The Quad Returns, Better Than Ever

Looking south at Quad Cinema 34 West 13 St on a sunny midday. Photo courtesy of Jim Henderson.

The past two years has been difficult without the Village art-film showcase the Quad. But now independent and foreign films get their palace back in a new, improved form.

The Quad Cinema re-opened on Friday, April 14 to much fanfare and excitement. One fan, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation said,

“The Village has changed a lot, but it being a center for independent and foreign films remains the same.”

The Quad Cinema first opened in 1972 as Manhattan’s first multiplex movie theater. Almost from inception the theater featured film’s most significant directors and producers, such as John Sayles, or New York icons like Andy Warhol, and revivals of classics and foreign films.

Despite not aging well, the theater still attracted many movie-goers who were loyal and dedicated to what the Quad offered.

The establishment has four screens to accommodate 430 seats. A new marquee was installed and the lobby is completely renovated with digital screens, vintage posters, and a 21.5 inch video wall displaying film-clips from classic movies.

The theater will continue to offer films that reflect the neighborhood’s interests. The theater is committed to classic programming, as evidenced by opening with a Lina Wertmuller retrospective in addition to first-run releases such as French film “heal the Living,” and the Emily Dickinson biographical film “A Quiet Passion.”

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Irving Farm Caffeinating the Village Soon

coffee-171653_640The popular coffee house Irving Farm Coffee Roasters is making its way to The Village with its ninth New York City shop, in a 3,500-square-foot space.

The signed lease will span 15 years for the two-story corner location at Thompson Street, just one block from Washington Square Park. It is considered the heart of New York University’s Greenwich Village campus, as well as a center of the general neighborhood.

The space was recently renovated in total and the asking price for rent was $200 per square-foot. The neighborhood can expect to see the doors open sometime this coming spring.

The rental was in great demand, according to Peter Braus of Lee & Associates, the representative of CEJ Properties, the landlord. Irving Farm was attracted to the space by its “outstanding location,” and is destined to be “an amenity for both the Greenwich Village community and New York University’s student body.”

“A large-format cafe will be a great addition to this neighborhood,” said Matthew Schuss of Winick Realty Group, which represented Irving Farm. He added that Irving Farm is looking forward to serving “the large NYU student population” and Greenwich Village at large.

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Neighbors Annoyed at Cohen’s Construction Proposal

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Steve A. Cohen

New York City’s Landmarks and Preservation Commission has given Steve Cohen the green light to create an enormous family compound in the heart of Greenwich Village at 145 Perry Street, and the neighbors are not pleased.

“I’m really shocked. Perhaps the commission was dazzled by this wealthy client. The plans are impressive and luxurious, but it looks like a Gucci store on Rodeo Drive or a private museum. It is completely inappropriate and out of character for Greenwich Village,” said Andrew Berman, head of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Cohen won permission to build a single-family mansion plus a six story apartment building for his children right next door. But Berman says that the complex resembles a fortress or a “castle with a moat” and not a home in the neighborhood with a welcoming feel.

Spokesperson for Cohen, Jonathan Gasthalter, did not comment on the dissatisfaction with Cohen’s plans.

A few years ago Cohen closed down his hedge fund company SAC Capital Advisors in the wake of allegations concerning insider trading. He paid fines of $1.8 billion as a result. Subsequently he opened a family office called Point 72 Asset Management. He also owns a penthouse at One Beacon Court which is for sale. It was first listed for $115 million, but its last asking price was $67.5 million. Now it was pulled off the market because, according to a real estate source, “it can’t sell.”

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Landmark Da Silvano Shuttered After 41 Years in the Village

Standard Italian food: Meatball and Ravioli.

Standard Italian food: Meatball and Ravioli.

Greenwich Village mainstay, Italian restaurant Da Silvano, has served its last meal, after 41 years of operation. Owner Silvano Marchetto said that the combination of astronomic rent and other rising operating costs, forced him to close down.

Through the years Da Silvano has served its loyal customer base from the neighborhood and from outside. Some of its patrons and fans who came back time and again were A-list celebs who appreciated a “no-frills” Tuscan meal, and found it at Da Silvano.

Da Silvano’s location, skirting SoHo and the West Village at 260 6th Avenue, led to a major increase in rent from $500/month, when the eatery first opened in May 1975, to the unbelievable $41,000/month they paid their last month of operation. Marchetto also blames “new-minimum wage rules” for his forced closure.

An Art World Blogger said that Da Silvano was “a favorite for the art world’s many patrons and participants, who continued to visit, with somewhat less frequency,” even though the majority of art galleries have long since moved from SoHo uptown to Chelsea.

In 1975, when the restaurant opened, Italian food meant just one thing, Americanized ‘red sauce’ dishes. “Marchetto was one of the first to introduce Americans to Tuscan cuisine,” the restaurant’s website says, “and is responsible for bringing many of Italy’s finest products to the forefront of Italian cuisine in America.”

Da Silvano was known for such dishes as roasted standing duck, artichoke salad brash and lamb. Some of the better-known personalities who frequented the establishment were Rihanna, Sean Penn, Owen Wilson, Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lindsay Lohan, Anna Wintour and others.

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NYC Dedicates AIDS Memorial on World Aids Day

Thursday, December 1st was World AIDS Day, and New York marked it by dedicating a memorial in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood hard-hit by the health crisis that exploded in the late 1980s.

The memorial is the city’s first major monument which remembers the epidemic that took over 100,000 lives of New Yorkers who succumbed to the deadly virus.

Co-founder of the memorial project Christopher Tepper quoted an early AIDS activist, Vito Russo, when he said at the dedication, “With this memorial I hope we have given our dead and our leaders from our community a drop in the ocean of recognition they deserve.”

There were several hundred people present at the dedication, which took place at the site of the memorial, at the triangular intersection of Greenwich and 7th Avenues. Considered by many to be the Ground Zero of the AIDS epidemic, the memorial is directly across the street from the location of St. Vincent’s hospital. The hospital was the first in the city to open a specially dedicated AIDS ward, one of the only places which offered care and acceptance to those who were dying from the ravages of the frightening, and at the time, little understood, illness.

Although St. Vincent’s is no longer there,  the memorial brings to mind its patients and the staff that cared for them. The monument, designed by the Brooklyn firm studio ai architects, is a white steel and aluminum structure poised in a way which evokes a delicate piece of origami art. The walls and canopy surround a fountain bubbling within.

The final design was altered from the original concept, which won a 2012 competition sponsored by Architectural Record because the size of the space dedicated to the memorial shrunk considerably from the time of the competition. With a price tag of $6.5 million, the finished sculpture was able to maintain its core ideas while still filling the reduced space.

“Our conversations with the memorial organization gave us the sense that we should create a room—a container where people could put their thoughts, their fears, and their memories of the people they lost,” says Esteban Erlich, who designed the pavilion with Lily Lim and Mateo Paiva. “But at the same time, we wanted it to be a place for people walking by and for kids to play—to remain open for everybody. There would be no gate, no doors.”

There is an installation within the latticed walls with excerpts from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” pouring across dark granite pavers creating a dizzying effect of spiraling text. The memorial will be complete when granite benches are added, allowing people to enter the memorial, sit down and contemplate the difficult past and the hopeful future.

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Landmark District Expansion Under Consideration for the Village

463px-south_village_historic_districtThere is proposal being considered now by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to expand the area which will be under the protection of the city’s landmarks authority.

Under consideration is the area south of Houston Street, west of Sixth Avenue, east of Thompson Street, and north of Watts Street, encompassing 157 buildings. This large area in southern Greenwich Village would extend the two areas which were already approved for protection in 2010 and 2013. If passed, any changes owners wish to make to these landmark buildings will need advanced approval from the city’s Landmarks Protection Commission.

The vote to consider the new status took place last week. Anyone wishing to add his or her two cents into the discussion can bring their ideas, displeasure, or support to the committee until November 29.

Most of the buildings under consideration for the special status were built prior to World War II.

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Oktoberfest Comes to New York in September

oktoberfest-927666_960_720Oktoberfest has become one of New York’s premier fall festivals, celebrating great food, fall foliage, and of course amazing beer.

Oktoberfest began in Germany. In 1810, from October 12-17 the celebration was held to honor the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. But why should such a fun tradition be relegated to one small country? The festival quickly spread across Europe and then the world, and has been changing the face of fall in New York in a big way.
This year the festival will take place beginning September 17, and ending on October 3. It was moved up from the original October date to the third week in September due to the weather, which turns cold and stormy in October.

There will be Oktoberfest celebrations in every New York borough so there is no excuse not to join in.

The largest events will be in Central Park on September 17, Munich on the East River on September 23, and Watermark’s Oktoberfest, September 17.

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