Neighborhood Chatter

Written by Our Town Downtown on . Posted in Breaking News, News Our Town Downtown, Notes From the Neighborhood west side spirit, Our Town Downtown.

Alliance for Downtown New York President Elizabeth Berger joined J&R Co-CEOs Joe and Rachelle Friedman and their son, J&R Executive Vice President Jason Friedman, to celebrate the launch of the new J&R Jr. store this Monday, Feb. 13. The new location, conceived of by Jason Friedman, is a 15,000-square-foot space catering to children up to 9 years old, with hundreds of items including GPS-equipped strollers, car seats and kid-friendly laptops and iPads.

“Lower Manhattan is one of the world’s best-known business addresses an international tourism destination and family central,” said Berger. “For over 40 years, J&R has been one-stop shopping for the latest and best in consumer and electronic goods. With J&R Jr., J&R’s new baby and child emporium, workers, visitors and residents will have another great reason to shop in Lower Manhattan.”

The new store goes hand in hand with a recent Downtown Alliance survey that demonstrated Lower Manhattan’s burgeoning population growth and transformation into a thriving, mixed-used neighborhood. Residents have continued to put down roots, and the survey found that 87 percent of residents believed that the quality of life in the area was a key reason for living in the area, with nearly half of residents owning their own apartments.

(For our feature story on Jason Friedman and J&R Jr., turn to page 14.)


Edith O’Hara, who founded the 13th Street Repertory Company in 1972, celebrated her 95th birthday Feb. 15. To honor the theater icon, who still serves as its artistic director, friends, family and fans gathered on Sunday, Feb. 12 to celebrate her storied career. She has overseen hundreds of productions. Over the course of her career, O’Hara has been honored with awards by the City Council and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. O’Hara first became interested in theater while attending a one-room school in Idaho, where she saw the 5th grade present a play. Her theater produces the longest running Off-Broadway play, Line, by Israel Horovitz.


Fourteen businesses have joined with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Sen. Daniel Squadron in making New York the seventh state to allow public benefit corporations. The new legislation, signed in December, allows for a double bottom line of profit and social responsibility. Unlike traditional corporations, which are run by their boards and directors exclusively for the maximization of profit, public benefit corporations allows business leaders to pursue the public interest while still turning a profit. “Starting today, benefit corporations will bring new businesses into our market and unlock billions in investments, all while promoting a new socially minded approach to entrepreneurship,” said Squadron.

State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh recently announced new legislation to strengthen Hayley and Diego’s Law, introduced after the tragic deaths of Hayley Ng, 4, and Diego Martinez, 3, when they were struck by a van in Chinatown in 2009. The law, which is aimed at reckless and careless drivers, offers stiff penalties for drivers whose actions result in pedestrian death or injury. Under the current law, drivers on their first offense can have their license revoked or suspended, be fined or face jail time and face a misdemeanor charge if they commit a second offense. However, the new legislation seeks to end the stipulation that an officer must be present at the time of the accident to issue the violation. Now, officers would be able to charge drivers if they have reasonable suspicion that the violation was committed by the driver.

—Compiled by Andrew Rice

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