Roll it! Films on bicycles and streets offer ideas


Volume 78 – Number 37 / February 11 – 17, 2009

West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy’s Notebook

Above, Marian Seldes

Partnership and Seldes are honored:

The Vineyard Theatre’s 2009 gala attracted more than 250 guests to the Rainbow Room on Monday in a “Celebration of Community” honoring the Union Square Partnership and the beloved and distinguished actress Marian Seldes.

The event, an annual benefit for the nonprofit Vineyard on 15th St. east of Union Square, had Nathan Lane as master of ceremonies and included performance tributes from “This Beautiful City” and “Wig Out!” — shows that originated at the Vineyard.

Anika Noni Rose, Tony and Obie winner and a co-star in the film version of “Dreamgirls,” performed a musical tribute to Seldes.

The gala guest list included Commissioner Rob Walsh, of the Department of Small Business Services and a former executive director of the Union Square Partnership, plus a host of show-business stars.

Seldes, a living legend who made her Broadway debut in Judith Anderson’s “Medea” in 1948, was nominated five times for the Tony Award, winning in 1967 for her performance in Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance.” She first performed at the Vineyard in 1993 in Albee’s “Three Tall Women,” which went on to the Promenade Theater, where it ran for three years prior to a national tour and an engagement in London’s West End.

The Union Square Partnership operates what was formerly called the 14th St.-Union Square Business Improvement District, the city’s first BID. The community-based nonprofit Partnership provides the neighborhood with public safety, sanitation and marketing services and invests heavily in the beautification and maintenance of Union Square Park

The Vineyard Theatre has been a member of the Partnership since relocating to the Union Square neighborhood in 1989.

The theater board chairperson is Jill S. Gabbe and its president is Ken Greiner. Under the artistic direction of Douglas Aibel, the Vineyard has produced provocative and original new plays, receiving its first Tony Awards with “Avenue Q.”

The Vineyard nurtures new projects and conducts an education program that reaches hundreds of local high school students with in-class workshops, including a 10-year relationship with Washington Irving High School and more recent partnerships with Gramercy Arts, Legacy, Chelsea and Bard high schools.

More BID business: Mayor Bloomberg on Tuesday signed into law the 22-block Hudson Square Business Improvement District, extending from West Houston St. to Canal St. between Greenwich St. and Sixth Ave.

The city’s 63rd BID — which includes the entrances to the Holland Tunnel and is characterized by large loft buildings formerly occupied by printers — has become a major media center, with advertising, publishing, graphic arts and entertainment firms moving into the neighborhood, along with architects, retailers and nonprofit institutions.

At the signing ceremony, Bloomberg noted that within the next three years, more than 1,000 mid-to-high-end hotel rooms in five projects would be added to the district. One of those projects is the Trump Soho condo hotel on Varick between Spring and Dominick Sts.

Trinity Real Estate, the district’s dominant property owner, was a leading sponsor of the BID organizing effort that began last May. Laura Walker, president of WNYC Radio, which moved last summer from the Municipal Building into 160 Varick St. within the BID, was chairperson of the steering committee that guided the organization of the BID.

A survey of Hudson Square businesses and residents last year identified the district’s prime needs as control of auto traffic aggravated by the tunnel entrances, attracting more and diverse retail, improving air quality and creating more park space.

The budget for the Hudson Square BID’s first year of operation is $2.5 million, funded by an additional assessment on property owners, which may be passed along to commercial tenants. BID’s, which are overseen by the city Department of Small Business Services, provide additional maintenance and sanitation services over and above regular municipal services. Marketing and promoting local business, holiday lighting, street furniture and landscaping are the usual BID improvements.

“The Hudson Square BID, the 19th established under our administration,” the mayor said, “will provide services that are essential to ensuring that small businesses and the neighborhoods where they operate have every opportunity to succeed.”

Correction: In last week’s issue, the last name of the owner of Lafayette French Pastry bakery was misspelled. His name is Ted Kefalinos, not Kefalnios.