DEMOLITIONS, EVICTION BATTLES, AND MORE: AN UPDATE ON UWS DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

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Here’s an update about three Upper West Side development projects we’ve written about in the past.

2228-2236 Broadway

The building on the corner of 80th street and Broadway has been getting demolished for weeks now, but not by the wrecking ball. Workers have gradually dismantled the structure, mostly from the top down, and a nearby resident has been sending us photos of the process. He says the process is now nearly complete, with an excavator tearing apart the ground floor, and should be all done by January 15.

The developer, Friedland Properties, has not responded to our inquiries about the project. When we broke the story that the property would be redeveloped, we posted a rendering of the proposed building, but that rendering has since been taken down. New York YIMBY reported that a building permit said the structure would be 14 stories, instead of the 20 we had expected. But if the spot allows for 20, it’s hard to imagine they’d under-build in a hot real estate market like this one.

15-19 West 96th Street

As we reported late last month, a developer is planning to put up a 22-story building on the North side of 96th street between Columbus and CPW. The rowhouses it will replace were built in 1900 and 1926, according to Streeteasy, but they’re not landmarked. We have reached out to Landmarks West multiple times and have gotten no response about whether they plan to fight the demolition.

15 west 96thCouncilman Mark Levine told us “I’m really quite dismayed by the prospect that these three beautiful historical structures could be demolished.” He notes that the development is “as-of-right,” meaning the developers don’t need to go through a lengthy public process to get them approved. He says he’s “exploring options,” but they appear to be limited. Without action by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to at least put the buildings on their calendar, there’s no clear mechanism to delay the demolition.

Levine also thinks a 22-story building would be out of scale with the rest of the block, and that the neighborhood does not need more luxury apartments replacing middle-class housing — “It’s out of reach for everyone in the neighborhood…A little piece of the West Side is dying.”

720 West End Avenue

The battle over the Williams Residences, senior housing on 95th street and West End Avenue, continues, with the next court date set for January 23, according to City Council member Helen Rosenthal’s office. The building is owned by the Salvation Army, which wants to sell it to a developer for $108 million and move the seniors living there to a new building planned for East Harlem. Many seniors, however, have opposed the plan.

williams residence3Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sided against the Salvation Army in a motion, noting that “many residents feel betrayed and claim that The Salvation Army assured them that they could live out the rest of their lives at 720 West End Avenue. Indeed, some say that they never would have given up their prior place of residence, and moved to the Williams Residences in the first place, were it not for these assurances.”

Helen Rosenthal has set up a page about the fight; it includes information about the residents and why they’re fighting the move. The average age of people living in the building is over 80 years old, she notes.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 23 comments | permalink
    1. Paul RL says:

      I don’t think there’s a neighborhood in the city that paralyzes itself more than the UWS. Our politicians should stop knee-jerking against every new development just because it’s a new development. Not all change is bad, and not all progress kills our way of life. I welcome some of these changes and am happy that people want to invest in and live in our neighborhood.

      • Upper West Side Mom says:

        Karma will catch up and you’ll be treated with the same heartless disregard and disrespect in your old age. With any luck someday you’ll be forced to retire and live out the rest of your days in Siberia!! Shame on you. Stand outside the Williams and see who lives there. These are not entitled, wealthy actors or lawyers manipulating rent stabilization laws (yes, I’ve lived in the same building with many of these types) OR homeless drug addicts or child molesters. These are elderly people with fixed incomes who are financially and physically vulnerable. I applaud Schneiderman and politicians for defending the defenseless.

        • Paul RL says:

          Feel free to demonize me, UWS Mom. But I have said many times on these pages that I support the sale and conversion of the building if the current residents are grandfathered in. I am not in favor of a forced eviction. Furthermore, my post above is focused on the automatic negative reaction that some of our neighbors and politicians have to ANY new development just because it’s a new development (for example, the proposed condo above 711 WEA, which won’t displace anyone.) I don’t believe that being anti-everything with regard to development is healthy for ours or any other neighborhood.

          • Franzi says:

            Paul, you don’t understand the Williams situation. The buyer wants us all out. The place will not remain a senior residence, but will be converted to condos. There would be no more services for us even if we were allowed to stay: no meals, no housekeeping etc.

            • Paul RL says:

              Franzi, thank you for clarifying. I wish no hardships on the seniors at the Williams Residence or anywhere else, and truly hope that things work out to your advantage, whatever the outcome.

        • Lsilver says:

          Thank you, Upper West Side Mom. I grew up on West 96th St. and still live in the neighborhood, and as the wealthy have moved in the neighborhood has lost too much. The situation with the Williams is appalling, and hopefully Schneiderman will come through. Those buildings on 96th should be on the historic register, although it didn’t help the church avoid being turned into a Condo. There is so much construction going on or about to start in the West 90’s that the entire area will be very different in the near future. It’s terribly sad.

      • Christina says:

        Development is good but there’s no reason to tear down brownstones to do it. It’s ridiculous regardless of not being landmarked. Brownstones are one of the fixtures that bring the city charm.

    2. jsf says:

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for this piece. The Army wants us out, despite the fact that we were told we could stay as long as we paid our rent and observed house rules. We don’t want to move! We’ve put down our roots here. Moving anywhere is tantamount to death for many of us older residents. We are depressed and unhappy as a result.There’s room for us here. Not everything in this world is about making a profit or moving aside because we’re old. All of you will someday be in our shoes – many of you won’t be able to afford luxury housing. Don’t throw us out for profit!

    3. Catherine Holmes says:

      There is no place on the landscape of W96 between Columbus and CPW for another out of scale 22 story “pencil” or milk carton shaped ugly building to replace these irreplaceable row houses. The neighborhood should rally against this ASAP. I agree some change is good and there are plenty of buildings “tax payers” that could go and no one would miss them, but not these buildings. Buildings like these are the reason the UWS has its charm and attraction. We’ve already lost enough of these treasures.

    4. Franzi says:

      We old people at the Williams expected to live out our days here, now The Salvation Army wants to send us to a dangerous site in East Harlem so they can sell the building for a lot of money. One of our residents is 100 years old, many others are over 80. Would you want this for your parents or yourselves?

      • Upper West Side Mom says:

        Dear Franzi – Most of us are so sorry about the heartlessness of this action, and are disappointed that so many UWS siders have so little empathy for what could be their own mothers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles. Some day they may wish to be able to retire and die in place on UWS, but unless you’re rich, there will be nowhere to go, I hope this all works out in the end.

        • Nathan says:

          They are relatively rich if they’re living in Manhattan. If you don’t own, you don’t have a right to the property in perpetuity. You might think it’s heartless, but the rights of all must be respected, that that includes property owners.

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            simply not true that if one is “living in Manhattan” then ipso facto one is “relatively rich.” where do people get these ideas?

          • Christina says:

            That’s an absurd statement, Nathan. There are plenty of people in this city who aren’t “relatively rich”. There are a lot of people who have lived here for ages (including my family) way before gentrification and aren’t rich by as means!

          • Upper West Side Mom says:

            Nathan, That is an absolutely absurd statement, and I’m sure that you realize that. While I don’t support the generational pass down of rent controlled apartments, as I know of many , many situations where that’s been shamefully abused (lawyers in their 20’s making well over $200K living in their parents and grandparents apartments, academics in their 30’s bragging about how they “hide” their income from the landlords in apts. that they grew up in and “inherited.”). That’s unabashed entitlement. But, I am against displacing the elderly from their homes, nursing homes, etc. in the name of development. I lived on the same floor as 2 women – one over 100 and another in her 90’s – who lived through the worst days on UWS; why should they be displaced when times are better, and their days are numbered? For any of us, our fortunes could take a turn for the worse. Why should we be sent to live in the outer boroughs where things are unfamiliar and they have no friends? Do you have any idea, Nathan how cruel and disorienting that is for the elderly?

    5. rob says:

      Before you make another contribution to the Salvation Army, consider what it doing to the residents of 720 West End Avenue. I have always admired and supported the SA but no longer will do so.

      • whatsupduck says:

        That’s an excellent point. Indeed, as the SA solicited money this past holiday season, I deliberately failed to give them even a shekel. I’ll save my pennies and donate to a cause that counts. (e.g. medical bills for UWS pedestrians who weren’t on cell phones, the soup kitchen, etc.)

      • lifetime UWSer says:

        I agree SA is duping holiday donors . if they have property valued at 108 million why do they need my donation ?
        I hope an investigative journalist grabs hold of this and digs deeper .Stressing seniors why not have a 25 year plan take no more residents honor their promises delay profit .

    6. webot says:

      What is going on at Landmarks?

      Under BDB, I not heard of any landmarking – only talk of “decalendering” . Why are they not acting on landmarking the three townhouses that deserve it?
      Where is Landmarks West in this?

      Ironically, it was Bloomberg who they blamed for allowing landmark worthy buildings for his “rich developer friends”. BDB where are you with landmarking ???

      • Nathan says:

        What specifically makes these three buildings worthy of landmark status?

        • drg says:

          Yes, Its not clear to me why a building that has survived 100+ years automatically becomes a “landmark”…especially with many of its external features ripped away (stoop, cornice, brownstone facing). Indeed ALL of the northern brownstones on this stretch have been demolished, replaced by 16 story apartment buildings (prewar and postwar). There doesn’t seem to be anything of historic significance about these 3 particular buildings…explaining why they weren’t included in the landmark zone. Whereas the entire stretch on the southern side IS landmarked… I would think because of it being an intact row (rather than for each individual house)

          • webot says:

            In my opinion, the fact that they are the remaining three is all the more reason for them to be landmarked.
            A reminder of the past – and yes they are beautiful and historic.
            The fact that they have been somewhat ignored and some facade elements removed has no bearing – they can be replaced and that is an unfortunate tactic to avoid landmarking (removal of cornices,etc) that should not be rewarded.

            I think they are great, as nice as the ones on the south side. T

            Why not landmark the facades and build behind tower behind them?
            Why does everything have to be all or nothing?
            Why can’t we compromise on things?

    7. I tend to react on the spectrum toward Paul RL.

      I grew up on 96th and Madison (SE corner) in a pre-war building that still stands, but I don’t assume that my history assures me of living there in the future. My wife and kids and I now live (gladly) on the UWS, but even renting here doesn’t give me the *right* to live here in the future. The market has to rule to an extent.

      What we as citizens need to pay attention to, however, is how accessible and transparent companies like Friedland. If I’m not mistaken, they were also the company that took away H&H and also the strip of stores on the east side of Bway between 78th and 77th, which included a jeweler we used often, a pizza place my kids loved, and a number of other stores.

      Lack of transparency and failure to engage or answer to the community by using as-of-right practices under cover of dark are unacceptable business practices for companies that make money from where we live. We need to demand that they at least divulge their plans and participate in a forum where different opinions can be expressed.