Holidays 2012: Keeping it Local on the LES

A nice gift idea for rock & roll fans: Sex Pistols – The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle – Double LP, Vintage Vinyl – First Pressing. $30.

We continue our holiday guide today featuring a few of the sweet shops on lower Orchard Street.  We’re taking a look at ways you can help support Lower East Side merchants, restaurants and non-profits this holiday season.  Remember your suggestions are welcome at

  • Gargyle clothing store (16A Orchard St.) is offering some great “stocking stuffers” that include cozy wool socks, belts, hand made soaps and key chains, all under $40.
  • The Cast (71 Orchard St.) is known for their custom leather jackets but they also offer fun gift options like original tee shirts (made in-house) for $35, vintage vinyl albums for $25 and studded cuff bracelets, great vintage jewelry,and belts under $40.

Stanton Street Shul Reaches Initial Fundraising Goal; $20,000 Still Needed

Stanton Street Shul.

Rabbi Josh Yuter at the Stanton Street Shul let us know that they have raised $10,000 through crowdfunding site Lucky Ant, which means the synagogue’s post-Hurricane Sandy campaign to repair water damage has been successful.  But Stanton Street still must raise a total of $30,000 to be eligible for matching funds through the New York Landmarks Conservancy.  The money will go towards repairing the roof at 180 Stanton Street.  Click here if you would like to help.


Landmarks Commission Approves Jarmulowsky Building Restoration Plan

Jarmulowsky Bank building, 54 Canal Street; December 2012.

The restoration of the Jarmulowsky Bank building is one step closer to reality this afternoon. Earlier today the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the plans, which include rooftop modifications but are mostly aimed at returning the structure to its original 1912 glory.  The Jarmulowsky, destined to become a boutique hotel, is owned by DLJ Real Estate Partners.

Ron Castellano, a Lower East Side preservation architect, helped lead the successful effort to protect the building in 2009.  Now he and restaurant operator Taavo Somer are handling the restoration project for the owners.  In a presentation before the commission, Castellano explained what will be involved in the huge overhaul of a building that has been neglected for many years.

Breaking: Landmarks Commission Votes to Advance Bialystoker Application

Bialystoker Nursing Home on East Broadway.

News from the Landmarks Preservation Commission this morning. Commissioners voted to “calendar” the application for the Bialystoker Nursing Home building at 228 East Broadway. As we reported over the weekend, the Bialystoker board has dropped its opposition to protecting the building, which is currently vacant. Also today, the LPC decided to schedule a hearing for the Seward Park Library. No hearing dates as of yet. More to come…

Sunshine Cinema Says Alcohol Permit is Key to Staying on the LES; CB3 Balks

The Sunshine Cinema is applying for a new liquor permit. Photo via: Cinema Treasures.

Last night, representatives of the Landmark Theatre Company told members of Community Board 3 that their plan to sell alcoholic drinks at the Sunshine Cinema offers the only hope of keeping the art house theater at 143 East Houston Street.  But citing an incomplete application and concerns about the scale of the proposed liquor permit, CB3’s SLA Committee sent them away with a tongue-lashing and the threat of rejection.  Executives from the company withdrew their application for the time being.

Mike Fant, Landmark’s senior vice president for real estate,  said the company will soon be renegotiating its lease in the historic 1898 building on East Houston Street that has served as a center of independent film downtown for more than a decade.  He indicated that the property owner expected to have multiple offers from other theater companies.  In anticipation of a big rent increase,  Fant said, Landmark wants to invest $1 million to transform the Sunshine into an upscale venue for drinks, dinner and film.

Morning Reads: EDC Transparency, Silver Censure Considered, Bus Driver Speaks

  • The Economic Development Corp. under pressure from the city comptroller, agrees to reveal more details about its budgets. The new openness does not extend to the SPURA process (NYT).
  • Report: State ethics board came very close to censuring Sheldon Silver in connection with the Vito Lopez scandal but a vote was posponed due to Hurricane Sandy. Democrats on the panel later blocked the move (Albany Times Union).
  • An interview with Ophadell Williams, the driver of the bus crash in the Bronx that left 15 Chinatown residents dead. Last week he was found not guilty on most charges (WABC).
  • The Hole Gallery debuts skater doc (ESPN).
  • Artist Anthony Dominguez is at Clayton’s gallery tomorrow (Vice).


Moscot Makes Move to 108 Orchard Street Official

108 Orchard Street, Moscot’s home for 77 years.

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required)  this morning has confirmation of the long-rumored transition of Moscot Eyewear from 118 Orchard Street, where it’s been a fixture for almost 80 years, across the street to 108 Orchard.   The iconic Lower East Side store is taking over the corner spot where the Tenement Museum shop used to be located and the basement on the South side of Delancey Street.

As the Journal notes, Helm Equities bought 118 Orchard during the summer for $4.8 million and also purchased air rights for an undisclosed amount, allowing for a 12-story building on the southeast corner of Orchard and Delancey streets.  David Escava, the owner of Helm Equities, said he offered to keep Moscot but the legendary LES retailer did not want to commit to staying put given the uncertainty about exactly what will be built. Escava indicated a “new national retailer” would probably pay $300 per square foot, triple what Moscot is being charged now.

Good Morning!


A misty East River view. Photo by Brendan Higgins/Chinatown Branch.

Light rain this morning, tapering off by mid day and a high of 47.  Looks like dry conditions the rest of the week.

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