Groper ‘poster boy’ in 70th arrest
BY GABE HERMAN
A serial subway creep
has been busted and
indicted in yet another
alleged incident — and
the city’s top cop has had
According to the New
York Post, it’s the man’s 70th
arrest, and Police Commissioner
James O’Neill is now
calling for the revolting recidivist
to be banned from
the subway system.
Police said that on Wed.,
June 26, around 8:50 a.m., a
37-year-old woman — an offduty
traffi c offi cer — was on
a Manhattan-bound L train,
heading from Bedford Ave.
to First Ave., when Giovanni
Verdelli, 67, placed his hand
under her dress and rubbed
her genital area.
Verdelli, who is homeless
and goes by “Gian,” stands
6 feet tall, weighs about 200
pounds and has long saltand
The woman and the abus-
er both left the train at First
Ave. and E. 14th St., where
the victim took a photo of
the man on the platform.
The offender then fl ed the
location. The off-duty cop
was reportedly not injured
during the incident.
On Fri., June 28, police
arrested Verdelli. He was
charged with persistent sexual
abuse, forcible touching
and sexual abuse.
This Tuesday, a grand
jury indicted him in the latest
According to the Post, it
was only six months ago that
Verdelli was sprung from
prison for a similar crime,
after serving nine months.
In that case, in August
2017, he reportedly rubbed
his erect penis up against
a woman’s buttocks on the
B train at the Broadway/
Lafayette St. station. The
tabloid said he is a Level 2
sex offender and that most
of his dozens of past arrests
were for sexual abuse.
Giovanni “Gian” Verdelli was recently arrested for an alleged subway groping incident.
He has a long record of such offenses.
Soho/Noho: Non-artists, retail remain focus
BY GABE HERMAN
At the June 13 presentation of
recommendations in the Envision
Soho Noho process, it
was emphasized that the evaluation of
zoning options was just beginning, and
would continue throughout this year.
As the process continues, local
groups and advocates are pushing their
agendas, including on whether to legalize
non-artist residency and enforcement
of retail size limits in Soho.
One such group is the Fix Soho/
Noho Coalition, comprised largely of
landlords and several big propertyowning
fi rms in the city. One member
of the group, Margaret Baisley, a Soho
loft owner who has been a real estate
lawyer in the neighborhood since the
1970s, recently told this paper she and
the coalition were concerned that a
pathway for non-artists to live in Soho
was not laid out at the presentation.
Fix Soho/Noho believes more than
“95 percent” of Soho residents are not
artists — which local artists dispute.
“The vast majority of people who
live here want to be able to live here
legally,” she said.
The preliminary recommendations
only included temporary amnesty for
current non-artists in Soho.
“I think, frankly, that would kill the
community in Soho as we know it,” she
said. “There aren’t enough artists to
buy or rent these spaces.”
Baisley, who lives in Brooklyn,
pointed to recent construction and
maintenance work done on her building,
and was skeptical any artists could
write checks for the high costs that it
“We can’t turn the clock back,” she
said. “I know it’s romantic to talk about
the 1980s when there were galleries
and many artists everywhere.”
Baisley supports grandfathering in
the neighborhood’s current artists.
“No one wants to throw artists out,”
But she added the majority of residents
should also have protections.
“We’re the ones who keep this place
going economically, and we’re who
should receive some recognition from
the advisory committee,” she stressed.
She argued that zoning based on
peoples’ occupations is discriminatory.
Baisley also opposes restricting retail
stores to 10,000 square feet, which
the preliminary recommendations outlined,
albeit with some exceptions.
“Because this is a mixed-use district,”
she said, “we need many kinds of retail,
not just small retail.”
She said there are good, responsible
retailers that are larger than 10,000
square feet, and that the taxes paid by
retail help property owners to pay their
“outrageous” taxes and to maintain
Baisley said there is still room for negotiation
on these issues, and that the
Fix Soho/Noho Coalition is continuing
to meet with local politicians and offi -
cials and advocate for its views.
Meanwhile, Sean Sweeney, director
of the Soho Alliance, said he was fi ne
with non-artists living in the area.
“We just want the artists protected,”
he said. “We don’t care if non-artists
Based on advisory meetings so far,
Sweeney believes non-artists, in fact,
will be allowed to live legally in Soho.
He wants the area to be kept as a manufacturing
zoned district, though, protecting
artists by not letting neighbors
complain about noise or odor issues
coming from artists doing their work.
“The best way to preserve artists and
yet have non-artists move in, is to maintain
the manufacturing zone...and yet
allow non-artists to move in. But they
just can’t complain,” he said.
Sweeney also predicts the defi nition
of a certifi ed “artist” will be broadened
beyond fi ne artists — to include “makers”
or “creative people” and Web designers,
Sweeney said he’s O.K. with that,
and with including others — like dress
designers, architects and writers — and
letting all other professions into Soho,
but with a preference to creative people
to keep the area’s creative vibe.
“People still come here from Europe
and they still think it’s kind of creative,”
he said, “and if it becomes doctors and
lawyers and bankers, it’ll lose that. So
we want to maintain that as a creative
neighborhood, in which doctors, lawyers
and dentists are allowed to live.”
Sweeney said he is also fi ne with the
current retail zoning, but is willing to
extend ground-fl oor retail through the
entire neighborhood, since 95 percent
of Soho stores are now retail.
“So we’re not going to turn the clock
back,” he said. “Fine, so we’re giving
them that concession.”
At meetings, Sweeney said, Real
Estate Board of New York members
said they wanted unlimited retail sizes.
Asked if that meant 100,000 square
feet, the REBNY reps nodded, he said.
“I said a can of worms is going to
open up,” Sweeney said he predicted.
“We were happy the way it is,” he
said of the existing zoning. “It’s very
successful, it’s the second-highest retail
neighborhood in the city.
“But we’re willing to be realistic,” he
said, referring to non-artist residency
and expanding ground-fl oor retail. “But
they’re getting greedy,” he added.
Recommendations will be issued
by consultant Jonathan Martin in late
August, Sweeney said. That report will
go for review to Community Board 2 in
October. Zoning changes would then
likely undergo the city’s Uniform Land
Use Review Procedure, or ULURP.
8 July 11 - July 24, 2019 MEX Schneps Media