– Street Cleaning Begins

– Street Cleaning Begins

– $60,000 Council Grant Secured
– 32+ New Litter Baskets Purchased
– Clean Up SoHo Announces Launch Party, Sunday, December 10
Dear Beat,
We are pleased to announce that street-cleaning services have returned to SoHo after a year’s hiatus.  Additionally, dozens of new, improved, extra-capacity litter baskets will be appearing next week on a corner near you – all thanks to independent community activism.
When ACE stopped sweeping our sidewalks last November, a grassroots group of residents and businesses, Clean Up SoHo, formed to restore the services we had come to expect.
Although many people were involved in this effort, special kudos must go to Dianne Mendez of SoHo Salon and to Danielle Nazinitsky of Soho Strut. Working with the SoHo Alliance, we have achieved a first for New York City – a community improvement district instead of the usual unwieldy Business Improvement District (BID) model.
First, Clean Uo SoHo launched an education campaign to encourage stores and buildings to sweep their sidewalks regularly, as required by law.  The Department of Sanitation is beginning to issue violations to offenders.
Next we secured initial financial pledges from several individuals, coops, condos, and retail spaces.
However, our real achievement came with a $60,000 grant from the New York City Council via the office of Councilmember Margaret Chin.  We are very grateful for the councilmember’s assistance in funding our clean-up efforts.  SoHo generates incredible revenue for the city in the form of sales and real-estate taxes.  It is gratifying to see some of it come back our way.
Councilmember Corey Johnson, whose district extends westwards from the west side of Thompson Street, also secured council funds to purchase several oversized litter baskets for Prince and Spring Streets, as well as paying for street cleaning at Father Fagan Square on Sixth Avenue. (Incidentally, the park is undergoing restoration which is expected to be completed by January.)
With the $60,000 from Councilmember Chin on hand, Clean Uo SoHo interviewed several non-profit cleaning services.  We selected Wildcat, a 501-c3 nonprofit that provides job opportunities, vocational training, and other resources for struggling New Yorkers seeking to become economically independent.  Incidentally, Wildcat’s estimate was a fraction of ACE’s proposal.
Wildcat began emptying and bagging our litter baskets in early November and you will see its workers in their green overalls, as well as its green plastic bags lining our corner trash bins. Services extend from Mercer Street to Thompson Street, Houston to Canal.
Furthermore, Clean Up SoHo launched a campaign to purchase dozens of oversized litter baskets for our street corners, the sturdy green ones often found in business improvement districts, replacing the flimsy mesh baskets that the city provides.
Over a dozen folk responded and we are delighted to announce that the first batch of eighteen baskets has been approved by the Sanitation Department with a second batch of ten awaiting approval.  The first batch will arrive the first week of December.
First Batch of 18 – Approved by DSNY and Ordered
  1. CBRE – 2 Baskets
  2. Goldman Properties – 1 Basket
  3. 60 Guilders – 6 Baskets
  4. Premier Equities & SoHo Alliance – 8 Baskets
  5. Bloomingdale’s – 1 Basket
Second Batch of 10 – Submitted to DSNY for Approval
  1. Art & Lynn Schnitzer – 1 Basket
  2. Wooster House – 1 Basket
  3. ASB Real Estate – 1 Basket
  4. Greene Street Holding – 1 Basket
  5. 35 Wooster Street – 1 Basket
  6. Joan & Marc Sherman – 2 Baskets
  7. 210 Lafayette – 2 Baskets
  8. 456-8 Broome Street – 1 Basket
Third Batch of 4 – Sponsorship Submitted
  1. 515 Broadway Corp. – 2 Baskets
  2. Elyssa Ackerman – 2 Baskets
A half dozen other individuals and businesses have also expressed interest in sponsorship.
If you, your building or your business would like information on how to sponsor a basket, please email info@sohoalliance.org.  The cost is $1,500 and the basket will have a plaque with the name of the sponsor and a message encouraging a clean SoHo.
Continued Fundraising Required
However, the city council’s $60,000 will only pay for a few months of cleaning service. Now that we have set up the machinery, we strongly urge you or your building to contribute to Clean Up SoHo.
People have asked what is an appropriate amount.   It depends, but we suggest a Dollar-A-Day from each individual or unit, or $365 a year.  So a ten-unit building might decide to give $3650 annually, which is tax-deductible. But whatever can be afforded is welcomed.
Our goal is to have 100 new, oversized litter baskets in SoHo and an annual fundraising campaign of $100,000 for supplemental street cleaning!
There is talk afoot to create a Business Improvement District (BID) for SoHo. That would be terrible. Not only would it give undue influence to its small board of directors, it could result in increased property taxes up to $10 million dollars.
The BID on Broadway has requested a budget increase to $900,000 annually.  That’s just for Broadway.  Multiply that amount by the other dozen or so streets that comprise SoHo and you get an approximate $10 million dollar property tax increase to pay not only for street-cleaning but also for the salaries of the BID employees and its offices.
Considering the increased number of empty stores and pop-ups, can SoHo retail and property owners afford the kind of tax burden BIDs create?  Do residents want to cede power to a corporate structure most of whose members do not live here or care for residents’ concerns?
A tax-deductible contribution to Clean Up SoHo now may save you a lot more in taxes later on, while keeping our neighborhood a desirable place to live and work.
To contribute, please contact danielle@sohostrut.com and/or info@sohoalliance.org
Finally, Clean Up SoHo Announces a Launch Party. The festive event is scheduled for Sunday, December 10 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at Ray Ban, 116 Wooster Street.  Local residents, business owners and stakeholders are invited for the open house to learn more about the project and to continue our momentum. Tickets are free but you must RSVP to CleanUpSoho.Eventbrite.com
Regards,
Sean Sweeney
Director
SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012

SoHo Alliance is non-partisan

SoHo Alliance is non-partisan. That is why our members are supporting Christopher Marte for City Council on the Independence Party line this Tuesday, November 7.
Background:
In the September Democratic primary election, 54% of Democratic voters soundly rejected Margret Chin.  She received just 48% of the Democratic vote, with Marte coming in a close second at 46% – a mere 222 vote difference out of 11,000 cast.  Two other anti-Chin candidates drained the remaining 10% anti-Chin vote.
But fate was with us.  On the Independence Party line, Chin received five write-in votes but Marte received six!  This stroke of fortune secured Marte a ballot line in the Tuesday election.  It also gives us a second chance to vote Chin out and to vote in this fresh, energetic and unbought candidate.
So ANY voter, regardless of party registration, can vote for Christopher Marte on Tuesday.  If Democrats or Republican partisans feel uncomfortable about voting on a third-party line, they can always write in Marte’s name on the blank line.
Both local Reform political clubs, the Downtown Independent Democrats and the Village Reform Democrats, have endorsed Marte, since Democratic voters clearly don’t want Chin.  Marte has also been endorsed by the Asian-American Democratic Club and the Stonewall Vets Democratic Club.
So Chin is running scared.  So scared, she has aligned herself with a one-man political show from Chelsea, far outside our district.  This operative is noted for his smear tactics, dirty tricks and pay-for-play culture.  Chin’s Chelsea operative has mailed flyers to SoHo voters with absurdist claims that a vote for Christopher Marte on the Independence line is akin to a vote for Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani.  Ignore him. Yes indeed, Chin is running scared.
Turnout in the 2013 mayoral election was 24%. This year it is expected to be significantly lower.  Turnout was only about 11% in the September primary.  So YOUR VOTE Tuesday can count tremendously for SoHo.  Polls are open from 6am to 9pm.  For information on Christopher Marte, visit http://www.martenyc.com
If you cannot vote on Tuesday, you can vote absentee on Monday, November 6 at the Board of Elections office on 200 Varick Street just south of Houston Street.  Bring ID.
If unsure of your polling place, visit https://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/search
Regards,
Sean Sweeney
Executive Director
SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012

– Chin v. Marte Part 2 = Marte on the November Ballot Against Chin – SoHo’s Next State Senator Picked by Two Party Bosses in the Backroom of Junior’s Cheesecake Restaurant – How Cheesy Is That?

– Chin v. Marte Part 2 = Marte on the November Ballot Against Chin
– SoHo’s Next State Senator Picked by Two Party Bosses in the Backroom of Junior’s Cheesecake Restaurant  – How Cheesy Is That?
Our Updates usually do not focus on political news.  However, since the September Primary, important events have been unfolding so dramatically and so rapdily that it is time for a review.
– Chin v. Marte Part 2
After two weeks of counting absentee and paper ballots, Margaret Chin squeaked to a narrow victory over Chris Marte, 45.8% to 43.9%, less than a 2% margin.  Two other opponents of Chin siphoned the remaining 10.3% of the anit-Chin vote, drawing votes from Marte that would surely have put him over the top.
With 11,719 votes cast, Marte was only 220 votes shy of victory.  Chin’s “victory” is the worst showing of any incumbent in the city.  Over 54% of the voters – the majority – rejected Chin.   But that is not the end of the story.
By the oddest fortuitous fluke, six people wrote-in Marte’s name on the Independence Party line and five wrote-in Chin’s.
Without campaigning for it, Chris Marte has secured the Independence Party line in the general election on November 7.  We now have a second chance to choose between Marte and Chin.
Marte’s name will be down the ballot under the Independence line, while Chin is running on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines.  There will also be Republican and Liberal Party candiates.
As we have often said, the SoHo Alliance is non-partisan.  If the choice is between Marte who wants to save Elizabeth Street Garden and Chin who wants to destroy it, between Marte who takes no money from real estate developers and Chin who is beholden to them, between a community activist and a hack politician who has lied to us repeatedly, the choice is clear and party affiliations should not matter,
In fact, our neighbors and allies in the Downtown Independent Democrats have endorsed Marte and are urging us to vote for him on the Independence Party line on November 7.
People ask the viability of Marte’s challenge.  In 2005, a Brooklyn city council candidate, Letitia James, running on the Working Families Party line, beat out her Democratic Party challenger.  She is now public advocate.
So Marte will face a challenge, but not an impossibility.  Pundits thought he had no chance of coming so close to Chin in the Primary and they were all proved wrong.  Vote for SoHo and the Elizabeth Street Garden on November 7,
– SoHo’s Next State Senator Picked by Two Party Bosses in the Backroom of Junior’s Cheesecake Restaurant  – How Cheesy Is That?
In August our state senator Daniel Squadron abruptly resigned from office, too late to have the voters choose his replacement in the September 12 Primary.
The legal process to select his temporary replacement is a mechanism called the Local Democratic County Committee, which is composed of over 100 local activists and block captains, our neighbors. Their task is to choose a replacement until the actual voters have a chance to vote in the next state senate election cycle in 2018.
On September 17 activists from SoHo, TriBeCa, Downtown, and the Lower East Side assembled to select a replacement for Squadron. There were two leading candidates.
One was Paul Newell, a reformer from the Lower East Side, who had the courage of his convictions to run against Sheldon Silver in 2008, when Silver was at the height of his power.  Newell is  district leader out of Downtown Independent Democrats.
The other was Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who currently represents the east side from East 43rd Street down to Houston Street.  He happens to be Squadron’s roommate in Albany and privy to his roommate’s plans.  Kavanagh had resided in midtown for years.
However, when it became apparent that Squadron wanted out of Albany, Kavanagh moved from midtown to Avenue C and East 2 Street, which was just one of three blocks that happened to overlap Kavanagh’s assembly district as well as Squadron’s senate district.
Thus Kavanagh could run for Squadron’s senate seat, but, were he to lose, would still retain his place in the assembly.  To say this is a cynical scheme between Squadron and Kavanagh is being kind.
Anyway, at the Local County Committee meeting our grassroots activists voted overwhelmingly for Newell – 72%.
However, the senate district is bi-borough. That is, 2/3 is in lower Manhattan and 1/3 is in northern Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn Democratic Party boss, Frank Seddio, who was forced to resign seveal years ago from a judgeship because of ethics violations. did not want a reformer in the senate.  So he exercised his perogative not to allow the Brooklyn County Committee to vote on whom the Brooklyn grassroots wished to represent them.
On September 18, Seddio met with Manhattan County Democratic leader, Keiith Wright, a lobbyist, at Junior’s Restaurant in Brooklyn. Wright also did not want a reformer.
In a deal in the backromm of the cheesecake restaurant, Wright ignored the wishes of his Local County Committee (which, unfortunately, he can legally do).
He and Seddio instead agreed to select Kavanagh to be on the Democratic Party line in the November 7 General Election, ignoring the wishes of the rank-and-file.
It is sad that two self-procalimed reformers, Squsadron and Kavanagh, were parties to this sleazy scenario.  Kavanagh is a decent guy but his rise to the senate will be forever tainted.
However, rather than being discouraged, these events have embolded the grassroots in Manhattan.
A move was soon put forward to remove Wright from his leadership position.  The full Manhattan County Committee of some thousand indiividuals is now scheduled to meet later this year to vote whether to remove Wright, due to the conflict of interest his lobbying job creates.  Stay tuned.
Regards,
Sean Sweeney
Director
SoHo Alliance

City Council Race: Chin v. Marte Squadron Resigns; We Need You to Decide His Replacement

City Council Race: Chin v. Marte
Citywide, this year’s election cycle has been relatively quiet, with most incumbents running unopposed or facing underdog challengers. But not in SoHo. Two local races are grabbing attention.
One is a challenge to the unpopular current councilmember, Margaret Chin.  The other is to pick a replacement for Daniel Squadron, who abruptly resigned last month after representing most of SoHo in the state senate for the past ten years.
Chin is facing three challengers in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, September 12.  Our allies at the Downtown Independent Democrats have endorsed Christopher Marte to replace Chin in the council.
Marte, 28, was born and raised on the Lower East Side to Dominican immigrant parents. He has traveled widely in pursuit of his BA in Globals Studies, including China where he became fluent in conversational Mandarin.  Marte was accepted into the prestigious London School of Economics, studying international finance.  Returning home, he interned with the Brooklyn DA  and then was employed  as a financial analyst at IBM Retirement.  A dedicated community activist, Christopher has volunteered with many local non-profits.
Marte is working diligently with us to save the Elizabeth Street Garden from Chin’s bulldozers. He supports the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, legislation to help preserve neighborhood businesses from being driven out due to astronomical rents. Chris supports the proposed downzoning of Chinatown and the Lower East Side, something the current councilmember failed to do.  The September 12th primary is open to registered Democrats.
Squadron Resigns; We Need You to Decide His Replacement
You may have read that Daniel Squadron resigned two weeks ago for a job in the private sector.  Since the state senate election won’t be until 2018, we need to find a replacement to represent us in Albany.
This replacement is accomplished via an arcane process, the Democratic County Committee, where Committee members meet one evening to select a replacement for Squadron.  Editorial boards and good-government groups often assail this process as being controlled by political bosses who appoint their cronies to the County Committee to vote for the boss’ candidate.
That is why we are seeking registered Democrats to add their names to SoHo’s County Committee list to choose Squadron’s replacement.  We need the grassroots on our side.
Little is required on your part.  The Committee will meet one evening in late September to vote in a replacement for Squadron until the regular 2018 election. The Committee meeting should last about an hour and be within waking distance.  There are about 200 Committee members in the senate district.  So your vote will count tremendously.
If you are a registered Democrat and interested in good government and fair representation, please email back and we shall get you enrolled in the Committee.  Thank you in advance.
Regards,
Sean Sweeney
Director
SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
NY, NY 10012

SoHo Midsummer News Update

– NYPD Contrite on Illegal Search & Seizure at Chin Town Hall: It Won’t Happen Again – Here or Anywhere Else in the City
– 462 Broadway Mega-Store Setback; Attend City Council Hearing Thursday
– Free Visits for Practicing Artists at the Judd House/Museum
– How Artists Fought to Keep SoHo Rents Affordable—and Why It Matters Today
 
NYPD Contrite on Illegal Search & Seizure at Chin Town Hall: It Won’t Happen Again – Here or Anywhere Else in the City
In our last update, we reported on a Town Hall meeting sponsored by Councilmember Margaret Chin featuring Mayor de Blasio at the Bowery YMCA where Police Department officers searched the bags, knapsacks and even the pockets of every person entering the meeting – looking for activist or political flyers.  These flyers were then confiscated and dumped in a pile on the street for disposal.  (Not surprisingly, Chin’s staffers were allowed to hand out her promotional material inside the hall)
The SoHo Alliance retained prominent civil rights attorney, Norman Siegel, to protest this violation of our Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizures, as well as our First Amendment right of free speech and free association.
Mr. Siegel immediately dispatched a letter to the Mayor, Councilmember Chin and Police Commissioner O’Neill objecting to this illegal behavior.
We are pleased to report that Police Department counsel has contacted Mr. Siegel and said that the order by a member of the mayor’s security detail at the event was improper and indicated that it will never happen again.
It is gratifying to get such prompt and satisfactory results from the NYPD lawyers.  We are satisfied to hear that the Police Department agrees with us that this type of heavy-handed action should never happen in our city again.
We thank Norman Siegel on behalf of SoHo and all of the city for his diligent efforts defending our constitutional rights.
– 462 Broadway Mega-Store Setback; Attend City Council Hearing Thursday
Regrettably, last week the City Planning Commission voted to approve a Special Permit application for a massive and intrusive 45,000 sq.ft multi-floor retail store at 462 Broadway, which stretches around Grand to Crosby Street, despite widespread community and poltiical opposition.  
 
This action will only serve to drive up residential, commercial and retail rents, as well as property taxes, and add to the unwanted crowding on our sidewalks.
 
It now proceeds to the City Council, which is mandated with the final say on land-use applications.  The Council’s Zoning Committee is holding its hearing on the issue this Thursday, before it goes to the Full Council for a final vote.  
 
Although every other elected official representing SoHo has come out against this application, Councilmember Chin has been silent.  The Council generally defers to the district councilmember on local land-use proposals.  
 
Approval could open the flood gates to many more developers who are awaiting the Council’s decision on oversized stores in our neighborhood.
Make the city respect and enforce the zoning rules that were put in place to protect the character and quality-of-life of our neighborhood. The Council should reject this request for a Special Permit. We need to fill the room, so bring anyone you know who may share your concern. Children are welcome too.
SAY NO to BIG RETAIL in our mixed use neighbohoods!  We need YOU to SHOW UP and BE HEARD and BE SEEN:
NY City Hall – Council Chambers
Thursday July 27 @ 9:30 AM
IF YOU CANNOT ATTEND THE HEARING, SEND AN EMAIL EXPRESSING YOUR OPPOSITION: Email cc:
 
If you are pressed for time or don’t enjoy writing, make it brief and simple. Sending something is better than sending nothing.
Reasons for opposition include:
– drives up rents for local and small business
– displaces small businesses and small shops
– drives out neighborhood amenities (groceries, delis, laundries, dry cleaners, hardware stores) because of high rents that only very large companies can pay
– sets a precedent for approval of MORE big retail in SoHo and lower Manhattan
– causes increased crowding and congestion on sidewalks
– promotes retail events that spill onto sidewalks and streets
– generates noise from deliveries & garbage pick-up
 Free Visits for Practicing Artists at the Judd House/Museum
The Donald Judd Foundation is offering free visits at the Judd House/Museum at 101 Spring Street for practicing artists in New York.

If you are an artist living and working in New York, please contact newyork@juddfoundation.org to book your visit.  Fridays at 11:00am are reserved for free artist visits. Please provide a range of available dates so that the Judd Foundation can best accommodate your preference.

– How Artists Fought to Keep SoHo Rents Affordable – and Why It Matters Today

Here is a link to an engaging and informative editorial in this week’s Artsy that describes the evolution of SoHo from industrial slum to today’s gentrified neighborhood, and the role artists, activists, loft tenants and the Loft Law played in the process. A must read!  https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-artists-fought-soho-rents-affordable-matters-today

Regards,

Sean Sweeney

Director

Bullfight in Bowling Green! “Charging Bull” artist has a cow over “Fearless Girl” statue

Screenshot 2017-04-14 18.11.59

Photo by Milo Hess The sculpture, called “The Fearless Girl,” by artist Kristen Visbal was placed at the northern tip of Bowling Green facing down the iconic “Charging Bull” late Tuesday, on the eve of International Women’s Day, as part of a campaign by finance company State Street Corporation to promote women in leadership in the financial sector.

Photo by Milo Hess
“Charging Bull” artist Di Modica argues that “Fearless Girl” derives its meaning entirely from its juxtaposition against his own work, thus making it a textbook example of copyright-violating “derivative art.”

BY COLIN MIXSON

The artist behind Bowling Green’s famed “Charging Bull” says that its newly minted neighbor, feminist icon “Fearless Girl,” is utterly derivative of his iconic brass bovine, and is demanding her big-money financier take its wildly successful marketing gimmick elsewhere and pay him damages for violating his legal rights.

Photo by Colin Mixson "Charging Bull" artist Arturo Di Modica claimed State Street Global Advisors violated copyright laws with its "Fearless Girl" statue at a press conference Wednesday.

Photo by Colin Mixson
“Charging Bull” artist Arturo Di Modica claimed State Street Global Advisors violated copyright laws with its “Fearless Girl” statue at a press conference Wednesday.

“I don’t like it,” said Arturo Di Modica, who spent $360,000 of his own money to fabricate and install “Charging Bull” opposite the New York Stock Exchange without a permit in 1989. “They’re supposed to find another place to do their advertisement.”

Attorneys for Di Modica fired off letters to State Street Global Advisors and marketing firm McCann Worldgroup, which designed the marketing stunt, on Tuesday, which accused the companies of “commercializ[ing] and exploit[ing]” ‘Charging Bull’ and violating copyright laws, before going into the Sicilian artist’s demands that she be relocated and he get paid.

“Fearless Girl,” according to Di Modica’s lawyers, wouldn’t be “fearless” if she weren’t facing down his bull, and the effect that State Street’s statue creates is entirely dependent on Di Modica’s opus.

“The statue of the young girl becomes the ‘Fearless Girl’ only because of the ‘Charging Bull,’” the letter reads. “The work is incomplete with Mr. Di Modica’s ‘Charging Bull,’ and as such it constitutes a derivative work of the ‘Charging Bull.’”

Attorney Norman Siegel cited State Street promotional materials referencing the new statue’s juxtaposition with the bull at a press conference with the artist on April 12.

“A deliberate choice was made to exploit and appropriate the ‘Charging Bull’ through the placement of fearless girl,” said.

Photo by Colin Mixson Attorney Norman Siegel holds up a picture of a plaque initially placed at the base of the "Fearless Girl" statue that he says proves the sculpture is an advertisement for State Street's SHE exchange traded fund.

Photo by Colin Mixson
Attorney Norman Siegel holds up a picture of a plaque initially placed at the base of the “Fearless Girl” statue that he says proves the sculpture is an advertisement for State Street’s SHE exchange traded fund.

Furthermore, by turning “Charging Bull” into a de facto emblem of misogyny, State Street unilaterally altered the public meaning of the sculpture — intended by Di Modica as a symbol of American strength in the face of the 1987 stock market crash — into an object of fear, the letter states.

“The inescapable implication is that the ‘Charging Bull’ is the source of that fear and power, and a force against what’s right,” Di Modica’s attorneys wrote to the investment firm.

The irony of State Street appropriating the bull statue as a symbol of sexism in a campaign to promote women in corporate leadership is that the would-be feminist-crusader is a fairly poor role model in that regard. Of State Street’s 11 board members, only three are women, and of its 28 top executives, only five are women.

“In terms of practicing what we’re preaching, we absolutely know what have further to go,” said State Street spokeswoman Anne McNally.

But Di Modica’s main beef is that “Fearless Girl” is just an ingenious marketing scheme, with State Street aiming to make a buck off his bull.

Photo by Milo Hess The statue was instant selfie-bait, of course.

Photo by Milo Hess
The plaque advertising State Street’s SHE fund (seen here at the statue’s feet) remained in place until the end of March.

Throughout the media frenzy the stature enjoyed last month, State Street’s gender-diversity-tracking exchange traded fund — ticker symbol “SHE” — was featured prominently in a plaque placed at the base of fearless girl, which read: “Know the power of women in leadership — SHE makes a difference.”

The plaque was removed in late March after “Fearless Girl” was enrolled in the Department of Transportation’s street art program, which has a specific signage format that the plaque didn’t adhere to, according to McNally.

Regardless, the sign proved that “Fearless Girl” was created for commercial purposes, according to Di Modica’s attorneys, therefore voiding any “fair use” protection and violating the artist’s sole right to reproduce the image of the bull for financial gain.

Di Modica and his legal team were joined at Wednesday’s press conference by Bowling Green Association chairman Arthur Piccolo, who spearheaded the effort to give “Charging Bull” a permanent home at Bowling Green back in 1989. He suggested “Fearless Girl” be moved to Broad Street and positioned to face the New York Stock Exchange, where her message of gender equality could be better directed against the real perpetrators of Wall Street’s patriarchy.

Photo by Colin Mixson Bowling Green Association chairman Arthur Piccolo suggested that "Fearless Girl" be moved to outside the New York Stock Exchange, where its message of gender equality would be better directed.

Photo by Colin Mixson
Bowling Green Association chairman Arthur Piccolo suggested that “Fearless Girl” be moved to outside the New York Stock Exchange, where its message of gender equality would be better directed.

“If Fearless Girl has a message of equality, all these companies that are not practicing equality, their stock is traded at the New York Stock Exchange,” Piccolo said.

Piccolo was among the first to call out State Street’s own poor record on female empowerment, and to lodge allegations of copyright infringement. In a March 28 letter to city officials, where he wrote, “… McCann Advertising and their executives were involved and are involved in a highly coordinated carefully planned conspiracy to defraud Arturo Di Modica of his copyright.”

The Bowling Green advocate’s defense of Di Modica’s copyright was so impassioned that it provoked a response on legal blog lexology.com, where Sullivan & Worcester attorney Nicholas O’Donnell wrote that even though the placement of “Fearless Girl” near “Charging Bull” may have been deliberate, that didn’t constitute a deliberate copying of Arturo’s work.

State Street acknowledged receipt of Di Modica’s letter, although McNally declined to comment on behalf of the investment firm.

Mayor de Blasio did chime in on Twitter, however, where he accused Di Modica of sexism.

“Men who don’t like women taking up space are exactly why we need the Fearless Girl,” de Blasio tweeted in reference to a Newsweek article about Di Modica’s beef.

In response, Piccolo accused the mayor of libeling the artist, and pointed out that Seigel has filed Freedom of Information requests to uncover any communications between City Hall and State Street Global Advisors or McCann, to determine if the mayor’s office colluded unlawfully in arranging the below-the-radar approval of the project that allowed the stature and advertising plaque to appear by surprise on International Women’s Day — the same day State Street’s SHE fund began trading.

Spread the word:

One Response to Bullfight in Bowling Green! “Charging Bull” artist has a cow over “Fearless Girl” statue

  1. Mayor de Blasio statement is so ignorant of the issue. The issue is the acknowledgement of the statement and sole placement of art honoring its inherent creation, whether you have criticism or not on an individual level. These are not means for advertisement alone or together. The city should honor its own creative representation since it was once the center of the art world.

    Beat Keerl

SoHo News April Update: Gardens & Megastores

– Elizabeth Street Garden Situation
– 462 Broadway Megastore Redux
– D.I.D. Meeting in SoHo
Elizabeth Street Garden Situation
You may have read in the local press that a new group has formed to further address the Elizabeth Street Garden issue.
Named “Elizabeth Street Garden” its purpose is to take a more aggressive stand to preserve the green space.  It was formed by the leaseholder of the garden, who leases the open space and the adjoining building, an art gallery and his residence, from the City.  One approach may include legal action to preserve the park.
This new group is not to be confused with the original “Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden” (FESG), the organization with whom we have been working diligently for the past four years.  FESG has been running the events and the programs we have all come to love and enjoy.  Confusion might arise because of the similarity in the names of both organizations and their similar Facebook pages.
The new group is now programming the events at the Garden, an effort FESG had undertaken excellently for years  We continue to work with FESG to advance its mission of saving this oasis from Chin and de Blasio’s bulldozers.  If you wish any further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact us.
462 Broadway Megastore Plan Redux
Our February News Update reported a developer’s plan to apply for a Special Permit to allow a three-story, 45,000 sq.ft. department store conversion at 462 Broadway, on the northeast corner of Grand and Broadway, that extends all the way to Crosby. This is the former home of the Culinary Institute.
SoHo’s zoning prohibits retail stores greater than 10,000 sq. ft.  For more space, a Special Permit must be obtained from the City Planning Commission.  This is to prevent SoHo from becoming like Herald Square.
Scores of residents attended the community board meeting in February to protest yet another megastore along Broadway.  There they learned that the landlord also plans to apply for the Special Permit for the northern portion of the building, 466 Broadway.  This could bring 90,000 sq. ft. of retail into a single building!  SoHo began its retail odyssey with small specialized boutiques.  These added charm.  Megastores do not.
Taken aback by the residents’ (and community board’s) apprehension of his proposal, the developer withdrew the original plans and now has come back with a modified proposal.  What these plans are we do not know, but it obviously means that he is still wants a store greater than 10,000 sq.ft.
The community board is holding a second hearing on the new plans this week.  We urge you to attend, even if you do not live on Broadway or Grand or Crosby Streets.  If this developer gets away with his plan, do not be surprised if a department store opens up on your block next.
WHEN: Wednesday, April 12, 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Forbes Building, 60 Fifth Avenue at 12th Street; Room 150 (ID required)
D.I.D. Meeting in SoHo
Our allies at Downtown Independent Democrats will be holding the club’s monthly meeting in SoHo next week.  Guest speakers include Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who represents the district to the east of ours, as well as Jeannine Kiely of Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden, who will give an update on their efforts to save the green space. Two candidates running to unseat Margaret Chin will present their platform and our two local Democratic District leaders will also give a report on local issues.
You need not be a Democrat to attend; in fact, many folks who come to the meetings are not.  But if the current political climate, locally and nationally, inspires you to get more involved, here is your opportunity to meet like-minded neighbors.
WHEN: Wednesday, April 26, 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: 125 Greene Street, 5th floor (Prince/Houston)
Regards,
Sean Sweeney
Director
SoHo Alliance
212-33-8466

Smorgasburg will take a bite of Hudson Square

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The Trinity Real Estate-owned lot at Duarte Square that is slated to get a Smorgasbord outdoor market in August. Photo by Eric Demby

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | The operators of Smorgasburg, the popular Brooklyn outdoor food market, plan to start up a version of it in Duarte Square, at Canal St. and Sixth Ave., this summer.

The outdoor-food outfit has signed a two-year lease for the space with Trinity Real Estate. The plan is for it to operate seven days a week, starting early this August.

They are seeking a full liquor license, and will make a presentation to the Community Board 2 State Liquor Authority Committee on Thurs., April 13, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 151 Sullivan St., lower hall. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

Jonathan Butler — who co-founded Smorgasburg along with Eric Demby — said it won’t be as big an affair as some are fearing. Yes, it will be seven days a week, but the weekdays won’t be as big a production, he said.

“Really, we’re talking about four or five food trucks during the weekdays,” he said. “On the weekends, we’ll probably have another 30 or 40 market vendors that pop up. But it’s really not on the scale of our Brooklyn markets.

“There’s a desire for more food in that neighborhood,” he added. “The Hudson Square BID did a study two years ago that found that.”

He was referring to the Hudson Square Connection business improvement district.

Food trucks actually will be a first for Smorgasburg, though Trinity has had them in the Duarte Square lot before. The trucks will have electrical hookups, Butler noted.

The food trucks, seating and a 20-foot-long bar located inside a shipping container will be concentrated in the northern portion of the square, along Grand St. There will also be some shade structures and pavers to create a patio.

Meanwhile, on weekends, the southern part of the square will be filled with other food vendors, plus flea-market vendors. Butler and Demby are also the founders of Brooklyn Flea.

The weekend vendors will each have a 10-foot-by-10-foot tent with a table out in front. Those vendors typically pay Smorgasburg $250 to $300 a day.

On a questionnaire for C.B. 2 that liquor-license applicants fill out, Butler wrote that Smorgasburg’s operating hours at the Hudson Square location would be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Sunday to Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. from Thursday to Saturday.

The plan, as described on the questionnaire, is described as “Highly curated outdoor market with food and shopping, plus occasional family-friendly programming and special events.”

In the “overall seating information” section, 20 tables with 120 seats are listed. “Live” and “amplified” music are checked, as well as “iPod / CD’s.”

Asked about emissions from the trucks’ cooking operation, Butler said it would be minimal.

“I don’t think four food trucks will generate any negative effects,” he told The Villager.

“Occasional special events, such as corporate functions, private parties and community programming will also occur at the site,” another response on the questionnaire reads.

On the questionnaire, in the spot where it asks for the number of bars, Butler filled in “2.” However, he told The Villager that there will only be one bar, while a second shipping container at the site will be used “mostly for cold storage and dishwashing.”

According to its Web site, Smorgasburg is America’s largest weekly open-air food market, attracting 20,000 to 30,000 people to Brooklyn each week. It has two locations in that borough: on the waterfront in Williamsburg at Kent Ave. on Saturdays and in Prospect Park on Sundays.

Smorgasburg started in 2011 as an offshoot of Brooklyn Flea, which started in 2008. There is even a Los Angeles Smorgasburg now, as well as one in Kingston, N.Y.

They also operate Berg’n, a beer and food hall in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and ran a pop-up food hall / beer garden in the South St. Seaport from 2013 to 2016.

The Kent Ave. / Williamsburg market’s hours are from 11 a.m. to only 6 p.m. Despite the answer on the questionnaire, Butler said he doubted the Duarte Square Smorgasburg would really run as late as 11 p.m. or midnight.

“I don’t think it’s going to go to 12,” he said. “We have been in the Seaport the last three years. It’s a really nice after-work scene — after 6 p.m., go have a couple of beers and some food — but after 9 it’s kind of dead.”

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A floor plan of the Duarte Square Smorgasburg. The five gray rectangular boxes at top and at left represent food trucks. The two dark rectangles at right are shipping containers. Other markings represent tables, “shade structures” — likely large umbrellas — and a patio covered with pavers. There will also be landscaping. The market apparently won’t use the part of the lot east of Sullivan St., which is basically an access road at this spot that is not open to car traffic.

The Brooklyn locations are far larger, with about 100 vendors each day.

“It might not even be called Smorgasburg,” Butler noted of the Duarte Square location. “I hesitate to use the word ‘Smorgasburg’ because it implies a gazillion vendors.”

Asked how many people they anticipate the market would draw on a daily basis, Butler said he really could not predict that, and there is no telling at this point if the location will even be a hit.

As for the Brooklyn Flea aspect, Butler said it would include things like vintage clothing and handmade designs.

Obviously, the Kent Ave. market has had a big impact on that neighborhood.

“When we started Smorgasburg in 2011 on Kent Ave., no one was going over there,” he noted.

Similarly, he said of Duarte Square, “Part of the idea is to activate that part of Canal St. — place-making. That particular part of Canal St. could use some sort of Jane Jacobs-style place-making.”

As for entertainment, Butler said it won’t be rock music.

“No, no, no, this is not a rock concert venue or a rock club,” he stressed. “We’ll sometimes have private events or a talk or presentation on culture or politics. We have family-friendly events.”

Previously, Butler founded Brownstoner, the popular Brooklyn real estate blog, before launching Brooklyn Flea with Demby in 2008.

The main residential building near the location is 80 Varick St. Darlene Lutz, a fine-art adviser who lives there, is a frequent critic of Trinity Real Estate’s ongoing leasing of the space for outdoor events. Trinity’s stated long-term plan for the block is to build a residential tower, with a new public elementary school for the city in its base. But that plan, clearly, has yet to get off the ground.

Previously, in February 2015 Trinity notably leased the space for Nike Zoom, a basketball-and-sneaker themed extravaganza during N.B.A. All-Star Week. Though not a commercial use, Occupy Wall Street also hoped to take over the space after it was evicted from Zuccotti Park back in 2011, but Trinity said the lot wasn’t suitable for an encampment.

Lutz admitted that her building is the source of 12 letters in support for Smorgasburg, but she figures those are from commercial tenants whose employees would likely enjoy the open-air market.

“Seating for 120 — this is an outdoor restaurant,” she warned. “No farmers’ market operates seven days a week.

“All the young tech employees around here will love it. It’s great if you can enjoy it, have a few drinks, and then go back to your home in another neighborhood.

“We’re talking over 20,000 square feet of lot, which is gravel and a cyclone fence — no trees to block the sound, and residential apartments just 30 feet away. Will my air conditioner become a grease trap for people cooking hamburgers?”

Lutz spoke to a lobbyist who is pushing the plan and asked him how Smorgasburg would operate in the winter.

“He said they’re going to bring in shipping containers,” she said.

“The small brick-and-mortar businesses in this area will suffer,” she predicted.

More to the point, she said, she’s impatient for Trinity to start building its residential tower there — even though that obviously would be noisy and disruptive.

“The school in that building was the sweetener for the rezoning,” she noted.

Five years ago, Trinity pushed through a rezoning for the formerly manufacturing-zoned area to allow residential use.

Carter Booth, the C.B. 2 S.L.A. Committee co-chairperson who will lead the April 13 meeting, said Smorgasburg is definitely something new for the board. He said that, as usual, he didn’t want to comment before the public hearing, which would be a chance to flesh out the details of the plan and address questions.

Ellen Baer, president and C.E.O. of the Hudson Square Connection BID, referred questions about the Smorgasboard plan to John Franqui, Trinity Real Estate’s senior vice president of real estate business and operations. (The BID is essentially a creation of Trinity, which is by far the Hudson Square area’s biggest property owner.) Franqui did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

The malling of Soho: Big-box plan sparks big anger from locals

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A photo from 2012 of 462 Broadway, which stretches between Grand and Crosby Sts. It was built in 1880 by Mills & Gibb, a firm specializing in importing and jobbing lace, linen and dry goods.

BY DENNIS LYNCH | The owners of a large, six-story commercial building in Soho who want to convert it into one jumbo-sized retail space enthusiastically presented their plan to locals and the Community Board 2 Land Use Committee last Wednesday night. To their chagrin, they were met with near-unanimous opposition from those at the meeting.

Steve Meringoff, the owner of 462 Broadway, and his team specifically are requesting two special permits to make over the 1880 building into a single, large, 45,000-square-foot store.

However, many locals said the store would bring throngs of customers, noisy late-night deliveries and heaps of trash to the area around it, and made that clear in no uncertain terms.

“You have a right to make money, but you don’t have a right to destroy the quality of my life,” a longtime Crosby St. resident declared. He noted that on that street, on a regular basis, delivery trucks unload merchandise and trash trucks pick up refuse from other large retailers.

Around 40 local residents turned out for the meeting. Every single one of the two dozen or so who spoke opposed Meringoff’s request for a special permit to allow him to exceed the area’s 10,000 square-foot limit on ground-floor retail. The owner also hopes to use the building’s basement and parts of its upper floors for retail. City zoning regulations require any property owner who wants to obtain such a special permit to bring the application first to the local community board for an advisory vote, after which the Department of Buildings officially decides on the request. Yet, few Soho property owners actually follow that path, many of them bypassing the community board.

Soho has become one of the world’s premier retail districts, but is actually zoned for manufacturing. Meringoff, like all the district’s other property owners, needs a separate special permit to rent the ground floor for retail use in the first place.

It’s a 60-day review process and Meringoff will either resubmit the current plan for a vote at C.B. 2 or revise and resubmit it for review next month. The Land Use Committee didn’t take an official position on the first proposal, but committee chairperson Anita Brandt said the hope is that the development team returns with a proposal for around three smaller stores on the ground floor and office space on the upper floors.

Many locals are all but completely soured on large-scale retail in Soho, though, because of the disruption they say that it brings to the neighborhood. Only adding to residents’ anger and frustration, most property owners who have opened large-scale retail in the area have skirted the special-permit process by exploiting loopholes in city regulations. Some have long accused D.O.B. of failing to — or intentionally choosing not to — enforce the regulations.

The last time a property owner requested a similar special permit was in 2009. Owners of an empty lot at Lafayette and E. Houston Sts. received one for an entirely new building with oversized retail in 2013, according to local activist Pete Davies. While many locals commended Meringoff for at least going through the proper process, his apparent genuine desire to go by the books still didn’t warm them to his plans.

In some respects, last Wednesday night at C.B. 2, Meringoff and his team stood in as punching bags for the previous actions of other property owners. Residents voiced their pent-up frustrations — built up over years — passionately venting over late-night deliveries to large-scale retailers in the area and the bright lights these stores keep on overnight, even when the stores are closed.

But Brandt said she didn’t think the community would want a big-box retailer, even if those bad actors had never poisoned the well. She said large-scale retail creates “an environment of destination shopping where people are driving to a store, double-parking. It’s creating huge volumes of trash, huge volumes of deliveries. And because [the area is] residential in nature, it’s a conflict, inherently.

“What we’re trying to maintain is a mixed-use community, not one thing or another,” she added.

Brandt noted that the city has denied special permits for large retail in the neighborhood before, notably when Scholastic wanted to create up to 32,000 square feet of retail space in its corporate headquarters at 557 Broadway. The city’s Board of Standards and Appeals denied that first application and later approved the retail conversion only if Scholastic broke the space up into parts less than 10,000 square feet in size.

Meringoff himself, standing at the front of the New York University classroom where last Wednesday’s C.B. 2 committee meeting was held, bore the brunt of the criticism. He has owned 462 Broadway since 1981. He pledged to put strict stipulations into any lease he signs with a retail tenant. These would include limiting delivery hours and restricting lighting on the building’s upper floors, to prevent the “nightmare” so many locals described with other large-scale retail stores.

He said that he would maintain a dialogue with nearby residents and work to solve any issues they brought to him. He said he has no plans to dump the property for an easy dollar.

“Listen, this is our baby, we are going to live with this and I will die with this building,” he told the crowd. “This is a legacy asset for us. We are not here to make a quick buck — up the net income and sell it.”

Meringoff wants the special permit because the International Culinary Center, which used the space since 1984 as a sort of test kitchen and restaurant, decided to change its business model and use only space on the upper floors. Zoning allowed the culinary school to use such a large space on the ground floor. Meringoff was legally required to advertise the space to get a conforming-use tenant for a year. He said he did so for two years, but didn’t get any bites. Many at the meeting were skeptical, though.

Now Meringoff either needs to break up the large space, rent it as commercial — rather than retail — space, or get a special permit. Many locals urged him do either the first option. But he said that Americans With Disabilities Act handicap-access and Landmarks Preservation Commission rules wouldn’t allow for the new entrances that multiple spaces would need.

Brandt, who is an architect specializing in landmarked buildings, said Meringoff could make it work, “no sweat,” she said.

“We hear that every week at the Landmarks Commission, that’s something you have to solve,” she said. “And, especially, if you do a big development, you can comply with A.D.A. inside the building. A big project like this is perfect for it — build the ramps inside. This is an ideal project for smaller stores.”

Some people told Meringoff they didn’t think a large-scale retail space would be in his best interests right now, anyway. Soho is ground zero for a citywide retail-market slump, they noted. The price per square foot of retail space in Soho along Broadway dropped from $824 last spring to $755 this past fall, according to figures collected by the Real Estate Board of New York and referenced in a recent New York Times article.

Robin Abrams, vice chairperson of real estate firm The Lansco Corporation, said that the retail boom in Soho “is softening partly because rents became overly aggressive and inappropriate.” Retailers are also realizing they can do the same business with less-expensive, smaller spaces, she said.

Abrams offered that community sentiment would mainly depend on what sort of tenant Meringoff wanted to bring into such a large space at 462 Broadway. A retailer similar to Bloomingdale’s, for example, could be better received than a discount big-box store, she noted.

“It’s a question of what that use is and why that landlord wants to create a big space, when there’s large retail spaces sitting vacant,” she said. She added that if the space could be divided up in compliance with A.D.A. and L.P.C. rules, then she would market it as flexible —  she would offer a variety of options to tenants and fit them in like pieces of a puzzle.

“You could have a retailer that takes a portion of  the ground floor combined with the upper floor, and another retailer that leases a portion of the ground floor with some of the lower level, with separate individual stores for the remaining ground floor,” she explained. “I would go out to the market on a flexible basis. But if someone came to me and wanted to lease the entire space, then I would present that, as well, and the landlord would compare each scenario in order to choose how to proceed.”

One resident who lives across Grand St. from 462 Broadway and wished not to be named told Meringoff maybe it’s time to sell the property or lower his asking rent price to attract a conforming-use tenant. The resident said he bought his loft knowing that “a Best Buy or Bloomingdale’s” wasn’t allowed across the street, and that Meringoff made his purchase knowing the same, so he has to live with it.

“Unfortunately, like everyone who makes investments, we are governed by what’s allowed in our spaces,” he said. “So, perhaps you made a poor investment. I think not. I’m sure it’s paid dividends for years, so it’s been a terrific investment. But maybe it won’t be as good as an investment going forward.”

SoHo Ain’t Herald Square

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– Permit Sought for 4 Floors of Oversized 45,201sf Department Store at 462 Broadway
– Attend Community Board Meeting Wednesday to Speak Out Against the Plan
 
Under SoHo’s unique and successful zoning, retail stores greater than 10,000 sq ft require a Special Permit from the City Planning Commission to operate.  This is to encourage smaller, independent, creative retailers and to prevent large flagship stores from overwhelming our community.
It worked well at first.  However, in the past decade or two, the Department of Buildings has basically turned its back on enforcing these zoning laws.  Oversized stores have sprung up along Broadway, like Bloomingdale’s, Old Navy, Zara, Hollister, Nike, American Eagle and UNIQLO –  to the detriment of SoHo.  Residents complain of swarms of shoppers, increasingly congested sidewalks, crowded subway platforms, noise and disturbance from late-night construction and deliveries, and oppressive illumination.
Lately SoHo activists have been putting pressure on the Buildings Department, City Planning, our elected officials and the community board to curtail this abuse.  As a result, we now see developers applying for the Special Permit.  This permit process mandates community review and input, giving us an opportunity to amend and even reject the proposal if it causes negative impacts on the neighborhood.
462 Broadway is the block-long building on the northeast corner with Grand that stretches to Crosby, former home of the French Culinary Institute. The owner has applied for a Special Permit to use four floors of the building as a 45,201 sq ft department store. See the rendering at the bottom of this email.

The community board has scheduled a meeting to hear the presentation and to give us an opportunity to voice our opinion on whether SoHo needs yet another megastore.  If this Special Permit is granted, expect other developers to follow suit and have these stores spring up not only on Broadway, but the side streets as well.  Who wants to live in Herald Square?

WHAT: Land Use & Business Development Committee, Community Board 2
WHEN: Wednesday, March 8, 6:30 pm
WHERE: NYU Building, 194 Mercer Street (Houston/Bleecker), Room 306 (ID Required)
Regards,
Sean Sweeney
Director, SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012