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Exit Interview: State Senator Thomas K. Duane, East Village Advocate

Tom Duane with votersCourtesy Thomas K. Duane Tom Duane with voters, Nov. 29, 2011 at City Hall.

Thomas K. Duane announced this week that he won’t be seeking re-election, but the state senate’s first openly gay member is still railing against “malevolent” landlords. In an interview with The Local, the Democrat discussed his 14 years of representing the East Village as state senator, including his battles with landlords like Benjamin Shaoul, his preservation efforts for the proposed historic district and the now-demolished 35 Cooper Square, and his attempts at curbing an explosion of nightlife in the neighborhood.


You’ve been fighting for tenants’ rights during the 14 years you’ve served as Senator. How did that spill over into the East Village?


I really fought just a terrible landlord, Ben Shaoul. He wants to expand at 514-516 East Sixth Street and 329-335 East Ninth Street. We’ve been reaching out to both of the city housing agencies, the Department of Buildings and H.P.D. [Department of Housing Preservation and Development], and working with the tenants and the neighborhood activists to force him to comply with the law. Read more…

Want to Party with Questlove, John Legend, and… Ben Shaoul?

East 4thPhilip Ross 118-122 East Fourth Street

It costs a pretty penny to throw down with the East Village’s elite.

A swank benefit for the United Jewish Appeal of New York on June 6 will be co-chaired by Benjamin Shaoul, who owns numerous properties all over the neighborhood, and will feature a performance by another local: John Legend. Questlove of the Roots will also spin records.

Tickets for the gala at Capitale on Bowery start at $360, and go as high as $20,000 for the “Legend package” that includes a meet-and-greet with the piano-playing crooner, as well as a listing on a “Scroll of Honor as ‘Legend.'” Lesser donations yield designations as a “producer,” “promoter,” or “performer,” among others. Read more…

Could Cabrini’s Closure Sink Immigrant Services Program?

cis Evan BleierSister Kelly Carpenter

A program that serves needy East Village and Lower East Side immigrants is in peril, as a significant chunk of its funding will disappear when its sponsor, the Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, closes next month.

After last-ditch efforts to keep the Cabrini Center open fell through and the new owner of its building at Fifth Street and Avenue B, Benjamin Shaoul’s Magnum Realty Group, announced in March that it would go ahead with redevelopment plans, it became apparent that the nursing home’s 240 residents would be forced to relocate.

Those elderly residents won’t be the only ones affected by the closure on June 30. The Cabrini Center also sponsors Cabrini Immigrant Services, a Lower East Side organization that, according to its director Sister Kelly Carpenter, feeds about 16,000 people a week. City, state, and federal grants totaling $94,000 pay for most of the meals, but the cost of administering them has, to this point, been covered by the center. Read more…

Shaoul’s Rooftop Extension Not That Bad?


For all the hubbub, might developer Benjamin Shaoul’s rooftop extension to 315 East 10th Street not be such an eyesore? The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative seems to think so. “Now that work is ending, the final result could have been much worse, and we’re very glad to see the facade including the lovely cornice intact,” the preservationist group writes on its Facebook page. Back in January the block of East 10th Street along Tompkins Square Park was designated a historic district by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, but Mr. Shaoul got the green light for the extra story on his building literally hours before the vote.

Cabrini Seniors Stunned by Looming Closure

DSC08883Suzanne Rozdeba Dorothy Rasenberger, Elizabeth Herring, and Joy Garland protested outside of the Cabrini Center this afternoon.

The staff of the Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation were still breaking the news to elderly residents that their home on Avenue B and East Fifth Street would soon close, leaving some of them in tears, a family member of a resident said today.

While the meeting regarding the closure was going on, a small group of protesters outside toted signs saying “Occupy Cabrini!” and “Save Cabrini! From Condos.” The mix of around 10 locals and family members of residents decried the failure of the new owner of the property, Benjamin Shaoul, to secure a deal to keep it open. They also blamed local politicians for not doing enough to facilitate the negotiations. Without the deal, Cabrini will almost certainly become apartments of some kind.

“My mother turned 101 on Feb. 1, and she’s been here for two years. It’s a shame,” said George Matranga, 70. “Six months ago, she’s telling me that they’re going to make the second and third floor condominiums. I’m going, ‘Mom, you’re hallucinating.’”

He added that he received a packet last week detailing the closing and how Cabrini would help residents with the transition.
Read more…