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Whose Block Is It Anyway?

Tenants vs. landlords, buyers vs. residents, developers vs. community boards: The six nastiest real-estate battles in town, and who’s likely to come out ahead.


201 WEST 92ND ST./200 WEST 93RD ST.
The Battle
Developer Kent Swig bought these tenement-style rentals full of stabilized tenants in 2005, planning to add nine stories atop the six already there. The agitated residents recruited politicians and local activists, and though prep work did begin, construction was stopped by the Department of Buildings after residents worried loudly about all that was going on above their heads.
Who’s Winning?
The little guys—for now. Swig never added the extra floors, and he sold the buildings three weeks ago for $61 million, reportedly at a loss, to an investment group. (A spokesperson for Swig Equities says, “We are a private company and do not disclose our profits.”) “We won round one,” says a concerned resident. “Swig’s a major player, and he couldn’t make a go of it—how will this guy?


THE APTHORP
The Battle
Last year, diamond mogul Lev Leviev paid $426 million for 50 percent of this West Side landmark. (Mann Realty owns the rest.) Condo conversion was approved soon after, at prices—$3,000 a square foot?!—that the tenants found staggering. Particularly the ones who’d been dealing with bad plumbing and indifferent maintenance for decades.
Who’s Winning?
The landlord, probably. Even at those steep prices, and even though it’s not on the park, “it’s a fabulous building. People will want it,” says Stribling’s Kirk Henckels. As for the oldsters, “they’re protected by rent regulation,” says Jon Herbitter, president of Mann. “We haven’t tried to get rid of them if they’re legitimate. They’re welcome to buy”—at the going rates—“and they’re welcome to stay.”


STUYVESANT TOWN/PETER COOPER VILLAGE
The Battle
More anxiety than actual fighting, ever since the complexes went market-rate and were sold to Tishman Speyer in 2006. Though Tishman insists that it has no plans (and no legal way) to toss out the old-timers, there’s a certain amount of fear among them. There’s also a culture clash between the very stable regulated tenants and the transient newbies, many of them NYU kids.
Who’s Winning?
The apartments are renting well (the complex had its “busiest leasing months ever over the course of the spring and into this summer,” says a spokesperson for Tishman Speyer), and a landscaping project, free yoga classes, a new fitness center, and a screening room will benefit tenants old and new. But many older residents feel deeply alienated by the slickness appearing around them.


MANHATTAN HOUSE
The Battle
Bought in 2005 by Richard Kalikow and Jeremiah O’Connor, the original East Side white-brick is going condo, and tenants contended that their offers to buy were rebuffed. (They had wanted major price breaks.) The current gripes center on disruptions from renovations. “They’re making life so unbearable!” says writer-producer Pat Lynch. “I work in my apartment, and I can’t get anything done.”
Who’s Winning?
A legal salvo on the part of the tenants—“They made some mistakes on the offering plan,” says tenants-association head Rafael Urquia—foundered in the lower courts, but they’re considering an appeal. Meanwhile, according to StreetEasy.com, 85 of the 500 or so apartments have found buyers. O’Connor and Kalikow have also bickered, and Kalikow’s no longer involved.


COLUMBUS VILLAGE/PARK WEST VILLAGE
The Battle
The complex from 97th Street to 100th Street on Columbus Avenue is being expanded, and the Chetrit Group and Stellar Management want to lure big retailers. (T.J. Maxx and Whole Foods are signed, says The Real Deal.) “The public has been excluded from the planning process, which is contrary to the law,” says Paul Bunten, whose group is taking the Department of Buildings and the owners to court.
Who’s Winning?
Hard to call. “We intend to take this show on the road to work with other neighborhoods,” says Bunten. But Chetrit has been making nice: Since the collapse, it’s held monthly meetings to address community issues. “It’s difficult anytime you’re building a big project in New York,” says Chetrit’s Jeff Gdanski, “but we’re confident everyone will be happy once we’re finished.”


ST. VINCENT CATHOLIC MEDICAL CENTERS
The Battle
The hospital’s plan to raze several low-scale buildings and build upward has incurred the wrath of Greenwich Village’s legendarily cranky NIMBYs. They’re hoping the Landmarks Preservation Commission won’t okay the project, which falls in a historic neighborhood. Complicating things, the hospital is in a financial crunch, and nobody wants to see cuts in patient care.
Who’s Winning?
The proposal has been revised a few times—now only five buildings have to be razed as opposed to the original nine, and the developer, Rudin Management, has shrewdly agreed to add a badly needed public school. “It feels like we’ve really listened to the community,” says COO John Gilbert. Said community remains suspicious, but some version of the project is clearly going to happen.


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