Volume 22, Number 09 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 10 - 16, 2009


Under Cover

‘Anything goes’
The old Harmony Theater burlesque club in Tribeca could be staging a comeback.

Madeline Droege, who ran the Harmony and still owns its 279 Church St. building, posted an online ad soliciting renters for the ground floor and basement space.

“‘Anything goes’ uses include bar/night spot/party space/restaurant/live theater/store,” she wrote in the ad. She is asking $10,000 a month for the 3,750 square feet.

Separately, Droege, a k a Madeline D’Anthony, also has a Web site advertising the space as the Fig Leaf Theater and Pink Fig juice and raw food snack bar. The site offers the theater space for rent for themed parties and events, and promises, “Coming soon.”

Droege did not return calls for comment, but one source said she had approached at least one burlesque group about performing in the space. Another source said costumed people turned up at the building on a recent night looking for an S&M party, and a sign posted on the front door told them to go to a different location.

The city closed down the original Harmony Theater in 1998, but burlesque dancing crept back in. From 2006 to 2008, during nonprofit Collective:Unconscious’s lease of the space, a group called Pinchbottom held monthly shows, said a Pinch performer and producer who goes by the name Jonny Porkpie.

A burst sewer pipe forced Collective:Unconscious to leave in the middle of last summer, and the space appears to have been empty since then. Local residents, who long objected to the stripping, likely prefer it that way, but they recently got wind of Droege’s plans, and they are not happy. Several people from the area turned up at a Community Board 1 meeting last week to urge the board to reject a liquor license for the space, should Droege choose to seek one.

Millennium gym
Millennium High School is very close to getting its long-desired gym, but the location isn’t final yet.

The School Construction Authority toured two potential spaces last month: 25 Broadway, the Cunard Building, and a double-height space on Wall St., said Angela Benfield, Millennium’s parent coordinator.

Meanwhile, we’re hearing from two other sources that the city is actually focusing on 26 Broadway, the former Sports Museum of America space, for Millennium’s gym. The Dept. of Education is already leasing space in that building for school seats and could be looking to expand its holding, the sources suggested.

Wherever the gym winds up, City Councilmember Alan Gerson thinks its delivery is imminent.

The D.O.E. appears to have very specific plans in mind, because they asked Gerson to increase his planned $250,000 allocation for Millennium’s gym to $350,000 in June, Gerson said.

“We allocated money at the last minute based on [D.O.E.’s] representation that they would be able to proceed with the gym immediately,” Gerson said.

Marge Feinberg, D.O.E. spokesperson, said only, “We are exploring possibilities for a Downtown gym site and cannot comment further at this time.”

If city officials are indeed looking at 25 Broadway for a gym site, they could face competition from Claremont Prep, a private K-8 that is reportedly looking to lease 200,000 square feet there.

Garden barbecue
From the owners of SouthWest, the Merchants cafe and Pound & Pence will soon come a new, more casual dining option: an as-yet-unnamed barbecue stand on the plaza just outside the World Financial Center Winter Garden.

Merchants Hospitality will open the stand as soon as the Battery Park City Authority signs off and will add beer and wine whenever the State Liquor Authority approves, said Richard Cohn, a vice president with Merchants.

Tables and chairs recently arrived on the plaza, not far from P. J. Clarke’s, courtesy of Brookfield Properties, which owns the Financial Center. The stand will be open seasonally from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Cohn said. Some of cooking will be done at the nearby SouthWest, with the grilling completed al fresco at the stand.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Jeff Galloway, co-chairperson of Community Board 1’s B.P.C. Committee, upon hearing a presentation this week. The committee approved the beer and wine license in an advisory vote.

Newell’s debut
Paul Newell didn’t manage to beat Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in last fall’s Democratic primary, but his effort is now chronicled in a documentary film.

“Excuse Me, Mr. Speaker…,” by filmmaker Justin Sullivan, debuted last month at the Vision Festival in Tribeca. The 71-minute documentary follows Newell’s candidacy through its ups and downs, and even travels with him to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. In an e-mail announcing a recent screening, Newell promises plenty of humor along with the politics.

Block party squeezed
The Goldman Sachs construction is putting a bit of a damper on the annual Battery Park City block party, slated for Sun., Sept. 13. The party usually closes off Vesey St. between West St. and N. End Ave., but this year half of that area is already blocked off for the Goldman construction.

Anthony Notaro, one of the organizers of the party, said they’ll make do with just half the block.

“We’ll just have to adapt,” he said.



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