Big Ticket | Treetop Park Views for $16,575,000

Perhaps it was the lure of a free key to exclusive Gramercy Park, but the as-yet-unfinished gut renovation of a historic Salvation Army rooming house at 18 Gramercy Park South by Zeckendorf Development and Robert A. M. Stern, the premier team that produced the premium price precedents set by 15 Central Park West, has recorded its first closing. A floor-through unit on the ninth floor sold for its full asking price of $16,575,000, an amount that escalated to $16,877,493.75 once the transfer taxes kicked in, and was the most expensive sale of the week, according to city records.

The 4,207-square-foot residence has four bedrooms and five and a half baths, and provides treetop views of the park and surrounding historic neighborhood with the addition of 35 large windows. The anticipated monthly carrying costs are $11,200. According to the developer, 8 of the available 16 residences, including a $42 million duplex penthouse with four terraces and two pools that was snapped up by Leslie Alexander, the owner of the Houston Rockets, went swiftly to contract for the full listing price despite being bought off the offering plan.

The new owner of No. 9 is Joanne B. Brown, a nom de plume used in this and other real estate transactions by the ex-wife of Jon S. Corzine, the former New Jersey governor. In 2010, Ms. Brown collected $43.5 million after divesting herself of a six-acre property in Sagaponack, N.Y., that she received as part of her 2003 divorce settlement. John Burger of Brown Harris Steven represented Ms. Brown in the Gramercy transaction, and Zeckendorf Marketing handled the sale of the sponsor unit for the developer.

Across town, at an address with a different type of cachet, Mr. Burger was involved in another significant negotiation: he represented Darren Star of “Sex and the City” renown in the sale of his luxuriously appointed corner unit, No. 35G, at Trump International Hotel and Tower at 1 Central Park West for $13 million. The initial asking price for the 3,059-square-foot condominium designed by Waldo Fernandez had been $15 million; the buyer is a Los Angeles limited-liability company, Beverly Park Corporation.

Big Ticket includes closed sales from the previous week, ending Wednesday.

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In a Rooftop Gym, a Fitting Tribute to a Beloved Priest

In the final years of his life, when his memory was fading but his strength remained solid, the Rev. John C. Flynn paced the halls of a Bronx nursing home, talking with the lonely, smiling to all – and swinging an imaginary golf club.

Side Street

David Gonzalez reports from corners of the city in words and pictures.

“The nurses thought he was crazy,” recalled his sister, Mary Ellen Loveless. “He was not. He just was practicing his swing, pretending to hit the ball!”

Father Flynn was nuts about sports. Through willpower, practice and hope – something of which he was in no short supply – he transformed himself from an asthmatic youngster into an athletic young man. Hockey, tennis, skiing, football or basketball, he loved them all.

There are still people from St. Raymond’s Roman Catholic parish in Parkchester, where he served in the 1960s and ’70s, who recall the tall, young priest darting about the court with a big grin and a spot-on shot. It was never just a game. On the court – or on the streets he loved – he was always talking and listening, learning who was in need, pain or trouble.

Father Flynn died last year, after 83 years of a life well-lived. And now, decades after he left Parkchester, he has returned – to the “Rev. John C. Flynn Rooftop Court” at St. Raymond Academy for Girls, where he once was a guidance counselor. It’s a simple space, fittingly, and just a half-court, actually, since boxy air-conditioning units had already taken up a good part of the roof.

That’s O.K. Father Flynn knew how to improvise his way around obstacles, and probably would have chuckled at the half-court honor. He then would have taken a jump shot or two.

“It makes me happy to think of him playing all those things that he loved,” his sister said. “He just thoroughly enjoyed himself when he did it. He was so happy, and really good.”

He wasn’t even a teenager when his asthma forced him to leave his family’s Yonkers home to live with friends in Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. The air was clean and cold – and good for ice hockey. When it was warmer, he played tennis. He returned to New York healthier, sporty and ready for high school, then went to college and entered the seminary. After his ordination in 1955, he served north of the city before arriving at St. Raymond’s.

Ms. Loveless said her brother loved being a parish priest in the then-heavily Irish-American neighborhood. But as in many love stories, a heart was broken.

“When black people started moving into Parkchester, Johnny suggested they welcome them and whatever,” his sister said. She paused and started crying. “And someone said, ‘If you like them so much, why don’t you go live with them?’ He said, ‘O.K., maybe I’ll do that.’ That’s when he left to learn Spanish and live in Venezuela. Many of the people at St. Raymond’s loved him. But some of them were angry with him.”

He spent much of the 1970s in Venezuela, ministering in the slums and perfecting his Spanish. He got sick, returned stateside, convalesced and went back to the Bronx. The South Bronx. When arson, indifference and drugs ravaged his parish, he walked the streets. He buried those who died too young, comforted those who had seen too much and worked alongside a generation of grass-roots leaders.

He did this six days a week. But Monday was off-limits – that was golf day. Rumored to have a single-digit handicap, Father Flynn took golf seriously (though, of course, with a smile). In fact, he first learned he had a heart problem a few years ago when he collapsed while playing with some priest friends.

That condition led to his retirement. It did not however, dim his love for walking the neighborhoods of the Bronx. And as far as St. Raymond’s, there had never been a dimming of his love even decades after those angry words from a misguided soul.

Sister Mary Ann D’Antonio, the girl’s academy principal, witnessed this when he returned to a gala a few years ago at Maestro’s catering hall.

“He was amazing,” she said. “He walked in and whole tables got up. He had a great time, talking and dancing.”

He died last September. During his funeral Mass at St. Martin of Tours Church in Crotona – his last posting – many St. Raymond alumni filled the pews. Soon, they talked about how to honor this man who had graced their lives with friendship and faith. Early this month, some of those same mourners were toasting his memory at the new rooftop gym.

Last week, girls from the academy filed in for a physical education class. They moved about their kickboxing class, sparring, sweating and laughing. A picture of Father Flynn, smiling, was perched on the windowsill.

“What do you say when somebody is just youthful and happy?” his sister had asked a few days earlier.

Ms. Loveless, you say this: In life, your brother Johnny found a simple joy as a priest on the streets of the Bronx. And now, whoever climbs those four flights to a modest gym will be that much closer to his spirit.

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Kafkaesque Customer Service

Dear Diary:

My wife, Stacy, was having a problem with her computer, so she went to visit a computer service store on the East Side. After more than 20 minutes in line, Stacy’s turn came.

The employee started to listen to her computer problem but was soon interrupted by a telephone call. The call lasted a few minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, with no sign of abating. She finally sought to get his attention with a loud “excuse me!”

He told the other party to hold on, cupped the mouthpiece and said, “What seems to be the problem?”

Stacy said, “I am standing here in person, and you yap with the guy on the phone? I was with you first.”

The employee responded: “I am sorry. Our policy is to give time and deference to call-ins.” He then went back on the phone.

After about five minutes, the employee was paged over the in-store intercom. He told his other caller to hang on, while he answered the page. “How can I help you?” he asked on his second line’s speaker phone.

“Hi. It’s me, Stacy, standing right here. Can you help me with my problem by telephone?”

The crowd in line roared with laughter, but the employee was not amused.

Read all recent entries and our updated submissions guidelines. Reach us via e-mail [email protected] or follow @NYTMetro on Twitter using the hashtag #MetDiary.

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Behold the Latest in Trash Trucks and Police Three-Wheelers

A log loader on display on Thursday during a vehicle and equipment show organized by the city at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.Ramin Talaie for The New York Times A log loader on display on Thursday during a vehicle and equipment show organized by the city at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

When the Unisphere at the 1964 World’s Fair was brand new, the crowds marveled at the Mercury capsule that had carried Scott Carpenter into space, a replica of a two-person Gemini capsule and, for those who remained earthbound, a Picturephone that could make videocalls. It was the latest in technology, they said.

In the shadow of the Unisphere on Thursday, city officials marveled at Dennis Sivillo’s garbage truck. It was the latest in technology, they said.

The truck is a diesel-hydraulic hybrid. It was on display at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens at what amounted to an outdoor trade show run by New York City and open to companies that sell their products to city agencies. They set up everything from impact-absorbing “crash cushions” to forklifts to lights for police cars to an electric-powered three-wheel scooter that looks something like a bulkier, more stable Segway.

The three-wheeler is made by Vectrix, a Massachusetts company that manufactures electric scooters. Gerry White, a retired police officer who is Vectrix’s director of government sales and law enforcement training, said the New York Police Department already had some Vectrix two-wheelers and had promised to test the three-wheeler.

“Top speed, 25 miles an hour,” he said after circling the Unisphere, looking for the perfect place to snap a photograph. “And it has multiple batteries. They’re swappable. It will do 30 to 35 miles on 20 cents’ worth of electricity.”

The city’s purchasing agency, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, sponsored the “vehicle and equipment show,” an expanded version of an annual program that Keith T. Kerman oversaw when he ran the parks department’s fleet. He moved to the administrative services agency two years ago as the city’s chief fleet management officer.

He said the “public-works fleets” — the ones run by the sanitation, transportation, parks and environmental protection agencies — were operating their diesel-powered vehicles on a blend containing 20 percent biofuel from April to November. The rest of the year, he said, they will use a 5 percent blend. He said emergency-service fleets would switch to the 5 percent blend by the end of the year but would not make the warm-weather transition to the 20 percent mixture.

Officials said the city now had 5,562 hybrid or all-electric vehicles, of which 2,570 were Toyota Priuses and 1,806 were Ford Fusions or Escapes. The city also has 612 plug-in electric vehicles, including 103 Chevrolet Volts, and has 117 charging stations. Empire Clean Cities, a nonprofit group that is part of a national coalition committed to reducing petroleum consumption, gave the parks department fleet its certification for lower-than-expected emissions. It said the department had reduced petroleum consumption by 54 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent.

Perhaps the most colorful truck near the Unisphere was a parks department log loader. It is orange and recently joined 20 to 30 similar machines that can be used for lifting fallen trees after major storms. This one can lift 3,100 pounds, almost three times as much as some earlier models.

As for Mr. Sivillo’s garbage truck, it is one of 15 diesel-hydraulic hybrid trucks in the Sanitation Department fleet, according to Rocco DiRico, a deputy sanitation commissioner. He said that oil from a closed-loop system is captured in a hydraulic pump when the driver depresses the brakes. Hybrid electric cars like the Prius use the same principle to charge batteries than can power the car.

Mr. DiRico also said the trucks can continue to operate on diesel power alone if the hybrid equipment fails.

At about $276,000, the diesel-hydraulic hybrid trucks cost about $47,000 more than conventional rear-loading garbage trucks, he said. A truck that runs on compressed natural gas, another alternative to conventional fuel, costs about $265,000, he said.

Some of the vendors who attended the show said they were not trying to land customers and write orders on the spot.

“You want to get a couple of good quality leads you can follow up on,” said Derrick Thomason, a territory manager for Cummins Power Systems, who was talking about a $12,500-to-$14,000 emergency generator for homes.

The homes he had in mind did not include Gracie Mansion (and not just because Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg does not live there). He said he was hoping to connect with “some of the workers that might stop by, or some of the guys who are working the booths.”

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The Ad Campaign: Group Frames the Choice as Anyone but Quinn

A political action committee dedicated to thwarting Christine C. Quinn’s mayoral ambitions released three new advertisements on Thursday, featuring New Yorkers explaining why they do not like Ms. Quinn, the City Council speaker, and will not vote for her. The committee, called NYC Is Not for Sale 2013, was founded by the president of Local 1180, which represents communications workers; an animal rights group that has sparred with Ms. Quinn over horse-drawn carriages; and a wealthy businesswoman. It is legally allowed to spend unlimited amounts on political advertising as long as it does not coordinate its activity with a candidate. The ads began running Thursday on several cable channels in the city, and was produced by The Advance Group.

Click below to jump to a fact-check:

  • 0:04  Closing St. Vincent’s

    The ad suggests that Ms. Quinn held some of the blame for the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital in the West Village. In fact, she was on a task force that tried to save the hospital, which was $1 billion in debt, and she played a role in arranging for it to be replaced by a 24-hour emergency facility, which is scheduled to open next year.

  • 0:10  Bloomberg and Quinn

    The man in the ad suggests Ms. Quinn regularly does Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s bidding on the City Council and that her mayoralty would be a continuation of his. Ms. Quinn has been a close ally of Mr. Bloomberg, and, as speaker, she led the Council in voting to temporarily lift term limits to allow him (and many City Council members, including herself) to run for a third term. But she has also split with him on his administration’s homeless policy and on legislation that the Council has passed to give some private sector workers higher wages and paid sick leave. In the last two years, Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Quinn have sued each other — Ms. Quinn over the mayor’s policy on the homeless, and Mr. Bloomberg over the wage legislation.

SCORECARD The ads reflect the vitriol of some of Ms. Quinn’s opponents. They don’t make many specific claims, instead emphasizing Ms. Quinn’s perceived closeness to the mayor and asserting that she is self-interested. Still, the ads present a challenge to Ms. Quinn, by putting negative images before the public now while she waits until later in the campaign season to spend money on ads.

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Diverse Mix of Candidates Weigh In on an Obscure Jewish Ritual

It is a measure of the multicultural finesse it takes to run for mayor in New York City that seven Democratic candidates — including men and women of Chinese, Latino, Irish and Italian backgrounds — have staked out positions on an Orthodox Jewish circumcision ritual that is obscure even to most Jews.

On Wednesday night, the candidates took part in a forum at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center sponsored by The Jewish Press, a weekly publication geared toward the Orthodox community, and the very first question thrown at them concerned metzitzah b’peh, an ancient practice common in ultra-Orthodox communities in which the circumciser uses his mouth to suck blood from the wound.

Since September, New York City health officials, noting that 12 cases of herpes simplex virus have most likely resulted from the procedure since 2000, have required parents to fill out a consent form that acknowledges they are aware of the risks. Orthodox groups have shrugged off the risks and sued the city to block the consent requirement, but a federal judge ruled in January that the city may temporarily proceed.

Though some of the candidates at a forum heavily attended by Orthodox Jews mangled the pronunciation of the Hebrew term, they took subtly contrasting positions.

John C. Liu, the city comptroller, said he would abandon the requirement for consent forms, pointing out that the procedure had been used for “thousands of years” and “for some reason a billionaire mayor decided he knows better than anyone else.”

The Rev. Erick Salgado, the pastor of the Church of Iglesia Jovenes Cristianos, said he saw the consent requirement as an example of interference from City Hall in religious matters and an “attack against a community of faith,” just like restrictions on the use of well water for making matzos before Passover.

However, Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, defended the consent forms, saying they offer “a balance” between the needs of Jewish tradition and health concerns.

Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, used the question to attack Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for trying “to impose his will” without sensitivity to religious traditions and urged officials to join with religious leaders to work out a plan that indicates “respect for religious tradition.”

Sal F. Albanese, a former councilman, said that if he was elected mayor he, too, would call in all parties to the dispute and hammer out a consensus.

William C. Thompson Jr., a former comptroller, arrived too late to answer the question directly, but in March he told ultra-Orthodox leaders that one thing he had heard was “there was no conversation — it was this is the way it’s going to be, my way or the highway.” He also said he would bring the parties together to work out a protocol that “balances safety and religious practice.”

Anthony D. Weiner, the only Jewish candidate and one who sprinkled all of his responses with Yiddish terms, noted that he had stated his support for metzitzah b’peh in a 2005 article in The Forward about the practice. He did not, however, address the specific question of consent forms.

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City Discloses New Location of 9/11 Victims’ Remains

For more than a decade, relatives of World Trade Center victims had been accustomed to walking through Memorial Park on East 30th Street on their way to a tranquil chapel under a big white tent. There, they could pay their respects to the dead, knowing that the victims’ remains were nearby, carefully stored — though out of sight — beneath the same tent top.

Building Blocks

How the city looks and feels — and why it got that way.

On Memorial Day, a number of victims’ relatives accused the Bloomberg administration of having “snatched” the remains from Memorial Park and surreptitiously moving them to an “undisclosed location.”

A day later, Nazli Parvizi, the Bloomberg administration’s commissioner of community affairs, informed family members by e-mail that the remains had in fact been moved in October 2012 — in advance of Hurricane Sandy — to the DNA Forensic Biology Laboratory Building at 421 East 26th Street, which is run by the office of the chief medical examiner.

“The Memorial Park area at East 30th Street was damaged during the storm, and given the vulnerability of the park to future storms, we have determined that the location is no longer suitable as storage for the remains,” Ms. Parvizi wrote.

“The DNA building is a brand new, state-of-the-art facility where scientists are continuing their efforts to identify those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” she continued. “This new location is not vulnerable to storm damage.”

The medical examiner’s office still holds more than 8,000 body fragments from the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. They are stored in vacuum-sealed plastic pouches, with bar codes and identification numbers.

Ms. Parvizi said the remains would stay at the laboratory until the completion of the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center, when they will be placed in a repository near bedrock level.

Opponents of the plan to enshrine the remains in the museum were angered by the new disclosure.

“They moved the remains, without notification and consultation to the 9/11 families, because of possible flood concerns,” said Norman Siegel, a lawyer who represents the opponents. “Yet, they will ultimately place the remains in the museum, 70 feet below ground in a flood zone, which was flooded during Hurricane Sandy. It is hard to discern the logic behind this.”

Museum officials and a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office have said that the remains can be evacuated with enough notice and that the repository will be watertight in any case. Ms. Parvizi said that victims’ relatives could arrange to visit the DNA laboratory and that the memorial chapel would reopen “for quiet reflection.”

But on Wednesday, the park and the entrance to the chapel were still in a state of disarray. Within sight of a memorial flier for James M. Cartier, an electrician who was working on the 105th floor of the south tower when the building was hit, are uprooted chunks of concrete and sawed-off tree limbs.

“Memorial Park in itself holds no value to us,” his brother, John C. Cartier, wrote in an e-mail to other victims’ relatives, “but it is the remains of those we lost that mean everything.”

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A Second Democrat Calls for Silver to Resign

ALBANY – And then there were two.

In another microfracture in the support for the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, a second Democrat – Assemblywoman Inez D. Barron of Brooklyn – has called for his resignation over his handling of the case of Vito Lopez, the disgraced former assemblyman who is accused of sexually harassing staff members.

Ms. Barron, a critic of Mr. Silver, is the first Democratic woman to call for the speaker’s resignation. Assemblyman Michael Kearns, a Buffalo Democrat, is the only other Democratic assembly member to call for Mr. Silver’s resignation; Mr. Kearns subsequently left the Democratic caucus.

Ms. Barron made her opinion known in a little-noticed letter to the speaker last week, in which she attacked Mr. Silver for “an unacceptable attempt to cover up the allegations of sexual harassment” of Mr. Lopez’s staff members, including secret payments to two women who had also accused the former assemblyman.

In doing so, Ms. Barron said the speaker had “jeopardized the safety of and the respect for female employees.”

The letter, distributed in a news release, was dated May 23, just before a five-day legislative break for Memorial Day, and was largely unnoticed until the Assembly returned to work on Wednesday. The Daily News published an item on Ms. Barron’s letter Wednesday.

In a phone interview, Ms. Barron said she had decided to write and distribute the letter to call attention to “a very stark instance” of the lawmakers not following the law.

“None of us is perfect,” said Ms. Barron, whose name has been mentioned as a possible New York City Council candidate for a seat currently held by her husband, Charles. “But we should adhere to the policies we set.”

Mike Whyland, a spokesman for Mr. Silver, seemed unsurprised by Ms. Barron’s split with the speaker.

“She didn’t vote for him in January,” said Mr. Whyland, referring to the Assembly Democrats’ vote for their leaders. “And doesn’t support him as speaker.”

Nor did Ms. Barron seem to think that her letter was the beginning of a groundswell of opposition to Mr. Silver. “I haven’t heard any of my colleagues speaking on that issue,” she said.

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City’s Largest Public Employees Union Endorses Liu

In a boost to his embattled mayoral campaign, John C. Liu, the city comptroller, received the support on Wednesday of the city’s largest public employees union, District Council 37.

The endorsement solidifies Mr. Liu’s credentials as perhaps the most pro-union and liberal of the Democratic candidates. It also represents a bit of a rebuke of William C. Thompson Jr., a former comptroller who got the union’s backing in 2009 and is running again.

Then again, the endorsement was hardly a surprise; many political analysts had been predicting for months, if not years, that the union, which represents 121,000 members, would back Mr. Liu. And, in a hint of the reverence in which Mr. Liu is held by members, he got by far the most rapturous applause during a recent mayoral debate organized by the union.

Yet District Council 37’s political clout remains debatable, especially since other unions, including those that represent teachers, health care workers, hotel workers and building workers, are much more coveted because they are considered to be more influential and better organized politically.

The union also has developed a maverick reputation in recent years in backing candidates with checkered records. In 2012, for instance, the union was virtually alone in backing three state legislators who had already run afoul of the law: William F. Boyland Jr., Shirley L. Huntley and Naomi Rivera.

Still, Mr. Liu, who has been dogged by a long-running federal investigation into his campaign, which has so far netted convictions against two former associates, welcomed the backing.

“This is so personal to me,” said a buoyant Mr. Liu, flanked by union leaders, during an event at City Hall. “We’ve got to get the city out of the hands of the billionaires and the mega-corporations and put it back in the hands of the workers.”

Union leaders cited Mr. Liu’s consistent advocacy for city workers, dating back to his days as a councilman representing Flushing, Queens, as being a key reason he was backed so overwhelmingly. They cited, in particular, his aggressive work in highlighting the Bloomberg administration’s scandal-tarred CityTime project, whose costs ballooned to $700 million from $73 million.

Union officials also said that Mr. Liu had been unfairly targeted by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, prosecutors and the political establishment. Some said they believed that recent polls showing Mr. Liu languishing in single digits, and trailing four other Democrats, were skewed. And they vowed, on Wednesday, to do their best to elect Mr. Liu.

“I think they started out trying to undermine the campaign, and we don’t play the game,” said Lillian Roberts, the union’s executive director. “He did nothing wrong. It’s definitely a dirty trick to do that, and we’re very upset about that.”

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