Wednesday, April 14, 2021

New schools way past schedule for openings in over-developed areas


LIC Post

 The opening date of a number of schools undergoing construction in western Queens has been pushed back in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philip Composto, Community Superintendent of District 30, provided Community Board 2 with an update Thursday on several schools in western Queens that are under construction—and many are opening later than initially planned.

There are two schools that are opening in September on time, which were of particular concern to parents in those areas who feared that there would be a shortage of school seats.

An elementary school in Long Island City, located on Parcel F of the Hunters Point South development, will open on time in September—despite doubts last summer by officials due to city budget constraints. Furthermore, a 180-seat addition planned for P.S. 2 at 75-10 21st Ave. is also on track to open in September—as planned.

There were concerns that these openings would be delayed, since the city put a halt on school construction last year when it faced cash flow problems at the beginning of the pandemic. The pause was later lifted and the School Construction Authority made these two schools a priority.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer called it a victory that the Long Island City school– PS-384, located at 1-35 57th Ave. on Parcel F — is opening on time. “We have fought alongside the parents and school community in Hunters Point for this building and despite the COVID-19 pause on construction this building is opening.”

Amazon puts a stop to open streets



 Another day, another easily avoidable setback for the city’s open streets program.

In the latest evidence that a tiny minority of increasingly aggressive opponents is seeking to stop the widely popular open space program, North Brooklyn volunteers announced that they are “suspending” their efforts to prop up the city program on Driggs Avenue and Russell Street in Greenpoint after all of the city-owned barricades were stolen by a man with an Amazon-branded van on Monday night.

A video of the apparent Amazon worker stealing the barricades was posted on Nextdoor, a neighborhood-focused website, and downloaded by Streetsblog into a handy video (which we shared with Amazon, which has not responded to our request for comment)

 The open streets suspension — announced in a tweet on Tuesday morning — came on the heels of an earlier two-day suspension after a North Brooklyn volunteer being assaulted, two Department of Transportation workers being berated at a meeting, and equipment was vandalized

 Streetsblog has reached out to the DOT for comment and for an explanation of what comes next for the beleaguered open streets initiative. The program brought miles of recreation space to COVID-stricken neighborhoods during the height of the pandemic, but has lost steam as the mayor has promised that it would be a “permanent” fixture of the cityscape, yet has not announced any plan beyond relying on volunteers.

Transportation Alternatives condemned the theft but said it was easily avoided — if the DOT stepped up its game.

“Open Streets require infrastructure that can’t be stolen, can’t be destroyed, and can’t be tossed aside by entitled motorists,” said Erwin Figueroa, the director of organizing for the safe streets group, which has previously urged the mayor to do better. “Permanent infrastructure is what the Open Streets Coalition has been demanding from City Hall. We need Mayor de Blasio to move with much greater urgency, especially after the violence and vandalism over the past week, to implement the permanent solutions that will secure the success of the program. Any delay will cause these unacceptable incidents to escalate and for an extraordinarily popular program to be jeopardized.”

 If Bikeblog and the bike zealots really want this to stop, they should delete their Amazon accounts. And maybe reach out to the tower people near them and demand they delete theirs too. 

Spring cleaning at unsightly Steinway Creek


LIC Post


A number of Queens environmentalists who want to revitalize a filthy inlet in northern Astoria got to work over the weekend with a cleanup around the short waterway–called Luyster Creek.

Located alongside the Steinway & Sons Factory, Luyster Creek – also known as Steinway Creek – branches off from the East River into the top of Astoria. The inlet is estimated to be about 1,000 feet in length and ends at 19th Avenue and 37th Street.

Mitch Waxman – a board member at Newtown Creek Alliance – set up Saturday’s event together with Gil Lopez, from BIG Reuse and Smiling Hogshead Ranch; Katie Ellman, the president of Green Shores NYC; and Evie Hantzopoulos, co-founder of Astoria Urban Ecology Alliance

They were joined by the team from Proud Astorian and other volunteers to pick up discarded items – including engine parts, tires, shipping pallets, bags of household garbage and giant sheets of plastic – around the creek.

In total, the group of about 30 people collected between 10 to 15 cubic yards of trash – filling half of a dumpster.

The crew also removed random items such as fabric roses, potatoes and a taxi cab divider crawling with snails. Volunteers returned the snails to the water, and the divider went into the dumpster, which was provided by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Hunters Point residents hopes the NYPD stops the noise this year


LIC Post

 This year it will be different.

That was the message from officials at a virtual public meeting Wednesday who plan to make sure that there isn’t a repeat of the unruly activity that took place along the Long Island City waterfront last summer.

The meeting, which was organized by the non-profit Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, brought together elected officials, city and state park representatives as well as local law enforcement.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and State Senator Michael Gianaris spoke at the meeting, along with representatives for U.S. Congress Member Carolyn Maloney and Assembly Member Cathy Nolan.

Around 150 residents were on a Zoom call that lasted nearly two hours.

“What happened last year… was wholly unacceptable,” Gianaris said, referring to the late-night booze parties, illegal fireworks and dangerous drag racing that took place in the area.

“This is a neighborhood with a lot of families, a lot of young children and the kind of activity that was going on… cannot be allowed to happen again,” Gianaris said.

A record number of parkgoers visited the waterfront parks last year, according to the HPPC, with many discarding litter—leading to piles of trash. Food vendors also stayed open late to serve large crowds.

Police Officer Andrew Diaz, who represented the NYPD 108th Precinct at the meeting, said that the entire force was overstretched last summer – given the outbreak of COVID-19 and civil unrest across the city. He assured residents that there would be more boots on the ground to tackle any problems like those that surfaced last year.

“Last year was a perfect storm with the pandemic and protests – we didn’t have enough police officers to address these issues and we apologize,” Diaz said. “But this year will be different.”

He said that Capt. Lavonda Wise, the NYPD 108th Precinct’s new commanding officer, has made Center Boulevard a policing priority.

Diaz said that the precinct is also changing the work hours of its officers—to ensure that more cops will be available on weekends.

He said there will be a greater “uniform presence” with a lot of NYPD auxiliary officers also on patrol this summer.

Did Gianaris, Jimmy V and any of these tower people ever consider that these violators could be their tower neighbors? 

Show us the money Joe


NY Post

 New York’s roads, bridges, mass transit, housing stock and care for children, veterans and seniors would all see federal investment under President Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure package, the White House claimed Monday.

The so-called “American Jobs Plan” would also provide money for climate-resilient infrastructure, clean drinking water and expanded internet access, according to a state-specific “fact sheet” posted online on Monday.

“For decades, infrastructure in New York has suffered from a systemic lack of investment,” according to the fact sheet.

“The need for action is clear.”

Among New York’s infrastructure shortcomings the Biden administration said would be addressed are the state’s $22.8 billion tab over the next 20 years to maintain clean drinking water, “lack of available and affordable housing” and $2.91 billion in school maintenance needs.

“Manufacturing” and “clean energy jobs” also make the list of potential funding items.

The White House fact sheet does not, however, promise to meet all of the state’s infrastructure spending needs. It also neglects to include how much funding each item would receive under Biden’s plan — citing total proposed nationwide spending instead.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has suggested the multitrillion-dollar spending spree would boost subway expansion into southeast Brooklyn and Harlem, as well as the construction of a new tunnel under the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey.

Both efforts would cost many billions of dollars — without addressing maintenance of the state’s existing, ailing infrastructure.

The Lefferts Blvd. bridge isn't over for small businesses



Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal and Senator Leroy Comrie on Tuesday, March 30, announced passage of their legislation to protect the character of the Lefferts Boulevard bridge amidst restoration, and to give protections to existing small businesses atop the structure. 

“The Lefferts Boulevard bridge serves as both a historic landmark and a community hub for Kew Gardens,” Rosenthal said. “Over decades, the diverse small businesses along this corridor have been entrenched in the civic and cultural life of our neighborhood. To destroy their livelihoods without cause during a pandemic is both unconscionable and preventable. I am grateful for the partnership of Senator Comrie and all the advocates who worked to bring this issue the attention it deserves.”

Since the late 1920s the Kew Gardens Lefferts Boulevard bridge over the Long Island Rail Road has been home to mom-and-pop stores that give the town its character and serve the shopping needs of the urban village in the city. 

In October 2020, the MTA, which owns the property, announced that the compromised structural integrity of the storefronts atop the bridge would require major capital investments. The MTA introduced a request for proposal (RFP) for a new master leaseholder to manage the stores on the Lefferts Boulevard bridge with no provisions for existing tenants. 

According to Save The Kew Gardens Coalition, a broad-based group of civic and resident organizations and Kew Gardens businesses, the RFP also specifically stated that the stores will be delivered empty. Existing small mom-and-pop stores who have served the community for over 20 years and are already hit hard by the pandemic would be forced to close under these conditions. 

To save the stores which are central to the neighborhood’s economic life, Kew Gardens community organizations partnered with the Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY), a nonprofit housing and commercial property development organization, to submit a unique response to the MTA’s RFP.

“The Lefferts Boulevard Bridge has suffered from years of MTA mismanagement. Because of this neglect, approximately $11 million in capital improvements will be required for the buildings, and an additional $5.5 million will be necessary to repair structural work on the bridge,” the organizations said in a petition that was shared in January. “The MTA expects the master lessee to bear the considerable cost burden of these repairs even after the city has given money to the MTA in the past to make repairs to this structure.”

Monday, April 12, 2021

Young woman from Williamsburg got vaccinated and got COVID anyway 

NY Post

 A Brooklyn woman who managed to avoid catching COVID-19 throughout 2020 went down with the bug this month — three weeks after being vaccinated.

Ashley Allen, 31, spoke to The Post by phone while quarantined in her Williamsburg apartment and in between calls from city contact tracers.

The contact tracers “started asking me questions about what I was doing three weeks ago,” Allen said. “And I said I was getting vaccinated.”

Allen was thrilled when she was able to book an appointment for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Javits Center on March 10. 

 The sprawling convention space had just received new shipments of vaccine and was jabbing New Yorkers around the clock — Allen’s appointment was at 2 a.m. As a wine and spirits distributor, she was able to get a coveted early spot even while vaccines remained unavailable to most New Yorkers. Though she experienced a brief fever the next day, her side effects from the jab quickly resolved.

Even after Allen was vaccinated, she was careful to always mask up when outside and wash her hands frequently.

“On Wednesday, March 31, I started feeling like a scratch, a tickle in my throat of some sort. It was super dry,” she recalled. “Then I kept having this dry cough. It kinda felt like I had allergies.”

As her cough persisted, debilitating fatigue set in.

“It started getting really bad, to the point where I did go to City MD,” she said. “I thought I had Lyme disease. I spend a lot of time upstate.”

But a rapid coronavirus test on April 4, plus a second rapid test on April 5, showed COVID. A PCR test, which is more accurate, confirmed it.

The City MD staffer “asked when did you get your vaccine? And I said March 10, and she was like just shocked,” Allen said.

Allen’s case is rare, experts say, but not unheard of.

“The vaccine does not necessarily prevent you from getting COVID. It prevents you from being hospitalized or dying from it,” Dr. Kris Bungay, a Manhattan primary care physician, told The Post. “That is why we all still have to be careful.”










Update: Here's another one. 

The best vaccine is not the one that you can get now.

NY Post

A Brooklyn man found out on Monday that he’d tested positive for the coronavirus — more than two weeks after getting the jab.

Matthew Sambolin, 39, told The Post that though he opted for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it was “convenient,” he now wishes he’d gotten the Pfizer or Moderna shot instead.

“The risk was there, I was willing to take it. Now I’m wishing I made a different decision,” he said in a phone call from the spare bedroom of his Bath Beach home, where he’s currently quarantining.

Sambolin said he was experiencing minor symptoms, including a light cough and fatigue.

While a rapid test he took Saturday came back negative, a PCR test, which is more accurate, returned positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, according to documentation he provided.

“It was a shock,” Sambolin said of learning about his positive test on Monday.

An operations manager for two local radio stations, Sambolin said he had “no ambivalence” about the COVID vaccine and had been looking forward to getting his.

“I wanted to help get the herd immunity up,” he said.

Mayor de Blasio’s fear and loathing of the public record


Impunity City

Good day everyone on the call.

Not long ago, the NYC Council cronies ratified a bill into law that revoked the NYPD from issuing press credentials to journalists, a truly historically groundbreaking paradigm shift in city policy of what was a standard procedure for approving access to events, briefings and police crime scenes for decades. This came about after the NYPD basically sabotaged themselves last summer and in the following months when reporters became collateral damage as they got caught up in the throes of the NYPD’s overtly aggressive militaristic tactics battling and kettling protesters during last summer’s George Floyd protests and various BLM demonstrations and rallies that followed that have occurred in later months. Thanks to the menacing optics of a police state in NYC, it actually justified the necessity of this bill.

So now in a year’s time, the issuing of press passes will be approved by the officials inside the Mayor’s Office of Film And Television Movies And Entertainment. While it sounds progressive and better than having a law enforcement agency determining the qualifications of a news source and who they assign, in essence the determination of who is a journalist or not will be  mostly under the purview of the Mayor of New York City.

Why this is being brought up now is to illustrate what an actual danger this will be considering who is mayor as well as who the next mayor will be. And in the last week since this transfer of press duties was ratified, Mayor de Blasio is setting up a very dangerous precedent with his office’s recent actions regarding his daily briefings. Actually it even started days when the press cred bill was being written up.

Back in January, de Blasio put out a 25 minute b-roll video and passed it out as his State of the City address. Entitled “A Recovery For All Of Us”, the overarching theme of the video was about how the city will make a gloriously historic comeback from the pandemic, optically highlighting programs and policies that will be dispensed equitably that will return the city to normalcy (or at least a semblance of it). In the last 3 months since his office produced that feature, The Blaz has with persistent repetition brought up his “recovery for all of us” during his briefings, aligning his brand title with his self-proclaimed gold standard re-opening of schools and revival of city culture with the widening spread of vaccine distribution.

But The Blaz’s recovery, well the “recovery for all of us”, has hit some snags. The vaccine distribution has been not been as equitably distributed, as higher income neighborhoods have received the vaccine than lower income areas and the school re-openings have resembled more of a brown standard than gold according to frustrated parents and students. Then there was the sudden vanishing of the COVID case data map for three days after it revealed about 30 zip codes with over 15% of the population with positive cases, which revealed that even with hundreds of thousands of citizens inoculated, the contagion was still prevalent and persistent.

As for the contagion, COVID-19 as evolved to four different variants, including a New York strain for fuck’s sake. But it’s the UK strain that’s been the most stubborn as cases continue to plateau again in the five boroughs despite the prevalence of vaccines. What’s disturbing about these variants is how they mostly effect younger people.

About those vaccines, there’s been a little hitch there too, especially with Johnson and Johnson brands. If there wasn’t a problem with them being 30% less effective than the Moderna and Pfizer vacs, the Big Pharma corporation recently had to trash 15 million vaccines because they got mixed up with another brand at the warehouse building where both were being manufactured. It should be noted that the warehouse wasn’t even approved by the FDA.

The FUGAZIed vaccines presents a major quagmire for The Blaz, because he has been utterly dependent on these vacs for the recovery for all of us in New York City. And he was surely hedging his bets for them to correlate nicely with his recent decision to bring all his city employees working remotely from of their $2,500 studio apartments and back to the city offices in the merry month of May even though commercial office buildings still have to follow pandemic guidelines and keep staff levels low.

Somehow, having all city employees back in municipal buildings is tied to de Blasio’s recovery, along with his mission to revive NYC culture by having entertainment spring up on the streets and to open up Broadway by prioritizing vaccine access to theater workers and entertainers with mobile sites.

The Blaz has to explain how all this is going to work and because of his notorious proclivity for being secretive and unaccountable when it comes to his policies and decisions. When he does his weekday media availability (even that sounds Orwellian), it airs on the city’s station on Channel 25 and streams live on the Mayor’s Office youtube channel. Then the Mayor’s Office uploads the entire video to their channel not long after it’s done before noon. But on three recent uploads, de Blasio’s and even his crack quack health commission squad of Dr. Chokshi, Dr. Varma and Dr. Katz responses to questions regarding recovery and COVID cases were suddenly memory holed.

Fortunately, the Mayor’s Office website has the entire transcript of his daily briefings, which makes the butchering of these videos a fool’s errand (especially when the one giving the orders is a fool), but not necessarily moot because the video medium is still the one people go to and is easily available, so it makes sense from the standpoint of a scoundrel looking to cover his ass even though it won’t stop anyone from releasing his words in full. Like on this blog here.


City and state officials have had it with the Rockaway pipeline


Queens Eagle

Over two dozen New York City leaders have urged the federal government to kill a controversial pipeline project that would run underneath the waters off the Rockaway Peninsula. 

The proposed Williams Northeast Supply Enhance Pipeline, or Williams Pipeline, would deliver fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New York city via a tube underneath New York Harbor. The plan was rejected last year by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation. 

In a letter Wednesday, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and State Sens. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., Jessica Ramos and James Sanders called on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Richard Glick to also reject the Williams Pipeline once and for all. The pipeline would move the city and state further from achieving its climate goals, they said.
“We take climate change seriously, as we have already lost loved ones here in New York City to climate-fueled superstorms and heat waves that caused death, illness, debt, and scarcity,” the leaders wrote. “For our constituents and for the future generations who will live with the consequences of allowing the Williams Pipeline to be built, we urge you to deny Williams’ request.”

The letter cites Glick’s own condemnation of the initial FERC approval of the project in 2019, when he said that declaring the pipeline safe “fails to give climate change the serious consideration it deserves and that the law demands.”

On March 19, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company requested a two year extension to kickstart the project. The 17.4-mile-long, 26-inch diameter connection would transport fracked gas under the Atlantic Ocean off the shores of Rockaway Beach.

The letter cites the emissions impact of the gas being brought into the city once burned, new FERC recommendations that take into account the effects of transporting the gas  — like methane leaks — and climate justice for the city’s most vulnerable communities.

“We will not allow the racist legacy of environmental and climate injustice to continue by building infrastructure that will increase the amount of polluting fracked gas in our city,” the letter continues


Silicon Valley tech firm that hired failed NYC schools chancellor profited from the pandemic

 Richard Carranza 

NY Post 

The California ed-tech firm that hired ex-schools Chancellor Richard Carranza cashed in on the COVID-19 pandemic in NYC, reaping millions of dollars from the Department of Education under his reign, records show.

IXL Learning, Inc. — which named Carranza its chief of strategy and global development — has been paid $3.3 million by the DOE in the past two years alone. 

The Silicon Valley outfit has collected $2.1 million in NYC taxpayer funds this school year. That nearly doubled the $1.2 million it made last school year as the DOE expanded remote instruction, according to records compiled by the city comptroller’s office.

Observers expect IXL’s windfall to grow with Carranza as its salesman.

He “brings to the table a wealth of contacts and people who owe him favors” in New York, Houston and San Francisco, where he has led school districts, said Alina Adams, a Manhattan mom and writer who runs the website “NYC School Secrets: Parents Helping Parents.”

“Some of the people in charge of deciding whether or not to buy IXL products will be the same people that Carranza hired.”   

Carranza’s new gig as a top executive for a DOE vendor raises serious conflict-of-interest questions.

 Under NYC laws, city employees may not seek jobs — including submit a resume, discuss opportunities, or interview — with a company they are dealing with as part of their city job, the Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) states.

Carranza announced his resignation on Feb. 26, saying he needed time to grieve 11 loved ones lost to COVID-19.  IXL announced his hiring in a press release dated April 1, less than three weeks after his last day as chancellor.


Sunday, April 11, 2021

Developer funded group proposes to build public plazas under Queensboro bridge underpasses


LIC Post

A plan to transform a gritty area under the Queensboro Bridge ramps into a vibrant public space is starting to take shape–with an architect considering designs that would include a basketball court, a dog run and a large seating area.

The plan, called the “Long Island City Ramps” project, would cost $5.5 million and involves revitalizing 50,000 square feet of underutilized space beneath the road ramps that lead to the Queensboro Bridge in Court Square.

The area that is set to be revamped includes a 17,000 square foot site along Dutch Kills Street which is currently being used by a DOT contractor for roadside parking.

The second area is a 33,000 square foot adjacent space that is being used by the NYPD School Safety division as a parking lot. Unlike the Dutch Kills Street space, much of this space is not covered by a ramp and will provide a large open area with plenty of sunlight.

The two ramps converge above Jackson Avenue.

Bad Bunny


Saturday, April 10, 2021

AOC tied to Capitol Police investigation of a California resident criticizing her in a tweet


 The Grayzone

An anti-war activist was visited by California Highway Patrol officers after posting video of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s bumbling comments on Israel-Palestine. The action, which AOC denies triggering, was initiated by a call to US Capitol Police.

As he waited for a food delivery at his home in Los Angeles on April 8, Ryan Wentz, an anti-war activist and producer for the online viral program Soapbox, heard two men calling his name from over his front gate. When he approached, he realized they were not delivery drivers, but police officers flashing badges of the California Highway Patrol.

The cops informed Wentz that they had received a call from the Capitol Police, the federal law enforcement agency tasked with protecting the US Congress, about a tweet he had sent that allegedly threatened Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Wentz told The Grayzone, “The officers said, ‘We got a warning about a sitting member of Congress. And it was because of your tweet, which tagged them in it.’ And then they just wouldn’t back down from this accusation that I threatened to kill her.”

 The California Highway Patrol indicated on Twitter that it had acted on a call from Capitol Police.

Though AOC’s office has denied falsely informing Capitol Police of an online threat by Wentz, the Democratic congresswoman has in the past asked her supporters to report critics to social media censors.

Whoever called the police on Wentz furnished law enforcement with a patently false allegation, as he has never threatened violence against any member of Congress.

In the tweet that triggered the police action, Wentz merely posted video of AOC delivering a vapid and embarrassingly convoluted answer to a question about resolving the crisis in Israel-Palestine. Describing her answer as “incredibly underwhelming,” he let the congresswoman’s cringeworthy commentary speak for itself.

Impunity City

 Going by my recent difficulty with the Twitter, this incident confirms that the social media platform is no longer a "private company" and has become an arm of the government hell bent to induce and normalize censorship and will shut down any attempt to hold elected officials accountable for their bad policies and idiotic statements. And just like in my case, this person got clamped down for words belonging to another person.

AOC should be less concerned about what she perceives are threats to her brand and her political party and more with the persistent problems and crises that's affecting her district starting with the recent fire that left hundreds homeless in Jackson Heights.

Ridgewood residents feel the spectre of gentrification after "progressive" developers open expensive restaurant on a street corner



Grub Street

 Luisa’s family has lived in the same apartment building on Onderdonk Avenue in Ridgewood since she was 10 years old. Now, she worries that time will come to an end. Last year, when Luisa (who asked to only use her first name) found herself working out of the apartment, she started to notice how quickly changes in the neighborhood were happening. Local property values had skyrocketed, and she says her landlord has said, many times, she’s thinking about selling. “If she were to put it up for sale, we would be evicted in a matter of just closing your eyes,” Luisa fears. “We don’t have a lease,” she says, “so there are very real concerns that I do have.”

While she says there’s no immediate threat to her family, she’s worried that may change any day now. She spent the summer listening to the drilling and construction along Onderdonk Avenue, including for Rolo’s, a new restaurant from a trio of former Manhattan chefs. “It was just this nightmare for me,” Luisa says, “because I knew what was happening.”

Rolo’s is the kind of low-fuss, New American place you might expect from four veterans of Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern who wanted to open a casual, outer-borough dining room. Rolo’s sells eight kinds of pickles, pineapple-rum Negronis, homemade focaccia, fresh pasta, and containers filled with slow-braised lamb rag├╣. A recent review in The New Yorker said it offered “a taste of New York.” Howard Kalachnikoff, one of the chef-partners, calls it, “Just a simple, neighborhood restaurant, focused on cooking over a wood-burning grill.” The goal of opening, he explains, is “to put down some roots and then see what happens after that.”

Pandemic dining restrictions meant Rolo’s opened first as a market with only takeout and delivery. A few weeks ago, the owners put out some tables, and they have a warm-weather streetery structure in the works (hmm, a sign NYC open streets are being weaponized for privatization?-JQ LLC). Eventually, Kalachnikoff imagines diners dropping in a couple of times each week, and he wants to stay in business for a long time. Ben Howell, another partner, adds, “nothing would make us happier than if some of the young adults that come here now come in in 15 years with their kids, when their kids are graduating.”

Due to the pandemic, Rolo’s opened in January as a grocery store, selling everything from single-origin spices to De Cecco pasta, and takeout business. 

Indeed, some neighbors don’t see any drawback to the arrival of Rolo’s or the building’s renovation. “I’m not aware of any negatives,” says Paul Kerzner, a 49-year member of Community Board 5. “I walked into that building about a month ago when that was finished,” he recalls. “I was tickled to death when I saw that the graffiti was coming down and the boards that were up were coming down, and we’re going to get glass back again.”

But for others, Rolo’s is something more than a destination for a quiet weeknight meal. “I’m so excited because I like this kind of food,” says Laura Duarte, who, with her siblings, opened her own restaurant, Las Chilangas, just before the pandemic hit. “But the way we think about this type of restaurant opening … I know the rent is going to increase so much.”