Sunday, April 19, 2015

Open Letter to NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

Open Letter to NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

Att: Meenakshi Srinivasan, Chair

Date: April 19, 2015

Re: West 69th Street Between Broadway and Columbus

Dear Ms. Srinivasan,

We are aghast that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has allowed Arthur Cornfeld (ABC Properties) and his partners to open one restaurant after another on a historic block in what I believed were landmark buildings.

On top of this new "Restaurant Row" Cornfeld has created, and which your Committee has seemingly allowed, we also have on the first floor of 143 West 69 Street 2 commercial establishments -- one a Tarot Card Reader who places a garish Tarot Card Reader sign on the sidewalk with no ramifications. And the real estate office has a sign affixed to the front of the building.


Where is the oversight that your Committee is supposed to have over the historic district and maintaining the integrity of a residential block?

Our block has the one of the oldest structures on the Upper West Side: Christ & Saint Stephen’s Church built in 1805. A place residents have been proud to call home. Many do not feel the same way any longer because of the infiltration of restaurants.

West 69 Street is the quaint block where “You’ve Got Mail” was filmed at the lovely store that used to belong to Maya Schaper. And yet, even that beautiful little store was destroyed when you approved a Dry Cleaner to set up shop.

Please – re: the signs on Noi Due Cafe -- you did so with the instructions their signs be placed on the building (which is appalling in and of itself). However, they have placed large hideous signs in front of the rails.

And, regarding building a restaurant in a former basement, we believe there was some “tweaking” with the application process. Please be advised: There was never a doctor’s office just requiring “minor partition work” as DOB records state when giving ABC Properties a permit to build this atrocity.

Again, who reviews these requests?

And Barcibo Enoteca...really....what were you thinking?

A bar that has a license to stay open until 4am and who disturbs neighbors (not just at 2020 Broadway / 143 West 69th Street but at all neighboring buildings -- including private townhomes)?

And while on the topic of Barcibo Enoteca, this "winery" has created serious safety concerns for each and every resident of both 2020 Broadway and its sister building 143 West 69th Street.  At the rear of the establishment there is a door leading to the alley and our fire escapes!!  

I recently spoke with their manager, Mark, about this issue and although he profusely exclaimed: "I monitor that door all the time" -- it is not true. Their patrons lounge, smoke, and peep into the apartments of residents! We have photos and videos attesting to this. And this is only one of the numerous problems created by Barcibo Enoteca. If you are interested we have over a dozen more we would be happy to share with you.

What sort of deal has Mr. Cornfeld struck with LPC, DOB, and other agencies that has allowed him to turn the quaint brownstone block we have all loved into what has become a commercial strip that belongs in Times Square? 

Have we become the Disneyland of the Upper West Side?

We ask, we urge, we even beg you to STOP this atrocity from continuing any further. 

Do not allow our landlord to rent 2020 Broadway to yet another restaurant; in this instance a known criminal, Tsu Yue Wang, or any other restaurant within these two small buildings battling rat infestations, fire hazards, 15,000 lbs condensation units on top of 143 West 69 Street (which can cause the entire building to collapse according to the Fire Department Battalion Chief who I personally took on a tour of the property 2 days ago).

We already have 3 restaurants the owners cannot maintain. The noise, the garbage, the quality of life issues are staggering.

I apologize for the tone of this letter.

However, it is not just the quality of our life that have been affected, our very lives are in jeopardy.

We respectfully request your help in making sure we don’t die in a restaurant related fire or other catastrophe caused by the restaurants your Commission has approved.

Our lives matter more than money. That’s how we feel, and hope you feel the same.

Yours truly,

Kirby Sommers, President
Cornfeld Tenants Association
143 West 69 Street
New York, NY 10023

Tel: (212) 787-8726

P.S. I would be remiss if I did not point out that a block known to be "rat infested" because of the improper handling of food causes a ripple effect to property values of both privately owned homes, as well as to the buildings in the vicinity of these restaurants.

In the event you were unaware, we had a "Rat Rally" 2 weeks ago. A giant 20 foot rat was placed in front of the worst offender to date: Noi Due.

Many of the residents, at the time, either sat in cars across the street, walked past us back and forth, or took a spot on the other side of the street.

This photo was taken by someone sitting in a car:

And, the Rat Rally Press Release can be read here:

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