Under Cover

Vendor crackdown

UnderCover recently got a very angry call from Phylis Salom, a 76-year-old Southbridge Towers resident who has many of the same complaints about Fulton St. that we’ve heard before — but she has a different approach to solving them.

Between the construction and the illegal vendors, Salom said she can barely walk down the street. Add in the rats and cockroaches, and “It’s just unbearable,” she said. “It’s disgusting…. It’s like living in a nightmare.”

Salom has tried talking to politicians but was unimpressed with the results, so she decided to take matters into her own hands (actually, her own feet, to be exact). When she saw yet another illegal vendor with a blanket of knockoff DVDs spread out over the sidewalk, she stomped right over them, cracking the DVDs. Then she told him, “You don’t belong here,” she said.

“I’m 76 but I’ve got more guts than most 20-year-olds,” Salom said. “I’m a tenacious little lady.”

Hot Dog market cooling

UnderCover noticed recently that our favorite hot dog place had closed its doors. The New York City Hot Dog company at Chambers and Church Sts. was yet another victim of the free-falling economy.

“There’s no bailout for small businesspeople,” owner Bob Straniere tells us — though if he’d had a chance, he might have been able to craft one. Straniere is better known as the Republican who ran for Vito Fossella’s Staten Island Congressional seat, but he lost this month to Democrat Michael McMahon, so he won’t be going to Washington.

Staniere opened the fast-food restaurant with his wife and sons in June of 2007. It was successful for just over a year, with each month pulling in more money than the month before.

But just after the 4th of July this year, everything turned around. Business dropped by 50 percent, utilities doubled, the cost of food deliveries spiked and Staniere was suddenly losing $20,000 a month.

“How much can I sell a hot dog for?” Staniere said. “I’m selling hot dogs. I’m not selling gourmet meals.”

The restaurant closed for good last month, but Staniere is holding onto the space until the end of the year, hoping he can come up with a viable use for it. The lawyer is also closing his private practice and is looking for a new job.


Councilmember Bill de Blasio — a plaintiff in a lawsuit against overturning term limits — was not sympathetic to Councilmember Alan Gerson’s position of first supporting a voter referendum, then backing extending term limits. De Blasio recalled the 2004 presidential race.

“It’s like John Kerry,” de Blasio said. “You can’t say you were against it before you were for it — flip-flop.”

Trump Triangle

It seems the Trump Soho condo-hotel is having an eerie effect on its surroundings, rapidly turning a formerly desolate Holland Tunnel approach area into a burgeoning nightlife and entertainment zone. For starters, Greenhouse — club impresario Jon B.’s new sustainable eco-lounge — just opened last Tuesday at Vandam and Varick Sts., one block away from the Donald’s edifice complex. And über chef David Bouley, in January or February, will be opening his first restaurant and lounge ever outside of Tribeca, across the street from Greenhouse, in a 10,000-square-foot space on the northeast corner. “I saw them taking in table lamps the other day,” an observant tipster told us last week. Meanwhile, City Winery is opening across the street, with its $5,000 barrels of wine; and a block away on Hudson St., a handsome former printing building is being developed into The Viceroy Hotel by the people behind The Viceroy in Santa Monica, Cal. The Trump “condotel” will feature Quattro, a high-end Italian eatery that our source described as “somewhere between a Serafina and a Cipriani.” (It would be nice if it was somewhere closer to an Olive Garden, so we could afford it.) As for Greenhouse, we hear they’re in talks with the Alliance for Climate Protection, Al Gore’s group, to host a benefit, and they hope “The Inconvenient Truth” star won’t find it too inconvenient to drop by.

Burlington school?

Before the city announced the good news about an incubator school at Tweed Courthouse, one parent decided to take things into her own hands and find the seats Lower Manhattan’s schools need.

Tricia Joyce, a P.S. 234 parent, worked with a broker to identify potential school sites, and she found plenty.

The only one Joyce has named so far is the Burlington Coat Factory building on Park Place between Church St. and W. Broadway, which is currently vacant. The site is ideal because the 2/3 subway runs beneath it, making it impossible to drive piles, which reduces the price tag. The five-story building has 10,000-square-foot floor plates, with air rights for an additional five stories, bringing the building’s potential grand total to 100,000 square feet.

“That would work,” an impressed Paul Hovitz said after Joyce mentioned the site to Community Board 1’s Youth and Education meeting Tuesday.

In addition to the Burlington space, Joyce found another large space Downtown that could serve as a middle or elementary school, along with a handful of smaller incubator spaces.

Joyce said this is a particularly good time to be looking for real estate, as the economy is making building owners flexible. All of the spaces she found were negotiable up to 25 percent of the asking price.

Ameruso honored

Marc Ameruso, Community Board 1 member and chairperson of the Hudson River Park Trust’s advisory council, received top honors this week for his contributions to the community. In a nod to Ameruso’s Italian lineage, City Councilmember Alan Gerson and the Mulberry Street Library recognized Ameruso at an Italian heritage celebration Tuesday afternoon. The ceremony also included a dedication of the library’s Italian book collection and featured remarks by Deputy Consul Maurizio Antonini of the Italian Consulate in New York and music by Johnny Mandolin.