Faced with a rent increase from $32,000 a month to more than $100,000, Associated Supermarket closed its doors after 27 years on W. 14 St. and Eighth Ave. This March 2016 rally drew dozens of loyal customers as well as Councilmember Corey Johnson (in tie), with State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried (at right) and Public Advocate Letitia James (at left). Chelsea Now file photo by Yannic Rack.
BY JACKSON CHEN | City Councilmembers across Manhattan are calling for reform of a decades-old commercial rent tax they say is burdening many local businesses into extinction.
The commercial rent tax (CRT) was created in 1963 as a revenue generator that charges businesses paying more than $250,000 in annual rent a 3.9 percent levy. In the ’90s, the CRT was restricted to Manhattan businesses below 96th St., followed by another amendment that exempted part of Lower Manhattan after 9/11.
Penn South resident Gloria Sukenick alerted the panel that Fashion Design Books on W. 27th St. (across from the Fashion Institute of Technology) would be shuttering its doors soon. Photo by Sean Egan.
BY SEAN EGAN | “The fabric of this city is dying,” said Chelsea resident Roberta Gelb, while chiding the City Council and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for the decades-long stalling of a bill that would strengthen the rights of commercial tenants during lease negotiations with landlords.
Unambiguous and apoplectic, Gelb’s linking of political inaction to the loss of single- and family-owned businesses was a common refrain at Oct. 20’s forum (“The Death (& Rebirth?) of NYC’s Mom-and-Pops”) — sponsored by the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club (CRDC; crdcnyc.org) in order to address the issue and examine solutions — most significantly, the aforementioned bill, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA).
The 300 West 23rd, 22nd, 21st Streets Block Association honored and heard from local community leaders, pols, and law enforcement officers at their annual community meeting at St. Paul’s German Lutheran Church (315 W. 22nd St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) on Oct. 24. The block association gave each honoree a framed print of the buildings on the 300 block of 21st St., between Eighth and Ninth Aves., the same iconic image the association uses as its logo.
The association honored Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Councilmember Corey Johnson, longtime President of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations Bill Borock, and the NYPD’s Chelsea-based 10th Precinct.
CHELSEA — The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has asked the owner of a historic house that served as a stop on the Underground Railroad to remove a controversial rooftop addition — a request longtime advocates are viewing as a “victory.”
After a standoff lasting months, elected officials and the Port Authority announced a peace accord yesterday over plans to replace the authority’s aging West Side bus terminal. The Port Authority has promised to include local representatives and the public as it studies all potential sites for a new terminal, backing away (for now) from its previous goal of building a replacement west of Ninth Avenue.
Politicians had spent all summer blasting the bi-state body for an insular process that, they said, prematurely jumped to conclusions about relocating Manhattan’s second-busiest transit hub. While hitting “reset” could lead to a more transparent process, there’s no guarantee it will include the large-scale thinking needed to find a better way of handling the crushing cross-Hudson commute.
BY EILEEN STUKANE | The windows were still missing on every floor of the building whose street level space houses the King David Gallery. Next door at the St. Vincent de Paul Church, shuttered since 2013, there was similar damage above. Below, shattered glass was strewn on the ground and wedged into the sidewalk cracks as far as the eye could see. Across the street, the tall windows normally affording passersby a clear view into the intense goings-on at Orangetheory Fitness sported the top-to-bottom duct-taped “X” mark familiar to anyone who’s ever prepped for a hurricane.
Three days after Ahmad Khan Rahami’s homemade bomb exploded near 131 W. 23rd St., a shaken Chelsea had weathered the storm and was standing tall, albeit on new footing.
Barricades lifted, traffic and pedestrians had returned to this block of W. 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh Aves., which had a stronger NYPD presence. It was a time for attention and assurances from Mayor Bill de Blasio, and other elected officials, that life could return to normal. And so they came.
Damage to the King David Gallery was underway on the morning of Tues., Sept. 20. Photo by Scott Stiffler.
L to R: Fern Luskin, State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Julie Finch spoke out against the fifth-floor addition to the Hopper-Gibbons House. Photo by Sean Egan.
BY SEAN EGAN | Preservationists who’ve rallied for years around the Hopper-Gibbons House (339 W. 29th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) — the only documented Underground Railroad site in Manhattan — were left frustrated after the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), at its Tues., Sept. 20 hearing, decided not to take any action regarding the building. At this hearing, the LPC could have required the owner to remove a contentious fifth-floor addition from the row house and restore it to its previous four-story height — the ultimate goal of advocates.
Controversy has surrounded the house because its owner, Tony Mamounas, has been trying to legitimize a fifth-floor penthouse he began building when in possession of erroneously issued permits from the Department of Buildings.
The building was landmarked in 2009 as part of the Lamartine Historic District, just after those permits were revoked and Stop Work Orders were issued — though work on the addition continued, according to locals. Court decisions in 2013 and 2015 upheld that Mamounas must gain approval from the LPC before continuing construction.
BY ALEX ELLEFSON | Plans to discuss the use of an infamous Flatiron hotel as a months-long refuge for homeless single men and women awaiting long-term housing stalled last week when a conference room was unable to accommodate scores of irate residents intent on voicing their objections.
Neighbors packed shoulder-to-shoulder — with a line of people out into the hall — to hear a presentation on the proposed shelter at the Community Board 5 (CB5) Budget, Education & City Services Committee meeting.
I represent Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown, and parts of Murray Hill and the Lincoln Center area in the State Assembly. I have been chair of the Assembly Health Committee since 1987. During off hours, I like to write Chinese calligraphy.