New York City cracks down on “illegal” violin repair shop

Posted on: September 16, 2009

In Wednesday’s (9/16) New York Times, Jim Dwyer writes, “Just after Labor Day, Joseph Tanen got a call from a client of the small, discreet business that he runs, by appointment only, on Broadway near 123rd Street in Manhattan. No, Mr. Tanen told the client, he could not help her. The law was after him.” Tanen and his wife, Nancy Phillips, own the business Tanen Violins, which repairs violins and cellos. “[Tanen’s] customers are not the internationally renowned, but the legions of school children taking their first lessons, conservatory students from the Manhattan School of Music around the corner, or professional musicians laboring in tuneful anonymity. ‘Under the zoning resolution, a musical instrument repair shop is prohibited in this residential district,’ said Tony Sclafani, a spokesman for the Department of Buildings. … There was nothing remotely sneaky about what Mr. Tanen was up to. When he and his wife moved their business into the building two years ago, the lease spelled out precisely how they intended to use the space. The workshop occupies three small rooms on the ground floor next to the superintendent’s apartment. Mr. Tanen and Ms. Phillips live several blocks away. In June, however, someone complained to the Department of Buildings about the workshop.”

Posted September 16, 2009