Book Launch Party: “While We Were Sleeping: NYU and The Destruction of New York” Sunday July 15 McNally Jackson Bookstore


News from the NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan — they have written a book along with other notable authors, academics, artists and activists titled “While We Were Sleeping: NYU and the Destruction of New York.” (Not subtle at all but appropriate I’d say.) They are launching it this Sunday, July 15th with a book party at McNally Jackson bookstore on Prince Street (between Lafayette and Mulberry). Fran Lebowitz, Peter Carey, Joseph McElroy and more will be there! Come join them 7-9 p.m.!

p.s. Update on this site’s redesign if you didn’t see other post — Whereas this blog in the beginning seemed to just create itself, the redesign (of the site this time, not the park!) has been a tad more complicated. So! I took a two week break and new posts have now resumed (with this one). New site will appear in the near future. Thanks!

Worth Checking Out — “The Bloomberg Era” by Photo Blogger Nathan Kensinger

Chez Brigitte, West Village, For Rent

As 2009 came to a close, Photo Blogger Nathan Kensinger put together an excellent photo and comprehensive written essay summing up “The Bloomberg Era.” It is worth a look ! This links to Part I (Part II is coming!).

Note: the photos on this site are not his but he is an excellent photographer and has captured the changing face of NYC and destructive nature of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policies on the character of our city’s neighborhoods at his blog.

Kensinger writes:

The Bloomberg administration focused on transforming the city’s landscape from its very first days in office. As the NY Times wrote in 2009, “the administration’s economic development policies started with a simple concept: New York must grow to compete with other cities. Development became the means toward that end.” Bloomberg’s pro-development policies created “a historic re-envisioning of New York City, one that loosened the reins on development across the boroughs and pushed more than 100 rezoning measures through a City Council that stamped them all into law... across the city, residential construction doubled under Mr. Bloomberg, to more than 30,000 units a year from 2004 through 2008… Construction spending has also doubled since he took office, reaching a high of $32 billion in 2008.”

Donuts Coffee Shop, Park Slope, No Longer

Not only has the residential landscape changed dramatically under the Bloomberg Administration but the hyper development has led to overarching changes to the type of businesses that can afford to operate – and survive – in the city.

Kensinger’s essay continues:

With the loss of small businesses, the commercial landscape of New York re-oriented towards chain stores – with cookie-cutter exteriors – that could afford to pay exorbitant rents. By mid-decade, New York’s commercial streetscape had become dominated by redundancy. A multitude of sterile bank branches opened, while chains like Duane Reade and Starbucks placed multiple store locations within a few blocks of each other, to monopolize neighborhoods. For the first time, big-box-stores were allowed to enter the city, like Home Depot in 2004 and Ikea in 2008, further endangering small businesses. Virginie-Alvine Perrette’s award-winning documentary “Twilight Becomes Night” (2008) perfectly encapsulated the loss of small businesses in New York, stating that “large chains, public policy and high rents” were putting NYC’s “locally owned stores… on a consistent path towards extinction.”

See the entire essay here.

Photo #1: Jeremoss

Photo #2: Benzado

Freddy’s Brooklyn Roundhouse Cable/Internet Show Covers Jane Jacobs’ Event at Judson Church in Two Episodes

[jane-jacobs.jpg]

Freddy’s Brooklyn Roundhouse is a well-produced “non-corporate media” outlet, viewed on MNN (Manhattan Neighborhood Network), BCAT (Brooklyn Community Access Television) and YouTube, covering topics such as The Atlantic Yards, media consolidation, Eminent Domain abuse, as well as changes linked to (over) development in NYC.

The program is airing a two part show from September 22nd’s Jane Jacobs event organized by Reverend Billy and held at Judson Memorial Church across from Washington Square Park.

From the release:

The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs’s most famous book, helped change the blind acceptance of urban planners and their grand schemes to remake cities into unlivable places. Jacobs ended Robert Moses’ reign of bad building and urban destruction. With the misguided development of the Bloomberg administration today, Jane Jacobs’s work is as important as it ever was. Freddy’s Brooklyn Roundhouse presents two new episodes based on readings from Jane Jacobs, filmed at the Judson Church, NYC and hosted by Green Party Mayoral Candidate Rev Billy.

The event is split up into two episodes – links below to YouTube video:

Episode 1: Features neighborhood activists, Michael Premo from Picture the Homeless, Philip Dipaolo from The People’s Firehouse and Joy Chatel, Defender of the Duffield House Brooklyn Underground Railroad landmark.

Episode 2: Features neighborhood activists, Cathryn Swan of the Washington Square Park Blog and Save Union Square, Melanie Joseph of the Foundry Theatre and Christabel Gough, NYC preservationist hero.

Bob Holman, of the Howl Festival & Bowery Poetry Club and former City Councilwoman, Carol Greitzer, are other activists who spoke at the event and were not included in the above shows, due to lack of time, but can be found here.

You can watch Freddy’s Brooklyn Roadhouse weekly Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on BCAT and Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on MNN.  Episodes are then also uploaded to YouTube.  Episode 1 aired this week but Episode 2 will air next week at the following times and places:  BCAT Tuesday Oct 20, 8 p.m., TimeWarner Cable(Ch. 34)/Cablevision(Ch. 67)/RCN(Ch. 82)Verizon(Ch. 42) and on MNN Thursday Oct 22, 8:30 p.m. TimeWarner Cable(Ch. 56)/Cablevision(Ch. 17)RCN(Ch. 83)Verizon(Ch. 34).  You can watch the shows on YouTube Episode I here; Episode II at this link.

NYC: The Vanishing City: Films and Discussion Saturday, January 24th

The Vanishing City Event 1/24

The Vanishing City Event 1/24

A topic I’ve tried to explore on Washington Square Park Blog over the last year are the dramatic changes going on in New York City under Mayor Bloomberg.

Our CEO Mayor’s pro-development, pro-corporate interests, massive re-zonings, and anti-community initiatives are all dramatically accelerating the pace of change in New York, destroying the fabric, the underpinning, of what makes New York New York – its unique, gritty, welcoming to all, pace-setting, dynamic edge.

Evidence of these initiatives exist across the city’s five boroughs. See: Coney Island, Willets Point, Yankee Stadium land grab and park destruction in the Bronx, Lower East Side/Chinatown re-zonings, Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards debacle, NYU and Columbia University’s mammoth, soulless expansions, the overtaking of Harlem, and, of course, Washington Square Park, among too many others.

We can welcome the future without bulldozing the past.

But not Mayor Bloomberg and his corporate allies … they wish to create a homogenized, bland version of New York. Emphasis on corporatization, privatization, tourism, real estate, Wall Street (you see how well that’s been going, eh?). To do this, the past must disappear. It challenges and hinders their efforts. It reminds people of what once was – and can be.

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Now, at last, an event, with two films and discussion, is happening, the first of others, the organizers say.

Details:

THE VANISHING CITY
Saturday, January 24 – 8PM
The NEW Dixon Place Theater; 161 Chrystie Street (Rivington/Delancey), Manhattan
RSVP: 212 219-0736 x113

$20 includes reception with panel to follow event
$15 general admission; $12 seniors/students/discount code

Proceeds benefit the funding of the film “Vanishing New York” and community programs at Dixon Place.

FEATURING-

A screening of the acclaimed short film “Twilight Becomes Night
A preview of the work-in-progress film Vanishing New York
And a panel of activists and preservationists taking audience questions:

-Andrew Berman, Executive Director, Greenwich Village Society of Historical Preservation
-Bettina Domiani, Director, Good Jobs New York
-Deborah Glick, New York State Assemblymember
-Jen Senko & Fiore DeRosa, Directors/Producers, “Vanishing New York”

Moderated by Michael Karp; Curated by Jen Senko & Fiore DeRosa

Luxury development is radically changing the face and faces of New York City. The middle class, small businesses and artists are being priced out at an alarming rate. You can’t stop development, so how then do you preserve the things that make this city one of the most unique places in the world?

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Jeremiah at Vanishing New York blog (not affiliated with the film) interviewed the director of “Twilight Becomes Night,” Virginie-Alvine Perrette, here.

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New Blog entries resume Monday, January 26th!

Why Mayor Bloomberg Wants Redesign of Washington Square Park

Before Mayor Bloomberg‘s well orchestrated push to overturn voted-in term limits (with the complicity of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and 28 other members), the mainstream media applied a general lack of scrutiny to his actions. More recently, some light has been shone on the man behind the curtain. Until now, the Mayor had almost succeeded in pulling the wool over the eyes of our city.

His initiatives include: taking over control of schools (with parents outraged over the non-stop testing) – and then cutting funding from them, privatizing our public parks, eliminating recycling(until activists got on his case, along with the NYC Comptroller), cut backs to libraries and senior centers, issuing non-stop Tax breaks to billionaire developers and corporations & misusing confiscations through eminent domain so that our city is basically owned by corporate interests, besieged by “luxury” housing.

The list goes on and on.

We’re on the precipice of WHAT OUR CITY IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE for the NEXT 30 YEARS. Drastic changes are being made with his finger on all the triggers. I could coexist with our billionaire Mayor if he’d keep on his side of the room. I’d stay on mine. Unfortunately, he owns the room. So what then?

Mayor Bloomberg’s imprint is stamped all over what is happening at Washington Square Park. From the complicity of the City Council members (specifically Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Member Alan Gerson – it’s Gerson’s district), to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to the Arts Commission to the Community Board. However, despite the Mayor’s control and wishes, even the local Community Board voted against the Park’s “renovation,” albeit on the third try, once they recognized the arrogance and duplicity of the New York City Parks Department in ignoring their requests for information. Yet, from NYU to the “Tisch Fountain,” Mayor Bloomberg’s privatization agenda looms large.

The dramatic disruption of Washington Square Park, against the wishes of – and without input from – the community, has been termed Bloomberg’s “pet project.”

Why…? Because Washington Square Park is the antithesis of Michael Bloomberg’s “vision” of New York City a freewheeling cacophonous non-permitted jumble of free speech, free music, free performance, free political debate – and police cameras all over the place. Washington Square Park at one point housed more surveillance cameras per square foot than any other 9 acre area in NYC. Bloomberg has made no proposal to remove or reduce the surveillance, only the public activities they are surveiling.

Mayor Bloomberg’s lifeline is being a CEO of a corporation. He can pretend he gets this whole democracy ‘thing’ (while buying his way into it) — but that’s a farce.

Gawker recently covered what it’s really like to work at Bloomberg L.P., the corporation he founded, and how astonishing it is that the appalling conditions there have not merited more coverage (instead .. it’s as if he liberated City Hall by banishment of walls and dividers!). Read about this here: The Other Reason Mayor Mike Couldn’t Run.

* Note: A slightly different version of this post first appeared on March 4th, 2008. *

NYU: If someone is going to eat up and destroy neighborhoods, it might as well be us

Downtown Manhattan, NYU Flags Abound

Downtown Manhattan, NYU Flags Abound

* Recycled Entry *

New York magazine covers NYU in their Real Estate section (week of July 14) with a piece entitled “NYU’s Olive Branch.” Subtitled: “The school wants to expand – and says it’ll be a better neighbor. Good luck, guys.”

With no mention of the pending destruction of the Provincetown Playhouse or any outline of NYU’s history of disregard for its West and East Village neighbors – as it plants its flags seemingly everywhere – the article feels incomplete.

Yet the writer, S. Jhoanna Robledo, does get some choice quotes and information from Alicia Hurley, NYU’s vice president of government affairs and community engagement.

Ms. Hurley says, “We finally realized we were on an unsustainable track. We decided we [had] to restructure and invite the community to the table.”

In February, NYU “unveiled its plan for 6 million square feet of new space, half of it housing” for their 23 year plan, Plan 2031.  The university’s plan is to add of much of this in downtown Manhattan – for the convenience of its students and faculty.

As recently as June, NYU announced plans to destroy basically all of the Provincetown Playhouse and adjoining buildings, except for four walls and the theater entry facade, despite overwhelming community opposition. So where’s the sustainability?

Ultimately revealed is NYU‘s true position on the subject: If someone is going to gobble up the neighborhood, why shouldn’t it be them? Hurley says, “What would be around Washington Square Park if it wasn’t NYU? Do you think it would be a soft, gentle area of brownstones? Or high-end condos?

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New York Magazine article here.

NYU’s Plan 2031.

Previous coverage of Provincetown Playhouse (including its history) and Community Board 2 vote in support of NYU’s plans despite overwhelming community opposition.

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Originally published July 18, 2008.  (This is a slightly edited version.)

If you missed the post about NYU President John Sexton‘s ‘up-is-down’ recent testimony at the NY City Council term limits hearings, click here.

Interview with Ada Louise Huxtable — “Dean of Architecture Critics” — on NYC under Mayor Bloomberg: “Here we practice the art of the deal, not the art of the city”

Ada Louise Huxtable, who is referred to as the “Dean of Architecture Critics,” is interviewed by Phillip Lopate in a large City section story in Sunday’s (November 9) New York Times. She talks about Mayor Bloomberg, development in our city and the lack of any city planning.

An excerpt:

Huxtable: Everything in this city is totally developer driven. You do not get Rockefeller Center-type development unless you have some kind of leadership that will commit to it; and these developers are so powerful and so wealthy and so sure of what they want that you’re starting from a different premise. We’ve had, I think, a very good mayor, who has done good things for the city, but he doesn’t know the difference. Bloomberg’s a businessman: he thinks development is planning.

Lopate: You say in your book, “Here we practice the art of the deal, not the art of the city.”

Huxtable: Exactly. It’s your urban development corporations, state and city, that are in charge of these things, not the planners. There’s nobody in there that has any of this city-making programmed in their heads; they have dollars and cents and time frames. It’s pure business.

New York for Sale: Are Developers Overbuilding? – Event Oct. 20th Museum of the City of New York

On October 20th the Museum of the City of New York will be holding a panel “New York for Sale: Are Developers Overbuilding?

Hmmm.  Ya think?

The larger question — Is Mayor Bloomberg giving away our city to developers and his corporate friends via tax breaks and other perks thereby changing the character of the city at an overwhelming speed?

Description on the panel (where they get into this a bit while omitting the Mayor by name):

Neighborhood activists and preservationists claim that changes in zoning regulations and new construction are destroying the character of New York. Public officials and pro-development forces maintain that in order to compete with other global cities, New York must continue on its current course of development and that there are ways to do this sustainably.

Hope Cohen, deputy director of the Center for Rethinking Development in New York City, moderator.

Tom Angotti, director of Hunter College’s Center for Community Planning & Development and author of New York for Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate

Yvonne Isaac, Vice President of Operations, Full Spectrum of NY

Steven Spinola, president, The Real Estate Board of New York

Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President

Monday, October 20th, 6:30 p.m. Reservations Required. $9 General Admission. $5 Museum members, seniors and students.

For more info, call 212.534.1672, ext. 3395 or visit the program page.

Location: 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street. (# 6 to 103rd St. or #2/3 trains to Central Pk N-110th)

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I learned of this event from another interesting site Community Based Planning.