Friday, November 13, 2015

A Community Comes Together




"With its low-slung market-style buildings, metal awnings and battered bricks,
[Gansevoort Street] is one of the most recognizable spots in the city for location
scouts, tourism bureaus, and Instagram users. It is also one of the few
in the district to remain unchanged. So far." -New York Times

On Tuesday November 11th, 150 people turned out for the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on the development of the Gansevoort Market Historic District (also known as the Meatpacking District). Of the 50 who testified, only two were in favor of the plan to build two massive buildings on the historic street. The proposed project threatens the unique character of Gansevoort Street, its historic streetscape, low buildings and market-style architecture, the very reason the Landmark Preservation Commission decided in 2003 to landmark the area. The fight continues, so please be sure to sign the Save Gansevoort petition here.

Photos courtesy of Save Gansevoort

Monday, November 2, 2015

Stand Against The Shadows


Are you tired of the reckless overbuilding of New York City? Do you feel that too many insanely tall buildings are coming up; that we have lost enough light, air, and iconic views to this real estate madness? Are you sickened by the way public spaces get handed over to real estate developers for luxury housing that ends up casting the rest of us in shadows? Do you think that the takeover of so many retail spaces by developers, banks and chain stores is harming the character of your neighborhood?

We feel all those things, so we have joined together as New Yorkers For A Human-Scale City to fight back, and created a petition to tell the Mayor what we think. Please join us by signing and spreading the word.

Initial sponsors: Art Loisada Foundation, Bedford Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation, Citizens Defending Libraries, Coalition for a Livable West Side, Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, Community Action Alliance on NYU2031, Concerned Citizens for Community Based Planning, Defenders of the Historic Upper East Side, East Harlem Preservation, Fiske Terrace Association, Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus, Friends of Brook Park, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, Friends of City Hall Park, Friends of Greenwich Street, Friends of Lamartine Place Historic District, Friends of South Street Seaport, Friends of Tribeca Park, Historic Districts Council, Historic Park Avenue, LANDMARK WEST!, Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, Lower West Side Association, Madison-Marine-Homecrest Association, Movement to Protect the People in Crown Heights, North Avenue A Neighborhood Association, NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, Preservation League of Staten Island, Project for Public Spaces, Save Chelsea, Save Harlem Now!, #SaveNYC, Save The View Now, Save Our Seaport, SoHo Alliance, South Bronx United, South Village Neighbors, Sullivan-Ludlam-Stoddard Neighborhood Association, TakeBackNYC, TenantNet, Tribeca Trust, 29th Street Association, Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association, West 80’s Neighborhood Association, and Women of Woodlawn.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Yes To Commercial Rent Control!



At yesterday's MAS Summit for New York City, the vast majority of people in the audience said "yes" to commercial rent control during a panel discussion. The callous reaction of Alicia Glen (Deputy Mayor for housing and economic development): "I’m not sure that necessarily adopting commercial rent control would lead to solve the problem that people think the problem is. There are some small businesses that are probably going to just fail because they’re not very good businesses."

More on the corporate takeover of New York City: Darwinian City?

Photography by J. Brash

Thursday, October 22, 2015

March Against Displacement


On September 25th, close to one-thousand residents, workers, small businesses, students, and others from Chinatown, the Lower East Side, and across the city marched to City Hall to demand that Mayor de Blasio protect our community from displacement. We must show the Mayor that we will not stop until our Chinatown and the Lower East Side receives the equal protection they deserve. We call on everyone to join the march on Wednesday, October 28th! Click here for more details and to RSVP.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Preserving the Fabric of New York City's Vanishing Streetscape


As part of the sixth annual MAS Summit for New York City, Jeremiah Moss (Vanishing New York blogger and founder of #SaveNYC) will narrate a pre-recorded piece about the recent history of New York City, suggesting a death by hyper-gentrification via the loss of key small businesses and cultural touchstones. Alongside startling before-and-after streetscape photographs by James and Karla Murray, Moss will make a case for halting what is happening to the city and then outline how it can be saved.

Thursday, October 22nd at 11:05AM
The Times Center, 242 West 41st Street

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dear Mayor de Blasio

The largest employer of New York City residents are its 185,000 small businesses. A majority of New Yorkers rely on steady jobs from local employers to survive the increasing cost of living. Yet the most secure jobs for low and middle income New Yorkers are being lost every day as long established core businesses are forced to close when their leases expire.

New York City faces a jobs crisis that must be addressed immediately as our job creators fight for their livelihood. Exorbitant rent increases and no rights to negotiate fair lease terms with their landlords are driving our local economies into the ground.

We believe a real solution has been presented that will give our local entrepreneurs — in storefronts, manufacturing, not-for-profit organizations, performing arts and theater groups, art spaces and studios, recording and rehearsal studios, retail and service businesses, professional medical offices, commercial tenants — the single most powerful tool to stay in business: equal rights in commercial lease renewal negotiation. If our small businesses face a crisis, their employees face a crisis, and that means we all face it. Give small business owners rights, so that their employees can have stability and our economy can continue to flourish.

We are calling on you, New York City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, and all New York City Council Members, to unequivocally support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (File #: Int 0402-2014), the only real solution to ensure we are saving and protecting all of our small business jobs and in turn, the local economy.

This SBJSA will allow small business owners the right to:

- A 10 year minimum lease with the right to renewal, so they can plan for the future of their business, continue to employ staff, and provide their service to the community.

- Equal negotiation terms during the lease renewal process with recourse to binding arbitration by a 3rd party if fair terms can't be agreed upon.

- Restrictions to prevent landlords from passing their property taxes on to small business owners.

- An end to rent-gouging, illegal extortion of unscrupulous landlords, and unconscionably high rent increases that affect ALL businesses.

On behalf of NYC's single largest employer and revenue generator for our neighborhoods, we ask that you do the right thing for your city and local communities.

Please support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act.

•••

[Click here to send this letter to Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Mellisa Mark-Viverito]

Friday, August 28, 2015

Rally Against The Corporate University


"NYU is now an institution driven not by a concern for education, but by an elite financial calculus that ends up hurting all of us in many ways: the students, faculty and staff within the school itself, as well as its long-suffering neighbors. What’s happening at NYU is indicative of a nationwide trend that has turned institutions of higher learning into profit-driven corporations." -Mark Crispin Miller, NYU professor of media

Did you know...

-NYU “creates more student debt than any other nonprofit college or university in the country” (Village Voice)?

-NYU Law is the nation’s 2nd most expensive law school?

-Princeton Review has rated NYU's financial aid "the worst in the United States."

-NYU charges international students $9,392 more than American students, bringing in an extra $100,000?

-Your insurance costs anywhere from $2424 to $3236 with $5000 in-network deductibles and without dental or vision benefits?

-NYU bought two buildings in NoHo for $157 million in October 2014 (which had cost the owner $96.6 million one year earlier)?

-NYU provides Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates a luxury two bedroom at 120 West 15th Street though he has no affiliation at NYU and many students have no housing?

-President Sexton currently makes a base salary of $1,404,484 and will retire with a $2.6 million length of service bonus and $800,000 lifetime annuity? And a $1 million low cost loan for President Sexton’s beach house on Fire Island?

-Did you know that NYU’s Board does not have a single academic member—only Wall Street bankers, lawyers, and elite figures from Abu Dhabi and Shanghai?

-The top 21 administrators make a combined total of $23.5 million dollars (an average raise of 23.3% from 2011 to 2013, while faculty raises average 2.5%)?

-And that the increase alone would have covered tuition for 67 students and saved them between $4.3 and $8.9 million in interest over 15 years?

-That NYU admitted at least 1/3 of the workers (around 10,000 people) who built the Abu Dhabi campus were never paid for their work? And that over 200 workers were summarily imprisoned and then deported for daring to strike to recover their stolen wages?

Join students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members on September 1st to call on NYU to do the right thing, and be a good neighbor and anchor for the sustainable life of our community.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Challah! Por Favor




Beloved East Village landmark B&H Dairy Restaurant, at 127 Second Avenue, was closed since the massive March 26th explosion and fire, which destroyed half of Second Avenue between 7th Street and St. Marks Place. Neighboring restaurants reopened within weeks, but B&H was forced to remain closed due to previously unforeseen upgrades needed on the 70+ year old restaurant (among them was a new exhaust venting to the roof and fire suppression system at a cost of nearly $30,000). Finally after more red tape than thought possible, B&H reopened to much fanfare and happy hungry faces!

Pictured top to bottom: Fawzy Abdelwahed (B&H co-owner), Ms. Florence Bergson Goldberg (daughter of the original
B&H Diary owners), her husband, and current co-owner Aleksandra Abdelwahed. All photographs by Beatriz Elena Rodriguez © 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

Established 1921






"This one is really the face of Vanishing New York. This is a business that's been here for 94 years, made it through the Great Depression, made it through everything. This store is part of the fabric of New York."

After 94 years in business, Louis Shoe Rebuilders is getting the boot from Empire State Realty Trust without reason. On June 18th, #SaveNYC paid our respects and commemorated the life of this cultural gem with a funeral; old shoes and flowers were brought as offerings, the mourners dressed in black, and the legendary Penny Arcade gave a fiery eulogy for the beloved shop. Ms Beatrice Barbieri and her staff (Julio, Fabio, and Luisa) are some of the best New Yorkers we've ever met, with wonderful stories to tell about their loyal customer base and the changing neighborhood. In a short period of time we already consider them part of our #‎SaveNYC family. They will be missed by many.


All photography by Beatriz Elena Rodriguez © 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

Step By Step

Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce members march behind a banner 
which includes #SaveNYC signs at the June 14th Flag Day parade

"Iconic mom and pops stores throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn have been disappearing at a rapid pace and the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce is backing a city council bill that it believes will stop the hemorrhaging before development and rent hikes set in here. The bill called the Small Business Jobs Survival Act aims to provide commercial tenants with more clout at the bargaining table when their lease comes up for renewal. Furthermore, it also requires landlords to provide greater notification if they don’t intend to renew a lease due to development. The Sunnyside board unanimously decided last month to advocate for the passage of the bill."

Text from The Sunnyside Post, June 16th

Friday, June 12, 2015

Funeral For A Shoe Repair Shop


After 94 years in business, Louis Shoe Rebuilders is getting the boot from their landlord, Empire State Realty Trust (aka the Empire State Building). Take this opportunity to show your love for the dying city. On Thursday, June 18th starting at noon, come to a funeral for this venerable small business hosted by #SaveNYC. Bring old shoes and flowers as an offering. Bring your #SaveNYC signs. Dress in funeral black. Eulogies welcome.

•••

Louis Shoe Rebuilders has been in business since 1921, originally located on the site of the Empire State Building before there ever was an Empire State Building. When the new skyscraper opened in 1931, the landlord took Louis in. But they won't be there for much longer. The 94-year-old shop will be closing at the end of June. Owner Beatrice Barbieri: "We're not having our lease renewed. They want $25,000 and nobody can pay that on shoe repair." The Empire State Building is owned by Empire State Realty Trust, run by the Malkin family, who bought the building from Donald Trump in 2002. The building is going through changes. Tony Malkin has said he considers it the center of Silicon Alley and a "premier urban campus" for tech companies. Ground-floor windows are papered with "Retail Space Available" signs. Banners wrapped around the scaffolding cheer: "$550 Million in Building Upgrades" and "Creating New Jobs in New York.” But jobs are also being destroyed here, like the one done by cobbler and store manager Julio Galvis for the past 27 years. [Story continues here]

•••

Louis Shoe Rebuilders is located at 25 W 33rd Street, in the Empire State Building. The shop's
entrance is on the street. The funeral is rain or shine (bring a black umbrella if it's raining).

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hunger Strike Against Eviction



Sunrise Co-op Press Conference & Hunger Strike

The Project
The New York City Economic Development Corp's Willets Point redevelopment plan calls for the displacement of over 200 small businesses. It was approved in the final days of the Bloomberg administration and currently being carried out under Mayor Bill de Blasio. In 2014 a cooperative of businesses that reached an agreement with NYCEDC leased a new site in the Bronx. Promised funding and permits needed to create a viable relocation site have been held up by the city. The deadline to vacate the area was June 1st.

Plea to Council Member Julissa Ferreras
"Necesitamos de que nos de su apollo porque nosotros somos su vecindario. [...] su barrio y ella no puede abandonar estas familias y dejarlos que nos tire a la calle." (Translation: We need her support because we are her community, her neighborhood, and she can't abandon these families and leave us thrown out on the streets).

Plea to the de Blasio Administration 
Businesses aren't allowed a few more months to relocate in the Bronx nor given the time to raise money for the transition as was promised and signed for. The land was sold off to billionaire developers for $1 during the Bloomberg administration. They're given the right to buy land for $1, but small businesses operated/run by mostly low-income to middle class immigrants in Queens‬ don't have the right to a decent relocation plan.  

Hunger Strike *
The NYCEDC reached a deal with some of the Willets Point small businesses promising them more time and assistance in relocating. The hunger strike began on June 1, 2015.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Stand Up For NYC


Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and District 2 Council Member Rosie Mendez (pictured) hosted a tour of the East Village with local business owners, community members and elected officials on Friday, May 29th. The "Follow Me Friday" event highlighted and promoted East Village businesses recovering from the aftermath of the March 26th building explosion, beginning with a moment of silence at the site of the explosion. #SaveNYC members walked alongside other New Yorkers to show their support.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tenants United


 



  



Thousands of tenants fed up with rising rents that push them out marched from Foley Square across the Brooklyn Bridge to demand that Governor Andrew Cuomo stand with tenants, not landlords and developers.

First photograph courtesy of Pamela Dayton
All other photos via the Alliance For Tenant Power

Monday, May 11, 2015

Rally To Save One Million Homes


As if the rent wasn’t already too damn high, New York City has lost 250,000 units of affordable apartments in the past 10 years. Thanks to NYC’s weak rent laws, landlords are able to de-regulate the rent-stabilized apartments that ensure working families and seniors have a home.

That’s why this May 14th at 5PM in Foley Square, we are joining the biggest tenant mobilization in New York City this year to demand stronger rent laws now. Will you join us? 

While Mayor de Blasio announced the "most sweeping expansion of tenant protections in decades for the city’s 1 million rent-regulated apartments," 2.5 million New Yorkers are still at risk of displacement if our legislators do not pass stronger rent laws this June. If we don’t win stronger rent laws in June, our city as we know it will be lost! This is our last chance to hold onto the place we call home.

Join the March To Save New York City before it’s too late!

Artwork by Eric Drooker.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Say No To The Status Quo

#SaveNYC lends its support to the argument against the May 6 "fact-finding" roundtable on small business, sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.  A grassroots movement dedicated to protecting and preserving the diversity and uniqueness of the urban fabric in New York City, #SaveNYC officially endorses the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (File #0402-2014) and rejects all other plans currently on the table.

No proposed legislation currently offered by city or state politicians will save or protect a single small business in New York City, with the exception of the SBJSA.  The status quo proposals being offered only provide non-binding negotiation and mediation, with one-year extensions before the tenant will be forced to move or close.  They leave business owners powerless without the basic commercial rights they need to negotiate fair lease terms and remain in business.  These are not solutions to the city’s small business crisis, but only ways of maintaining business as usual.

Between 1,000 and 1,200 small businesses close each month across all five boroughs due to dramatically increased rents and inequitable commercial lease processes.  The SBJSA is a fair, simple, and effective solution to restore economic equality.  The SBJSA will give commercial tenants ten-year leases, and protect them from rent gouging and unfair lease terms through mediation and binding arbitration.  This process takes into consideration the unique nature of every business and every business community, where the arbitrator’s decision is guided by strict criteria, and based upon a case by case basis to decide fair and reasonable lease terms.

Representing the voice of the people, #SaveNYC has attracted major media attention, from the New York Times to WNYC radio; gained thousands of members and thousands of signatures on a petition to pass the SBJSA; and gathered dozens of powerful photos and videos from everyday New Yorkers who demand strong, swift action from City Hall.  Although we are glad to see some much needed attention being paid to this issue, our hope is that the results of the upcoming roundtable will convince NYC Council Members and Mayor Bill de Blasio of what their constituents have been voicing — the alternative, the SBJSA is the only fair solution and should be brought to the table.  It’s time to listen to the voice of New York and give our small businesses and cultural institutions a fair deal—before it’s too late.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Second Avenue Small Business Crawl


Following the tragic explosion on Second Avenue in the East Village on March 27th, New Yorkers once again witnessed the powerful sense of community that is the bedrock of our great city. From the immediate response of police, firefighters, the Red Cross, and key community organizations like the East Village Community Coalition, those affected by the explosion were met with countless resources, support, and compassion that has always been the hallmark of New Yorkers in the face of great tragedy.

In the wake of this terrible event, there remained much more to do. Now more than ever, New Yorkers need to support the economic backbone of the East Village community: small businesses. The local economy and character our neighborhoods has always been upheld by our small businesses, and it is in support of them that #SaveNYC organized a business crawl to show solidarity and financial support for those small businesses in the East Village most affected by the damage and economic fallout of the Second Avenue explosion.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spend On Second


After a disaster like the Second Avenue explosion and fire, impacted small businesses struggle to survive. Some don’t make it. Especially the old favorites. #SaveNYC is holding a Small Biz Crawl along Second Avenue to bring customers, cash, and attention to those mom-and-pops in need!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fight For Adele






"How could you throw old people out? I’m not going to be here that 
many more years. Let me die in my home." -Adele Sarno, 85. 

"Ms. Sarno is the embodiment of the soul of New York. She is part of our heritage as a city of immigrants. Yet she is facing eviction by her landlord, the Italian American Museum, because their development plans and the law support a quadrupling of her rent from $820 to $3500/month. Any plan to quadruple residential rent, as is being sought in Ms. Sarno’s case, is both onerous and exploitative. It is essentially a heavy financial penalty placed on a vulnerable citizen with a fixed income in order to both intimidate and then likely evict in the interest of commercial development. This may be legal but it is morally wrong and it is not the New York City we should want to live in." -Katherine D. LaGuardia, Fiorello H. LaGuardia Foundation

Ms. Sarno, who has lived all her life in Little Italy, is being evicted from her apartment after losing a fight to keep her $820-a-month rent from skyrocketing; her landlord is the Italian American Museum (an institution who is in the business of conservation).

Photographs by Sandi Bachmom and Lee Greenfeld