As the city’s socioeconomic fabric ever changes, the story of What Happens When the Rich Move In is becoming as familiar a horror story as the one about the couple and the car and the murderer with the hook. The Post has one today: A couple of privilege — Alastair Economakis is the son of a Greek shipping magnate; his wife, Catherine, is the daughter of a Columbia dean — needed more living space to accommodate their growing family. They decided to transform an apartment building they already owned — 47 East 3rd Street — into a luxury residence, complete with a library, walk-in closets, a gym, and a nanny’s suite. This is great for them, but not so much for their tenants, who have been living in rent-controlled apartments in the building for some 30-plus years, and who will now be evicted. “We’re all working people, your typical, moderate-income working people,” David Pultz, a 56-year-old resident who pays $625 a month told the Post. Pultz added that he would probably have to leave the city, and furthermore, he thought the couple’s decision was “ethically and morally unconscionable.” The story is all very sad and angry-making: Here come the superrich douche bags, and there goes the neighborhood. But is what the Economakises are doing really unconscionable? After all, it’s legal and even sensible: They own the building, and it’s been five years since they first told the residents what they were planning, and — let’s just say it — if David Pultz could afford it, he might want a library of his own, too. But the Post doesn’t really get into that; it just makes every effort to make the Economakises look like callous oligarchs. Which is probably why Alastair Economakis created a Website specifically to combat “misinformation” from the tenants.
On Economakis.com, he lays out the efforts the couple made for the tenants, including that they not only offered them financial compensation, they also offered to relocate them to similar-sized stabilized-rent apartments, “in far superior condition,” in the same neighborhood. Is this exactly true? Was the compensation meager, and were the apartments gross? Who knows? But one thing is sure: This narrative is probably not always as David versus Goliath as it looks.