Rivera focused on mom-and-pops and affordable housing at tech hub

Council Member Carlina Rivera outside her district office in the East Village (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Newly-elected City Council Member Carlina Rivera spoke with members of the community media in a round-table discussion this week, covering affordable housing, the plight of small businesses and the transit woes affecting District 2.

Rivera, who took over the seat from Rosie Mendez, who was term-limited after 12 years in office, previously worked with Mendez as her legislative director and is a long-time community activist working in the East Village and the Lower East Side.

One of the subjects she brought up was the new “tech hub” the city is planning on East 14th Street, and Rivera said she wants to make sure affordable housing is factored into the plan.

“In terms of the zoning, it’s going to be important to look at how we can incentivize affordable housing,” she said. “People are worried that this tech hub is going to be a purely commercial development and one of the most important things we need is affordable housing.”

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Burglars hit 16 businesses, taking money from safes and ATMs and even surveillance systems

Burglary suspects

By Sabina Mollot

The NYPD is hunting at least two men they believe to be behind burglaries at 16 businesses in Gramercy, the East Village and other neighborhoods in Manhattan. They’ve gotten away with money from safes and ATMs as well as other items and in a few cases, they even took evidence from the businesses’ surveillance systems. The two suspects are men, while it wasn’t clear about a third suspect who was present at least during one of the incidents. There are only descriptions of two of the suspects and even those are pretty vague, with the NYPD saying they are white and male.

The amount of cash stolen adds up to $53,900, not including an incident where it wasn’t clear how much was taken.

The stealing spree began on December 9-10 (shortly before or after midnight) when the suspects somehow made their way inside a Dunkin Donuts at 140 East 34th Street. After forcing open a safe and ATM, they fled with a combined $3,800.

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Man slashed on East 14th Street

Jan18 Community grocery and candy

Community Grocery & Candy store on East 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who slashed another man on the cheek during a fight on East 14th Street west of First Avenue.

The two men had gotten into an argument inside a store that turned physical, police said, spilling out onto the street. At one point, one of the men took out a sharp object and slashed the 54-year-old victim. Police said both individuals are “known to the neighborhood,” though they don’t know the name of the suspect and haven’t arrested him.

The victim was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released.

The suspect is described as Hispanic and about 6 ft. 2 inches tall and was wearing a long, leather coat.

Patch, which first reported on the incident, said the suspect ran off after the assault.
EVGrieve posted a photo of the police investigation outside the Community Grocery & Candy store, where an employee told a T&V reporter he didn’t have information about the incident.

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Car break-in on East 11th

Police are looking for a man who broke into a car parked on East 11th Street between Avenues A and B, making off with roughly $2,500-worth of electronics and clothes.

It was last Wednesday at 9 p.m. when the man used some sort of object to pry open the door to get inside the car, which was located outside 526 East 11th Street.

The suspect is described as Hispanic, around 35 years old, 5’5″ and 155 lbs. with a medium complexion. He was last seen wearing a green hat, black sneakers, black jacket and dark blue jeans.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782)

The public can also submit their tips by logging onto nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Democrats vying for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat

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Harvey Epstein (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Following Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh’s easy victory at the polls last week for the downtown Senate seat he wanted, two Democrat candidates have expressed interest in filling the now vacant 74th District Assembly seat.

One of them is Harvey Epstein, a tenant representative on the Rent Guidelines Board and the project director of the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center. The other is Mike Corbett, an aide to Queens-based City Council Member Costa Constantinides and a former teamster. Marie Ternes, a communications consultant who previously worked for then-Congress Member Anthony Weiner, said she is considering running.

Recently, outgoing City Council Member Rosie Mendez told Town & Village she was mulling a run for Assembly, but then later told the local blog Lo Down that she’d decided against it. Council Member Dan Garodnick has also previously said he has no plan to run.

Corbett, Epstein and Ternes spoke with a Town & Village reporter this week, although Ternes declined to be interviewed at this time since she hasn’t yet made a decision on running.

It’s expected that there will be a County Committee vote held by each party to determine who will get onto the ballot for a special election. However, it’s still unclear when the vote will be or when the election will be, since a special election must be called by the governor. Another possible, though unlikely, scenario is that there will be a primary in June when there’s a Congressional primary, or even later.

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Mendez hosting town hall with the mayor on October 12

Council Member Dan Garodnick with Mayor Bill de Blasio at a recent town hall (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

If you missed the recent town hall with Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted by Council Member Dan Garodnick, you can still share your thoughts with the mayor at another town hall on October 12 at 7 p.m. to be hosted by Council Member Rosie Mendez.

The event is intended for residents of the Council District 2, encompassing the neighborhoods of East Village, Gramercy Park, Kips Bay, Lower East Side, Murray Hill and Rose Hill. Along with Mendez, co-sponsors are Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Community Boards 2, 3, 5 and 6, Grand Street Settlement, Henry Street Settlement and the Loisaida Center. Along with the mayor, commissioners and NYPD representatives will be present.

To attend, RSVP by October 10 at 5 p.m. via email at manhattantownhall@cityhall.nyc.gov or by calling (212) 788-2781. Space is limited. Doors open at 6 p.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. at P.S. 188 The Island School, 442 East Houston Street. (Enter on corner of East Houston Street and Baruch Drive.)

Mendez, in an email to constituents, has also mentioned the following rules: Each constituent who is called on to ask a question will be able to ask one question. No signs will be permitted into the event. Chanting is not allowed.

 

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.

Bus stop shelters on East 14th Street removed, will be relocated

 

 

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The MTA said the removals were because of impending work. (Photos by Hermann Reiner)

By Sabina Mollot

On July 1, an eagle-eyed reader informed us an unannounced removal of M14 bus stop shelters had occurred that day and the day before from Avenues A to B. We reached out to the Department of Transportation for an explanation and the agency responded via email Thursday evening to say the stops were removed due to impending work, but would be relocated this week.

The agency didn’t say what project the impending work is for, but Council Member Dan Garodnick said he was told by the MTA it had to do with the looming L train line repairs, which include building an Avenue A subway entrance.

According to the MTA and DOT:

The existing bus stops on the westbound side of 14th Street on the island at Avenues A and B have shelters which were removed this past Friday in advance of the two bus stops being relocated this week. Both of these stops which are on the west side of the intersection now and will be moved to the east side of the intersection. The bus shelters will not be installed at the temporary stops but will be replaced at the end of the project when the stops are relocated back to their permanent location.

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Police Watch: East Village woman stabbed, Man arrested for hitting cop with car

EAST VILLAGE WOMAN STABBED IN HOME INVASION
A man broke into a 31-year-old woman’s East Village apartment on Sunday night and stabbed her, The New York Post reported.
The victim, Cassidy Helmken, told police that she heard a knock around 8:30 p.m. and the man pushed his way into her apartment when she opened the door. Along with stabbing her, the attacker stole $500 in cash from the victim. Helmken is being treated at Bellevue Hospital for a collapsed lung and several gashes. Gothamist noted that Helmken’s apartment is on Avenue B near East 13th Street.

MAN ARRESTED FOR HITTING COP WITH CAR
Police arrested 40-year-old Raheem Starr after he hit a police officer with his car while leaving a parking lot at East 23rd Street and the FDR last Sunday around 3 a.m. Police were responding to a disorderly group of people who had just left a party boat and while police were attempting to disperse the crowd, Starr allegedly rammed through a barricade and clipped the officer, causing minor injuries to his knee and hands. The officer fired one round from his gun after the car hit him while trying to flee, but no one was hit by the shot. A 29-year-old man was also arrested but police said that the case is sealed and had no further information on that suspect. Starr was charged with reckless endangerment.

Robbery suspects

ROBBERY AT WEST 23RD ST. F/M STATION
The NYPD is asking the public’s assistance identifying two men who robbed a woman on the subway after showing her a gun.
At West 23rd and Sixth Avenue on Thursday, June 15 at 9:30 p.m., police said that the two men approached the 22-year-old woman on the downtown platform and asked if she could cash a check for one of them. The victim declined, at which time one of the men lifted his shirt and displayed what appeared to be a silver gun. The suspect then demanded that the victim go to the nearby Chase Bank, where she deposited a check and withdrew $600 cash, which was given to the other suspect, who was wearing a white hat. Once this transaction was completed, the suspects fled the location. There were no reported injuries as a result of this incident.
The suspects are described as black men, approximately in their mid 20s. One individual is 6’4” tall, weighing 200 lbs. and the second individual is 5’10” tall, weighing 170 lbs. The surveillance photos were taken from the subway station.
Anyone with information in regards to this robbery 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 nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

MAN ARRESTED FOR GRAMERCY BURGLARIES
Police arrested 48-year-old Earl Brown for burglary in front of 15 East 18th Street last Monday at 1:18 a.m. A witness working at 873 Broadway told police that he was working late when he heard a loud banging from the business next door. He said that he saw a man wearing a white shirt and a Yankees hat repeatedly ramming his shoulder into the door in an attempt to gain entry. Police said that Brown also rang the doorbell of the witness’s office, allowing the witness to see him through the peephole. The witness then called 911 and a suspect fitting the witness’s description was stopped at the side exit of 15 East 18th Street. Brown matched the description provided by the witness and he was allegedly in possession of a stolen Apple MacBook, a stolen Dell laptop and a stolen Canon digital camera.
Brown was later charged with an additional burglary from 115 East 23rd Street where he allegedly damaged the magnetic doors and swiped property at an earlier date.

MAN ARRESTED FOR SWIPING TIPS AT SECOND AVENUE PIZZA PLACE
Police arrested 35-year-old Raul Galvez for petit larceny inside Mike’s Pizza at 415 Second Avenue last Sunday at 8:09 p.m. Police said that Galvez entered the restaurant and stuck his hand inside the tip jar on the counter. He allegedly removed cash and fled from the location but he was apprehended outside the restaurant by the business owner.

MAN NABBED FOR POT AT ASSER LEVY PLAYGROUND
Police arrested 31-year-old Ryan Betances for possession of marijuana at the Asser Levy Playground last Wednesday at 5:01 p.m. Police said that Betances was smoking alleged marijuana while inside a public park while there were children present on the playground. Betances also allegedly had a jar containing loose marijuana inside his bag and a small bag of alleged marijuana inside his wallet.

MAN ARRESTED FOR DRUG DEAL IN UNION SQUARE PARK
Police arrested 37-year-old Douglas Zimbler and 31-year-old Sean Keenan for a drug deal in Union Square Park last Wednesday at 6 p.m. Police said that Zimbler sold a quantity of alleged crystal meth to Keenan. Both men were charged with possession of a controlled substance and Zimbler was additional charged with the sale of a controlled substance. Police said that Keenan was also in possession of a pipe with alleged crystal meth residue.

MEN BUSTED FOR SELLING ‘LOOSIES’
Police arrested a 34-year-old man in front of the men’s shelter at 400 East 30th Street last Wednesdayfor selling loose Newport cigarettes without a vendor’s license. Police also arrested a 50-year-old man for selling loose Newport cigarettes outside the shelter. The suspects were charged with violating tax law and unlawful peddling.

East Village pre-school planning to offer grades K-5

Students work on a crafts project. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Sara Curry Preschool at Little Missionary’s Day Nursery, a tuition-based but despite the name non-religious pre-school on St. Marks Place, is expanding for the second time in three years, this time to offer kindergarten and elementary school grades.

Eileen Johnson, the school’s director, said she’d been hearing from too many parents of her former students that they’re unhappy with public elementary schools, even so-called progressive ones. But with her preschool’s five-story building already at capacity, Johnson had to forget about adding classes for kids who age out of the program — that is, until now.

“When you have to say no to people all the time, then it’s like, ‘I really want to do this,’” she said.

For the next few years, Johnson plans to phase in additional grades up to grade 5. Next fall, there will be kindergarten and first grade, the following year second grade and the next year third. She’s considering dividing one of the school’s larger classrooms and plans to further utilize the basement (now used just for after school programming and art) to make this work. But after that, Sara Curry Preschool will need to get an additional small building.

“The goal is to get a little sister building nearby so we can accommodate everybody,” she said. “Or even an infant building.”

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Stuyvesant Town Associated is still waiting for answer on lease renewal

Stuyvesant Town’s Associated Supermarket (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, following an op-ed being published in the newspaper The Villager in support of the Small Business Jobs and Survival Act, many Stuyvesant Town residents became alarmed after reading a sentence that mentioned the owner of the complex’s Associated supermarket was told he would not get a lease renewal.

Town & Village since reached out to Blackstone, and a spokesperson for the landlord, Paula Chirhart, said a final decision on whether to renew or not has not yet been made. Joseph Falzon, a co-owner of The Associated, confirmed this when we called although he added he wasn’t feeling confident that he’d get a renewal. He added that he was “99 percent sure” he wouldn’t.

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McMillan planning citywide rent strike

UPDATE: Jimmy McMillan, early today, announced he was calling off the strike in light of a judge’s decision on Tuesday to keep the rent freeze in place.

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Jimmy McMillan is now running for Rosie Mendez’s Council seat.  (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Jimmy “The Rent is Too Damn High” McMillan, now a Republican City Council candidate, is calling on the tenants of New York City to join him in a rent strike this October.

McMillan, an East Village resident who’s been in and out of court with his own landlord for years, said the plan is inspired by what he’s blasting as conflicting interests in the New York City Housing Court.

“The attorneys that sit on a committee that appoint New York City Housing Court (judges), stand before that same judge against the tenant representing the landlord,” he stated in a press release.

The 70-year-old Vietnam vet also believes this setup has impacted his own case.

According to current information on the New York Courts website, the advisory committee that helps appoint judges to the Housing Part of the Civil Court includes three representatives of the real estate industry, including the chair of the NYC Housing Authority, three members from tenants’ organizations, two members representing civic groups, two bar association members, two public members, one mayoral appointee and the commissioner of the state housing agency, Housing and Community Renewal.

McMillan’s plan to strike, meanwhile, is also aimed at raising awareness of his campaign platform — affordability. His goal is to see rents slashed across the board.

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Former Post Office site developers give up on trying to add height

Ryan Singer, executive director of the Board of Standards and Appeals, tells protesters the application has been withdrawn. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The developers of the former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office site have given up on trying to get the green light to add another story to their planned East 14th Street residential building.

The announcement that Benenson Capital Partners and Mack Real Estate Group had withdrawn their application was made on Tuesday morning. The news, delivered by Ryan Singer, executive director of the Board of Standards and Appeals, to a group of mostly union member protesters across the street from the BSA building on Reade Street, elicited cheers.

“The process worked the way it should,” Singer said. “Based on comments from the board yesterday, they felt they could no longer pursue the variance.”

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Old Post Office site owners reduce height request

Rendering of 432-438 East 14th Street

By Sabina Mollot

The owners of the former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office, who’d proposed a 12-story residential building for the site, have since changed their request, by proposing a smaller, nine-story building instead. In January the owners, Benenson Capital Partners, partnering with Mack Real Estate Group, had gone to the Board of Standards and Appeals to request a zoning variance they’d need to build 12 stories since current zoning only allows for an eight-story structure. Their plan however was fought by community residents as well as the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

The owners’ most recent proposal, which would boost height 14.5 feet higher than what is currently allowable, has also already been blasted by the preservation group. The GVSHP has argued that a building that high is out of context for the East Village and has also claimed that the owners’ main reason for wanting the variance — higher than expected construction costs due to underground water and soil conditions — doesn’t constitute a unique hardship.

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The rent is too damn high, says this Republican Council candidate

Jimmy McMillan, who hopes to replace Rosie Mendez in the City Council, has also run for governor and mayor. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The race for the City Council seat currently occupied by a term-limited Rosie Mendez is beginning to heat up, with the newest candidate being Jimmy McMillan, otherwise known as “The Rent is Too Damn High” guy.

McMillan, who has previously run for mayor of New York City and governor as well as having had a brief dalliance with the 2012 presidential election, said he was approached about running for Council by Manhattan GOP.

The organization, formerly known as the New York Republican County Committee, gave McMillan its blessing in an email blast to members last week.

On getting the local Republican nod to run, McMillan, who’s running as a Republican as well as on his own party, The Rent is Too Damn High, said, “I almost cried.”

And this is no small thing. As the 70-year-old, mutton chopped, Vietnam vet and martial arts aficionado, who claims he was once tied up and doused with gasoline when working as an investigator, also told us, “I’m not a baby. I don’t cry.”

He’s also here to say what he’s been saying all along, that the rent is unquestionably too damn high, and if this is fixed, specifically by halving rents across the board, many of the other problems facing this city — like struggles faced by small businesses — will solve themselves.

“If you raise rents and you go to the store, they have to raise their prices in the store,” he said. “There is no way around it. The rent is too damn high,” he said, before going on to blast economic experts who opine on such matters. “I don’t have a degree, but they (think they) know more than me because they call themselves professors or economic experts. I’m an economic master.”

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