Vendor still making a stand

BY LESLEY SUSSMAN | Marilyn Louie, the longtime Chinatown newsstand owner who the city wants to evict from her spot because her stand is 3 inches too close to the building in front of it, got a bit of unwelcome news last week from the Department of Transportation.

“They called on Monday and suggested that I move to 9 Chatham Square in front of the Hop Shing restaurant,” she said. “But I told them there’s already a magazine store at 12 Chatham Square that’s selling newspapers and they’re also reapplying for a Lotto machine.”

Louie took over the business at 19 Bowery, on the southwest corner of Bowery and Pell St., in 1982 from her father, a World War II veteran, after he died.

She said she told D.O.T. officials that she would prefer to be relocated a few feet away closer to Pell St., where she would be in compliance with department regulations that require a sufficiently wide, clear pedestrian path to be maintained.

“But they said no, because the corner is congested,” Louie related. “I told them that if they move me a block from here it’s going to hurt my business.”

Louie, who is a single mother, said she is continuing to reach out for help to Community Board 3, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Borough President Scott Stringer — all of whom have pledged their support for the newsstand vendor.

Louie added that she is aware of a congestion problem on the block, but attributed it to unlicensed vendors who are doing business there.

“There are at least seven vendors here selling tickets for the casinos, selling cakes and stockings, and that’s making the street congested,” she explained. “So I don’t understand why I have to be the one to move. I’ve been here the longest. They should move these people away.”

She added that what is particularly galling to her is how D.O.T. measured the distance of her stand from the building in front of her.

“They didn’t measure from the building line but from a stoop that extends from the building,” she said. “The building in front of me is the only one on the block that happens to have a stoop.”

She said the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs won’t renew her license to operate unless her business is approved by D.O.T.

While the city’s latest proposal is only a suggestion, Louie said it nonetheless concerns her.

“It just seems like they really want to move me away from this corner,” she said. “First, they wanted to move me to Confucius Plaza, and now they want me to go to 12 Chatham Square, which is not a busy location. There are retail stores closing on Mott St. and all around there.”

She added, “If they move me down to Chatham Square, they might as well tell me to close my business.”