St. Mark's Bookshop Has Moved to East 3rd Street, Won't Be Called East 3rd Bookshop

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The new location at 136 E. Third Street
It's been coming for a long time, but it still doesn't quite lessen the sting: St. Mark's Bookshop has moved from its longtime location on 3rd Avenue. The venerable bookseller had been battling its landlord, Cooper Union, for a number of years, trying without success to keep the school from raising their rent. But they are not, repeat, not gone for good: they've got a new shop location in the East Village, at 136 E. Third Street, between Avenue A and 1st Avenue. The move was made possible in part by an IndieGoGo campaign; bereaved book-lovers donated almost $52,000 to help out.

The bookshop staff reports on Facebook that they probably won't re-open until next week, the week of July 7. In the meantime, no one is mourning their departure from 3rd Avenue quite as keenly as Jeremiah Moss of Jeremiah's Vanishing New York. Moss petitioned passionately to save the bookshop when it was first endangered back in 2011. He notes that the store left behind a lovely Ted Berrigan poem in their window to say goodbye. And he's written St. Mark's a love letter of his own, which made us just a little prickly behind the eyes.

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Rent Guidelines Board Approves Pointless Yet Deeply Infuriating One-Percent Increase

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Screenshot via.
He really does have a point.
In a move that angered everyone and pleased precisely nobody, the city's Rent Guidelines Board voted last night in a meeting at Cooper Union to increase the rent on rent-stabilized apartments by one percent. That's after Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a rent freeze , saying at an unrelated press conference that the city is locked in an "unfair pattern."

"We've had a pattern in recent years of tenants being charged substantial increases," he said at the presser yesterday, "while the actual costs to landlords did not increase anywhere near the same amount."

The mayor's words were apparently for naught. As the Times points out, two of the six people de Blasio appointed to the board actually voted in favor of the increase.

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The Other Mayoral Candidate: Jimmy "Rent Is Too Damn High" McMillan Wants Your Vote

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Tessa Stuart
On Monday, when the other candidates for mayor of New York were trying out new talking points about the high cost of living in this city, crafted after a night spent in public housing, a sixth candidate was quietly collecting signatures on the corner of Lafayette Street and Astor Place.

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VIDEO: Rent's Going Up For 1,000,000 New Yorkers

Categories: Housing, Rent

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Raillan Brooks
Is the rent too damn high? For many of the more than 1,000,000 New Yorkers living in rent-stabilized apartments across the city, if it isn't already, it soon will be.

Today the nine-person Rent Guidelines Board decided on next year's rent increases in a public meeting in the Great Hall at Cooper Union (please note the irony). Rent will jump 4% on all one-year leases and 7.75% on all two-year leases in the city. The tenants jeered, the landlords cheered. It came down to a 5-4 vote.

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The Ghost of Anthony Weiner's Rent-Stabilized Past (UPDATED)

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Wikimedia Commons
"Why No Tenant Should Vote for Anthony Weiner," read the headline in May's issue of Metropolitan Council on Housing. The op-ed, written by tenant advocate Michael McKee of the Tenants PAC, highlights a 1994 flip-flop by the then-councilman on rent stabilization--a term that has slowly evaporated from Big Apple real estate talk in the modern age. The vote cast by Weiner had angered the tenant community at the time and, now that he's running for City Hall, has only fostered more backlash. And, in a display of how utterly dismal the New York City housing market truly is, it's one of the first times the issue that should be a top priority has made an appearance in this election cycle.

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After 46 Years of Business, Bleecker Bob's Finally Closed This Weekend

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John Surico
It was the record store enshrined in West Village fame; a place where Bob Dylan and Kramer found their favorite vinyls in the dusty clearance bins that sat out front. The landmark from an era of the neighborhood that no longer exists, driven out by high rents, high spenders and, in this case, frozen yogurt stores.

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The Rent Conundrum: Brooklynites Are Fleeing Back to Manhattan!

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A few months ago, we sadly had to write a post titled "Brooklyn is No Longer the 'Budget-Savvy' Alternative to Manhattan." It revolved around the news that Brooklyn was now the second most-expensive place to live in the country, falling only below its skyscraper neighbor, Manhattan. But what happens when the second-most expensive place to live becomes as costly, if not more, than the most expensive place?

Let's call it the modern-day urban sprawl.

In a story that would come as a surprise to someone living in 2006, the Daily News reported yesterday that Brooklyn is becoming so damn expensive that recent transplants are actually going back to Manhattan. The slowly, then rapidly developing real estate boom in Kings County over the past decade is now pushing out newcomers as well as longtime residents.

Welcome to the rent conundrum that is New York City.

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Sunset Park Rent Strike Continues Despite New Management

Categories: Rent

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Noelle Théard and Dennis Flores
Inside one of the Sunset Park basements that led to the rent strike.

Last fall, it seemed as if justice was finally in the works for tenants in Sunset Park. In August, after organizing a year-long rent strike with three buildings on their block, residents finally had their day in court. At the time, Judge Sylvia Hinds-Radix seemed sympathetic, noting, "This building is crying out for a receiver." However, the receiver -- who's charged with the task of caring for the buildings while they undergo the foreclosure process -- didn't appear until January 14th.

In the meantime, many of the unlivable conditions that led the tenants to strike have persisted, and they're not sure they'll stop the rent strike under the receiver's management. They want to see the problems, which range from bugs to leaks to asbestos contamination, fixed -- and they're worried about handing over their money but not seeing any changes.

Orazio Petito, the slumlord who owns the apartment buildings at 553, 545, and 557 46th Street, packed the basements of his properties with construction debris and trash, which quickly became home to mice, fleas and bedbugs. Sara Lopez, one of the tenants who organized the rent strike, told us, "Any time it rains, the water runs from the roof to the first floor. The first floor floods. I get mice, I get roaches. [Petito] didn't care. I told him, 'When you clean the basement, I'll pay the rent.'"


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Rents Are Really Out of Control, No, Seriously: Comptroller's Report

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Yet more confirmation that rents are out of control comes in a new report from city Comptroller John Liu, which notes that 30 percent of New Yorkers are spending more than half their income on rent. Half of New Yorkers are paying "unaffordable rents," defined by the feds as 30 percent or more of income.

Meanwhile, Liu claims that the Bloomberg administration's "affordable housing" plan only delivered one-third of the number of units for middle-income earners that was promised. He says the middle class feels this burden far more than lower-income folks.

The city's median income of just over $50,000 a year has remained basically unchanged since 2000, but the median rent skyrocketed by about 25 percent from $853 a month to $1,004. And the situation is substantially worse here than in the rest of the country.

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Sunset Park Rent Strikers Pack Brooklyn Court

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Sunset Park residents fighting the slumlord who owns their buildings sang "We Shall Overcome" outside court in Brooklyn this morning.
Sunset Park residents engaged in a protracted rent strike packed into a Brooklyn courtroom this morning to find out the fate of their three apartment buildings.

The rent strike actually began more than two years ago, when Sara Lopez and other tenants of three buildings, 553, 545, and 557 46th Street began organizing against their landlord, Orazio Petito. Tenants have stepped up their campaign in the past month, and with the help of members of Occupy Sunset Park have begun to draw media attention to their plight.

Residents say they're furious over the neglect of the buildings, which are infested with mold and vermin, frequently go without heat in the winter and without any electricity in the summer. Department of Buildings records for the three buildings list dozens of violations, many of them severe, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

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