L construction project is hell on E. 14th shops
14TH continued from p. 1
ers, a shoe store, an herbal medicine
shop, Domino’s Pizza and the Lower
East Side Coffee Shop. In fact, a construction
worker gruffl y guided this reporter
to the pedestrian walkway in the
street when she was heading toward the
“We’re trying to survive,” Katehis
said. “It’s a stressful situation.”
At the west side of the block, fi ve
businesses have already shuttered from
construction woes, according to neighboring
merchants and Laura Sewell, the
director of the East Village Community
“It’s really challenging,” Sewell said.
“But the cultural character of our neighborhood
is all about these little shops. So
many areas of the city have been homogenized.
Shops that used to be interesting
have been taken over by national chains.
We still really have so much that’s special
in the East Village.”
The employees at the Red Apple Barbershop,
west of the string of shuttered
shops, fear the 10-year-old shop could
“Most of the foot traffi c is on the road,”
said Michael Vostok, the shop’s manager.
The street pattern for construction sends
Sidewalk closures and diversions of pedestrian traffic on E. 14th St.
between Avenues A and B due to construction for the L train shutdown
project have been wreaking havoc on retail shops, local merchants
and advocates say.
passersby into a pathway in the streets
and makes it diffi cult for Stuyvesant
Town residents — critical clientele for
the retailers — to both see and reach the
In the meantime, Vostok added, “We
rely on advertising and our skills.”
The barbershop was once bustling,
with all four chairs fi lled throughout
much of the day. But on a recent Tuesday
PHOTO BY SYDNEY PEREIRA
morning, just one customer had trickled
in before noon.
An eyebrow-threading salon, one of
the shops that closed, moved further up
the block in hopes of salvaging its business.
But despite the salon’s new digs, customers
still avoid the block, according to
“People don’t want to walk on this
side of the street,” said Rosa Perez, who
works at Precise Brows. “It’s a hassle for
the business. We’re trying to hold on to
see what happens.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority
has done a survey of the businesses
in the area, according to shop owners.
But besides adding better signage and increasing
storefront access, the small businesses
are waiting to see how the block
changes once the L shutdown formally
“Honestly, we’re just sitting and waiting,”
said Igor Yaguda, the owner of the
Big Apple Barbershop.
Sewell hopes the city will do more.
“My ask is that our agencies go above
and beyond to work together to address
and to mitigate the impact of this as
much as they possibly can, and that we
are ready to help,” she said.
Sewell and the coalition’s count of vacancy
rates in the East Village goes beyond
the stretch of E. 14th St. impacted
by the L train shutdown and ongoing
prep work. Since 2014, E.V.C.C.’s vacancy
count has increased from 11 percent
to 15 percent. The empty storefronts are
concentrated on E. 14th St.
“The 14th St. story about vacant stores
cannot be separated from the impact of
the L train construction,” Sewell said.
Tribeca school can’t move, families, pols cry
SCHOOL continued from p. 1
not be allowed to move forward at the
expense of the students’ educational
and environmental stability,” Glick
said from the steps of P.S. 150, while
youngsters waved signs and chanted
P.S. 150 is unique among city elementary
schools for hosting just one class
per grade at its schoolhouse between
Harrison and Chambers Sts. The U.S.
Department of Education honored the
school with a blue-ribbon designation
for excellence in 2014. That was a year
after parents successfully warded off a
city plan to relocate the school to a another
location in Chelsea, arguing that
the school’s current location was crucial
to maintaining the high standards
that earned it national recognition.
“We cannot move — the school is
made by where it is,” said Camilla Bazzanti,
the mother of a P.S. 150 kindergartner
and fourth grader, who lives
three blocks away from the school.
“Our kids play here, we all live around
here, we meet every day at the park, and
we have play dates and activities here.
This is where our school belongs.”
While parents won the battle to keep
the school from relocating to Chelsea,
landlord Vornado Realty made it clear
they haven’t won the war. Following the
end of the school’s lease in August, the
developer told the city it would kick out
Students rallied on Nov. 13 with their parents and politicians to keep
P.S. 150 on Greenwich St. in Tribeca.
the kids after the 2019 school year.
Education offi cials spent months trying
to persuade Vornado to extend the
lease. Then they scrambled to fi nd seats
for the students after it became clear
the landlord wouldn’t budge, a Department
of Education spokesperson said.
“It’s unfortunate that the owner of
the building refused to renew the lease,
despite our attempts to fi nd a solution
throughout the year,” said Doug Cohen.
“Once we were informed P.S. 150 could
not remain in the building, we immediately
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
began developing a long-term plan
to present to the community.”
They came up with a scheme to colocate
the P.S. 150 students with the
Peck Slip School — which is clear on
the other side of Lower Manhattan —
claiming there will be enough seats
there to accommodate students from
both schools for four years. At that
point, construction on a new school
now being built at 28-41 Trinity Place,
will be fi nished, according to Cohen.
But the Peck Slip School already has
problems of its own, according to Tricia
Joyce, the chairperson of Community
Board 1’s Education Committee. Joyce
noted that the East Side elementary
school, located in the historic Seaport
District, was built with a hybrid auditorium
and gymnasium — or “gymnatorium”
— which functions poorly.
And a rooftop play space there isn’t
large enough to accommodate even a
single grade’s worth of students at a
time, according to Joyce. She said the
School Construction Authority’s poor
planning led to the street outside the
school being permanently closed and
retrofi tted as a play space.
“Peck Slip School doesn’t have space
for the existing students to recreate,”
Joyce said. “Putting in 180 elementary
more students — there’s no common
space for them.”
Instead, Glick, Councilmember Margaret
Chin, state Senator Brian Kavanagh
and Manhattan Borough President
Gale Brewer, plus Joyce and other
Community Board 1 members, are demanding
the city and Vornado hash out
a minimum four-year extension on the
Greenwich St. lease, circumventing the
need to co-locate with Peck Slip until
the Trinity Place school opens.
“We’re hoping Vornado comes to the
understanding that four short years is
very little to give to this neighborhood
that’s supported them since the ’70s,”
Schneps Community News Group TVG November 15, 2018 3