfulness and continued support of what we do.”
The staff of Town & Village would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our readers for their generosity as well as to CWCapital/CompassRock, Waterside and M&T Bank, for their participation.
We also wish all in the community a Happy New Year.
Santa (Town & Village publisher Charles G. Hagedorn) arrives at the Oval where he took over 250 photos with kids in 1949. (Photo from T&V archives)
By Sabina Mollot
While much of the talk about Stuyvesant Town these days is about how much the place has changed in recent years, one thing that’s managed to remain the same is the community’s celebration of Christmas and Hanukkah.
Putting up Christmas decorations and a nativity scene on the Oval along with an ornamented tree has been a tradition for decades. Another longstanding tradition has been having Santa take pictures with residents, from kids to seniors. It was in 1949 when Charles Hagedorn, the publisher of this newspaper, donned a Santa suit to hear the Christmas wishes of over 250 children in Stuy Town. The appearance was sponsored by the Town & Village Camera Club with proceeds from each photo taken going towards the Town & Village Polio Fund for the Willard Parker Hospital. (A total of $253 was raised.)
In the Stuy Town community, other traditions during Christmas time have included tree lighting ceremonies, caroling and the occasional concert. Hanukkah too has also been recognized, celebrated over the decades with menorah lightings led by a resident rabbi and activities for kids and families.
Santa (Town & Village publisher Charles G. Hagedorn) arrives at the Oval where he took over 250 photos with kids in 1949. (Photo from T&V archives)
In 1949, Town & Village’s staff artist Edward Caswell created this Christmas-inspired illustration.
This Edward Caswell illustration ran originally in Town & Village in 1951 and has also run in many other Christmas week issues since then.
Kids gather around the tree in 1976. (T&V archives)
Recreation staffers decorate a tree on the Oval in 1978. (T&V archives)
Stuy Town Christmas decorations in 1982 (T&V archives)
Stuy Town Rabbi Julius Gershon Neumann helps a child light the menorah in 1982. (T&V archive photo)
Decorations in 1983 (from T&V archives)
Nativity scene in Stuy Town in 1983
Families attend he menorah lighting in 1985. (T&V archive photo)
ST/PCV general manager Steve Stadmeyer at the tree lighting in 2006.
Kids chase after snowflake lights by the fountain in 2006.
Pre-ice rink, figure skaters had a home on the Oval as well as other nondenominational holiday decorations in 2006. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
The holidays are celebrated with a concert by rock band Fountains of Wayne in 2007. There was also a performance by a chorus and several original residents were invited to light the Christmas tree, a 44-foot spruce.
Kids spin dreidels as part of the Hanukkah festivities in 2008. (Photo courtesy of Tishman Speyer)
Santa at Oval Kids in 2008 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and Peter Cooper Rabbi Chezky Wolff at the PCV menorah lighting in 2010
Rabbi Chezky Wolf leads a menorah lighting in Stuy Town in 2010.
Dickens carollers stroll the complex in 2012. (Photo by Blair Hopkins)
The menorah and the tree in 2013 (Photo by Michelle Lee Photography)
Residents gather at this year’s menorah lighting. (Photo by Michelle Lee Photography)
Live music was played at this year’s menorah lighting. (Photo by Michelle Lee Photography)
The Union Square Holiday Market, now in its 19th year (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
For small businesses looking to boost foot traffic during holiday season, there is arguably no better location than a holiday market, specifically, the 150-plus booth one that takes place at Union Square Park each year.
The market has grown over the 19 years it’s been run there by the company Urban Space, occupying the south end of the park, and a stroll through on any day it’s open clearly shows there’s always a steady stream of shoppers.
Urban Space has kept a tight lid on what it charges vendors for use of its red and white striped booths, but on a recent day, an operator of a medium-sized booth said his rent was about $15,000. This is for the five weeks, November 21 to Christmas Eve, that the event runs. Not that he was complaining. “It’s the busiest hub in the city,” he said. He, like the majority of merchants there, are repeat tenants, and those thinking of becoming one might want to sign up soon. A rep for Urban Space, Rachel Van Dolsen, said that the “footprint” of the event has gotten as big as it’s going to get.
Van Dolsen declined to discuss rents for booths although she said the aforementioned figure didn’t sound accurate. (Another vendor at last year’s event, however, told T&V that amount sounded similar to what she paid, though hers was a little higher. “Expensive, but worth it,” she said.)
Along with its location on top of an entrance to the Union Square subway, the market has become a hit with shoppers looking for items that are handmade or hard to find as opposed to mass-produced items, which Urban Space doesn’t allow.
Last year the amount of money the company shelled out to the city in exchange for use of the park was $1,378,972, so even without official numbers, it’s clear the bustling bazaar must do pretty well for the organizer. The city of course makes out too, with its cut going to a general fund.
The Union Square Holiday Market (Photo courtesy of Urban Space)
Of course, being that the event runs throughout one of the year’s coldest months, even with the built-in foot traffic, there are still going to be retailers who don’t want to conduct business outdoors as well as businesses that wouldn’t be able to sell effectively in one of the stalls.
As Faith Hope Consolo, a broker for the real estate firm Douglas Elliman, explained it, “The holiday market is for a very specific customer, and if that retailer sells products for that shopper, sure, it makes sense to go there. These can include holiday decorations, ornaments, one-of-a-kind gifts. But a pop-up probably makes more sense for apparel. You might want to try on something, and an outdoor market is not the place for that.” Electronics are also not a big seller at markets, noted Consolo, though accessories are.
At this time, asking rents for retail spaces around Union Square are around $60 per square foot to $90 per square foot on the side streets, while asking rents on the avenues are a whopping $400 per square foot. The rent gets higher closer to Flatiron, added Consolo. And of course, these are the prices for longterm leases, not pop-up shop spaces, which around holiday time, are hard to come by.
“There are fewer pop-up opportunities at the holidays because many retailers will lease a holiday shop well in advance,” said Consolo. “But someone can always find something if they look long and hard enough.”
Ultimately, as for whether it makes more sense to rent at the market or at a store, “Holiday markets have the same rule of thumb as any retail site,” said Consolo. “Better locations have higher rents. You pay more to be near entrances, etc. And Union Square certainly is bustling as more retailers, restaurants and services open to appeal to all the high-tech workers and residents there.”
In related neighborhood retail news, to help push shopping at neighborhood stores as the market is open, the Union Square Partnership has been offering District Deals booklets at the information booth at the market (across from the subway entrance gazebo). The booklets contain over 40 deals from retailers like Union Square Wines and Spirits and Jivamukti’s yoga school.
Re: “Push for new school at Police Academy,” T&V, Dec. 12
Guess what, previous to Police Academy that spot on 20th Street was PS 50. Half (eastern part) was the red-bricked school, the western part an outdoor playground.
How do I know? I attended the school in the early ‘50s. Yes, my kindergarten teacher was Miss Hatch, first grade Miss Richter, second grade Miss Schaefer. And I still have my report cards to prove it! Then the school closed and all the kids were transferred to PS 40, where I continued on till JHS 104. Also, I think PS 50 ran through the block and the 13th Precinct also once was the school. The original 13th Precinct was on 22nd Street near First Avenue, in a station house up a few steps. I was a member of the PAL there, cop “Bob” was our mentor. Fond memories
Sidney Schneck, ST
What do the bondholders say?
To the Editor:
In October 2012, the Tenants Association announced, with great fanfare and press releases, that it was taking our case “directly to the bondholders” – and “cutting out the middleman” – in order that we could gain control of our destiny.
Now, the time has come for the TA to report to us – fully and honestly – how the bondholders responded, when the TA put our case directly to them. Or, the TA leadership should observe fair and reasonable term limits of two years each, and step aside.
Name Withheld, ST
The dangers of smoking
Michael Phillips’ review of the movie “Parkland” was as hilarious as anything I’ve ever read in your newspaper. Also his explanation that one of the reasons the film received an MPAA rating of PG-13, because people were “smoking throughout” the film shows how silly our culture has become.
Richard Luksin, Minneapolis, MN
The Soapbox: Why Steve Jobs died
By David Chowes
Well, you think that the answer is cancer – and you’re right. Steve Jobs was perhaps the first true genius of the 21st century – but he was a complicated man. During his counterculture days, he was steeped in mystical thinking: took LSD, was heavily into Indian religious paradigms…
Of course, later he made a lasting contribution in technology and became another Einstein in another area and revolutionized the world. But, his earlier foray persisted. When was diagnosed with cancer, standard medical procedures gave him about a 95 percent probability of remission. But…
He chose alternative treatments instead and this decision most likely caused him his life. That Jobs chose the course he did is curious, because to create the technology he did, he must have been aware of the scientific method.
What is “alternative medicine” which seems so popular among the pseudo-sophisticates? It consists of methods which have not been ever been tested via methodologically sound procedures. They may have efficacy or not or be dangerous. “Natural” is no assurance of safety – remember that arsenic is natural.
Once I went to a woman’s home and saw many small bottles with strange names. I picked up one and asked her what this product does. She replied, “Oh, I don’t know. My friend who is very smart said it’s good.” I further queried, “For what?” She repeated, “My friend is very smart.”
Both had been graduated from college and had taken science courses. But, scientific courses, in the main, teach facts rather than what the scientific method is about – and, how important it is. From janitor to CEO, few realize how crucial this method is.
Alternative medications can be or seem to be effective. But they have not been studied and no one knows. If one person takes a nutrient or other tablet and a headache goes away, they may believe that there was a cause and effect relationship between the treatment and the headache going away. And, they tell friends that this “wonder pill” works. It then goes viral… but most maladies eventually go away without intervention; or, it could be a result of the placebo effect. That is why FDA approval assures (to some extent) that treatments are safe and effective.
Then there are the radio and TV hucksters who make a fortune using a naïve public. Well, the brilliant Steve Jobs succumbed to the myth of alternative treatments. According to Walter Isaacson, the biographer of Steve Jobs, near the end, Jobs realized the great mistake he made that most likely cost him his life.
How many people in PCV/ST are using snake oil treatments rather than physician-prescribed ones and put ting their lives in peril?
Peter Cooper Village resident David Chowes taught psychology, statistics and research design at Baruch College/CUNY and other universities for 25 years.
Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Beth Israel, with some of the toys at her Second Avenue office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
At Town & Village, holding a toy drive around the holidays to raise money for kids undergoing treatment at a local hospital is a tradition that’s spanned decades.
This year, thanks to the generosity of our readers, nearly 100 toys were collected to benefit Beth Israel Medical Center. The toys will be distributed to kids spending their Christmas at the pediatric department as well as to families who whose members are patients of the hospital’s outpatient clinics, who in many cases, could not afford gifts for their children.
Among the haul were gifts suitable for kids of all ages from babies to tweens, including dolls, action figures, games, books and a few gadgets.
Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Beth Israel, said the toys were especially needed this year.
Following Sandy, she noted, more families have been utilizing the hospital’s clinics. This has been in an addition to an uptick in families since the recession began.
“People have had to focus on their basic needs,” said Robbins, “so it’s especially necessary for us to be able to provide something. No parent wants to feel like they can’t give their kid something to celebrate the holidays and we help parents who would have a tough time doing that.”
Robbins as well as the staff at Town & Village would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to those who donated as well as those who offered space as toy dropoff points. This year’s dropoff points were the Waterside Plaza management office, the Waterside Swim & Health Club, M&T Bank on First Avenue, Paddy Maguire’s Ale House and the Stuyvesant Town Community Center.
Public Advocate DeBlasio and the Tenants Association are seeking headlines by belittling CW Capital’s decision to grant a 15 percent rent reduction, in exchange for a promise not to be sued for losses related to the hurricane.
This is surprising, because tenants have nothing to lose by signing the waiver – and everything to gain.
The maximum damages any tenant could recover in a lawsuit would be the rent such tenant paid during the period in which their apartment did not have power. Management could contest this argument, noting that most tenants had running water and flashlights.
Moreover, suing management would take three to five years, and legal fees could consume up to a third of any recovery.
With 11,000 tenants in ST/PCV, including hundreds of attorneys, there are bound to be a few lawyers who will try to trick tenants into believing they could recover more than they were due. But let’s review the results of the Roberts litigation – which took five years and mainly enriched only the lawyers.
Moreover, if a class action were to be initiated against CW Capital, it would throw yet another wrench into the process leading to a non-eviction condo conversion of the property. A large, outstanding litigation against the property could cause our partner Brookfield Management to have a change of heart, and could spook any financing partners Brookfield would bring to the table.
A more prudent and ethical course for our neighbors is to gracefully accept the rent abatement and to say “thank you.” It would be far more constructive to sign the waiver and acknowledge that CW in fact did heroic work in restoring power after the unprecedented violence of the storm.
Rather than advise a rent strike, the Tenants Association should recall that civility is never a sign of weakness.