Embattled First Ave. speakeasy, Visana, closes

Visana/Pisa pizzeria (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

 

By Sabina Mollot

Visana, the speakeasy style cocktail lounge that operated behind a pizzeria across from Stuyvesant Town, has closed.

Opened two summers ago at 321 First Avenue, serving gluten free pizza in the front and cocktails with organic spirits in the back, business was rocky from nearly the start due to quality of life complaints from neighbors over noise. Police were also called to the scene over an incident of underage drinking in 2016.

In January, the business lost its liquor license, according to a document from the State Liquor Authority. The SLA cited several reasons, in a decision that was issued last November. Reasons included allowing the business to become noisy and “disorderly” enough to attract police attention, allowing dancing without a cabaret license and not conforming with regulations regarding the employment of security guards.

Meanwhile, according to David Jaffee, Visana’s owner, the business is now sold. Reached via email on Monday, he said he closed the lounge due to problems he was having with neighbors. He said he thought Visana might have succeeded elsewhere but said two neighbors in particular “made it their mission to always call police.”

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Cops investigate suspicious package at First Avenue L train station

Aug17 bomb scare

By Sabina Mollot

At around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the NYPD Bomb Squad cordoned off First Avenue near the L train station on East 14th Street and the station itself after getting a 911 call about a suspicious package. However, by 5:40 p.m., the NYPD gave the all clear. As for what the package, which had been seen under a bench on the southbound platform was, a spokesperson for the department said he didn’t know other than “It wasn’t a bomb.” The photo, taken by Stuyvesant Town resident Henry Beck shows a traffic-free First Avenue at around 15th Street at 5:30 p.m. today.

 

Man rubs against woman on L train at First Avenue

Forcible touching suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who rubbed himself against a female straphanger on the L train last Wednesday.

Police said the victim, a 33-year-old woman, was on the train at the First Avenue station when a man who was standing behind her forcibly rubbed himself against her buttocks. The victim then snapped a photo of the man who was sticking out his tongue before he fled the train. Police said it isn’t clear if the man was grinding against the woman with his crotch.

Update: The victim told DNAinfo he was gyrating his hips repeatedly and she could feel he was aroused.

The suspect is described as Hispanic, approximately 5’6″ with brown eyes and black hair and was last seen wearing an orange t-shirt.

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Gas finally back on at Frank’s

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Frank’s Trattoria, the First Avenue restaurant and pizzeria that had been operating without gas for eight weeks, finally got it switched back on. The gas came back on last Wednesday afternoon, which meant that once again the owners, the Pino family, were able to make pizza and other foods that couldn’t be prepared efficiently using just electric stoves.

Restaurant manager Marcello Vasquez told Town & Village once the gas came back on at around 2 p.m. word quickly got around and the restaurant got busy again.

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Creep steals bag from 80-year-old woman in Stuy Town

ST buildings

Stuyvesant Town

By Sabina Mollot

Police are on the lookout for a man who snatched a bag from an 80-year-old woman in Stuyvesant Town on Monday.

At around 12:30 p.m., the woman was approached by the man on the sidewalk in front of 278 First Avenue. He asked her which way Fifth Avenue was and when she pointed in that direction, he grabbed her purse, which had been in a basket in her walker, and fled towards East 18th Street.

The thief got away with $400 in cash and various credit cards. The woman was unharmed.

The suspect is described as being white and six feet tall.

On Tuesday, police from the 13th Precinct stopped by the Stuyvesant Town Community Center to drop off some fliers listing safety tips like not hanging bags in walkers.

Paula Chirhart, a spokesperson for StuyTown property Services, said management has surveillance footage of the incident and has beefed up security in the area.

‘Jew man’ graffiti seen across from Stuy Town

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who took this photo, said this is the first time he's seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community.

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who took this photo, said this is the first time he’s seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community.

By Sabina Mollot

As local elected officials have pointed out, bias crimes are on the rise since the election nationwide.

The community has been seeing its fair share too. Yesterday, Council Member Dan Garodnick snapped a photo of anti-semitic graffiti across from Stuyvesant Town.

“Hate crimes spiking since the election,” Garodnick tweeted on Monday. “This graffiti now appears across from StuyTown & local synagogue (Town and Village). We can’t let this become the new normal.”

Garodnick later said he had never before seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community. He also said this was the only recent incident he was aware of.

The graffiti, above the Papaya hot dog storefront on First Avenue and 14th Street, depicts the spray painted words “Jew man” accompanied by crude drawings of smiley faces with side locks, which are worn by religious Jewish men. It was spray painted large enough to be easily seen from across the street.

The incident comes three weeks after State Senator Brad Hoylman saw two swastikas scratched into the door of the building where he lives in Greenwich Village.

Additionally, a Muslim Baruch College student was harassed on the train at 23rd Street last weekend by men who were trying to grab her hijab and yelling “Donald Trump” and anti-Muslim slurs, according to a Daily News report.

UPDATE: According to a Stuy Town resident, the graffiti didn’t happen post-election. The tipster told T&V she first spotted the spray-painted sentiment in the middle of October.

Police Watch: Men survive being pushed into subway tracks, College dorms vandalized with swastikas

TWO MEN PUSHED ONTO SUBWAY TRACKS IN SEPARATE INCIDENTS
Two men have survived being shoved onto subway tracks in separate incidents, within one week of each other. In both cases, the victims suffered only minor injuries.
In regards to one incident, police have arrested 25-year-old New Jersey resident Aaron Clary for allegedly pushing a 54-year-old man into the tracks at the West 18th Street/Seventh Avenue subway station. Police said on Sunday around 7:30 a.m., Clary pushed the man off the uptown platform while a 2 train was pulling into the station. Miraculously, when cops arrived, they found the victim underneath the subway car with a cut to his foot and a bruise on his head. The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital and police said that he was conscious and alert. Clary was arrested when he turned himself in and was charged with assault and attempted manslaughter
A 41-year-old man also suffered minor injuries after his girlfriend allegedly pushed him onto the tracks of the L train at the Union Square station after an argument last Monday at 6 a.m. The New York Daily News reported that the man initially told police that he’d fallen onto the tracks when the train pulled in the station. The train rolled directly over him, trapping him underneath it, but he only got a cut on his toe and a minor head injury. He was treated for his injuries at Bellevue Hospital and was released. No arrests have been made.

NEW SCHOOL DORMS VANDALIZED WITH SWASTIKAS AFTER ELECTION
A group of Jewish students at the New School found swastikas drawn on their dorm doors last Saturday, the Daily News reported. New School President David Van Zandt confirmed in an official statement that four dormitory doors were defaced and the administration was taking action to ensure students’ safety. The students affected said they were shocked that the anti-Semitic symbol showed up in such a “progressive city.”

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PCV doctor named president of Mount Sinai Downtown

Jeremy Boal, MD, is the new president of Mount Sinai Downtown, which includes Beth Israel and the Eye and Ear Infirmary. (Photo courtesy of Mount Sinai)

Jeremy Boal, MD, is the new president of Mount Sinai Downtown, which includes Beth Israel and the Eye and Ear Infirmary. (Photo courtesy of Mount Sinai)

By Sabina Mollot

On the heels of Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s president, Suzanne Somerville, stepping down, a Peter Cooper Village resident who began his career as a resident in the hospital network 25 years ago has been named the president of Mount Sinai Downtown. This includes the current and future Beth Israel as well as the Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Additionally, Jeremy Boal, MD, who currently serves as executive vice president and chief medical officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, is being promoted to executive vice president and chief clinical officer. Though the transition has already begun, the appointment having been announced internally last Wednesday, he won’t be fully assuming the new role until January, 2017. Prior to his current role, he served as chief medical officer at North Shore LIJ (now Northwell Health).

Earlier this week, Boal spoke with Town & Village about community concerns such as potential loss of services from the neighborhood, the status of the medical giant’s real estate and the enhanced offerings that have been promised to patients at the future, much smaller hospital building adjacent to Eye and Ear.

Since 2003, Boal has been a resident of Peter Cooper where he lives with his family, which includes two daughters, one 13, the other 16.

The interview, edited for length, is below.

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Robber targeting women at businesses near ST/PCV and in Kips Bay

oct27-robber-targeting-woman

Robbery suspect

Police are hunting a robber who preyed on four women at different businesses near Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village and in Kips Bay. In one of the cases, a victim was bashed over the head with a stapler.

The most recent incident was on Monday at around 11 a.m. when the robber went behind the counter of Nature’s First Pharmacy at 313 First Avenue and told a 21-year-old female employee that he had a knife. When a customer approached them, the man announced that he would shoot everyone. The employee then opened the cash register and the robber snatched $200 in cash and ran.

The string of robberies began last Wednesday morning when the same man went to Kips Bay Cleaners at 231 East 34th Street and demanded money from a 44-year-old female employee. When the victim refused to comply, the suspect hit her on the head with a stapler, before stealing $110 from the cash register. He then fled in an unknown direction.

The next day at around 8:20 a.m., he went to Health Source Pharmacy at 120 East 34th Street and demanded cash from a 36-year-old female employee. He then went behind the counter and pulled out a knife. The employee opened the register and the robber swiped the cash inside before running off.

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Former Kips Bay shelter resident gets 20 years to life for raping woman in bar

oct13-rodney-stover

Rodney Stover

The ex-con who raped a woman in the bathroom of a bar on East 27th Street last year, a crime that led the city to boot all the sex offenders from the 30th Street shelter, was sentenced to 20 years to life on Thursday.

Rodney Stover, 49, will do his time in a state prison for the April 2015 incident, after pleading guilty to three counts of predatory sexual assault. Stover had previously been convicted of rape in 1993 in Suffolk County.

Stover, who was staying at the Kips Bay men’s shelter last April, had hidden in the bathroom of the Turnmill bar, where he attacked the 23-year-old victim. As she tried to leave the bathroom, he grabbed her by the neck and forced her into a back stall while covering her mouth. Then he threatened her and raped her.

Four days later, Stover walked past the bar when an employee recognized him and called cops, who arrested him. Soon after that, the city moved all sex offenders out of the shelter, which is located at Bellevue Hospital’s Old Psych building.

“Rodney Stover lay in wait in a basement bathroom before attacking a young woman as she left the adjacent stall,” said District Attorney Cy Vance. “This brutal sex assault took place merely two months after the defendant was released from prison for a previous rape conviction. Thanks to the strength of this survivor, as well as the work of my Office’s prosecutors and the NYPD, this predator is no longer free to commit crimes against other women.”

 

Artist looking for ST residents to interview for art/history project

Walis Johnson, a filmmaker, artist and teacher at Parsons School of Design, is looking to interview residents of Stuyvesant Town who have lived in the neighborhood for 30 years or longer. The conversations will aid in her production of “The Red Line Archive,” a mobile art piece aimed at igniting public dialogue about the political, social and personal impacts of the 1938 Red Line Maps. The project will be part of the Art in Odd Places festival that takes place every October along the length of 14th Street.

Redlining refers to a federal map officially drawn in 1935 that selectively denied financing for housing mortgages, insurance and other services in neighborhoods demarcated by red shading on a map. Redlined neighborhoods became zones of disinvestment and urban neglect where services (both financial and human) were systematically denied to people of color and ethnic working class citizens.

For this years’ AiOP festival, themed “Race,” Johnson is working with photographer Murray Cox and NYU professor Aimee vonBokel to add information to the site specific exhibition about the area of 14th Street from First Avenue to Avenue C.

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Carb Tease: Ess-a-Bagel says re-opening is next week

Sept8 Ess-A-Bagel bagels

Toasty (not toasted) Ess-a-Bagels (Photo by Danny Chin)

By Sabina Mollot

On Thursday, Ess-a-Bagel announced via Facebook that the long delayed store opening in Stuyvesant Town would be some time early next week.

“Will post the exact date over the weekend. Happy Labor Day and look forward to seeing you all next week!!” read a post.

Owner David Wilpon didn’t return a call for comment but said previously that the delay in opening had to do with numerous permits.

Ess-a-Bagel at 324 First Avenue was originally supposed to open in February, nearly a year after the company lost its lease across the street to Tal Bagels.

Since then three permits have been approved by the city for work related to the new store’s renovation, for signage, sprinklers and floors.

By Wednesday, Town & Village reader Danny Chin alerted us that good news was in the air.

“I was lucky enough to get a photo of the 1st test batch of bagels from the new Ess-a-Bagel,” he said. “They were testing out their new oven as I was walking by this afternoon. The bagel was nicely blistered and crispy.”

Whole Health holds dog adoption event

Guests at the adoption event (Photos by Maya Rader)

Guests at the adoption event (Photos by Maya Rader)

By Maya Rader

Whole Health Veterinary Hospital usually isn’t open on Sundays, but on Sunday, July 24, it unlocked its doors from 1-4 p.m. for a dog adoption event.

The event at the First Avenue health clinic was facilitated by Waggytail Rescue, an organization that finds homes for dogs (and occasionally cats) in need.

Throughout the day, people came to the clinic to visit the rescued dogs available for adoption. If someone wanted to adopt, they filled out an application and then left for a couple hours to think about their decision. If adopting seemed like too big of a commitment, they also had the option of fostering instead.

One person who became a foster parent at the event was David Chambers, who explained, “I can’t have a dog because I work too much.” Another fosterer, Yasmin Fodil, explained, “I wanted to adopt a dog and thought (fostering) was a good first step.”

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Man arrested for groping woman across from PCV

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested a man for groping a woman across the street from Peter Cooper Village over the weekend.

The woman was walking north on the west side of First Avenue near East 20th Street with her boyfriend last Sunday at 2:50 a.m. when they crossed paths with 36-year-old Michael McDonald. McDonald allegedly grabbed the victim’s breast and fled north on First Avenue.

Police said that the victim went back to her apartment while her boyfriend flagged down a nearby police officer as he was following McDonald on First Avenue. Police detained McDonald at the corner of First Avenue and East 23rd Street. The victim returned to the street and positively identified McDonald as the man who allegedly groped her.

McDonald was charged with forcible touching and sexual abuse.

His lawyer did not want to comment on the case.

Service roads and islands around Stuyvesant Town getting $200G renovation

The project is aimed at making the streets easier to manage for disabled pedestrians as well as anyone pushing a stroller. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The project is aimed at making the streets easier to manage for disabled pedestrians as well as anyone pushing a stroller. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The streets surrounding Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village are getting a $200,000 facelift.

The project, which is being paid for with funds allocated by Council Member Dan Garodnick, isn’t just cosmetic, however.

Service roads around the property from 14th to 23rd Streets will be repaved as will any curb cuts in need of smoothing, and the medians or islands on 14th Street, 20th Street and First Avenue will be repaved to make them wider for wheelchair users. Some, though not all of the cobblestones along with islands will be removed in order to do this. Currently, obstructions for anyone in a wheelchair user include signs and bus stops. Additionally, any cracks along the medians will be filled.

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