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Chelsea Now: Key Lockboxes Spark Safety Concerns

By Dusica Sue Malesevic, July 20

An increase in key lockboxes has some residents concerned about safety, as they point to home-sharing sites that use the key keepers so people can gain entrance to buildings.

A host can put the keys in a lockbox, giving their guest the combination to open the keeper. Those who make their residential spaces available to others via short-term rental sites — Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, Flipkey, and Craigslist — use the lockboxes if they cannot hand over keys in person. Realtors also use key lockboxes.

Last week, Chelsea Now counted 11 key keepers on W. 21st St., btw. Eighth and Ninth Aves. Some were discreetly placed, hidden behind bikes or garbage cans. Others were easily spotted, out in the open and affixed to tree guards and fences. In front of one building on the block, four key keepers dotted a tree guard’s perimeter.

Chelsea Now: Rally Highlight Hopes for Hopper-Gibbons House

By Sean Egan, June 22

The restoration of the only documented Underground Railroad site in Manhattan continues to be a cause to rally around.

Known as the Hopper-Gibbons House (339 W. 29th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.), the building has been caught in a years-long battle between local preservationists — led by the Friends of the Hopper-Gibbons Underground Railroad Site — and the site’s owner, Tony Mamounas.

The building was landmarked in 2009 as part of the Lamartine Historic District, shortly after erroneously issued permits were revoked from Mamounas and Stop Work Orders were issued — though work on the house’s contentious fifth-floor addition reportedly continued. Court decisions in both 2013 and 2015 upheld that Mamounas must gain approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) before continuing construction. The LPC does, however, have the ability to make the owner restore the house to its former state; this is what preservationists have been advocating for as the owner prepares to go before the LPC with revised plans.

The site was home to Abigail Hopper-Gibbons, a noted abolitionist, who used the house as a safe place for runaway slaves making their way North, and was also court to visits from Horace Greeley and Frederick Douglass. The house was so well known, in fact, that angry rioters targeted it during the 1863 Draft Riots — causing the Hopper-Gibbons daughters to escape the pandemonium by fleeing across the flush roofs of the houses in the district.

Chelsea Now: A House Divided: Community Debates Fate of 404 W. 20th St.

By Sean Egan, 6/9/16The sale of 404 W. 20th St. for $7.4 million set in motion the current dispute over proposed changes to the historic house. Photo by Sean Egan.

The sale of 404 W. 20th St. for $7.4 million set in motion the current dispute over proposed changes to the historic house. Photo by Sean Egan.

BY SEAN EGAN | Who can truly lay claim to pride of ownership, when it comes to what is widely regarded as the oldest house in Chelsea: those who say its structural and historical integrity must be preserved, or the person who bought it for $7.4 million and wants to make extensive renovations?

Built in 1830 and purchased in 2015 by British banker Ajoy Veer Kapoor, the home at 404 W. 20th St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.) sits within the Cushman Row of the Chelsea Historic District, making any attempts at alteration subject to review by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The renovations, which would significantly increase the size of the house, would require most of the original house to be destroyed in the process, as the new owner attests that the house is structurally unsound.

The Villager – Prognosis for Beth Israel: New E. 13th mini-hospital

By Lincoln Anderson, 5/26

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Answering mounting questions about the future of Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, on Wednesday, Mount Sinai Health System announced a $500 million investment to create a new “Mount Sinai Downtown” health network — the centerpiece of which will be a new, much smaller hospital on E. 13th St.

The new Downtown network, a press release said, will “usher in a sweeping transformation of care delivery from river to river below 34th St.”

As has been rumored and reported over the past year, the current Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital — which occupies the full block of prime Gramercy real estate between E. 16th and E. 17th Sts. and First Ave. and Nathan D. Perlman Place — will eventually be sold, a P.R. spokesperson confirmed.

In turn, the key feature of the new plan is a vastly scaled-down Mount Sinai Downtown Beth Israel Hospital to be built on the site of the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai — specifically, on the site of its residents building, at 321 E. 13th St. The press release said the new hospital would be built at E. 14th St. and Second Ave. However, the spokesperson confirmed that the plan is for it to be built at the residents building site.

Real Estate Weekly: Hudson River Park a magnet for construction

April 1, 2016

Roughly $8 billion in construction has occurred within a quarter mile of Hudson River Park between 2000 and 2014 – a fifth of the area’s overall property value. And during that same period, while the youth population decreased in Manhattan by 8 percent, the area’s youth population grew 66 percent and senior population by 112 percent. Those are just several of the findings in a new report released today that examines how Hudson River Park has helped transform Manhattan’s Far West Side.

Gothamist: Chelsea Residents Ramp Up Protest Against Greedy Supermarket Landlords

By Miranda Katz, 3/19/16

(William Alatriste)


The Associated Supermarket on West 14th Street and 8th Avenue is one of the lone surviving low-cost grocery stores in its area, as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and other pricier markets have popped up in recent years. But the supermarket’s landlord recently upped the rent from $32,000 a month to over $100,000 a month, which would force the market to close in May when its lease is up. Chelsea and Greenwich Village locals don’t want to see that happen, and yesterday, they protested with elected officials outside the offices of of Pan Am Equities, Inc., the store’s landlords.

Chelsea Now: Loyal Customers Rally, as Supermarket Faces Lethal Lease

“The elected officials and the community here today are ready to come to the table,” said Councilmember Corey Johnson (in tie), with State Assemblymember Dick Gottfried (to the right) and Public Advocate Letitia James (to the left).

By Yannick Rack, 3/16

There’s not enough stock lining the shelves to come up with the kind of bread a beloved supermarket will need to stay in business.

Dozens of residents from Chelsea and the West Village rallied around a who’s who of elected officials on the corner of Eighth Ave. and W. 14th St. last week, to protest the imminent closure of their Associated supermarket — whose owners say they’re unable to sign a new lease that would more than triple their rent.

AM NY: Chelsea’s Associated Supermarket threatened by rent hikes, hundreds rally to keep it open

By Sheila Anne Feeney, 3/13

Hundreds protested Sunday, March 13, 2016, to keep

More than 200 people rallied Sunday to save Chelsea’s Associated Supermarket after owners of the neighborhood grocery at 255 W. 14th St. reached an impasse with their landlords, Pan Am Equities.

Chelsea Now: Determined Park Playground Committee Not Kidding Around

Members of the newly formed Friends of Hudson River Park Playground Committee at their Jan. 29 event, which kicked off efforts to raise funds for the redesign and renovation of Chelsea Waterside Play Area. Photo by Travis Stewart.

Members of the newly formed Friends of Hudson River Park Playground Committee at their Jan. 29 event, which kicked off efforts to raise funds for the redesign and renovation of Chelsea Waterside Play Area. Photo by Travis Stewart.

BY TRAVIS STEWART | On Fri., Jan. 29, the Friends of Hudson River Park inaugurated its new Friends of Hudson River Park Playground Committee with a gala luncheon at Pier 59 in Chelsea. Nearly 200 people attended the event, which was promoted as a benefit for the park’s maintenance, beautification, and operational needs.

The program was launched with a video presentation from style maven Martha Stewart, who had been expected to attend, but was forced to cancel at the last minute for work-related reasons. As an active member of the Friends of Hudson River Park, Stewart spoke about her longtime involvement with the park and the frequent use of its playgrounds by her two young grandchildren, Jude and Truman. She celebrated the fact that, thanks to the Friends, the “rotten old piers and warehouses” which used to dominate the West Side waterfront had been replaced by a “Verdant Belt.”

Chelsea Now: Protected Buildings Fraudulently Marked For Destruction

By Sean Egan, 1/20/16

BY SEAN EGAN | A set of residential buildings in the middle of W. 38th St. became an unassuming battle site in preserving the character of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, as well as a telling example of how vigilance and activism can yield results.

The buildings — two of them standing four stories tall and one at three stories — were acquired by an entity controlled by Peter Poon, who bought out the tenants living in the building in order to demolish the complex. Poon hails from Peter F. Poon Architects, known for developing budget hotels — and applied to do just that. His Dec. 2014 application indicates that he planned a 22-floor hotel on the W. 38th St. site. Furthermore, another associated application to the Department of Buildings (DOB) indicated that the current W. 38th St. buildings were single room occupancies (SROs), which they have never been. The contractors (H&O Associates) also claimed that the proposed construction would not increase or decrease the number of residences, nor would it alter their layouts — clearly at odds with the proposed demolition.