Bumping up Local Retail

While there is a lot of local quiet, retail and entertainment are not completely dead. Yes, many businesses have been shuttered for a long time with no end in sight and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs.  But all is not lost.

One example is Arias, the contemporary women’s fashion label launched by Nina Sarin Arias.  Famous consumers of the brand include: Priyanka Chopra and Gigi Hadid among others.  Her first store was recently opened at Manhattan’s 466 Broome Street. Spanning 1,500 square feet, Arias founded her label initially back in 2017 as direct-to-consumer.  She explained:

“It’s always been a dream to open a store and it means even more to me to do so in this unprecedented time. I chose to open our doors and show support for the city as our collections are made in New York.  It’s an important moment in my brand’s development and I couldn’t think of a better location than in SoHo, which is an intersection of fashion and art. The Arias woman has always shopped our brand online and attended our trunk shows. I am now able to share the world of Arias with my clients — an experience she has been waiting for.”

Other encouraging news are the government initiatives that have been put in place to help the local consumer.  One of these is the new parking regulations which make things a bit easier.  According to Executive Director of the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professionals Association, Jill Lamkin:

“Parking has always been one of the most difficult hurdles for businesses in Downtown Manhattan Beach and it’s further complicated by COVID. Our restaurants cannot welcome guests indoors and are surviving by serving outside. Locals embraced outdoor dining with overwhelming enthusiasm, and we are thankful! It does, however, further reduce our precious parking. Add beach-goers to that, and retailers and service providers are left with very little parking for the customers they so desperately need to survive. lease also help us by preserving parking for those who truly need it and we will save more of our businesses by allowing people to quickly drop into their favorite store, salon or grab a to-go meal. If you can walk or bike, please do. We know the shortened parking isn’t convenient, but we’re in survival mode and we hope you’ll support us in our efforts.”

Cycling Around Post-COVID-19

So much is currently up in the air in our newly-normalized coronavirus environment.   One thing that has been positive is the increase of bike use around lower Manhattan. This of course is good for so many reasons: environmental, health and fitness, etc.  Indeed, a recent  report  found that this could possibly become the new way of commuting to work for those in the region.

In part, this new trend has been made possible by increased accessibility for cyclists through the bike lane network that currently stands at close to 2.5 miles and is due for further expansion. As well there are more Citi Bike stations.

Given that so many individuals are concerned about exposure to coronavirus through public transport, bike commuters are likely to increase.  In related news, the South Bronx – E. 160th Street and Tinton Avenue – was the location of the 1,000th docking station installed by Citi Bike within the five boroughs.  According to Ruben Diaz Jr., President of Bronx Borough:

“This is a huge milestone for New York City’s Department of Transportation, Lyft, Citi Bike and The Bronx, opening the city’s 1,000th Citi Bike station in our great borough. Considering how important the Citi Bike program has become to the city’s transportation grid, especially helping our essential workers and healthcare workers get around during this pandemic crisis, I look forward to working on helping this program continue its expansion into The Bronx and throughout New York City. Micromobility is New York’s transportation future, so I’m glad to see Citi Bike’s 1000th station in the Bronx. We need affordable, green and accessible transit options, especially in areas underserved by public transit. The Bronx has waited a long time for Citi Bike to expand into our neighborhoods and I’m looking forward to further expansion into my district and other Bronx communities.”

Below 14th Street: What’s New?

With all the lockdowns and businesses closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s extremely heart-warming to hear of companies that are trying to start offering services to the public.  Here we take a brief glance at what has been happening recently.

First, a couple of weeks ago, Locanda Verde opened.  Chef Andrew Carmellini opened up this Italian restaurant in the heart of TriBeca offering New Yorkers a real taste of rustic, simple, Italian fare with homegrown US produce.  Featuring Deborah Racicot as the pastry chef, the menu is small but classic and satisfying.

Then there is the opening of the Shibui Spa, located at the brand new Greenwich Hotel.  The general manager pointed out that it was on the understanding that it will start slow due to the pandemic but that they are still happy to be re-opening.

While this is not new, the Tribeca Grill should also be included in our optimistic heart-warming local business stories.  They are marking 30 years since they first opened in 1990.  Way back then it was an abandoned coffee factory that Robert De Niro, Drew Nieporent and Marty Shapiro had the foresight to re-purpose as a restaurant and film center.

These are tough times without a doubt.  But somehow, someway, New Yorkers are rising to the challenge.   We wish – everyone – the very best of success!

The Evolution of New York Graffiti Artists

When graffiti first started becoming a public thing, back in the 80s, it was undertaken in a sly way in the deep of night so to avoid being caught and fined.  That’s what it was in New York way back then.  But these days some of it has become quite the reputable artwork.

Some New York City artists’ work is today being displayed in France…at the Chateau de Forbin mansion in Marseille.  Specifically, Dondi White and Futura whose works are being displayed in a room with hanging chandeliers to intentionally sharpen the contrast.  The new permanent exhibition has been co- curated by Caroline Pozzo di Borgo who said:

“People think the meeting of a French aristocratic family and American graffiti is impossible. And yet, this place allows them to meet. We want a place of sharing. Marseille has always welcomed artists and had links with the United States. We’re presenting the post-graffiti movement and the East Village scene in New York, focusing on the 1980s. They’re the masters of graffiti and the majority of the work that you will see here have been created by aerosol, without being pre-drawn.”

Meanwhile, florist and guerilla artist Lewis Miller of Lewis Miller Designs created a stunning heart on a black background…a huge orange six by four foot heart amid a white crosswalk lines and a ‘No Turns’ sign.  Added to that was a classic Martin Luther King Jr. quote: — “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Penned just a few weeks ago right in the middle of the pandemic this – as well as his other creations during this time – has been met with much enthusiasm.  He has been the recipient of fan mail and Instagram fame, most notably from Bette Midler.

Yes, graffiti has come an extremely long way over the last few decades.

Helping in Times of Crisis…Countering COVID-19

It has affected everyone.  The Alliance for Downtown New York’s President, Jessica Lapin recently articulated this sentiment when she said:

“There is not one storefront business in New York City that has been spared by COVID-19. Every one of them is struggling. We are stepping up to do what we can to help our stores keep their lights on.”

The Downtown Alliance was set up in 1995 in an attempt to “enhance the quality of life in Lower Manhattan.”  This is exactly the time it is probably needed the most.

Now, the organization is working on a program that will help storefront businesses in Lower Manhattan.  Through this it will offer grants worth up to $800,000.  Known as the Small Business Rental Assistance Grant this will help shops that have been providing essential services to local residents and workers, it has been funded with significant contributions from: Brookfield Properties, the Howard Hughes Corporation and Silverstein Properties. The Downtown Alliance has also given a contribution of $250,000.

Kindness in Times of Corona

In these distressing times it’s sometimes quite wonderful to see just how incredible community members can be toward each other.  True it’s very difficult, challenging and potentially incredibly depressing but there are also so many positive things happening everywhere and in Below 14 communities, we have seen many such cases.

Delancey Street Seafood restaurant Grey Lady is using this opportunity to show kindness and consideration to the local community.  Chef Tadd Johnson spent an entire week preparing 30 gallons of different types of soup to give out to those in need in the community.  Together with its sister eatery Canary Club, these “protein and produce” bursting soups have been made in three delicious flavors: broccoli-cheddar, potato-leek mushroom and seafood chowder.

When we used to walk around the Lower East Side we may have seen the odd looking posters…what are they?  They are perhaps CovId-19 art, photos of people kissing while wearing surgical masks as a general call for doing this together, getting through as a nation, and holding on while the world takes a breath (inside) during the pandemic.

The Act of Love is a street art campaign created by Arina Voronova who explained:

“While scientists are working on finding a cure for the virus, we, humans, can only spread love and support each other.”

There are around 500 posters but an additional 500 will be distributed around New York in the coming days.  Another goal of the project is to make people aware of Asian American discrimination during these days.

People to See, Places to Go

Downtown Manhattan is always hopping with activity. Today, Glittering Places of Detroit Concert is happening at the Roseville Public Library on Gratiot Avenue, Roseville starting at 6:30 p.m.  You will be privy to a wonderful show about the critical role Detroit had in the development of Jazz.  Performed by vocal artist Pam Jaslove, there is music, a slide show and so much more.  It’s a great opportunity for the entire family to learn about the 1920s Jazz Age.

Two days from now the Chesterfield Township Library on Patricia Street is hosting a Marvels of Motion program between 2 and 2.45pm.  Mad Science will present the event which will discuss Newton’s three laws of motion in action.  This is set to be a real hands-on experience for the whole family, featuring competitions, physics education, sports and real experiments.

Next Tuesday at 6pm take the whole family and head back to Roseville Public Library for Up the Lazy River journey.  Use your imagination and try to see yourself on Tashmoo – a sidewheel steamboat – going from Toledo, starting in Detroit.  Take a trip back in time and look at the lighthouses that have disappeared over time as well as other attractions from the early 20th century that we can still see but have basically faded.  Learn all about the SS Tashmoo.

Cutting Congestion in Manhattan?

Congestion in Manhattan has long been a huge problem.  But now, part of that may be eliminated, at least to a certain extent.

With two modifications being made in the New York City Charter, the Department of Transport is anticipating a spillover into Manhattan’s traffic issue.  A month from today, those commercial vehicles that double park for 20  minutes or more will be fined.  This will be in Chelsea, Midtown Manhattan and neighboring areas.

The way the law currently stands is that such vehicles are permitted to double park so long as they do not block the only lane.  Also, the Department of Transport has now mandated that the streets (First through Eighth Avenues between streets 14th through 60th)   that do not allow for deliveries between 7am to 7pm  will be expanded to 12th Avenue.

Meatpacking District: “Watch Out”

Doyle & Doyle has had a presence in New York’s Meatpacking District for two decades now. Specializing in vintage and antique jewelry, the sister-run store also offers house designs.  And of course, as a jewelry store, they sell watches.

But now the Meatpacking District is about to get two new stores with a complete focus on watches: Audemars Piguet and Rolex, both of which have just signed a lease very near each other in the neighborhood, one at Gansevoort Street and the other near to Soho House.

Other jewelry stores (which sell watches) locally include: Tempvs Fvgit (which specializes in vintage watches including Rolex and also sells US- and Swiss-made watches);  Tissot (a maker of luxury Swiss watches founded in Switzerland in 1853); Tourneau 3 Bryant Park (a store that sells name-brand watches as well as pre-owned watches) and G-Shock Soho Store.