O-fence-ive! Opponents of the N.Y.U. 2031 mega-project recently had their hopes up after the project suffered a setback at the Public Design Commission, which sent the design plans for the fence on the north side of Bleecker St. between Coles gym and the Morton Williams supermarket back to the drawing board. The demolition of Coles gym to make way for the “Zipper Building” — the first of four planned new buildings on the university’s South Village superblocks — was on hold until this fence issue was resolved. However, the P.D.C. unanimously approved the plans at its Oct. 5 meeting. Not only does this now allow the Coles demo to proceed, but what was O.K.’d wasn’t even very good, according to Terri Cude, co-chairperson of Communtiy Action Alliance on N.Y.U. 2031. There will actually be two fences, an outside one 2 feet tall, and an inner one 2 feet 10 inches tall, which will replace a 7-foot-tall iron fence that’s there now. Signe Nielsen, the head of the P.D.C., said, “I am sympathetic to those that say the design is underwhelming. However, this is an acceptable design.” Said Cude, “All we’re getting is some plantings and a fence. And folks are saying people will be jumping over the low fence.” As for Coles, N.Y.U. is now saying it will stay open through the end of the fall semester. To provide court space for its sports teams, N.Y.U. has “entered into long-term agreements” with Hunter College, Pace University and other local colleges to use their facilities for basketball and volleyball practices and games.
Candid camera court: District Leader Arthur Schwartz tells us he appeared in court last week and the district attorney made a motion to reduce his charges from grand larceny to petit larceny, a misdemeanor, in connection with Schwartz’s taking five mini-cameras from outside Ruth Berk’s apartment at 95 Christopher St. in June. Schwartz contends he only took the spy cams — which he later sent to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office — because he wanted to stop the harassment of the elder Berk, 92, for whom he is the appointed guardian. “Big victory!” Schwartz said of the lowered charges. The judge also offered him an A.C.D. (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal) — under which, after six months without arrest, the charges would be dismissed and the record sealed — plus payment to the landlord of $2,600 restitution for taking the cameras, which are only worth about $400, according to Schwartz. “I said, ‘No deal,’” he told us. The judge set dates to move to dismiss the case “in the interests of justice” and for failure to charge petit larceny, as opposed to the more serious grand larceny, Schwartz said. The next court appearance, including the decision by the judge, is set for Dec. 9. Meanwhile, no one can even find the cameras anymore. “The A.G. says they gave them to the D.A., but the D.A. says not true,” Schwartz said. As for why the requested restitution was $2.6K when, by Schwartz’s reckoning, that’s more than six times the cams’ value, were only worth one-sixth that amount, he said the landlord “hired a very expensive A/V company to plug them back in.”
Chumley’s not 86’ed: Famous West Village speakeasy Chumley’s moved one step closer to reopening on Bedford St. last week, after spending some eight years in limbo. The tavern, once popular with the likes of John Steinbeck and William Faulkner, closed due to a wall collapse in 2007 and has been slow in reopening because of opposition from a small group of locals, who have filed a string of lawsuits against the bar, as well as city and state agencies. One suit was dismissed last year and another is still pending. But last Thurs., Oct. 15, the bar scored a win when Community Board 2’s S.L.A. Licensing Committee gave its thumbs up to the application by the bar’s operator, retired Firefighter Jim Miller, to the State Liquor Authority. The committee’s only condition: The hours of operation should be reduced to midnight from Sunday to Thursday, and until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. After the meeting, Barry Mallin, the lawyer who represents the opposing neighbors, protested, “The block has changed, it’s become more family oriented. It’s not appropriate.” Yet, Kathryn Donaldson, the president of the Bedford-Barrow Commerce Block Association and a resident of Bedford St., said she backs the bar. “I always found that the old Chumley’s was very supportive to us and Jim has demonstrated that he wants to be a good neighbor,” she said. “I see no reason not to support Chumley’s, for the fact that it’s a neighborhood institution.” An online petition to reopen the bar has already garnered more than 1,800 signatures and the application will now go before C.B. 2’s full board at its meeting on Thurs., Oct. 22.
Gourmet grub hub: George Bliss tells us that a new, interesting type of market is planned for the former Charles St. space in the West Village where his The Hub bicycle store used to be. The Hub, which was at 139 Charles St. for more than four years, and before that at 73 Morton St. for five years, closed in December 2014. Bliss blamed Citi Bike. At any rate, he tells us that Michael Spalding is planning Mercato Fabrica (meaning, “a market where things are made”) at the Charles St. spot. He was able to wrangle a two-year lease for it, while the property owner originally wanted to limit it to only one year and possibly put a vendors’ cart depot there, Bliss said. Ultimately, the 5,000-square-foot site is reportedly earmarked for development. Spalding, who Bliss said, “knows everybody in the food business,” is planning to create an artisanal Italian-inspired food market, and also plans to grow food on the place’s roof. It sounds a bit like a mini-Eataly. In addition, a small area will be set aside for Bliss to sell his upright-style bikes. Mercato Fabrica won’t be opening till the spring since the space is still be being built out. “He’s got five months of work at least,” Bliss said.
Correction: An article in last week’s issue, “Pier 57 hawkers market plan ruffles some feathers,” misrepresented a statement made by Christine Berthet, the Community Board 4 chairperson, at a meeting of the Chelsea board. The article incorrectly stated: “Board Chairperson Christine Berthet said that the applicant had met with the Hudson River Park Trust and C.B. 4’s Business License and Permits Committee about the proposed restaurant and would next go before the City Council’s Business and Licensing Committee.” However, correcting the record, Berthet told The Villager, “I reported the fact that we had discussions with Google, but there have been no conversations with the applicant yet. The meeting with the Trust relates to a different applicant.” The correct applicant is RXR Reality, and the project, slated for Pier 57 at W. 16th St., calls for both a 155,000-square-foot international food market by Anthony Bourdain and 250,000 square feet of office space for Google.
Harvest/Halloween fun: If you want to enjoy the Elizabeth St. Garden in full swing, check out its third annual Harvest Fest on Sat., Oct. 24, from noon to 4 p.m. (Rain date Sun., Oct. 25). Enter on either Elizabeth or Motts Sts., between Prince and Spring Sts. It will be a full day of free activities for all ages, including live music — such as Jason Harrod & Friends — and “lite bites” donated by neighborhood eateries. There will be an “edible garden tour” with Dr. Gabrielle Francis, a holistic physician and herbalist. Also on tap is a cooking demonstration by Alan Wise, the chef de cuisine of PUBLIC. People will be able to design their own greeting cards with pressed leaves by Open Window. For kids there will be face painting, pumpkin decorating, scientific garden exploration and a “Ghastly Garden of Ghouls Halloween Party,” with art by McNally Jackson Books, featuring Liniers, the Argentine cartoonist and children’s book author. On top of all that, you can plant daffodils and, for early birds, do vinyasa yoga at 11 a.m.