Repairs Begin at Basketball City; Armin Van Buuren New Year’s Eve Show Still On

Workers began replacing the floors at Basketball City this week.

Last week we noted that Basketball City on Pier 36 sustained a lot of damage during Hurricane Sandy.  The wood floors covering seven courts inside the recreational facility, which just opened this past summer, were completely ruined.  This week we stopped by to check out the progress of repairs and to talk with Basketball City owner Bruce Radler.

The good news, he said, is that the building is in good shape structurally.  The new floors are being shipped in batches during the next few weeks.  It will probably be mid-January before the job is complete.  A couple of transformers were also lost in the storm, and Verizon has still not been able to restore regular phone service.

$45,000 Raised For Chinatown Sandy Fund

City Hall Steps.

it was a show of force earlier today at City Hall, as local elected officials and community leaders came out in support of a relief fund for small businesses in Chinatown impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  The effort by the Chinatown Partnership and the Chinatown BID has already raised $45,000.  All of the money will be used for a grant program; eligible businesses are encouraged to apply for assistance.

The campaign includes a benefit dinner at the Grand Harmony Restaurant, 98 Mott Street, on December 19.  Today, Grand Harmony owner Tony Chen said his business was dealt a serious setback from the storm. Not only was he shut down for a week and forced to throw out  a lot of spoiled food, but Chen said his customers have not come back in large numbers since the storm. He estimated business is off by about 30%

Feds Provide Money For Post-Sandy Food Program; 10002 Zip Code Included

The National Guard delivered emergency food supplies to Knickerbocker Village in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

It was a common sight on the Lower East Side in the days after Hurricane Sandy: National Guard troops and other aid workers distributing food to those in need.  Now residents still trying to get back on their feet will be getting some additional assistance.  Yesterday Congressional representatives announced they’ve secured $200 million in Sandy recovery money.  Included in this initial distribution is $13 million from the Agriculture Department for storm victims who would normally not be eligible for food stamps.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is coming to areas of New York hardest hit by the storm, including the 10002 zip code, incorporating a large swath of the Lower East Side. Residents living in the impacted areas can apply for help through December 18 at 495 Claremont Avenue in Brooklyn.

Coming up Sunday: Hurricane Resource Fair & Community Conversation

National Guard troops on Grand Street following Hurricane Sandy.

This coming Sunday, State Senator Daniel Squadron is putting together a post-Sandy “Resource Fair & Community Conversation.” He describes it as a “one-stop-shop” for people still in need of assistance after the storm and a good opportunity for those who want to become involved in long term planning for future natural disasters.

Various government agencies will be represented, including: FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services,  the New York City Housing Authority, the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection and the NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development.  Also on hand: officials from Con Ed and Verizon. Other local elected officials are helping to sponsor the forum.

You can RSVP by calling 212-298-5565 or you can register via this web link:  The event takes place Sunday from 3-6 p.m. at Murry Bergtraum High School, 411 Pearl Street.


Crowds Come Out For Chinatown Street Fair; Fundraiser Announced For Dec. 19

Saturday’s Chinatown Revival street fair. Photo by K. Webster.

A sizable crowd turned out on Saturday for the “Chinatown Revival Fair,” an event meant to support local businesses suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  Restaurants offered $1 “tasting plates,” on the streets outside their establishments.  The street fair was sponsored by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, with support from many other groups, including the Chinatown BID.

In an editorial we published last week, Nom Wah Tea Parlor owner Wilson Tang said he believed the “$1 tasting plate” concept was bad for Chinatown businesses, since no restaurant could hope to make money, or in his view, build customer loyalty with this type of promotion.

Weekend Events: Have Fun, Support Sandy Recovery

In addition to dining out at local eateries this weekend, there are plenty of other easy, fun things to do (art exhibits, movies, shopping, gardening) while also boosting a variety of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. We’ve listed a few here; write us at or Tweet us @lodownny if you know of others we should add.

Weekend Assignment: Eat & Drink in the Neighborhood

Katz’s: Feeding locals, celebrities and tourists since 1888. They stayed open through Hurricane Irene last year, and Hurricane Sandy this year. You know you want some.

OK, so. It’s Friday morning on the Lower East Side, and we know darn well you New Yorkers aren’t cooking at home every single meal this weekend. There’s been a lot of chatter about supporting our local restaurants here in the neighborhoods briefly known as SoPo (South of Power). Local media, including The Lo-Down, have preached it, published it, promoted it. There’s even a Twitter hashtag, #EatDownTipUp. And if anyone living below 14th Street hasn’t yet read the compelling essay New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells wrote 10 days ago, “Why Downtown Needs Diners Now,” well, it’s worth five minutes of your time.

Monday marks three weeks since Hurricane Sandy came to visit; it’s time to stop talking and put your money where your mouth is.

Knickerbocker Village Power Fully Restored, Rent Rebates Reiterated

Knickerbocker Village.

We’ve just received word from the management of Knickerbocker Village that electricity has been restored to all 12 buildings as of 4 p.m. today. Workers on-site are still in the process of transferring the electrical systems off the temporary generators and onto the grid, meaning some residents in the 1,600-unit complex may experience temporary and brief outages, but overall, the power issues are solved, according to a lengthy and detailed memo sent by the management company’s public relations firm a short while ago. Management also restated a promise made at Tuesday night’s information session that residents will not be charged rent for the two and a half weeks they endured without basic utilities.

Click through to read the letter in its entirety.

“Give More, Give LES”: Support Local Businesses

We have details today about the benefit for local businesses we mentioned last week.

Hosted by the Lower East Side Business Improvement District and promoted through Lucky Ant, the local crowdfunding company, the evening includes appetizers, drinks, a silent auction and DJ music, with proceeds funding grants to Lower East Side small businesses in need of assistance in the aftermath of the historic and devastating storm. The “Give More, Give LES” event will take place Nov. 27 at The DL, 95 Delancey St., from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.Ticket prices range from $25 to $1,000 — swag such as tote bags, free yoga classes and T-shirts come with the larger ticket prices. The organizers have set a goal of raising $10,000.

Need Help Coping in Sandy’s Aftermath? Free Clinic Tomorrow

Thousands of Lower East Siders are still coping with the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy: damage from power outages, loss of wages, children missing school and other difficulties. To help address some of these needs, the Legal Aid Society, the NYC Housing Authority and local elected officials will sponsor a resources and information clinic tomorrow from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Vladeck Houses Tenant Association Room, 328 Madison St.

Sandy Relief: Yes, You Can Still Do Something Useful

For our neighbors in Queens, Staten Island and other areas, life is still far from normal.

With this morning’s good news about the situation at Knickerbocker Village finally improving, the Lower East Side is mostly recovered from Hurricane Sandy. But more than two weeks after the storm roared ashore in New York Harbor, there are still many New Yorkers in desperate need of help of all kinds. Below are a few options of ways to help in the next week or two. Check out the NYC Sandy Needs website for a more detailed, constantly updated list of volunteer and donation opportunities.

Knickerbocker Village Expects Full Power Today; Management Promises Rent Breaks

Knickerbocker Village residents gathered at P.S. 1.

The residents of Knickerbocker Village are no longer suffering in obscurity. Last night, they came in droves to P.S.1 on Henry Street for a meeting organized by State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was there, as were City Council member Margaret Chin, State Senator Daniel Squadron and several television stations. The star of the show, however, was James Simmons, an executive with Knickerbocker Village’s owner, AREA Property Partners.

After two weeks mostly without electricity, heat and hot water, Simmons told residents of the 1,600-apartment affordable housing complex what they wanted to hear. First, he said, engineers hope to have all electrical power back by tomorrow and heat and hot water by the end of the week.  Second, Simmons promised, “we will ensure that not a penny of rent is paid on days in which you did not have essential services.”

Knickerbocker Village Meeting Tonight; Powerless Apartments Down to 400

We mentioned this a couple of days ago but here’s a reminder. Tonight at 6 p.m., there will be an informational meeting for residents of Knickerbocker Village at P.S.1 regarding the continuing efforts to restore full electrical power, heat and hot water.   The school is located at 8 Henry Street.

A press release from management yesterday indicated that 900 out of 1600 apartments now have power.  An update sent around to elected officials and aid workers last night said that number is now up to 1200.  The note added, “7 out of the 12 buildings have elevator service and 2 boilers are up and running and are providing hot water.”


Knickerbocker Village Releases Another Statement

Here’s the latest press statement distributed by Great Link Communications regarding the ongoing efforts to restore power and heat at Knickerbocker Village:

The management of Knickerbocker Village is applying all of its resources, and doing everything within its power, to restore all utilities and other building services as quickly as humanly possible. The enormous challenges we face were described in our previous statement dated November 9.

Today we would like to share the following update on our progress:

  • Three generators were delivered over the weekend to supply temporary power.
  • Electricity has been restored to more than 50% of units (900 out of 1600 units).
  • Working with multiple teams of experts to resolve remaining electrical, heat, and hot water issues, including aggressive action to resolve persistent moisture issues that are slowing down the restoration of electricity. Our primary concern is the safety of residents at Knickerbocker Village and as such, power is being restored as cautiously and deliberately as possible.
  • Double-tracking efforts to supply heat (rebuilding boiler plant while contracting for temporary boilers).

Small Businesses Call For Grants, Not Loans, to Recover From Hurricane Sandy

A workshop was held for small business owners at the Houston Street Center on Friday.

On Friday, a large number of local business owners came to the Houston Street Center on the Bowery to hear FEMA and other government officials explain how they can file for relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.   All of the resources available from the federal, state and local governments have been listed here before.   The main message from all of the officials was this: disaster loans are available whether a business suffered physical damage or not.   But there was a widespread feeling among the audience that loans are of little use to many small businesses.  Sylvester Schneider of Avenue C restaurant and bar Zum Schneider said, “I don’t need a loan. Give me a generator.”