Police Watch: Man accused of punching woman during robbery, Woman allegedly assaulted theater employees

MAN ACCUSED OF PUNCHING WOMAN DURING CVS ROBBERY
Police arrested 27-year-old Sean Wagner and 22-year-old Nicholas Caballero for an alleged robbery inside the CVS at 245 First Avenue on Wednesday, March 27 around 11 p.m. Police said that Wagner and Caballero, along with another person who wasn’t arrested, went into the store and took merchandise off the shelves and tried to leave without paying. An employee said that she told them to stop and was going to take a photo of them when Wagner allegedly punched her in the face, causing redness and pain. The suspects fled the store, but Wagner was caught shortly after the incident in front of 7 East 14th Street on Thursday, March 28 at 12:16 a.m. Caballero was arrested inside the 13th Precinct on Monday, April 1 at 4 p.m. Wagner was charged with robbery and possession of stolen property. Caballero was charged with petit larceny.

WOMEN ALLEGEDLY ASSAULTED MOVIE THEATER EMPLOYEES
Police arrested 22-year-old Treasure Liggins, 24-year-old Brianna Jones and 23-year-old Tyhamrra Newman for an alleged fight that took place inside the AMC movie theater at 890 Broadway on Monday, March 25 around 12:40 a.m. Police said that Liggins hit the manager of the theater in the eye and Jones allegedly punched the victim, punching another employee at the theater and a security guard in the face, causing swelling and pain to the three victims. Newman reportedly sprayed the theater manager, an employee of the theater and a security guard at the theater with pepper spray, causing substantial pain. Jones and Newman were arrested inside the 13th precinct at 2 a.m. No further information was available about what started the dispute.

MAN ACCUSED OF ASSAULT AT POST OFFICE
Police arrested 58-year-old George Greenslade for an alleged assault that took place inside the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office at 335 East 14th Street on Thursday, March 28 at 4 p.m. The victim told police that he was standing in line when Greenslade allegedly shoved him after cutting him in line. The victim said that Greenslade completed his transaction and waited outside the Post Office for the victim.

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Teen mugged on East 14th Street

Robbery suspects

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are on the lookout for two people who mugged a 19-year-old as he walked past the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office on December 21.

The victim was headed to get a slice of pizza at around 5:20 p.m. when the two suspects, male and female, approached him in front of 335 East 14th Street and asked him for the time.

When the victim pulled out his iPhone to check, they pointed an unknown object into his back and demanded his belongings. The victim complied, dropping his phone and bookbag, which the muggers snatched before fleeing west on East 14th Street.

The male suspect is black and was wearing a blue jacket, hoodie, blue jeans, black and white sneakers and a black skullcap. The female suspect is black and was wearing white sneakers, blue jeans, and a camouflage and black hooded jacket.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call 1-800-555-TIPS (8477). All calls will be kept confidential.

This article has been updated to include descriptions of the suspects.

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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14th St. developer grilled on height request

Commissioners of the Board of Standards and Appeals, including (from left to right) Chair Margery Perlmutter, Susan Hinkson and Eileen Montanez Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Commissioners of the Board of Standards and Appeals, including (from left to right) Chair Margery Perlmutter, Susan Hinkson and Eileen Montanez (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Board of Standards and Appeals accused developers of getting ahead of themselves in a rush to get a new apartment building started before the deadline for a lucrative tax break in the project at the old Peter Stuyvesant Post Office on East 14th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A.

BSA chair Margery Perlmutter said in a hearing this past Tuesday that Benenson Capital Partners and Mack Real Estate Group (MREG) “went ahead and, at enormous expense, installed foundation slabs even though their project wasn’t necessarily viable.”

The developers’ attorney John Egnatios-Beene, of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, argued at the hearing that the extra cost for building out the foundation was partially due to the construction of a full basement and the difficulties that resulted in building it due to the ground conditions. This rationale was given in addition to the developer’s previous argument that additional apartments were needed to make the project economically viable due to apartments that would be rented below market rate because of the building’s participation in the 421a affordable housing program.

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Developer of old Peter Stuyvesant Post Office still hopes to build higher

Former Post Office space (pictured last January) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Former Post Office space (pictured last January) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The developer of a planned residential building at the site of the old Peter Stuyvesant Post Office is still hoping to add an additional four stories to what was originally supposed to be an eight-story structure.

Benenson Capital Partners, whose request for a required zoning variance to do this was shot down in July by a committee of Community Board 3, will next be heading to the Board of Standards and Appeals.

While the community board’s unanimous vote in opposition to the variance was just advisory, a decision made by the BSA would be official.

The developer had previously argued that an additional few floors was necessary to make the project economically viable, due to costs related to underground water conditions at the site.

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CB3 denies request to build higher at old Post Office site

The former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A Community Board 3 committee recently shot down a developer’s request to build higher than zoning allows at the site of the former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office on East 14th Street. The board’s Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing Committee last Wednesday unanimously voted against the zoning variance for a 12-story building. City zoning laws allow the developer to build up to eight stories at the site.

Representatives for Benenson Capital Partners, which is working on the development at the site, 432-438 East 14th Street, previously asked the committee for the variance in June. The company argued that construction costs related to the groundwater conditions made complying with affordable housing unfeasible unless the development could be built larger, the blog EVGrieve reported at the time. With the proposed change in height, the building would have 31 units of affordable housing and a total of 155 units. CB3 had asked the reps to return after the June meeting after looking into alternatives to increasing the building height.

A number of community groups spoke against the plan last week to make the development between First Avenue and Avenue A higher, including the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), the North Avenue A Neighborhood Association, the 12th Street Block Association and the 13th Street Block Association, as well as residents of East 13th Street.
Harry Bubbins, who works with GVSHP as the East Village and special projects director, gave testimony against granting the variance because he felt it was “out of context” with the other buildings in the area.

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Letters to the Editor: Feb. 18

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

An election closer to home

Forget Donald. Forget Hillary. Forget Bernie. Forget Ted and Marco.  The election that counts is coming this spring.  It’s the election of members of the Board of Directors of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association. Like the run for the US Presidency, this is not for sissies.

Members of the board serve all residents in a variety of ways. They negotiate with management on quality of life and other community issues. They, together with the Tenants Association’s attorney, handle appeals of Major Capital Improvements (MCIs) and other rent and lease issues with the Department of Housing and Community Renewal. They work with other tenant organizations in lobbying Albany and City Hall for fair rent laws and practices. They communicate with community residents via printed notices, a website, Facebook, Twitter and a phone-and-email Message Center.

“They” are the members of the Tenants Association’s Board of Directors, elected by Association members for rotating unpaid four-year terms. Although their names appear on the TA’s letterhead and many of its communications, you might like to know what special expertise they bring to our organization, which works on behalf of all Stuy Town and Peter Cooper residents.

The Board includes the hands-on vice president of a New York City construction firm; an urban planner with 20 years of experience in real estate development, property management and city government; a technology director of a major hospital; a marketing director; a special education teacher on child-rearing leave; a retired writer, editor and public relations professional; a writer and book editor.

Several members have been community activists for years; two serve on Community Board 6.  Four members are attorneys, in diverse fields of law, one with a practice focusing on estate and commercial matters, another is a supervisor in the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Practice. A third is the retired partner and chairman of the litigation department of a leading law firm, and the fourth is in the office of Mayor De Blasio as a senior health policy advisor and attorney.

Each spring, the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association holds an election for its Board of Directors.

Being a member of the board means working to solve a problem when the solution is bound to leave at least some residents unhappy. It means hours of work with no compensation.

But current and past members of the board report that their time and effort pay off in other ways because being a member of the board of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association is a commitment to the continued protection and preservation of a unique experiment in urban living.

Susan Steinberg,
President,
Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association 

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Stuyvesant Post Office: Progress being made

Rendering of residential building to be built at 432 East 14th Street

Rendering of residential building to be built at 432 East 14th Street

By Sabina Mollot

Construction will soon start on the eight-story, 114-apartment building that’s planned for the space that once housed the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office.

Additionally, according to the developer, Benenson Capital Partners, construction will end in late 2016 or early 2017 and the building will be 80/20 (market rent vs. affordable housing, respectively). The information was recently published on the owner’s website, which EVGrieve first reported.

The local blog also published a rendering for the project, the first one to be seen publically, which depicts the East 13th Street side of the property, with the ground floor façade covered, trellis-like, in what appear to be plantings.

In related news, on December 18, 2015, the Department of Buildings approved an application for a sub-division of the property’s existing tax lots to three new condominium subdivisions. One was for a commercial unit, the other two residential.

What this means, a spokesperson for the DOB explained, is that the lot is broken into three properties, which is done for certain tax purposes within the Department of Finance. The spokesperson said he couldn’t say whether this meant there would be condos in the traditional sense (owned units as opposed to rental).

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Letters to the Editor, Apr. 30

Apr9 Toon Cyclone

Why was mail dumped in wrong building?

Today, Saturday, April 25, dozens (literally dozens) of pieces of mail addressed to tenants of 435 East 14th Street were dumped in the lobby of 445 East 14th Street. Most of the mail was rent bills.

I took all of it over to the lobby of 435, though I didn’t take all the magazines because I was running late for an appointment and there were a lot of magazines, too!

Anybody at 435 should regularly check the lobby of 445 because we get their mail quite frequently, though not usually as much as today.

Obviously, it was not our regular letter carrier working today because she is very careful. I wonder why the Postal Service is going down the toilet?

Maybe it’s time that PCVST set up some way of electronic rent payment (if it doesn’t already) because I’m sure this is not an isolated incident and some tenants may be late with their rent because the Postal Service (if you can call it “service”) is so bad around here.

Frances Clarke, ST

Town & Village called the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office three times on Monday and again on Wednesday to ask about this but the phone wasn’t picked up any of those times. An employee at a window said he’d heard about it and thought someone had forgotten to lock the mailboxes. An official spokesperson for the USPS didn’t respond to an email from T&V requesting a comment. A rep for CWCapital said it was a USPS issue and referred any questions to the aforemenioned agency. T&V also contacted Congress Member Carolyn Maloney whose case worker for postal issues, Sarah Belleas, asked that tenants who experience any mail problems contact her at sarah.belleas@mail.house.gov.

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Old Peter Stuyvesant Post Office to become 8-story apartment building

The current Peter Stuyvesant Post Office, which will be relocated to another space on East 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The now closed Peter Stuyvesant Post Office on East 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The plans for the soon-to-be demolished former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office have been revealed — it, along with a now vacant shop next store, are to become an eight-story apartment building with 114 apartments.

The plans were announced by Benenson Capital Partners (Benenson) and Mack Real Estate Group (MREG) who are partnering on the development of the property, which will also have 15,400 square feet of ground floor retail.

Benenson has owned the property at 432 East 14th Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A, since the 1940s, and recently filed demolition plans. The post office closed almost a year ago and has since moved into a smaller space a block west.

The new building, across the street from Stuyvesant Town, will be designed by Robert Laudenschlager of SLCE Architects.

“We are delighted to work with Mack Real Estate Group on this exciting new project, which we believe will maximize the long-term value of a property that has been part of our portfolio for many years,” said Richard A. Kessler, Chief Operating Officer of Benenson, in an official statement. “The Macks share our multi-generational investment philosophy, and we look forward to creating an outstanding building by combining our expertise.”

In a press release, the partners touted the location as a prime spot due to its proximity to the L train connecting the trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bushwick and Williamsburg to the East Village.

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Not so special delivery on company name change

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, when residents get mail that looks like it came from the legal department of the owner, their response isn’t generally one of enthusisasm. So last week, when residents received notices that they’d been sent certified letters from CWCapital, some were worried about what this meant.

Francine Silberstein, who was among those worried, recalled the mood at the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office when everyone standing on line was from Stuyvesant Town.

“One old lady was saying, ‘They’re going to try to get us out,’” recalled Silberstein of her visit to the post office last Monday. Silberstein, too, was a little worried. “Our lease was just renewed. Are they taking it back?”

But in actuality, the reason for the mailings was far less terrifying. The letters were, in fact, just notices that ST/PCV tenants would need to mail their rent checks to a new ownership entity. For Stuyvesant Town, it would be ST-DIL LLC instead of the old company name, ST PC Owner LP, and for Peter Cooper tenants, checks would need to be made out to PCVS-DIL LLC rather than PCV ST Owner LP.

But after learning this, the tenants on line had another gripe. Specifically… they’d just waited on line at the post office for over 30 minutes to be told that? Silberstein noted how the change in ownership names was mentioned in a prior mailing. “So they already told us.”

Meanwhile, some tenants, herself included, didn’t even learn about this during the post office visit because, after reaching the teller window, they learned the letters weren’t even there. So the next day, said Silberstein, her husband went to the post office, but he too left empty-handed. “He said they couldn’t find anything.” He made a third visit later in the day, but the letter still wasn’t there. Finally, he returned to the post office a few days later and got the notice, after a relatively brief 15-minute wait. “It was a waste of money and it was a waste of a lot of people’s time,” said Silberstein.

Oddly, other tenants, like Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg, got the certified letter in their mailboxes. Steinberg however was left wondering about the cost of mailings being sent to all ST/PCV’s apartments. “At about $3.35 a letter, that’s nearly $38,000!” said Steinberg.

A spokesperson for CW, Brian Moriarty, would only comment to say that the certified mail “is a USPS issue.”

Letters to the Editor, June 26

Union Square playground isn’t for everyone

Re: Former Council Member Carol Greitzer’s letter, “No place to play for the disabled,” T&V, June 19

Ms. Greitzer is on to something about the lack of facilities in Union Square Park’s playground of children with disabilities. In fact, there are no facilities or space in the park for people with disabilities, seniors or teenagers. Nor is there appropriate play equipment for every child in the playground.

Since 2004, all planning for the playground and pavilion (at final cost of $20M dollars) merely privileged arrangements for a commercial restaurant in the pavilion disregarding needs of residents, young and old. Yet, Union Square Community Coalition’s (USCC) ten-year campaign and litigations helped to achieve a maximum-size playground (15,000 square feet — double the original plan of only 8,000 square feet). But our hard-fought efforts to reclaim the pavilion for its traditional use by the community were ignored in favor of a seasonal restaurant.

USCC recognizes the unequal access to park facilities suffered by certain residents. Now it’s time for the mayor to justify the taxpayers’ enormous investment in our pavilion as a public good. He has the power to act to ensure free access to and use of the pavilion as a year-round community center with programs and activities for our under-served teenagers, seniors and people with disabilities. Attention must be paid to their needs. They cannot continue to be deprived of public space in their park.

Eadie Shanker,
Union Square Community Coalition member

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Letters to the editor, May 8

Landmarking won’t help T&V Synagogue

The following is an open letter given as testimony regarding the possible landmarking of the Town & Village Synagogue. (It has been edited for length.)

Dear Commissioners and Landmarks Preservation Staff:

As a member of the Town & Village Synagogue and as a longtime resident of the community in which the Synagogue is located, I strongly oppose landmark designation of our building.

I have been a member of the synagogue for the past 21 years and a resident of this community since 1980. The T&V Synagogue has been an important part of my life, and the life of my wife and family. Our children attended its innovative Hebrew School for many years and we as a family have attended services at T&V regularly for more than two decades. It is a spiritual home and a community home for all of us. We are not a wealthy congregation but a very engaged, active community.

Throughout the period in which we have been members of the T&V community, our building has been a problem without solution. Our physical space has been a great challenge to us and has placed great limitations on the number and kinds of activities and programs that we can have at any one time. Even without the threat of landmarking, making our building safe, accessible and adaptable to our needs has proved to be beyond our means. Moreover, the space, laid out almost 150 years ago, poses tremendous safety risks to our congregation. During regular Saturday services, our sanctuary usually has approximately 125 people in attendance, many of them elderly and dependent on canes, walkers and wheelchairs. Despite years of efforts to solve the emergency egress problems that are posed by the dangerous stairways and limited exits, our congregation has not been able to come up with a viable plan to rectify this dangerous situation. This situation is even more dire on the high holidays, when the sanctuary is jammed with more than 400 people. I have served on several committees over the years tasked with finding a solution to these dire problems.

Despite our best efforts and consultations with several professionals, we have been unable to come up with a practical and affordable solution to making this antiquated building safe.  In addition, the lack of an elevator makes access to the sanctuary difficult or impossible for people with disabilities, which is only partially rectified by the presence of a chair lift on one of the stairwells, which when working, makes entry and egress for both the disabled and those who otherwise use that stairway slow and difficult.

We also take issue with the alleged basis for landmarking our building. We believe that our building has minimal architectural value, and the historical value of it having been a house of worship for many generations is simply misplaced. The congregations that occupied our building before us left for more suitable locations, and we as a congregation should be free to do so also. In fact, it is not this undistinguished building that is of historical value to the community, but the vital continuation of the traditions of worship and community service that can best be served by allowing our congregation to maximize the benefits of a new or radically redesigned building.

We are lucky to be serving new constituencies as our community grows and changes, but the financial constraints of a landmarking designation for our building will be a hardship to us.

I have consistently supported landmarking of major architectural and cultural buildings. However, blanket landmarking of whole neighborhoods (or individual buildings) with little architectural import makes a mockery of the substantial benefit that underlies the landmarking law. If T&V is to be landmarked (to which I vehemently object), I repeat and renew the request to exclude from landmark designation the separate back building that is not visible from East 14th Street or First and Second Avenues.

Thank you for your consideration.

Henry Condell, PCV

 

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Letters to the editor, May 1

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Please, kind landscaper, spare these tree branches

To the Editor:

Once upon a time, not long ago, at the M level of 271 Avenue C, there were some three dozen thriving stem rose plants and maybe some four or five dozen gorgeous yellow day-flowering plants. That was, as I wrote, once upon a time — before someone, with authority, of course, ordered that they all be ripped up and replaced with what I can only describe as junk grass clumps — that as of today, April 24, show no sign of life. Hence, what we have now is a rather sickly looking gray patch where for years we had spring beauty.

Further congratulations should be handed out to the contracted scientific-tree-care company, which seems to be just fulfilling the terms of its contract by pruning beautiful live branches with lots of nice green leaves. They were stark white at both ends — no browning, no rotting, no holes, just clear clean wood.

This gets done right out in the open with neither oversight from management nor objection from security.  No “what the %&#@$% are you guys doing destroying perfectly good limbs!”

When I asked an officer about that practice, I was told, “They are experts.” Ok, so the officer was just doing his employer’s assigned work. Got it! And the folks sitting in the sun basking? Well, they were just basking. Got that too!

Just irrational me photographing and barking and utterly ignored.

John M. Giannone, ST

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