Archive for the tag 'david isaev'

Cherry Hill Gourmet Market at Lundys in Sheepshead Bay

Photo by Ray Johnson

Cherry Hill Gourmet Market opened its doors to the public for the first time last Tuesday, and you can barely tell floodwaters ever entered its storefront in the historic Lundy’s building (1901 Emmons Avenue).

“We were working night and day, day and night, 24-seven, to get back on our feet,” said owner David Isaev at a grand opening party last week, attended by Assemblymembers Steven Cymbrowitz and Helene Weinstein, Councilman Michael Nelson, and Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo.

During the worst of Superstorm Sandy, several feet of water rushed over the Bay’s walls and barreled into the building – ruining the building’s interior, alongside tens of thousands of dollars worth of items and equipment. Cherry Hill provided the video below to Sheepshead Bites, showing the damage after the water receded.

Keep reading and view the video, featuring a cameo with Paul Randazzo or Randazzo’s Clam Bar.

Cherry Hill Gourmet Market at Lundys in Sheepshead Bay

Photo by Ray Johnson

We’ve long covered the struggles of Cherry Hill Gourmet Market and its owners, who dumped millions into renovating the space in the historically landmarked Lundy’s building (1901 Emmons Avenue) only to face opposition from local leaders about zoning and preservation violations.

To sum it up: some local leaders and activists bristled that Cherry Hill’s owners gave more floor space to its grocery store than its restaurant, in violation of the Sheepshead Bay Special Waterfront District that permits only waterfront and recreational use. Then, some of their renovations were called into question, including pulling Lundy’s historic metal signs and ripping out the sidewalk insignia (the signs were later cleaned and replaced; the insignia is preserved in storage). And, most recently, the operators went before the Landmarks Preservation Committee to settle fines, and agreed to make minor changes, including a barrier around mechanical units that violated the LPC rules. And we noted then that the owners still need to approach the City Planning committee and fight for a change in zoning to legalize its usage as a supermarket.

A costly nuisance to the business owner? Definitely. A tough fight? Surely. A bloody 11-year “nation-building” battle with a death toll in the thousands? Well, according to Cherry Hill’s business owner, that hits the mark.

Read what Cherry Hill’s owner had to say, and why we think this isn’t an ethnic battle as the Wall Street Journal recently reported.

Cherry Hill Gourmet Market at Lundys in Sheepshead Bay

Photo by Ray Johnson

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Committee approved an application by the owners of Cherry Hill Gourmet Market to legalize a series of alterations they made to the landmarked Lundy’s building during an August 2 hearing, tying no strings to the landlord despite outrage from community leaders.

The hearing reviewed Cherry Hill Gourmet Market’s (1901 Emmons Avenue) alterations, which include several changes made during the property’s renovation two years ago to convert it from a restaurant space to a market. Preservationists hoped that the owner, David Isaev, would be forced to pay to undo changes and restore it into compliance, but the committee gave the greenlight to all the changes, including the most contentious ones – the installation of a large external air conditioning unit adjacent to the back wall, and changes to the sidewalk.

Now Bay Improvement Group President Steve Barrison is slamming the decision, calling it a disgrace and saying it weakens landmark preservation laws citywide.

Read Barrison’s strongly-worded letter regarding the LPC decision.

Cherry Hill Gourmet Market at Lundys in Sheepshead Bay

Photo by Ray Johnson

New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Committee announced late last week that they’re going forward with a public hearing tomorrow, August 2, regarding violations at the landmarked Lundy’s building by Cherry Hill Gourmet Market, outraging local activists who say they’re being left out of the process.

The hearing will review Cherry Hill Gourmet Market’s (1901 Emmons Avenue) move to legalize alterations to the building currently in violation of the property’s landmark status. The alterations include several changes made during the property’s renovation two years ago to convert it from a restaurant space to a market, including signs in the windows, a large external air conditioning unit adjacent to the back wall, changes to the sidewalk and parts of the building removed for the installation of awnings. If the move fails to garner approval from the LPC, the business owner – David Isaev – could be required to pay to undo the changes and restore it to compliance.

But after waiting nearly two years to challenge the legalization attempt, at least one local group is saying the LPC’s short notice cuts out the community.

“This is an outrage. This is the first we hear of a hearing,” said Bay Improvement Group President Steve Barrison, whose civic group helped fight for Lundy’s landmark status in 1989 and has helped take care of the property during its neglected years. “Our members have called 311 to complain [about the violations] for over a year. I have called to LPC and never received a call back. I have emailed LPC and never received a response.”

Find out what’s at stake, and the entire Lundy’s-Cherry Hill back story.

Cherry Hill Gourmet Market at Lundys in Sheepshead Bay
(Photo by Ray Johnson)

Cherry Hill Restaurant and Gourmet Market at Lundy’s received two violations this morning, just hours into their first full work day. The establishment’s existing partial stop work order was also upgraded to a full stop work order, which requires Cherry Hill to pay the city $5,000.

The market first opened its doors to the public yesterday evening in spite of a standing partial stop work order issued in early April. The new violations are for operating without a valid certificate of occupancy and a violation of non-conformity with zoning. In addition to the $5,000 fine, Cherry Hill may receive additional penalties to be decided at an Environmental Control Board court hearing on June 29th.

David Isaev, Cherry Hill’s owner, says he doesn’t care about the violations or fines. Talking on the phone, he seemed fed up with the politics. “I think it’s unfounded,” he said. “We have a responsibility to our employees who expect to go to work and support their families… these are real people.” Cherry Hill has 120 employees.

The issuing of violations suggests the city is siding with opponents of the establishment, including Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo, State Senator Carl Kruger and City Councilman Michael Nelson, who say Cherry Hill needs more floor space dedicated to a restaurant in order to meet the requirements of the Special Sheepshead Bay District Zoning. Scavo says the violations are not likely to force it to cease operations, though.

“This is not going to stop them at all,” says Scavo. “They have an attitude that they’ll make a restaurant when they get around to it.”

Isaev, though, says he already has restaurant seating for up to 400 people. “How much more do you want?” he says.

A certificate of occupancy is required by the city to prove that the building is not only legally occupied, but also has been inspected by government officials and shown to meet all safety standards. This includes proof that all construction, electrical and plumbing work has been done to city standards. Cherry Hill opened with an expired temporary certificate of occupancy.

These developments are of little surprise to those who attended last night’s Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Association meeting. When the Cherry Hill issue came up for discussion, many (including Scavo) were confused about whether the store was open. According to attendees, Ken Lazar, the Inter-governmental Liaison for the DOB, boldly stated, “If it’s open, we’ll shut it down.”

Of course, that’s unlikely to happen. The DOB doesn’t have the authority to close a business. However, it can continue to levy violations and fines so long as Cherry Hill serves customers.

In order to avoid that, Cherry Hill will have to close its doors and either convert the property to conform to legal zoning standards – which means a higher percentage of floor space given to its restaurant, or can seek a variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals. The latter would leave the space unused for up to 9 months.

Isaev says he plans to meet with DOB officials to see what needs to be done, but he doesn’t plan on closing his store. He says the consistent issuing of stop work orders and violations is a “little weird” since they began when the building was 98% completed. “Every step of the way we were checked and approved by inspectors,” he says.

“Life is a fight,” Isaev adds. “The community knows we’re here to make the community better. So, if a few politicians are against us – we’ll fight City Hall.”

Shortly after our post this afternoon stating that Cherry Hill Market at Lundy’s was fully stocked, though still closed, the restaurant/market – or market/restaurant – opened for business.

We stopped by this evening and found samples spread out on a table for all to try. The cash registers were cha-chinging as the first customers filed through with their purchases. Food servers at the sample table told us the establishment officially opened for business around 4pm or 5pm. Staff also informed us that this was not the “grand opening”. Instead it was a “soft opening” – a smart move given the heated controversy surrounding the store.

Speaking of which, we weren’t able to ask the owner, David Isaev, about the stop work order, but the document on the building’s front door makes it seem as if the store’s management believes that the situation has been resolved.

Meanwhile, at the Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Civic Association meeting, board members were puzzled as to the status of the establishment, and hinted at the possibility of challenging Cherry Hill’s decision to open.

We’re still uncertain as to the status of the stop work order and the legality of the opening. We expect more information tomorrow.

Summary of what happened at the SB/PB meeting that was held in the Landmark Lundy’s building on Ocean Ave & Emmons Ave and hosted by new tenant, Cherry Hill Market last night, March 3, 2009:

Building and Construction Manager, Anthony Kelley, spoke in defense of the Cherry Hill Market project. He answered questions and debunked myths that his project has gone against the allowable limits for landmarked buildings.

He stated that the only violation he is aware of that his construction crew went against, is the one prohibiting the removal of the outside signs. He admitted that he was not aware of that particular rule at the time, but the intention was not to remove the signs permanently, anyway. The signs were removed in order to be repainted and will be put back up shortly.

Owner, David Isaev, and his market manager did not speak at the meeting about the nature and purpose of the market, but Builder, Kelley, mentioned that the market will also have a restaurant. Although he did not mention the names of the chefs, he said that two who worked in New York restaurants had been hired to work at Cherry Hill — pointing to the menus they have already developed.

Members of the board explained more about the actual facts regarding the landmark rules, saying that there are currently five outstanding permit problems. Gene Berardelli invited everyone to read the actual paperwork he held in his hands, reiterating that of the five violations, two are related to neon signs and were in effect since the 1990′s. He went on to explain that the other three violations involving various issues with a sidewalk cafe and railings that are still in effect, were from changes which the owner and previous tenant had made.

Kelley said that even though these permit violations have nothing to do with them, since they inherited the problems, they will deal with them according to the law. When asked why the landlord has not dealt with the building violations, he said, “He doesn’t care”, while carefully avoiding the question about why he continued working even when there was a work-stop order issued.

It appears that certain parts of the outside of the building have been altered, through no fault of the new lessee. This means that there have been changes to the landmark building’s facade and although it will look great on the outside and the inside — thanks to the new tenant — it still won’t be exactly as it was in its heyday.

The inside of the building has been done in grand style with, amongst many things, carved wooden shelving, gorgeous chandeliers, and spectacular marble floors. You can see pictures of what some of the $7 million was spent on at GerritsenBeach.net, who snagged a pre-meeting, sneak preview.

Representatives sent by NYS State Senators Carl Kruger and Marty Golden read, to us, each respective Senator’s point of view. Golden supports the Cherry Hill Market’s business efforts, while Kruger’s view bolsters community-minded projects. Councilman Lew Fidler short speech focused on the community.

Steve Barrison of the Bay Improvement Group made some key points about preserving the special interest of Sheepshead Bay with relation to its origins as a fishing community focused around the bay and was one of the only people who mentioned the words “marine”, “bait”, “tackle”, and “fishing”. His comments highlighted the little-mentioned fact that this retail food establishment may be directly against zoning laws set by the city planners, in 1973, when they designated a 20-block tract of land space as a Special Sheepshead Bay District.

There was much talk, overall, about the facade of the building, the landmark status, preserving the building itself, the grandeur of the current construction, the amount of money invested, and the prospect for this new business venture and its economic outlook for the investors.

The rest of the meeting dealt with various subjects: SBPB is now a 501 (c) (3); issues regarding Voorhies Ave and the Brooklyn Yacht Club and fences; raw sewage entering the creek; clogged catch basins; future of the Golden Gate Motel with the possibilities of more condos or a Marriott Hotel; assurance that motels in Sheepshead Bay are not being used as “welfare” housing, but has been used for Red Cross housing of temporary homeless; grants and grantwriting is in progress for the Brigham Park Project (to enable greater environmental stewardship, better bioswale, possible help from Wachovia Foundation and EPF grant); and, issues with the lack of visible waterfront due to overbuilding.

The final word for the meeting ended with someone talking about what is best for the community and what will generate jobs.

This was the (somewhat) objective account of the meeting. For another point of view, you might try Russian TV Network (RTN), since they were on hand with media coverage.

Maybe, sometime later, I can tell you what I really saw and heard. But, for now, I’ll say this: There were huge icicles on the outside of the Lundy’s building (someone, call the LPC) and these “gourmands” didn’t even bother to welcome us with a cup of coffee and a beignet! They could have arranged for some refreshment with Sheepshead Bay Gourmet Market. But, noooo.

Owner of the controversial, soon-to-be opened Cherry Hill Gourmet Restaurant and Market, David Isaeva, will open its doors to the community in March — for a meeting.

The Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Civic Association has announced that its March meeting will be held at the landmark Lundy’s building. Just this past Monday, there were sounds of construction going on behind the closed, but unlocked doors. There were dim work lamps lit, so let’s hope that by March 3, things will be all set for a productive and packed meeting.

Here is the information from the latest press release:

The Sheepshead Bay / Plumb Beach Civic Association is pleased to announce that it will hold its next General Meeting on March 3rd, 2009 at 7:30 PM at 3156 Ocean Avenue, the landmark site of Lundy’s Restaurant that is the proposed site of Cherry Hill Gourmet Restaurant and Market.

Members of the SB/PBCA Board of Directors met with representatives of Cherry Hill Gourmet Restaurant and Market after the Community Board 15 General Meeting on January 27th. Cherry Hill Gourmet Restaurant and Market has agreed to open its doors to all interested neighbors and community members who wish to attend the meeting, and give them a “sneak preview’ of the renovated and refurbished interior of the building. They have also promised the Civic Association that they will address any and all questions and concerns about the work done on the landmark site.

“This is a great opportunity for our community to finally separate truth from fiction,” said Corresponding Secretary Barbara Berardelli. “There’s been a lot of arguing between Cherry Hill and preservationists. Our Association wants to get to the truth about the situation surrounding Lundy’s so we all can move forward, and make an informed opinion about what is happening in our neighborhood.

“We invite everyone, including all of our elected officials, to come with their questions, comments and concerns about what has been done and what will be done to Lundy’s, so we can finally get to the bottom of it all.”

The SB/PBCA will also be placing further information on its website, http://www.sbpbcivic.org, as more news becomes available.