Monday Bulletin: A Painting Reunion; Affordable Housing On Its Way; Robberies; A Babka Birthday


Easter on Central Park West. Photo by Naomi Serviss.

April 5, 2021 Weather: Sunny, with a high of 67 degrees.

Notices:
Our calendar has local and virtual events.

Community Board 7 is looking for a district manager. More here.

News:
A retrospective of Alice Neel’s paintings is showing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many of those paintings were done in “a large apartment on the Upper West Side that was filled with paintings,” The New York Times wrote, where the most interesting and ordinary characters of the 1960s passed through. “If her visitors caught her eye, she might ask to paint them.” So it was for two young boys from “uptown.” The article traces the paths of the painting and the two boys, until they converged at The Met 50 years later. Here’s a preview of the show.

The neighborhood’s respected West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing is nearing completion of a mixed-use, permanent affordable housing project on West 108th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, YIMBY reported. The building, which required the controversial demolition of two low-cost parking garages in 2018, “will yield 199 units for both low-income families and seniors,” and several community improvements, including “a new home for the Central Park Medical Unit, and public restrooms for Anibal Aviles Playground.”

A spree of robberies in the neighborhood may be linked, the Post reported. In addition to phones and an e-bike, on Wednesday night, a group assaulted and stole a 13-year-old’s Dodger cap. “Cops believe that the group of at least three male suspects is behind four other robberies in March — including a trio last week and two more incidents involving teenage victims.” WSR has contacted Captain Neil Zuber of the 20th Precinct for further information.

Nearly 100 people showed up to celebrate Ruth Rosner’s 105th birthday at Breads Bakery, on Broadway between 62nd and 63rd Streets, “where she goes to hang out with friends every single day,” according to abc7news. The cake was made of babka. “As they sang ‘Happy Birthday,’ Rosner said she had to close her eyes and absorb the moment to take it all in. She says she is also looking forward to singing and dancing again with no mask on.” (This gives credence to our theory that Ponce de Leon should have sailed here!)

Tacombi, which has a spot on Amsterdam between 78th and 79th Streets, is about more than just tacos, Forbes reported. “In April 2020, Tacombi officially launched Tacombi Community Kitchen, through its non-profit Tacombi Foundation. Its goal is to ‘provide immediate food relief through wholesome meals to individuals and families hit by the Covid-19 health crisis and financial crisis’…At the outset of the pandemic, it distributed about 1,600 weekly meals, but that number has stepped up to 4,000 meals a week. It serves meals in neighborhoods where its mostly Hispanic staff lives, in the Bronx, parts of Brooklyn and Jackson Heights, Queens.”

“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over – especially not on the litigation-loving Upper West Side,” wrote the ever-ebullient New York Post. “Activists opposed to the soaring height of 52-story 200 Amsterdam Avenue at West 71st Street have made a last-ditch stab at making the developers chop twenty floors off the luxury condominium…Wednesday’s filing was not an appeal, but rather a request to file an appeal ahead of a April 1 deadline to request a Court of Appeals hearing.” With the last decision 4-0 in favor of the developer, “the odds are long,”

“In the spirit of this season of resurrection,” Rev. Kevin VanHook, the Minister of Justice, Advocacy, and Change at Riverside Church, advocates, in a Gotham Gazette op-ed, for “the passage of Clean Slate legislation in Albany this year, which would put an end to…perpetual punishment by automatically expunging New Yorkers’ conviction histories after a period of time. This is a fight that is rooted in human dignity and fairness. When people return home from jail or prison, they find themselves facing a second sentence. Employers, schools and landlords often want nothing to do with someone who has a conviction history. They will quickly toss an application or resume aside and assume the worst, leaving a supposedly free person chained to the past.”

On a lighter note, Upper West Sider Jerry Seinfeld was the first one back on a live stage (although behind plexiglass) at the Gotham Comedy Club in Chelsea, after performance venues were allowed to reopen at 33%, and he was “still as funny as ever,” a fan told CBS. Not far behind will be the reopening of Stand Up Comedy, on West 78th between Amsterdam and Broadway, where Jerry can perform in his own neighborhood. (The website says it opens Wednesday.)

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    1. Rob G. says:

      Re: The “affordable housing” on 108th Street: The removal of the parking garages was only part of the controversy. The bigger issue was the addition of more homeless shelter units in a neighborhood that is already overwhelmed with them.

      • Lizzie says:

        It’s not a homeless shelter. It’s permanent housing. And much of it is for seniors. Click on the link for accurate info.

    2. jms says:

      Although the pro-development zealots are no doubt cheering the news, I was sorry to hear of the latest setback in the fight to reduce overgrown sore-thumb 200 Amsterdam Ave. to its proper height. That thing *really* sticks out, and not in a good way. If the Court of Appeals ultimately rules out truncating the top 20 floors, perhaps activists could try a new tack — pressuring the developer to sink the bottom 20 floors below the ground. This would have the added benefit of reducing the area the building takes up, allowing for a larger public plaza and more sunlight.

      • Brandon says:

        Come on, is this a serious suggestion?

        • Bob says:

          Of course. You just dig a hole and nudge the building into it. What’s so hard about that?

          • jms says:

            Sure, that might work, but it would likely involve tearing down adjacent buildings to make room for the hole, which would not be good. And then, too, you’d be left with the empty original lot, tempting some other devious developer to buy it and try the same subterfuge. No, the way to go is straight down. My scheme calls for trusses — many, many trusses, as well as hydraulic pumps. Hey, it’s worth a try!

        • lynn says:

          Funniest comment? 😉

        • jms says:

          I know, you’re probably wondering what becomes of the 20 floors’ worth of excavated dirt and rubble, right? Simple: you just dig another hole for it.

      • Rob G. says:

        Great idea but it doesn’t go far enough. The evil developers should be forced to raise the surrounding neighborhood’s ground level in the equivalent of another 20 stories. That should satisfy all the angry UWSers!

        • jms says:

          That’s certainly lateral thinking, Rob.

          But I still think it would be much better simply to sink the one building straight down 20 floors. That way we wouldn’t be concealing the thousands of decent-looking structures in the neighborhood; and besides, raising everything else might make dog-walking a lot harder.

      • JerryV says:

        I think that sinking the building 20 stories into the ground is unrealistic, as it will go below the water table. The 20 stories should come off the middle.

        • jms says:

          Now that’s thinking! The building’s excessive height stems mainly from its gerrymandered partial tax lots and haughtily high ceilings, but I wonder whether bloated mechanical voids are also a factor. If that’s the case, I’d start the trimming with those floors. (The deletion need not be contiguous, right?)

        • Paul says:

          Why not? Almost every tall building has had its 13th floor removed at some point, so the technology is definitely there.

          • jms says:

            As a triskadekaphile, I find this practice rather irksome, but you’re absolutely right. We have the technology; we can rebuild it!

    3. Frank Grimes says:

      Our elected officials claim crime is down in the neighborhood…..

      You will not find a more comical comment…when can I pick up my tee shirt??

    4. YIMBY says:

      The loser NIMBYs will win their idiotic case against 200 Amsterdam Ave. when pigs fly.

    5. WestSideRagger says:

      Re: Tacombi: I once got the wrong order there (got ketchup instead of salsa). They apologized though and said, “sorry, that’s nacho order.” I didn’t respond because I didn’t want to taco bout it. In Heinz sight I should have said something. Felt like a shell of my old self and ate that meal with a chip on my shoulder. But I shouldn’t be thinking about what could have bean, am I rice? Sorry for being so cheesy.

      Good article though.

      • Deb says:

        At this rate, Oprah will say ‘you get a t-shirt, you get a t-shirt, etc” until every reader receives a shirt

    6. TruthSayer says:

      That robbery crew seems like a bunch of fake tough guys. They will get what’s coming to them soon.

    7. Sarah says:

      That’s it. I’m adding daily babka to my diet. It’s science!!!

    8. LivesOnUWS says:

      Is “Breads Bakery” the NYC equivalent to the Fountain of Youth? Where good friends can gather and laugh. Break bread and drink good coffee. Leave all their troubles outside for a few hours. To dream about what once was and what can still be.

    9. Susan Finkel says:

      Easter on CPW pic
      Who knew matching your shoes to your pants was a thing? Hats off to all you strollers with bowlers!