A 72-room single family home since 1966, the boarded-up old bank on Bowery, built in 1898, is finally going the way of the rest of the neighborhood. Photographer Jay Maisel, who bought the place for just $102,000 nearly half a century ago, sold to developer Aby Rosen of RFR Holdings, the New York Times reports. Rosen’s plans are predictable.
Mr. Rosen, who has yet to close on the purchase and declined to reveal the price, said the building could be converted for retailing at the base with condominiums above, or possibly offices or even an art gallery.
“Possibly officers or even an art gallery” … but most likely condos and retail. Of course. Estimates years ago put the building’s worth around $70 million.
“The building is in terrible shape. There’s no heat, Jay lives in just a small area of the building, another winter is coming, and it was time,” Rosen told the Times, explaining that it still took him six months to win over Maisel. “When you own a property for that long, and you are not a real estate professional, it takes a lot of convincing.”
Although Maisel has been intensely private about the place over the years, New York’s Wendy Goodman got the history and a look inside in 2008, beginning with how Maisel made the place livable:
The main floor was knee-deep in garbage and coated in soot. “I had to shovel shit against the tide,” says Maisel. He wasn’t getting a lot of support either; the Bowery was where people ended up, not where they aspired to live. “My parents cried,” he says. “Every single thing that can come out of a human body has been left on my doorstep. But it was more disgusting than dangerous.”
The house now feels like a dream world, or a benign version of the vast hotel in The Shining. Hallways go on forever. Rooms are filled with projects in various phases of completion. The renovations, mostly done by Maisel, are very “artists live here.” The air-conditioning, for example, is a building-wide network of giant plastic tubing (the kind used to ventilate greenhouses) that funnels cool air from six units, one on each floor. “It would have cost thousands to put in central air when I moved in,” he explains. The Mylar shades on the windows help keep the heat out; he and Linda make them in one of the rooms on the fifth floor.
RIP, grimy Bowery, for real this time.