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Neglected 13th St. Building To Receive $3 Million Upgrade for Gay Teens

IMG_2870Sarah Darville The vacant building at 222 East 13th Street.

A long-vacant and dilapidated building will become a safe haven for homeless gay, lesbian and transgender young people thanks to $3.3 million in grants from city officials and a crucial city approval.

The Cooper Square Committee and the Ali Forney Center plan to transform 222 East 13th Street, a three-story building owned by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, into the Bea Arthur Residence For L.G.B.T. Youth. Last week, the organizations found out that the City Council had allocated $3 million and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer had allocated an additional $300,000 to the project — money that will allow them to move ahead with renovations.

“Homeless L.G.B.T. youth, most of whom have been cast out of their homes, have faced the worst kind of cruelty and rejection,” said Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, in a statement. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude that they are now being shown kindness by this community and its leaders.” Read more…

From Michelle Fury to Furry Animals, a Day of Outdoor Music Tomorrow

LES 2011 children's danceCourtesy of Underworld Productions. A dance performance in the garden last year.

You’ll have your pick of outdoor concerts tomorrow.

At 3 p.m., a group of opera performers will take the stage at La Plaza Cultural Armando Perez to delight local kids with songs about cats, dogs and rhinos, as the Underworld Productions Opera Ensemble presents “Animals in the Plaza,” a collection of operas performed in their original Spanish, French, English or Italian languages. “We believe children respond to opera in its true form, not watered down,” director Gina Crusco said. Songs include “The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat,” “Wynken, Blynken and Nod” and “El Rinoceronte/The Rhinoceros.”

Also tomorrow, the Cooper Square Committee presents its annual Third Avenue Festival: from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 150 vendors and non-profits will dot the avenue from Sixth Street to 14th Street. Performances will take place at East Ninth Street from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. by singer-songwriter Michelle Fury, The St. Marks Ensemble, Kate Vargas, Filthy Rotten System, Marcel Van Dam et Paul, The Dan Piccoli Trio, and The JewelTones.

St. Mark’s Bookshop Back From the Brink

Bookshop presserJamie Larson Owner of St. Mark’s Bookshop Terrence McCoy, along with Borough President Scott Stringer, Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha and others.

Cooper Union has eased the St. Mark’s Bookshop financial burden — somewhat.

A day after students from the school protested the possibility that they would have to pay tuition for the first time in more than a century (we’ve now added video of that demonstration to our initial post), politicians, community activists, school officials and the bookshop’s owners officially brought the two-month rent dispute to an end at a press conference this morning.

Under the agreement for the next year, Cooper Union will, as reported by The Times last night, cut the bookshop’s rent by $2,500 from its current rate, $20,000 a month.

Cooper Union will also forgive $7,500 of the shop’s debt and send a team of students to work with the owners on creating a new business plan. The agreement, which only last week seemed dead in the water, should save the store $40,000 over the next year, according to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who took credit for bringing an end to the standoff.
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Advocates Hope to Turn Vacant Home Into Haven For Homeless

IMG_2870Stephen Rex Brown 222 East 13th Street.

If Steve Herrick, Carl Siciliano and the late Bea Arthur have their way, a long-neglected, city-owned house at 222 East East 13th Street will be converted into a refuge for gay, lesbian and transgender kids living on the streets.

The respective executive directors of the Cooper Square Committee and the Ali Forney Center hope that their proposal for a transitional housing center — funded by a $300,000 donation from the late “Golden Girls” star — will resonate with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which has owned the dilapidated property since 1993. As part of the effort to generate community support, representatives from both groups will pitch their idea for the Bea Arthur Residence For L.G.B.T. Youth at next month’s meeting of the Community Board 3 Land Use Committee.
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A Look at Rent Law Changes

In 11 days, changes in the laws that regulate how much your landlord can charge in rent per month will begin to take effect.

However, the changes are not exactly what local tenant advocacy groups wanted. Many groups, including the Cooper Square Committee, Real Rent Reform, Tenants and Neighbors and the Good Old Lower East Side were hoping state legislators would eliminate the rent laws’ vacancy decontrol, which allows a landlord who renovates a unit to charge more in rent per month to a new tenant after the previous vacates the unit. Instead, vacancy decontrol remains in the law.

The renewed laws, which were passed in conjunction with but overshadowed by the passage of same-sex marriage in New York, affect the residents of 1 million rent-regulated apartments across the state. It also affects the landlords of those buildings.

In the video above, The Local’s Khristopher J. Brooks offers a breakdown of some of the most significant changes.