Portraits of LGBTQ icons pop up in Stuy Town

A mural on the 20th Street Loop depicts artist Frida Kahlo and performer Josephine Baker. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In celebration of Pride Month, portraits of LGBTQ pioneers and celebrities have popped up in Stuyvesant Town, painted right onto outdoor staircases.

The larger than life faces in black and white, framed by rainbow backgrounds, include those of Freddie Mercury, Frida Kahlo, Josephine Baker and David Bowie, among others.

The artist is John Cuevas, a California resident who specializes in bright, colorful murals, and worked from Friday to late Saturday. Following a rain-soaked Sunday, some of the paint had peeled in spots, though those depicted in the murals remained recognizable.

On Monday morning, a few residents who were out and about near where the portraits were, around the loop roads, told Town & Village they were enjoying the art. The project was sponsored by Stuyvesant Town management and will remain on view through June.

Longtime resident Andy Ward, while out walking his dog Rexie on the 20th Street Loop, at first was concerned the art might be something promotional. But when told the promotion was for Pride Month, he changed his mind.

“I like good causes,” Ward said.  While gesturing to the painting nearest to his feet, he added, “Who doesn’t like art? They didn’t have names at first but I could tell this one was Freddie Mercury.”

Also walking by that portrait at the time was Paul Sachs, who called the artwork “beautiful.”

He added, “It’s nice to see Stuy Town support Gay Pride Month, you know? I’m a native New Yorker, so I support everybody as long as they’re doing good.”

Near the community center, another staircase mural depicted David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust phase and the late astronaut Sally Ride.

A mural near the Stuyvesant Town community center depicts the late musician David Bowie and astronaut Sally Ride.

Of all the murals, Bowie’s seemed to have weathered Sunday night’s rainstorm the worst, with a large gash-like tear in his cheek due to the peeling paint.

Upon noticing this, Bowie fan Nancy Fischer said she hoped it could be restored.

“That didn’t last very long,” she observed, adding that she had enjoyed watching the artist at work, alongside a couple of neighbors who were seniors, a couple of days earlier.

“They were very receptive,” she recalled, which surprised her at the time. “Because a lot of people don’t like change.”

She added, “I would say that it is a very cool addition to the community. I just wish it could be more lasting.” Contemplating the portrait of Bowie again, Fischer said, “I’d still make out with him.”

Reached on the phone on Monday, Cuevas said the project came about after he was contacted by Stuy Town’s director of lifestyle services Robert Vasquez to do some outdoor art. It was Cuevas’ idea to do portraits and suggested possible subjects, all of whom got management’s approval.

A total of 10 portraits now appear on five different staircases. Along with the aforementioned names, others who were painted were mathematician and computing pioneer Alan Turing, stonewall activists and drag queens Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, novelist and activist James Baldwin and Eleanor Roosevelt, who some believe was a lesbian.

“I was stoked, because it was New York City Pride,” said Cuevas.

Another mural on the 20th Street Loop depicts singer Freddie Mercury and mathematician Alan Turing.

Since the portraits were intended to be temporary, they were wheatpasted onto the ground, with Cuevas noting that this technique has become synonymous with New York street art and has since spread to other cities and countries.

“It’s an amazing art form. What I really like is it’s non-toxic and removable,” he said.

While the wheatpasting process was somewhat new to Cuevas, he is no stranger to outdoor art. Immediately upon his return from Manhattan he got back to work on mural of a realistic-looking serpent emerging from a wall in La Quinta, California.

As for the Stuy Town art, Cuevas, who identifies as bisexual, said while he was working, he was overwhelmed with the amount of supportive feedback he got.

“Just the spirit of the community here, it was a lot of sharing,” said Cuevas. “Pride can be a difficult time for people who have a lifestyle that is not necessarily mainstream. I heard a lot of people’s stories about their brothers or themselves. It’s nice to feel that your community around you supports you.”

He recalled how residents he spoke with seemed surprised to learn that the owner had commissioned the Pride-themed project.

“I asked what had happened in the past, and they said, ‘Not this.’ I said, ‘That’s great.’ I look forward to doing more projects there.”

Stuyvesant Town General Manager Rick Hayduk told T&V the Pride project was “simply recognition of our concept of community and unity,” not unlike concerts on the Oval or the recently announced chips-and-salsa gatherings for neighbors.

“Pride Month was something we haven’t participated in and we felt it was time,” he said. Since Cuevas began work, Hayduk said the feedback has been unanimously positive. Even a resident who early on in the process called Hayduk to report what looked like someone making graffiti called back when Cuevas was finished to say it looked great.

As for the pieces of the portraits that have been torn away due to immediately being rained on, not to mention walked on, Hayduk said he was looking into seeing if Cuevas could return to touch them up. Especially since rainstorms aren’t exactly isolated incidents this time of year.

“It’s June in New York. We have 27 more days to go,” said Hayduk.

Cuevas, meanwhile, said he doesn’t mind the effect of the rain, having seen photos of the installation people tagged him in on social media. “There are sporadic drips of color that bathe the portraits,” he said. “The rainbow grime gives it new meaning.”

In related news, the first ever Stuyvesant Town Pride parade for residents and employees has been scheduled for Thursday, June 20. According to the property’s official website, the event will take place at 6 p.m. on First Avenue between 18th and 20th Streets and continue to the Oval for activities and performances.

Like the murals, Hayduk said it’s about building community. “One of our primary jobs is bringing people together,” he said.

 

Update: This article has been updated to reflect a change in time for the parade.

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New ice cream truck to serve up scoops in ST/PCV

Peter Coops Scoops

How sweet it is. The new ice cream truck in town will be operated by Mikey Likes it. (Photos by Thomas Rochford)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town residents who were out and about on the First Avenue Loop on Friday afternoon may have seen the newest vehicle to enter management’s fleet, only this time it’s not a security SUV or contractor club car, but an ice cream truck.

The baby blue and white van, which was parked on the side of the road, has the words, “Peter Coop’s Scoops” and the Peter Cooper logo on its side.

Asked about this, Stuyvesant Town general manager Rick Hayduk said that is really an ice cream truck and it will be open for business in Peter Cooper and Stuy Town (where legally allowed to operate), on June 19. It may also, where allowed, Hayduk stressed, pop up at public events in the city, and it will also appear at another Blackstone-owned property, Kips Bay Court.

The truck is part of Stuy Town Property Services’ recently announced re-branding efforts such as the new, minimalist property logos and last year’s apartment-in-a-box van that drove around the city. It’s being operated independently by Mikey Likes It, an ice cream shop owned by a Stuyvesant Town resident, Michael Cole. The business has a location in the East Village on Avenue A as well as on Fredrick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem. In exchange for having the ST/PCV wrap as a form of advertising for the property, management gave Mikey Likes It the truck to use.

“We’re not in the ice cream business,” Hayduk clarified.

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Powers concerned about Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town being marketed separately

Apr18 Leasing office 2 closeup

A new leasing office is under construction in Peter Cooper Village. (Photo by Thomas Rochford)

By Sabina Mollot

In response to the latest branding efforts by StuyTown Property Services, which have included new logos for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village and a new leasing office now being built in Peter Cooper, some residents have been worried this was an attempt to treat the two complexes differently.

Council Member Keith Powers, who said he’d been hearing from neighbors on this issue, sent a letter to ST/PCV general manager Hayduk last Wednesday, asking him to clarify that the branding wouldn’t mean Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village would no longer have access to the same amenities.

Powers also asked if apartments in both complexes would still be available through the lottery system for reduced rents. He also wanted to know if all the marketing would mean existing tenants should now expect diminished benefits and if management planned to reduce staff levels at either complex. Powers also had a question on apartment finishes, asking if Stuyvesant Town apartments would end up looking different from those in Peter Cooper.

“As a lifelong resident who has lived in both Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, I am concerned that current plans are to put the two properties on a separate path in the short-term and long-term,” Powers wrote.

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Reviews mixed on wine and beer for Five Stuy Cafe

Stuyvesant Town management said cafe staffers would undergo training to prevent customers from being overserved. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town residents expressed concern at a town hall last Wednesday about the possibility of increased noise and rowdiness if beer and wine were to be served at Five Stuy Cafe, while some others voiced their support for a license.

ST/PCV general manager Rick Hayduk, café operator Frank Traina and on-site manager Murat Alpay offered information at the town hall about the addition of beer and beer and wine to the menu, and some in attendance took issue with Hayduk and Traina’s assessment that the proposal had “overwhelming support” from residents.

“It’s very hard to create community but it’s very easy to destroy it,” one resident said. “Your position would be much stronger not just by asking people who frequent the cafe but everyone in Stuyvesant Town. The general statement about the ‘overwhelming demand’ just sounds like advertising copy. It doesn’t sound very convincing.”

Hayduk said that management would be willing to put together a survey in the days following the town hall that could be emailed to residents to get their feedback.

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(Updated) Parking will be suspended on E. 20th during bike lane painting (and a film shoot)

The recently reconfigured 20th Street. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Update: Wednesday at 9 a.m.: In addition to painting work, there will also be a film shoot taking place on East 20th Street.

In an e-blast to residents on Tuesday evening, StuyTown Property Services said, “The City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment has posted notices today on East 20th Street asking that all cars parked between 1st Avenue and Avenue C be moved by tomorrow, April 10th at 6pm. Per these postings, any questions should be directed to the location scout: Gayle, reachable at 347.762.4009.”

By Sabina Mollot

Due to a bike lane painting project happening later this week on East 20th Street, parking will be temporarily suspended along the street.

The announcement was first made via an email blast from StuyTown Property Services on Monday evening after management was made aware of the project.

“We do not have an exact date yet but are expecting the work to be started later this week,” general manager Rick Hayduk said in the email. “Signage is being posted along 20th, please make sure to follow all directions so that no cars are towed. More updates will follow as we have them.”

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5 Stuy Cafe reapplies for wine, beer license

By Sabina Mollot

To drink or not to drink — that is the question surrounding Stuyvesant Town’s 5 Stuy Café, which recently reapplied for a wine and beer license.

As Town & Village reported last month, the café filed an application but then swiftly withdrew it after management asked its operators for time to review the proposal.

Since then, the café, with management’s blessing, has reapplied for a license to serve wine and beer and there will be a town hall on the subject for residents on Wednesday, April 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Center, 449 East 14th Street. The application will also go before Community Board 6’s Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee (which has an advisory role) at a meeting on April 25.

StuyTown Property Services announced the upcoming town hall in its weekly e-blast to tenants.

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Wildlife feeding bans coming soon to Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village and city parks

By this summer, there’ll be no such thing as a free lunch for squirrels and birds at city parks, even sooner in Stuyvesant Town Peter Cooper Village, at least not from a human benefactor. (Pictured) A squirrel noshes on a park goer’s leftovers at Madison Square Park. (Photo by Madison Square Park Conservancy)

By Sabina Mollot

Animal lovers who enjoy feeding the squirrels and birds in this city should do so quickly, because soon it won’t be allowed in the places where the aforementioned animals congregate.

As of April 1, it will be against the rules to feed the wildlife in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. Additionally, the city’s mulling of a plan for a full wildlife feeding ban in parks has gained steam, with a spokesperson telling Town & Village it’s expected to go into place this summer.

As for the Stuy Town policy, this new rule comes after management conducted a resident survey on the subject (as well as dog-related policies for pet owners) last summer. Then, last Thursday, StuyTown Property Services made sure to remind tenants of the soon to come ban in its weekly e-blast, and the reason for it.

This was “due to several incidents involving resident children being bitten by squirrels.”

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Updated: 5 Stuy Café applies for wine and beer license (application withdrawn)

dec1-5-stuy-cafe

5 Stuy Cafe (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Update at 12:15 p.m.: Cooper Cafe has withdrawn its application and will not be at Community Board 6’s Thursday meeting, CB6 has told us.

By Sabina Mollot

The operators of 5 Stuy Café have applied for a wine, beer and cider license and the application will be among one of several to be discussed at a Community Board 6 meeting on Thursday evening.

Liquor and beer and wine licenses are granted or denied by the State Liquor Authority, but community boards have an advisory role.

The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association mentioned the upcoming meeting in an email blast to tenants on Monday evening. It will be held by the CB6 Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee on Thursday, February 28 at 7 p.m. at the board office at 211 East 43rd Street, Suite 1404.

Meanwhile, Stuy Town general manager Rick Hayduk told Town & Village that after learning about the application, he would be requesting that it be withdrawn until the details are vetted by StuyTown Property Services. The café is run by a third-party operator called Cooper Café LLC.

Susan Steinberg, the president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, said the association has not taken a position on alcohol being served at the café.

“We acknowledge the many tenants who have requested the option of having a glass of beer or wine with their food,” said Steinberg. “We also acknowledge the many tenants who are concerned about the possible consequences (increased noise and commotion) that might arise as a result of the wine and beer license. An applicant who comes before the Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee of Community Board 6 will need to assure Board 6 and the public of their procedures to contain noise and nuisance. (Disclosure: I am Vice Chair of that committee; I can ask questions but will have to abstain from voting.)  Assuming the application is approved, if management is unable to contain behavior after a few months, the TA will come down hard.”

ST/PCV management warns recent crimes due to ‘piggybacking’

jan17 pcv burglary suspect

Peter Cooper Village burglary suspect

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town management sent a newsletter around to residents earlier this week warning about an increase in building break-ins throughout the complex and warning against allowing non-residents to “piggy-back” inside.

StuyTown Property Services CEO Rick Hayduk told Town & Village that none of the incidents mentioned in the email were new and had all been reported in the last six months. The incidents included the assault of a woman who had been hired by residents and was attacked after security buzzed her into the Stuyvesant Town building and a man followed her inside, in addition to a teenager who was mugged in a Peter Cooper Village vestibule last fall.

One incident that Town & Village did not learn of at the time was an apartment break-in that occurred within the last few months where a man followed a resident into the building and started checking for open doors. Finding one, he began taking things from an apartment and was leaving as a teenage resident was returning. The resident wasn’t harmed and the suspect hasn’t been arrested.

This incident wasn’t publicized at the time because the resident requested that it not be made public, although Hayduk noted that it was reported to the NYPD.

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman also noted at the 13th Precinct community council’s most recent meeting on Tuesday evening that package thefts have been up in the neighborhood, with two suspects being arrested for a string of six incidents in Stuyvesant Town on Christmas after they managed to get into multiple buildings. Hayduk noted in the email that package thefts have increased on the property and often occur when non-residents manage to piggy-back into the buildings.
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Effort underway to make apt. renovations less noisy and dusty

Worker doing dustless masonry cutting through an air conditioner opening (Photos courtesy of Empire Core)

By Sabina Mollot

At Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, about 275 apartments are gut renovated each year, with 35-70 going on at any given time, depending on the season.

While this can boost the value of the property for the owner, for residents of adjoining apartments, the apartment transformations just mean weeks of ongoing noise from power tools and dust clouds that permeate the air.

Fortunately, Empire Core Group, the company that oversees the gut renovation of apartments in ST/PCV, done by contractors, has, within the past year primarily, begun using new tools aimed at reducing both the noise and dust levels as well as the time needed to complete the jobs.

Rick Hayduk, Stuyvesant Town’s general manager, said the effort came as a result of management getting bombarded with calls by residents who live in apartments near those being worked on.

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New fences for Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village green spaces

 

New section of fence in the forefront, older fence behind it (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Local residents noticed a recent change in the neighborhood at squirrel-level: new fencing around the grassy areas and tree pits in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

Stuy Town resident Jerry Alperstein saw the old wire fencing rolled up on the grass with a new, shorter fence installed along the 18th Street Loop near his apartment at the end of last month and ST-PCV general manager Rick Hayduk confirmed that the fences on the interior of the property are being switched out.

“It’s more decorative than what’s there now and it’s more like the original fence that was up,” Alperstein said when he noticed the new fence.

Hayduk confirmed that the new iron wickets were indeed a bit of a throwback, but “we feel they are architecturally appropriate for Stuyvesant Town in 2018 and beyond,” he said.

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Last Petite Abeille, in Peter Cooper Village, has closed

June18 petite abeille

The Petite Abeille in Peter Cooper Village opened in 2004.

By Sabina Mollot

Belgian restaurant Petite Abeille closed the last of its locations on Sunday night, which operated in Peter Cooper Village since 2004.

The owners announced the closure on the restaurant’s Facebook page on Friday, blaming rising operational costs. However, in recent years, Yves Jadot, who owned the restaurant with his brothers David and Christophe, said it was hard to operate a restaurant anywhere in the city unless it’s very cheap or very expensive. Last year, the original Petite Abeille, on West 17th Street in Chelsea, closed. In 2015, the Tribeca location closed with Jadot saying at the time there was too much competition from food trucks for the local lunch crowd. At one time there were four locations of Petite Abeille in Manhattan, the first one opening in 1995.

On Facebook, the owners said, “New York has undergone many changes in the 22 years we’ve been in business and unfortunately the rising cost of operating a neighborhood restaurant is one of them. As a small local business, we are simply not able to carry the hefty costs any longer in order for our business to be financially viable.”

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All Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village security cameras getting replaced

Stuyvesant Town’s public safety command center will soon look like this, following the installation of nearly 1,500 new cameras around the complex. (Pictured above) a similarly upgraded security office with technology installed by the same company that’s working with Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Fortress Security)

By Sabina Mollot

As part of an ongoing effort aimed at making Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village safer, management will soon be replacing all 1,332 of the surveillance cameras on the property with newer models that offer higher-resolution images. Another 161 cameras will also be installed in other places, including each building’s laundry room and carriage rooms, where bikes are stored. This will bring the total to 1,493 cameras onsite.

The project will cost close to $2 million. However, according to Stuyvesant Town General Manager Rick Hayduk, the cost will not be passed on to tenants through a major capital improvement (MCI) rent increase.

According to Rei Moya, director of operations in ST/PCV, the new cameras will offer significantly better image quality, similar to that of a TV show, as opposed to the somewhat choppy grainy footage that’s currently available. (The resolution is 1,080 as opposed to the current 480.) It will also be available through an ethernet connection, allowing public safety department and management employees to access images on their phones, which hadn’t been possible previously. The new technology will also enable a photo to be taken any time a person passes through certain thresholds, like near carriage rooms. While this means every resident will have his or her photo taken on every trip to retrieve a bike, it will also capture individuals looking to steal bikes. The purpose of the photos is that they will save a lot of time as compared to the current process of scrolling through what can amount to hundreds of hours of footage to find a theft suspect.

“If someone hops a fence and runs, with the technology this system has a threshold so anyone jumping a fence gets their photo taken,” Hayduk explained.

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Stuy Fitness gym opens on 14th St., 20th St. gym to be upgraded soon

Stuy Fitness on East 14th Street had a soft opening over the weekend and opened officially last Monday. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, Stuyvesant Town’s second gym for residents, Stuy Fitness, opened officially following a soft opening over the weekend.

Rick Hayduk, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village’s general manager, said the gym is 90 percent complete at this time, with final touches to depend on feedback from residents. Hayduk also said that the 20th Street gym, Oval Fitness, which has been open for the past decade, will be seeing upgrades and a refurbishment within the year.

As for the new gym, the gleaming white and blue space is in sharp contrast with the chaotic scene that is now East 14th Street. As the L train work on the Avenue A entrance and the construction related to the looming L shutdown ensues, Hayduk said he felt Stuyvesant Town had a responsibility to at least make part of the street appear presentable. The 8,500-square-foot facility, which cost $3.5 million to build, is located in what was previously a Citi Bike storage space and prior to that, a daycare center that was flooded during hurricane Sandy. The daycare center is now on Avenue C and management is currently looking for a suitable replacement storage area for Citi Bike.

Meanwhile, the gym came about from demand from residents, specifically those who didn’t live on or near 20th Street and indicated that they would join a gym if it were more convenient.

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Citi Bike seeking larger storage space

City Council Member Keith Powers, pictured with representatives from Citi Bike, helped facilitate the arrival of two valet stations in Stuyvesant Town. (Photo courtesy of Council Member Keith Powers)

By Sabina Mollot

As Town & Village reported last month, two new Citi Bike valet stations have arrived at Stuyvesant Town. Together, the two docks, one on First Avenue and 16th Street and the other on East 20th Street, increased the number of bikes available to residents by 160.

The new bikes came at the request of Council Member Keith Powers, who’d been hearing from residents that there were never any bikes at the docks in the morning.

As it turns out, this may be due in part to the fact that a space in Stuyvesant Town that was leased to Citi Bike for the storage of about 500 bikes, was reutilized to become a new gym. Since then, Citi Bike has leased a smaller space on the property, but according to Rick Hayduk, general manager of Stuyvesant Town, management is trying to find a larger space onsite for the bikes’ storage, possibly on Avenue C.

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