Katz's -- meet Zabar's! Lower East Siders rally to fend off bourgeois blight in the form of a proposed Ludlow Street luxury high-rise.
"This neighborhood has been treated like a $2 whore," groused a knit-capped musician at a meeting of Community Board 3 just before Christmas. He was upset by Edison Properties' plan to build a 23-story apartment house on a parking lot at the corner of Ludlow Street and East Houston -- right next to Katz's Delicatessen and hipster joints like Max Fish.
Even if the neighborhood's retail trade shifted some time ago from cheap luggage and street heroin to trust-funded boutiques, plans for the tower have rallied local activists. CB3 reversed an earlier vote favoring the project, citing issues including "secondary displacement" -- the principle that once there's a doorman on the block, everyone's rent will go up. Locals also expressed concern with increased traffic and construction hazards posed by an F-train tunnel running a few feet below the lot.
Designed by Donald Trump's favorite architect, Costas Kondylis, the tower would have about 250 units, with rents starting around $1,800 for a studio. "It's a good guess that the people moving in would be upper-middle-class white professionals," says Jenny Laurie, director of Met Council on Housing. She believes they would overwhelm the "commercial-residential low-rise minority neighborhood." Even if they already party there on weekends.
Edison will go before the city's Board of Standards and Appeals on January 23 to ask to be allowed to squeeze through a zoning loophole that allows area commercial structures to be twice as big as residential ones. (Without the variance, it would be only thirteen stories.) CB3's Lisa Kaplan says that the loophole was created in the sixties to "keep the Jewish shopping-and-commercial district alive." Kaplan says two other developers have also applied for density variances.
Edison's Douglas Sarini explains that the city needs more housing, and that 20 percent of the tower will be "low-income." Laurie thinks that's not enough, but can't recall a time when "secondary displacement" ever stopped a project.
LISSA T. RODGERS
Upper West Side
133 West 69th Street
6-bed, 4-bath, approximately 6,000-square-foot townhouse. Ask: $4.5 million. Sell: $4.3 million. Two months on market.
Douglas Elliman's Marjorie Magid had no problem finding interested buyers for this brownstone -- the problem was convincing the owner to sell. Miki Henry, the owner, first contacted Magid about selling the house more than two years ago, "But it was a long time before she was ready to leave," Magid says. Henry bought the house in 1969 with her late husband, Don, and they used the ground floor as the headquarters of their harp-music-publishing company, Lyra Music. Magid found Henry a smaller apartment in the Ansonia; Lyra's relocating to 60th and Broadway.
425 East 58th Street
3 bed, 4 1/2-bath, 2,800-square-foot co-op. Ask: $2.6 million. Sell: $2.4 million. Maintenance: $3,654. Four months on market.
Sometimes you can go home again. In 1988, Leroy Schecter, CEO of Marino Ware Industries, sold his apartment at the Sovereign to move to New Jersey. When Schecter, now 73, eventually tired of Jersey, his thoughts turned to his old building, and he called up Charles H. Greenthal & Co.'s Jessica Ushan, the on-site broker, to see if there were any vacancies. Sure, she said, 25H -- his old place! -- was available. Schecter immediately made an offer, which was accepted. There was just one catch: He paid about a million dollars more than what he sold the place for twelve years ago.
On the Move
Back in 1999, Wasserstein Perella president Fred Seegal snubbed Jerry Seinfeld's $14.5 million bid for his East Hampton spread in favor of Helmut Lang. Seegal later bailed on New York entirely and moved to San Francisco, where he's been busy merging foundering dot-coms. Now he's returning to the Hamptons. He's buying lawyer Michael Kennedy's guest house on the ocean in Wainscott through Prudential for a price said to be $6.5 million. It's a combo of a cottage (dragged there some years back to house the widow of the former owner of the big house) and a two-bedroom barn and a garage that were added later. Donald and Ivana Trump rented the complex for a while, before Kennedy was Ivana's divorce lawyer. "The original cottage is very small and cute," says broker Tina Fredericks.