Two Families Battle for the Future of a Broadway Building — and the Neighborhood

2231 Broadway in July, 2023. Built in 1899, it was designed to provide studio space for artists and has a colorful history of tenants, including several schools. Photo by Daniel Krieger.

By Daniel Krieger

The first sign that something was afoot at 2231 Broadway, also known as 246 West 80th Street, was the sudden departure this past spring of three retail tenants in a row: Verizon, FedEx, and Bareburger. As Upper West Siders know all too well, that usually means one thing — another bigger building is coming. Over the past decade, on just the five-block stretch on or near Broadway from 76th to 81st Street, seven new high-rises have gone up. Will 2231 Broadway be the next to be replaced?

2231 Broadway in 1940. The Broadway Studio Building sign is visible on the front of the building in the same spot where a sign now says New York Sports Clubs. Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives.

The five-story structure, originally called the Broadway Studio Building, was built in 1899 to provide studios for artists. It had already had a colorful history when, in 1979, two pairs of brothers — the Zabars and the Friedlands (who were in commercial real estate) — bought it together. But now, the two families are engaged in a bitter legal wrangle over the building’s fate, fracturing their decades-long alliance.

According to a complaint filed by the Friedlands in July, 2022, they want to sell the building and the Zabar brothers, both in their 90s, do not. The Friedlands claim that the Zabars have “steadfastly refused to engage in meaningful discussions,” describing their stance as “commercially unreasonable.”

But in a responding affidavit in September, 2022, Stanley Zabar, who took over the family business with his brother Saul in 1950, explained that the purchase in 1979 was made with a verbal understanding with the Friedland brothers, Lawrence and Melvin, “that we would exclusively operate the property commercially for as long our families were connected to the property.”

In his affidavit, Zabar states that they “relied on the expertise of the Friedland family as property managers to maintain the building and maximize income from the Property,” which, according to the Friedlands’ affadavit, they did through a Friedland-related company and received a 3% fee on rentals for those services.

For many years, the arrangement was “extremely profitable,” Zabar’s affidavit states. In 2019, the gross annual rent was nearly $5 million. But by 2021, the building’s revenue had fallen by close to 40% (and has fallen further since). At first, the Zabars, trusting their partners, “assumed it was the economy until a real estate broker told us that the Friedlands were not renting space in the building…as they had been  advising potential tenants that they expected to demolish [it].”

That is what Randi Stone said she was told when she rented a space for her pilates business in 2016. Stone had to leave in June, 2023, after being given two options: pay nearly double her original rent and stay in the building on a month-to-month basis, or move. In a phone interview with WSR, Stone said, due to the recent move, she lost a major investor, instructors who took their clients with them, the $20,000 she spent on upgrading the studio, and $10,000 to improve her new, much smaller studio nearby. “Now it’s a smaller business,” she said, “and I’m having to turn away clients because I can’t accommodate demand.”

Stanley Zabar stated in his affidavit that sometime in 2016 William Friedland, the son of Lawrence and a principal at the firm, approached him about developing the property “as a residential tower.” Zabar claims that he then met with Lawrence Friedland and “told him that the Zabars were not interested.” According to Zabar’s affadavit, the elder Friedland said “that William had convinced him that a multiple dwelling was a safer investment for them, and he was not going to do something his son was against, even if it meant breaking his 43-year agreement with me.”  According to papers filed, the Friedlands argue that the agreement is “unenforceable because it was not in writing.”

250 West 80th Street, a small adjacent building that the Zabar’s use for their online business. Built in 1902, it was one of the city’s first parking garages — the Belvedere Garage. Photo by Daniel Krieger.

Zabar explained his opposition in detail in the affidavit and counterclaim. First, Zabar’s leases a small adjacent building that came with the purchase, 250 West 80th Street — one of the city’s first parking garages, built in 1902 — that is where they conduct their online and catalog business, which according to Zabar makes up nearly a quarter of its revenue. And they invested over $1.5 million on upgrades and improvements to the building.

The Zabars also thought a residential tower “was too risky and would be detrimental to Zabar’s reputation,” Stanley Zabar wrote. The Zabars see 2231 Broadway as having played “a substantial part in the cultural history of the Upper West Side.”

Zabar claimed that, without their knowledge, the Friedlands “began a campaign to empty out the larger building” in preparation for the development of a residential tower.

Toward this end, according to Zabar, William Friedland “demanded that we agree to terminate New York Sports Club’s lease,” years before it was set to expire. Zabar also alleges that they “lured” Verizon to the retail space of their recently built 20-story tower across the street, 222 West 80th, which had been empty for a number of years. Zabar called their tenant poaching “grossly improper” since the Friedlands had a fiduciary duty as the property manager to maximize earnings. (New York Sports Club is still open, Bareburger just reopened, and Canine Styles recently announced it was moving to 78th Street.)

Queries about the case to the Zabars, the Friedlands, and lawyers for both families went unanswered.

Saul and Stanley Zabar at the store. Book jacket photo courtesy of Zabar family.

According to an acquaintance of Saul Zabar, Ian Alterman, a community activist and longtime neighborhood resident, the Zabars have always rebuffed offers from developers to buy their commercial buildings.

Alterman, who claims he has chatted with Saul Zabar many times over the last few decades when he visited the store, said he once inquired about the Barnes & Noble and DSW buildings, both owned by the Zabars.

“I asked why he never developed them,” Alterman recalled in an interview with WSR. “I said, ‘if you can get $100 million, why won’t you take it?’ And he said, ‘what am I gonna do with $100 million? I get an ongoing income from the rental of those buildings, and that’s forever. Why would I want a single payment?”

“He was absolutely dead set against these developments,” Alterman continued. “He wanted the Upper West Side to remain as it was.”

The same, apparently, goes for Stanley Zabar, who wrote in the conclusion of his affidavit: “The Upper West Side does not need another high-rise monument to greed and bad taste.”

If you’d like to receive our free email newsletter, click here.

Share this article:
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

121 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sarah
Sarah
9 months ago

Props to you for linking the complaint, WSR. That’s a step that even major news publications sometimes inexplicably omit!

Peter
Peter
9 months ago

May Saul and Stanley Zabar both live another 90 years!

Marguerite Franco
Marguerite Franco
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter

Amen!

Vanya Krik
Vanya Krik
9 months ago

I believe the Zabars did own the building that was sold and then developed as the Montana. That said, i thank them for not giving in and letting the developers run amuck. All new condo developments should have a 50-100k added tax per unit sold to pay for mass transit improvements. With apartments selling in the millions, that wouldn’t stop any sale but could help pay for rebuilt platforms, stations brt etc….

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago
Reply to  Vanya Krik

Please provide evidence that the lot on which the Montana was built had been owned by the Zabars. I do not believe this to be true, but could find nothing on its history.

Prashanth
Prashanth
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Alterman

It was indeed owned by Mr. Stanley Zabar, who sold it knowing it would be developed into The Montana.

Bale CX
Bale CX
9 months ago
Reply to  Prashanth

Don’t the Zabars also own the building where DWS was? I’ve heard plenty of rumors that another high rise is going up there. Isn’t that true?

Prashanth
Prashanth
9 months ago
Reply to  Bale CX

Yes, that building (2220 Broadway) is owned by the Zabar family. PC Richard is opening in what used to be the DWS space in it next year.

Last edited 9 months ago by Prashanth
Daniel Krieger
Daniel Krieger
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Alterman

According to a 1983 New York Times article, the Zabar’s sold their small building on 88th to make way for the Montana. But it should be noted, as the article points out, that this was the first luxury, high-rise development built above 72nd St. on the UWS in many years. After that, it appears, they didn’t sell more. https://www.nytimes.com/1983/01/14/business/about-real-estate-a-luxery-apartment-house-will-rise-on-broadway.html

Last edited 9 months ago by Daniel Krieger
Speller
Speller
9 months ago

Very interesting story line. It could be quite interesting to understand why so many buildings seem vacant, who owns them, and how this may be contributing to the housing problems on the UWS. I don’t necessarily want tall towers everywhere either, and the old architecture adds to the appeal, but we have a lot of vacant buildings. A lot of empty stores. And either luxury high rises or homeless shelters opening up. What gives?

Bale CX
Bale CX
9 months ago
Reply to  Speller

Agree. I want to know more about why the Belnord and Boulevard (both on 86th and Broadway) Ground/first floor is always vacant.

I also want to understand why these large commerical lots aren’t being “chopped” into smaller lots. The space where LOWES was on 68th or so will never become retail – it’s too big. We don’t need more and more Urgent Care centers and pet clinics. Smaller lots would encourage and permit more small mom and pop shops.

Speller
Speller
9 months ago
Reply to  Bale CX

It would be great if those large spaces could become a communal commerce center, like an antique center or arts center or something like a flea market where many vendors rent a booth to sell their items all under 1 roof. Even a food court if that is even practical? Granted, the city would probably require them to use electric only but wouldn’t that be a nice addition? then we wouldn’t have to wait until Sunday for the flea market at the school. We could have one every day!!! That might be more conducive for a fledgling business or a pop up?

mkmuws
mkmuws
9 months ago
Reply to  Speller

The point is there are a lot of intentional vacancies by the landlords, presumably to hold out to sell to developers as described above.

Bale CX
Bale CX
9 months ago
Reply to  mkmuws

There are also a lot of intentionally bad run “hotels”. So bad that the owners make more money entering contracts with the city DHS to function as a homeless shelter. I can’t understand why someone in hospitality would not be ashamed that their hotels are so horrible they’re literally shelter quality. But we all know the truth which is that they’re not in the hospitality business. They’re in the shelter business. Until these people exit the hospitality business we will always have bad hotels that are fodder for shelters.

RAB
RAB
9 months ago

… “According to papers filed, the Friedlands argue that the agreement is ‘unenforceable because it was not in writing.’”

Gotta love that. Not, “There was no agreement.” Just, “It can’t be enforced.” Almost as good as “My fingers were crossed.”

Andrew
Andrew
9 months ago
Reply to  RAB

It sounds that in their papers the Friedlands unintentionally acknowledged that there was a verbal agreement. I wonder if they’ve just sunk their case.

Spencer
Spencer
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Unfortunately, not likely. NY has a law called the Statute of Frauds (Section 5-701 subsection a. of the N.Y. GOL) which requires agreements that last longer than a year be in writing. Unless there is something in writing, even if the Friedlands acknowledge the existence of the oral agreement, the agreement is void.

Nila R. Perez
Nila R. Perez
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Frankly, I hope so! While the building itself is not particularly beautiful, I like that it is a smaller building (in terms of height). I love that the UWS still has a good mix of low-rise and medium-rise and hi-rise. I love that many of the beautiful old brownstones still exist. It gives the neighborhood a much more (almost) European feel that places like much of the UES have long ago lost. I love that the Zabars are trying to preserve the feel of the neighborhood. More power to them!

JT10000
JT10000
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

I was thinking the exact same thing.

Eric
Eric
9 months ago
Reply to  RAB

The Friedlands sound like lovely people.

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago
Reply to  RAB

A proposal of marriage was (and or still is) considered a valid contract like any other if certain conditions are met. This is why in past families wanted witnesses to any proposal of marriage and were against “secret engagements”.

One reason engagement notices are published in newspapers is sort of hold over from those days. It serves notice to public than an offer of marriage was made and accepted.

If one party withdrew said offer and or otherwise failed to complete said contract without mutual consent he or she could be hauled into court for “breach of promise”.

https://martingeorge.net/v2/index.php/2015/04/24/what-is-breach-of-marriage-promise/

https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/Notebooks/Pathfinders/Marry.PDF

Sarah
Sarah
9 months ago
Reply to  RAB

“Unenforceable” is a term of art here. It’s a specific legal argument referring to what’s known as the Statute of Frauds. For example, in NY, most contracts touching an interest in or power over real estate must be in writing (notably, leases shorter than one year are excluded from this). Since oral contracts present particular problems of proof and opportunities for fraud, a written contract is required to reduce the number and complexity of disputes in the courts. An unenforceable contract, in the legal sense, is no contract at all.

Westender
Westender
9 months ago

Stanley Zabar is a gem. I hope they prevail and fill the building with tenants again.

Crawdad
Crawdad
9 months ago

It’s very sad that the Zabars are some of the biggest NIMBYs on the UWS. The community desperately needs new housing, not vacant taxpayer buildings. It would be wonderful if the Zabar family redeveloped all of its UWS holdings, so that the community can actually have some new housing supply. Their holdings are almost entirely temporary depression-era taxpayers or former parking garages. Not exactly the Sistine Chapel. Build, already!

UWS Dad
UWS Dad
9 months ago
Reply to  Crawdad

Agree! We need more housing on the UWS, even market rate housing allows for more families to live here and building these developments support property (and likely income taxes) that pay for our police and teachers.

Phoebe
Phoebe
9 months ago
Reply to  UWS Dad

…police, and especially, teachers and other school-based professionals, who couldn’t afford to be tenants.

Anthony
Anthony
9 months ago
Reply to  UWS Dad

oh please. nobody is building high-rises for affordable housing. And the increased taxes you talk about, well, I’d be more open to that argument if I didn’t know how much of it is so economic migrants can live in Manhattan hotels.

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago
Reply to  Anthony

Not true at all,

Tons of affordable and low income housing are part of Hudson Yards/Far West Side development. Still more are located in Hell’s Kitchen and mid-town west.

New building at 1 West 60th will have affordable component.

https://newyorkyimby.com/category/1-west-60th-street

UWS residents cannot have it both ways; thanks to insane costs you aren’t going to get any affordable housing that isn’t part of larger market rate building. Thus all those moaning about keeping UWS frozen in time /no high rise developments are part of the problem.

Thanks to generous zoning and other land use laws or restrictions piled on with large amounts of historical or landmark properties there really isn’t much in ways of available land for new development.

So called “brownstone” zoning of UES, UWS and few other areas of Manhattan restricted height midblock, but allows greater density along major avenues or cross streets. This is why over years all those taxpayer properties along avenues or major through fares over years have come down.

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago
Reply to  B.B.

Your definition of “tons” must be very different from mine. Right now in Hudson Yards, there are exactly TWO buildings with a total of 247 units of “affordable” housing between them. (Of course, “affordable” to whom?). So “tons” is a bit hyperbolic.

Marge Roukema
Marge Roukema
9 months ago
Reply to  UWS Dad

You need housing that people can afford. You need to incentivize people who work on the UWS or in Manhattan and commute from NJ to be able to afford to live here.

Vanya Krik
Vanya Krik
9 months ago
Reply to  Crawdad

We need middle class housing not luxury condos for fiserv dudes, weekenders or foreign moola. About 11 buildings have gone up from 86-96 st in recent years, only i is a rental. This over building of condos does not solve anything, only makes it worse.

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago
Reply to  Vanya Krik

Building anything in NYC from hospitals to multi-family and all in between is extremely expensive. Rental housing in particular is highly regulated which is one reason why developers rather go with co-op or condo buildings.

Two the market supports condo buildings as seen by fact most if not all new developments in Manhattan (excluding “Billionaires Row” which is a whole other matter) sell out.

Sam Katz
Sam Katz
9 months ago
Reply to  Crawdad

Really? How hilarious are you to imagine any developer is interested in “affordable” housing. New housing in Manhattan means a studio that starts at no less than one-million dollars. Many of us love seeing the SKY. We do NOT need new, tall, skyscraper housing. The vacancy is because mom and pop stores — now apparently even large retailers — cannot afford the existing rents.

good humor
good humor
9 months ago
Reply to  Crawdad

Why specifically do we need more and larger buildings? Let

Eric
Eric
9 months ago
Reply to  Crawdad

Do you think the Friedlands intend to build affordable housing or anything close to it? Luxury housing sucks up the limited resources of the neighborhood.

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric

Rents at 222 West 80th (the new Friedland building next to the DSW site) are running between $11,000 and $25,000 per MONTH. HARDLY “affordable” to anyone but the ultra-wealthy.

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric

What are these “limited resources” you speak of?

If referring to properties in question they are all privately owned and thus said owners are free to do with them as they see fit long as it is within the law.

There is a dire shortage of multi-family housing for middle-class to lower upper households, especially “family sized” units with two or three bedrooms.

72RSD
72RSD
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric

More housing is more housing; it reduces price pressures for all.

Interesting that the Zabar family assiduously wants to avoid being in the residential real estate business and stick with commercial. They clearly saw other landowner families do poorly with residential proper. Or they have reputational concerns.

AS 77
AS 77
9 months ago
Reply to  72RSD

Just look at the photo of the building! It has a significant number of rental units, as does at least one other building that the Zabar family owns, and I would bet you that those apartments are far more affordable than anything that would be built in its place. These types of buildings are often referred to as “commercial” because they have commercial tenants, which pay far more in rent than the residential tenants.

Daniel Krieger
Daniel Krieger
9 months ago
Reply to  AS 77

It is a commercial building, as confirmed in the legal documents, and there are no residential tenants living in it. Of course, it could be cool to convert all or some of those spacious studios into apartments, but that’s not how it is currently set up.

Liz G
Liz G
9 months ago
Reply to  72RSD

I don’t think this is true, I live next door to the recently built Charlotte Of The Upper West Side (ha!!) and its incredibly expensive single floor apartments remain vacant, I believe after about a year they have one tenant for five floors. They have a front desk for a door man and it is vacant (I just let myself in with some wrongly delivered Amazon packages.) One family ordering from Amazon who paid upwards of $11M for their apartment really does nothing for our otherwise vibrant neighborhood. Before this, it was a single story gym, that at least would contribute to street life. Luxury housing in this neighborhood is unnecessary.

UWS Dad
UWS Dad
9 months ago
Reply to  Liz G

Yes when you can’t build very tall towers, the units have to be very expensive to make up for the land cost. I bet the new building pays more in taxes than the old gym ever did. I recall that old building being an eyesore, it’s nice to have new beautiful buildings

Peter
Peter
9 months ago
Reply to  Liz G

Did you just admit to trespassing on private property in writing in a public forum?

But to the point, the reality is that this building will also sell out – and will be mostly filled out with families – just like other similar buildings in the neighborhood (207 W79, 101 W78, The Harrison, etc. etc. It might take longer, given the price point, it might require discounts, it might be driven by further turn-up in the financial markets, etc, – but no, it won’t be filled by foreign moguls desperate to park cash. There seem to be plenty of families with the requisite wealth/income – and the desire to live here.

“Necessary” and “unnecessary” in this context are questionable concepts that serve noone. There’s clearly a market that clears for apartments like these.

Nila R. Perez
Nila R. Perez
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter

I don’t believe he said he trespassed. What he said was that he let himself in and that there was no doorman, just a front desk (apparently unattended?) in order to bring some mis-delivered Amazon packages. It’s something I have done myself in own neighboring buildings.

Eric
Eric
9 months ago
Reply to  72RSD

More luxury housing increases the inventory of empty (over-priced) apartments, second home investments, and blocks of empty ground-level commercial spaces.

Look around the UWS and then tell me another luxury building will ease any housing problem.

Isaiah
Isaiah
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric

Most of the UWS is either (1) landmark status or (2) rent controlled / rent stabilized.

NYC has added hundreds of thousands of jobs in the past decade, but only a fraction of the new housing units to accommodate.

It’s not like the UWS is covered in construction cranes. NIMBYs have dominated for decades and we can see the consequences all around us.

My wife and I would have loved to stay in the UWS, but we moved to Harlem to get a bedroom for young children. In the process, we probably contributed to other young families moving from Harlem to the Bronx, and on and on.

Housing markets are connected across the city. The selfishness of those who don’t want “luxury housing” in their neighborhood contributes to unaffordability and poverty across NYC. We have made it illegal to build a Corolla, and are appalled when the only new car we see is a Lexus.

Speller
Speller
9 months ago
Reply to  Isaiah

Thank you for saying this. And the other elephant in the room. Those people who are lucky enough to have leases on rent controlled apartments that are well below market. Many also have “cottages,” “cabins,” “2nd homes” elsewhere that they are able to afford because of their under market rent. They refuse to give up these gems to those who would use them as full time affordable homes. And this is why these manipulated rent regulations don’t work. The UWS is going through change. Maybe it is just NOT the UWS of yesteryear where you had these pre-war gems with moldings galore, 12 foot ceilings, terraces, back yards, easy access to 2 parks, and you had it for a steal. Shhhhh.

Neighborhoods change and as long as there are buyers who are able to pay the prices, if you can’t or won’t then maybe you need to look elsewhere. The market dictates price. Maybe if you want to live in a certain place you need to get a job where you earn the money to afford it?

Last edited 9 months ago by Speller
Sad
Sad
9 months ago
Reply to  Isaiah

Same with us. Wife and I were renting a 1 bdr at 81st and Broadway. We loved the neighborhood and had made friends and life was good. We had a baby and bought a 3bdr, 2 bath house in NJ. There is simply nothing comparable in Manhattan for even quadruple what we paid unless it were a totally run down dangerous hole in the wall.

It’s a shame but NYC is only for the very rich, the very poor, or the very single (that doesn’t mind renting tiny spaces). Middle class families have no place here.

UWS Dad
UWS Dad
9 months ago
Reply to  Isaiah

Isaiah is 100% right, very well put!

Phil
Phil
9 months ago

In the early 20th Century, this building was the home of The New York School of Fine and Applied Arts, an early iteration of what is now Parsons School of Design.

Sky
Sky
9 months ago
Reply to  Phil
I <3 Zabars
I <3 Zabars
9 months ago

NO MORE GODDAMN TOWERS!!! The existing ones are half empty, hideous and serve no end to the neighborhood at large.

Good for the Zabar brothers for having some spine to stand TF up for keeping the neighborhood LIVEABLE

Eric
Eric
9 months ago
Reply to  I <3 Zabars

Yes, indeed. Our neighborhood owes a great deal to the Zabar brothers. Mensches both. The Friedlands, not so much.

Heather
Heather
9 months ago

I’m on Stanley’s side!

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago

Introduction To Law 101:

Oral agreements aren’t worth the paper they are printed upon…

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago
Reply to  B.B.

Introduction to Law 102: Oral Agreements are enforceable, and HAVE been enforced in many cases.

Spencer
Spencer
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Alterman

Introduction to Law 103: The statute of frauds makes many oral agreements void. NY GOB § 5-701.

Emiliya Zhivotovskaya
Emiliya Zhivotovskaya
9 months ago

I was given the same threat as Randy for the rental I had on the fourth floor of the building for my company The Flourishing Center. I was told that I could not extend my lease, they would be knocking the building down and I would have to be on a month by month. Knowing that I could be kicked out without much notice, I took my business elsewhere. Dealing with Friedland was always a terrible experience!

Susan
Susan
9 months ago

The UWS is now home to a bevy of tall, overbearing high rises of luxury condos and rentals. Sacrificed were hundred year old contextual historically rich buildings now replaced with homogeneous, anonymous big boxes for the most part that could be in midtown, or Chelsea or Chicago. Nothing about them is distinctive with the exception of the one Robert Stern building on the corner opposite Zabar’s.

With all this demolition has come the demise of small family owned businesses. So much that made the UWS unique and full of character is gone or will be gone including the actual affordable housing that was demolished along with these architecturally unique contextual buildings. The arguments for more housing which would make the cost of housing go down was a red herring. Now with all these new buildings all the way up to 96th St. on Broadway rents have never been higher. I believe the latest report was that one bedrooms are now going for $4500 a month-so much for the affordable housing moniker.

So thank goodness for the Zabars who have skin in the game and know what was so authentic and identifying and soulful about the UWS. Our human-scaled neighborhoods, our family owned stores which Zabar’s exemplifies, and our history which once demolished will never be recovered.

L. Gerson
L. Gerson
9 months ago
Reply to  Susan

This is so absolutely an accurate summation of what has happened not only on the UWS but all over the city.
Real Estate is the 21st century version of the Gold Rush. Time was when the working class–waitresses, domestic workers, police, teachers –could afford a decent apartment in this city.
Then around the time of Reagan and after we had the plague of Co-Op and Condo conversion, benefiting greedy real estate moguls and lawyers..

The bottom line is better leadership on the municipal, state and federal level. We don’t have it and it seems to be impossible to get those reps who are subsidized by these developers out of office.

Speller
Speller
9 months ago
Reply to  L. Gerson

Interesting, but when this “plague” of coop and condo ownership came into play, residents/owners invested in their neighborhoods. Many areas of the UWS significantly upped their game. A lot of the crime and filth was removed. Crack houses were turned back into lovely brownstones, restored to their former glory. Owners made investments in their streets, community, stores. The one thing I do miss, the local mom and pop inexpensive restaurants. I don’t miss the filth and crime of the 80s but…..sadly a lot if back because the electeds seem intent on social engineering by housing new people in this neighborhood, who were not from this neighborhood, and cannot afford to live here, without giving them the support they need to properly integrate. I don’t need a return of Needle Park to make me feel connected to the UWS roots and would trade that in a second for a charcuterie place.

Oli
Oli
9 months ago
Reply to  Susan

“Small family owned businesses” are closing for many reasons, namely competition from big box stores and online purchases.

There is plenty of empty commercial space throughout the city in both new and old buildings. The problem is there are no takers for this space at any price.

And by “affordable housing” I assume you are referring to rent regulated apartments. Buildings with rent regulated tenants can generally never be torn down. For the rare times these buildings are demolished the developer will likely offer to a huge payout to these RR tenants.

Furthermore, these allegedly “historically rich buildings” you refer to are often rundown and it is not financially viable to rehabilitate them.

Overall, your arguments make little sense.

Susan
Susan
9 months ago
Reply to  Oli

To you maybe my argument makes little sense. Your city and state have mandates to build affordable housing or hadn’t you heard? Affordable housing is on the lips of nearly every elected leader in this city. Many buildings are in fact not run down on the UWS and had thriving businesses within many of which were family owned. And now they’re gone. The size of commercial space in new construction makes it impossible for anything but a major corporate commercial space like Verizon or FedEx. That is by design to collect high rents. Small spaces are non-existent in these new luxury condos. The small store rental doesn’t exist now largely because of the rents which are unaffordable unless you own the building as in the case of Zabar’s. That may not be to your liking but it is based on reality.

Speller
Speller
9 months ago
Reply to  Susan

The small mom and pop business. A wonderful memory, but the reality. Are there enough patrons willing to buy from them to sustain their business, even if their prices are higher? This model worked when they were the only game in town but now we have delivery workers willing to get you a bagel with a shmear from cross town. Does the family have family members willing to work there who they can trust to run the shop or do the kids have no interest. These are many of the challenges and why mom and pops, unless it is their retirement hobby, don’t last.

Gretchen
Gretchen
9 months ago

I remember fondly when H&H Bagels was on that corner. Still miss it.

Prashanth
Prashanth
9 months ago
Reply to  Gretchen

Yep. Absolute Bagels now, is about 85% of what H&H was.

Sam
Sam
9 months ago
Reply to  Gretchen

H&H closed due to significant tax issues/fraud. Not because of landlords or rent issues.
Many others have closed due to landlords/rent, but not H&H (original 80th Street location).

MikeDNyc
MikeDNyc
9 months ago
Reply to  Gretchen

Gretchen: Yup. H & H was a true neighborhood gem. Big loss when it closed.

Kevin
Kevin
9 months ago
Reply to  MikeDNyc

H&H Bagels isn’t gone. It’s at 526 Columbus, just south of 86th. So go get some bagels, stat!

Jerry
Jerry
9 months ago
Reply to  Kevin

Not the same establishment, at all. Not even close.

Steve B
Steve B
9 months ago
Reply to  Kevin

While I do enjoy the H&H on Columbus, it’s an indirect spinoff of the H&H that was on Broadway and quite different. It’s easy enough to look up the somewhat convoluted and interesting history of those businesses.

Prashanth
Prashanth
9 months ago

No more towers on the UWS… say some who in all statistical likelihood based on the preponderance of towers on the UWS, currently live in one.

I <3 Zabars
I <3 Zabars
9 months ago
Reply to  Prashanth

Nope, live in a walkup. Most of the neighborhood is *not* in those buildings and if you’ll actually use your eyes, you’ll see how empty they are at night.

Paul
Paul
9 months ago

There’s another and very simple explanation why people in their 90s don’t want to sell a major asset. It’s called stepped up basis at death.
Delaying a sale of an asset this size past death can save millions in taxes.

Sarah
Sarah
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Just looking at the complaint, I don’t think these buildings are held directly by individuals, but rather by LLCs, so I don’t think that rule is relevant here. But I’m not a tax expert, so could easily be wrong.

Otis
Otis
9 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

LLCs do not pay taxes but their taxable income or loss flows thru to the LLCs partners.

Ultimately someone pays tax on the income an LLC generates.

Google It
Google It
9 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

It works the same for LLCs. Google it.

Sam
Sam
9 months ago

Tear those buildings down and build something new and modern there. It would cost millions just to make them habitable.

Community Matters
Community Matters
9 months ago

When one side of an argument is based on self enrichment (greed) and the other side is foregoing significant financial gain… I tend to side with the non-greedy.

Power to the Zabars!

Dames Jean
Dames Jean
9 months ago

I’m fine with more housing, yes, even if it’s luxury housing, but I’m worried about the neighborhood losing one of its last regular and affordable gyms. The NYSC is the only gym left west of Amsterdam between 90th and the 60s that isn’t the exorbitant JCC and it would be tragic for it to depart. Maybe the new building could offer it space?

Schvitz
Schvitz
9 months ago
Reply to  Dames Jean

Not correct. The JCC. (76/Amst) has a gym and 25m, 5 lane pool, the nicest in Manhattan.

Cato
Cato
9 months ago
Reply to  Dames Jean

Many/most/all (?) new buildings provide their own gyms. It’s a basic “luxury” amenity. Indeed, many existing co-ops are feeling pressure from investment-minded-residents to add gyms were there weren’t any.

So if you’re “fine with more housing, even if it’s luxury housing” — which, let’s face it, is the only kind developers are going to develop — then you had better get used to there being a dwindling market for free-standing gyms like NYSC. You can’t have it both ways.

Marcus
Marcus
9 months ago

The Friedlands are true vampires. Praying on the people of the UWS for decades. Extraordinarily wealthy family who only care about making another dollar. God bless Zabar for trying to keep the high rises out of the area. They own the building and shouldn’t be held hostage by those Friedland vultures.

Pete
Pete
9 months ago

Wow, a Shakespearean tale of dynastic wealth and family principles! Great story. Given the difficulty the Friedmans have had renting out the building on the east side of Broadway, how can they be sure this would be a better investment?

Paul S.
Paul S.
9 months ago

How does this square with the recent residential development above/next to Zabars? I assume Saul and Stanley were okay with that high rise? What is the difference between the buildings?

Daniel Krieger
Daniel Krieger
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul S.

I don’t believe there is a reason to assume that they approved of that development since they did not own the building on the southwest corner of 81st Street. Based on statements they have made, for quite some time they have not wanted luxury high-rises put up in the neighborhood. You have the quote in my article as well as what Saul Zabar told the New York Times in 2002 about the matter:
”We’re not interested in development,” he said. ”The real estate just came along with the store. The neighborhood shouldn’t be overwhelmed by East Side-type buildings. It supported us, it gave to us, and we owe something back.” And for the record, there is one case in which they sold a building that was torn down to make way for a luxury high-rise. It was the Montana, on 88th, in the early 80s, and according to the New York Times, the Montana was the first luxury high-rise that was built above 72nd St. in many years. Of course, we know what came after that!

Last edited 9 months ago by Daniel Krieger
Susan
Susan
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Krieger

Excellent and important article Daniel! Thanks.

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul S.

The Zabars did not own that lot. They own the 1/2 of the block that the store currently inhabits. They would have had no say in what went up on that corner.

Paul
Paul
9 months ago

It’s amazing / crazy / cool that the two photos look exactly the same – all the same buildings are there, same features etc. It looks like the first photo is from the 40/50s.

mkmuws
mkmuws
9 months ago

It seems like there’s plenty of legal basis to show the Friedlands in breach when they were not renting or were scaring away renters. Shouldn’t that be dealt with first?

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago

One big mistake that people are making in the comments is conflating “empty storefront syndrome” with a lack of housing – affordable or otherwise. (To say nothing of how confused many are about what is considered “affordable” housing – a misnomer from its very beginning).

The empty commercial storefronts have nothing to do with development (or lack thereof) of potential residential property. Both are legitimate issues, but please stop conflating them.

As for “affordable housing,” that is determined by a strict financial metric created by HUD/HPD. That metric has always been absurd (e.g., right now there is a new “affordable” housing building for which an income of over $100,000 is required! That is HARDLY “affordable” housing!).

“Affordable housing” also does NOT mean rent-regulated housing; again, two unrelated things are being conflated. Besides, it is nearly impossible to build rent-regulated housing at this point, even if a developer wanted to (and they don’t, for obvious reasons).

“Affordable” housing should be just that: affordable, to the working and middle classes. Given ACTUAL incomes vs. the metric used to define “affordable,” the working and middle classes do NOT have very much available housing at all. It is all condos and co-ops now, and if you are not a millionaire (or close), you cannot afford very much.

In this regard, I would bet that if a developer actually wanted to build a normal-sized rental building, and planned to offer units at prices that the working and middle classes could afford, the Zabars might well provide one or more of their lots. But they know that this is NEVER going to happen, and they do not want expensive high-rise (or even ultra-high-rise) housing on their properties. For example, based on a combination of as-of-right rules, variances, “set-backs” and purchasing of air rights from nearby properties, a developer could potentially build a 60-story building on the old DSW site. Do we REALLY want a 60-story building on the corner of 79th and Broadway? I think not.

Peter
Peter
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Alterman

Ian – It’s not very clear from your comment but I’d think you already know that a family with $100,000 income in Manhattan, and particularly this neighborhood, is distinctly lower-middle class – and most certainly “working” class. It’s the reality of things that such a family likely can’t afford a decent market-rate 2-bdrm here, I’m no big fan of City rules and definitions but even such a family would need help with affordable housing. What you seem to be advocating for is housing affordable to the poorest New Yorkers, something which, indeed, no commercial developer could ever justify building on the UWS. They’ll simply have to live elsewhere; there’s no financial program that can sustain such burden.

Sam
Sam
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Alterman

Actually the entire article is based on the relationship of empty storefronts and development.
The old Verizon store is vacated (hence an empty storefront) because they were threatened with the building being developed by the Friedlander’s (and others were threatened with month-to-month leases because of potential development).
So there is no “conflation” of the two issues. They are directly related.

Sarah
Sarah
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Alterman

“Besides, it is nearly impossible to build rent-regulated housing at this point, even if a developer wanted to (and they don’t, for obvious reasons).”

Hm? Virtually every new rental project going up now has an affordable, rent-regulated component (still not enough to meet city needs, though). Even that schmancy building at 1 W. 60th. Developers apparently consider the tax break well worth it.

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Again I ask, “affordable” to whom? Rents at 1 West 60th run from $5,000/month for a studio to $14,000/month for a 2-bedroom. And “affordable” and “rent-regulated” are two VERY different things. VERY FEW of the new apartments being built are rent-regulated.

Gale Brewer
Gale Brewer
9 months ago

I wish more owners were as generous to our neighborhood as the Zabars are. May Stanley and Saul live forever; and thank goodness they have great children and grandchildren who have the same philosophy as they do.

Sheila Wolk
Sheila Wolk
9 months ago

looks like (unfortunately) Zabars is being dupped by Friedland Group…in the old days WORD was bond but not anymore! Pity that both didnt finalize their hand shake into written form , AKA: contract

WE DONT NEED ANOTHER HIGHRISE!!! for what purpose????.pay construction companies to build another empty building cause the landlords ask for TOO MUCH MONEY per month to occupy??
….You can walk along upper west side from 70’s to 90 street and see soo many empty stores..i am on 87 street and on Columbus aveneu , its starting to look like a ghost town because of greedy landlords!!

I am so aggrivated to even think that Zabars has to fight to stay,,,they should be respected in the building that is so beautiyfully built in the tradition of the 1800’s

Cathrine Steck
Cathrine Steck
9 months ago

Stanly Zabar, I couldn’t agree more. Enough with the superfluous new high rises!! I know there will be many of us on the UWS who appreciate the principled stand that you and your brother Saul are taking!!!

Dav*P
Dav*P
9 months ago

Right On, Zabar’s Brothers! I’m tired of big buildings tearing apart the fabric and texture of our beautiful neighborhood. It’s why people want to live here. “Entitled” families living in luxury apartment buildings stress the infrastructure and don’t contribute to diversity and multicultural flavor of this special place. None of the new towers are affordable housing for “regular” people just adds price pressure for local market rate apartments. My daughter went to PS 87 – such a wonderful multicultural environment – she grew up “color blind”. Say goodbye to that beautiful multiculturalism with more luxury behemoths!

Susan
Susan
9 months ago
Reply to  Dav*P

These new buildings are really in many cases not affordable for most people who live in this neighborhood or most neighborhoods-that means many who are upper middle class too. The lowest price I have found in sales is $1.5 mil for a one bedroom where the views are not terrific and usually rear facing. Imagine that! The new building across the street from Zabar’s which is attributed to the Friedland group advertised rentals starting at around $15,000. I see what appear to be many vacancies. That was a beautiful old building like the one next to it which PC Richards is moving into on the south east corner.
How comfortable can we feel living in a city which has no interest in the wants or needs of its tax-paying residents? It’s the residents who hold this place together. And the Zabar’s of the world too.

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago
Reply to  Susan

You think people paying $24k per month in rent aren’t paying their fair share of taxes? Do they not have “wants” and “needs” that should be taken into account?

These apartments are mostly all large family sized units (2-3 bedrooms with equal number of baths). That and other bits are factors reflected in rent.

https://streeteasy.com/building/222-w80/16a

Susan
Susan
9 months ago
Reply to  B.B.

There is no lack of luxury housing now in this city for those who can afford to pay $24,000 per month for an apartment. Almost all new housing is geared to people like them to have their wants and needs. And you cannot have any idea what taxes they are paying. They could be living under a foreign owned LLC. There are many ways very high earners avoid paying taxes so I would not be so sure of the benefit to the city or state.

Daniel Krieger
Daniel Krieger
9 months ago
Reply to  Susan

222 W. 80th, the Friedland building, currently has 5 apartments listed as available of 72 total, ranging from $11,500 per month to $25,400. My understanding is that the difficulty has been with the retail rentals, while the apartments have rented well in the five years the building has been online. If anyone knows the history of the rental of apartments in the building, please share.
https://222w80.com/availability/

Last edited 9 months ago by Daniel Krieger
Susan
Susan
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Krieger

Then the rents must have been reduced as they had hung a banner across the front of the building when they started renting which said rents starting at $14,500 or $15,000. That was quite unforgettable at the time! So the rents are ONLY $11,500-$25,400??
Thanks for the clarification on the occupancy. That’s not the appearance from the outside which I often look out on.

Anthony
Anthony
9 months ago

This answers the mystery of why so many prime retail locations remain vacant, sometimes for years. it’s not that they are waiting for a tenant willing to pay more (tho surely some of the vacancies are that, they want the whole block to be empty.

Sheila
Sheila
9 months ago

Along these same lines, does anyone know what is going on with the low rise Ancott apartment building on the northeast corner of Broadway and 96th? The Bicycle store is closing and moving and reportedly the whole building is going to be torn down. Anyone have any info on this?

Stuart Blumin
Stuart Blumin
9 months ago

Good for the Zabars! As long as they are around the Republic of Zabar (UWS) is in good hands. I will continue to work out at NYSC–and then go shopping at Zabar’s.

Prashanth
Prashanth
9 months ago

Fascinatingly, the Zabars also own what was developed into the Barnes & Noble on 82nd. They did excellently for themselves in 70s UWS real estate!

Jenn Jones
Jenn Jones
9 months ago

THANKS YOU to the Zabar brothers for caring about our community! The only new residential buildings we truly need currently are affordable housing units.

Last edited 9 months ago by Jenn Jones
Steevie
Steevie
9 months ago

In the 1940 picture, on the traffic island in the middle of Broadway, there is a long metallic object that is shaped sort of like a submarine. I wonder what that is.

Reneé Fineberg
Reneé Fineberg
9 months ago

To the person who stated it is selfishness to object to “luxury housing”, I fail to understand your logic. Aren’t there enough of these over-priced, almost empty box-like edifices all over the UWS….And Harlem. So you moved to get a bedroom for your kids. Couldn’t you find an apartment suitable for your family in one of those luxery buildings all around here. Just how do these buildings alleviate poverty. You make no sense….unless I am failing to see your message correctly. I reread it. Without rent stabilization, thousands of us would have been forced out. Seniors especially. I live in a building co-opted years ago….couldn’t afford to buy. They only sell to those who can afford to buy multiple apartments…and life here is full of construction noises and annoyances…it never stops. Only a few of us left that pay rent. My rent goes up every two years. I live on a block where there are no new building s over 12 stories…except the Beresford….which is out of reach for lots of people. Affordable housing…what are we talking about….housing for teachers, office workers, service workers, the retired , and seniors. Where is it?

Lisa
Lisa
9 months ago

Renee, my maintenance goes up every year too, so you are not alone.

Speller
Speller
9 months ago
Reply to  Lisa

cost of everything goes up each year including the salaries of the workers who service your building. Renters who remain in these coops are actually quite lucky. Or perhaps they had good foresight. They benefit from the investments that owners have made in the infrastructure. We should all be so fortunate, but the idea of new rent stabilized doesn’t happen.

Otis
Otis
9 months ago

I live in a coop building with many rent stabilized tenants leftover from the pre-coop days.

My monthly maintenance goes up significantly every year. The tenants’ rents barely budge.

So I am subsidizing the renters in my building. They get to take advantage of renovations and maintenance and upgrades without paying an additional penny.

Stop complaining.

Peter
Peter
9 months ago

You live in it. The ‘ affordable ‘ housing is taken.

Imelda V
Imelda V
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter

What about the affordable housing where the resident also has their place in the country? The summer cottage, that they can afford because they have a rent controlled apartment? This is part of the housing problem. If you can afford a second home you can probably afford a market rate apartment so a low income worker can take over your lease to raise their family. This is why the rent stabilization theory doesnt work. Greed comes in all sizes.

Marguerite Franco
Marguerite Franco
9 months ago

I grew up on the upper west side & love this area, including Zabars, Barnes & Noble, etc
Few memories are still there & it’s all about “tradition “!

Carole Coleman
Carole Coleman
9 months ago

Kudos to the Zabars for attempting to maintain the UWS feel. No more high rises!

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago

Meanwhile across town on UES another scion of Zabar family (Eli Zabar) fought a long and losing battle against a homeless shelter being built next door to his business.

https://nypost.com/2022/07/30/grocery-heir-eli-zabar-tries-to-stall-homeless-shelter/
https://www.crainsnewyork.com/commercial-real-estate/eli-zabar-loses-battle-against-upper-east-side-homeless-shelter-next-door?

https://www.crainsnewyork.com/commercial-real-estate/eli-zabar-loses-battle-against-upper-east-side-homeless-shelter-next-door

All the Zabar brothers are in or close to their 90’s, thus what happens with this property if not settled now will be left to heirs of Stanley and Saul Zabar.

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago

Certain person have been moaning about UWS changing since 1980’s. New York Magazine among other media covered it then.

https://books.google.com/books?id=ysUBAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Upper+West+Side+New+York+Magazine&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwilpdra0r-AAxXQD1kFHYvHAmsQ6AF6BAgEEAI

Fact of matter is through much of recent memory and certainly since post WWII era much of UWS was considered “blighted”. Indeed area stretching from about West 79th to 96th from CPW to Amsterdam still retains a HUD “urban renewal” declaration IIRC.

Decade later NYM did another piece on UWS bringing up fact despite all the handwringing, wailing and moaning area was then (nor still is today for that matter) in any danger of becoming like UES across CP.

UWS both then and still today has a huge number of entrenched social services, SROs, rent regulated and public housing along with other bits that ensure there is nil danger of area ever becoming even close to UES.

https://books.google.com/books?id=juMCAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA28&lpg=PA29&focus=viewport&dq=Upper+West+Side+New+York+Magazine

Rachel
Rachel
9 months ago

While the Zabar’s have held out selling, they weren’t of mindful eye on what was really happening. or were they? Who was looking out for their interests? Certainly not the Friedland’s. They need to sue them for breach of this NON contract..
That said, with the overall decline of retail, Commercial space rental for small business is a losing proposition for so many reasons, Shouldn’t the City incentivize commercial property owners to support their community to offer discounted rent for Community art spaces, Workshop’s , Pop up shops for young entrepreneurs, Antique Center’s, indoor flea markets, Job training. Tutoring ( free ) spaces for both young and older adults. Food coop’s , coop’s, The community needs safe indoor spaces to meet and interact with their neighbors. Bring it INTO the community via storefronts so people can see them. These space that are left empty are a BLIGHT and danger to the city. The City should fine them for warehousing space that is on our city streets where we live.

YOU MIGHT LIKE...

Two Families Battle for the Future of a Broadway Building — and the Neighborhood

2231 Broadway in July, 2023. Built in 1899, it was designed to provide studio space for artists and has a colorful history of tenants, including several schools. Photo by Daniel Krieger.

By Daniel Krieger

The first sign that something was afoot at 2231 Broadway, also known as 246 West 80th Street, was the sudden departure this past spring of three retail tenants in a row: Verizon, FedEx, and Bareburger. As Upper West Siders know all too well, that usually means one thing — another bigger building is coming. Over the past decade, on just the five-block stretch on or near Broadway from 76th to 81st Street, seven new high-rises have gone up. Will 2231 Broadway be the next to be replaced?

2231 Broadway in 1940. The Broadway Studio Building sign is visible on the front of the building in the same spot where a sign now says New York Sports Clubs. Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives.

The five-story structure, originally called the Broadway Studio Building, was built in 1899 to provide studios for artists. It had already had a colorful history when, in 1979, two pairs of brothers — the Zabars and the Friedlands (who were in commercial real estate) — bought it together. But now, the two families are engaged in a bitter legal wrangle over the building’s fate, fracturing their decades-long alliance.

According to a complaint filed by the Friedlands in July, 2022, they want to sell the building and the Zabar brothers, both in their 90s, do not. The Friedlands claim that the Zabars have “steadfastly refused to engage in meaningful discussions,” describing their stance as “commercially unreasonable.”

But in a responding affidavit in September, 2022, Stanley Zabar, who took over the family business with his brother Saul in 1950, explained that the purchase in 1979 was made with a verbal understanding with the Friedland brothers, Lawrence and Melvin, “that we would exclusively operate the property commercially for as long our families were connected to the property.”

In his affidavit, Zabar states that they “relied on the expertise of the Friedland family as property managers to maintain the building and maximize income from the Property,” which, according to the Friedlands’ affadavit, they did through a Friedland-related company and received a 3% fee on rentals for those services.

For many years, the arrangement was “extremely profitable,” Zabar’s affidavit states. In 2019, the gross annual rent was nearly $5 million. But by 2021, the building’s revenue had fallen by close to 40% (and has fallen further since). At first, the Zabars, trusting their partners, “assumed it was the economy until a real estate broker told us that the Friedlands were not renting space in the building…as they had been  advising potential tenants that they expected to demolish [it].”

That is what Randi Stone said she was told when she rented a space for her pilates business in 2016. Stone had to leave in June, 2023, after being given two options: pay nearly double her original rent and stay in the building on a month-to-month basis, or move. In a phone interview with WSR, Stone said, due to the recent move, she lost a major investor, instructors who took their clients with them, the $20,000 she spent on upgrading the studio, and $10,000 to improve her new, much smaller studio nearby. “Now it’s a smaller business,” she said, “and I’m having to turn away clients because I can’t accommodate demand.”

Stanley Zabar stated in his affidavit that sometime in 2016 William Friedland, the son of Lawrence and a principal at the firm, approached him about developing the property “as a residential tower.” Zabar claims that he then met with Lawrence Friedland and “told him that the Zabars were not interested.” According to Zabar’s affadavit, the elder Friedland said “that William had convinced him that a multiple dwelling was a safer investment for them, and he was not going to do something his son was against, even if it meant breaking his 43-year agreement with me.”  According to papers filed, the Friedlands argue that the agreement is “unenforceable because it was not in writing.”

250 West 80th Street, a small adjacent building that the Zabar’s use for their online business. Built in 1902, it was one of the city’s first parking garages — the Belvedere Garage. Photo by Daniel Krieger.

Zabar explained his opposition in detail in the affidavit and counterclaim. First, Zabar’s leases a small adjacent building that came with the purchase, 250 West 80th Street — one of the city’s first parking garages, built in 1902 — that is where they conduct their online and catalog business, which according to Zabar makes up nearly a quarter of its revenue. And they invested over $1.5 million on upgrades and improvements to the building.

The Zabars also thought a residential tower “was too risky and would be detrimental to Zabar’s reputation,” Stanley Zabar wrote. The Zabars see 2231 Broadway as having played “a substantial part in the cultural history of the Upper West Side.”

Zabar claimed that, without their knowledge, the Friedlands “began a campaign to empty out the larger building” in preparation for the development of a residential tower.

Toward this end, according to Zabar, William Friedland “demanded that we agree to terminate New York Sports Club’s lease,” years before it was set to expire. Zabar also alleges that they “lured” Verizon to the retail space of their recently built 20-story tower across the street, 222 West 80th, which had been empty for a number of years. Zabar called their tenant poaching “grossly improper” since the Friedlands had a fiduciary duty as the property manager to maximize earnings. (New York Sports Club is still open, Bareburger just reopened, and Canine Styles recently announced it was moving to 78th Street.)

Queries about the case to the Zabars, the Friedlands, and lawyers for both families went unanswered.

Saul and Stanley Zabar at the store. Book jacket photo courtesy of Zabar family.

According to an acquaintance of Saul Zabar, Ian Alterman, a community activist and longtime neighborhood resident, the Zabars have always rebuffed offers from developers to buy their commercial buildings.

Alterman, who claims he has chatted with Saul Zabar many times over the last few decades when he visited the store, said he once inquired about the Barnes & Noble and DSW buildings, both owned by the Zabars.

“I asked why he never developed them,” Alterman recalled in an interview with WSR. “I said, ‘if you can get $100 million, why won’t you take it?’ And he said, ‘what am I gonna do with $100 million? I get an ongoing income from the rental of those buildings, and that’s forever. Why would I want a single payment?”

“He was absolutely dead set against these developments,” Alterman continued. “He wanted the Upper West Side to remain as it was.”

The same, apparently, goes for Stanley Zabar, who wrote in the conclusion of his affidavit: “The Upper West Side does not need another high-rise monument to greed and bad taste.”

If you’d like to receive our free email newsletter, click here.

Share this article:
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

121 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sarah
Sarah
9 months ago

Props to you for linking the complaint, WSR. That’s a step that even major news publications sometimes inexplicably omit!

Peter
Peter
9 months ago

May Saul and Stanley Zabar both live another 90 years!

Marguerite Franco
Marguerite Franco
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter

Amen!

Vanya Krik
Vanya Krik
9 months ago

I believe the Zabars did own the building that was sold and then developed as the Montana. That said, i thank them for not giving in and letting the developers run amuck. All new condo developments should have a 50-100k added tax per unit sold to pay for mass transit improvements. With apartments selling in the millions, that wouldn’t stop any sale but could help pay for rebuilt platforms, stations brt etc….

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago
Reply to  Vanya Krik

Please provide evidence that the lot on which the Montana was built had been owned by the Zabars. I do not believe this to be true, but could find nothing on its history.

Prashanth
Prashanth
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Alterman

It was indeed owned by Mr. Stanley Zabar, who sold it knowing it would be developed into The Montana.

Bale CX
Bale CX
9 months ago
Reply to  Prashanth

Don’t the Zabars also own the building where DWS was? I’ve heard plenty of rumors that another high rise is going up there. Isn’t that true?

Prashanth
Prashanth
9 months ago
Reply to  Bale CX

Yes, that building (2220 Broadway) is owned by the Zabar family. PC Richard is opening in what used to be the DWS space in it next year.

Last edited 9 months ago by Prashanth
Daniel Krieger
Daniel Krieger
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Alterman

According to a 1983 New York Times article, the Zabar’s sold their small building on 88th to make way for the Montana. But it should be noted, as the article points out, that this was the first luxury, high-rise development built above 72nd St. on the UWS in many years. After that, it appears, they didn’t sell more. https://www.nytimes.com/1983/01/14/business/about-real-estate-a-luxery-apartment-house-will-rise-on-broadway.html

Last edited 9 months ago by Daniel Krieger
Speller
Speller
9 months ago

Very interesting story line. It could be quite interesting to understand why so many buildings seem vacant, who owns them, and how this may be contributing to the housing problems on the UWS. I don’t necessarily want tall towers everywhere either, and the old architecture adds to the appeal, but we have a lot of vacant buildings. A lot of empty stores. And either luxury high rises or homeless shelters opening up. What gives?

Bale CX
Bale CX
9 months ago
Reply to  Speller

Agree. I want to know more about why the Belnord and Boulevard (both on 86th and Broadway) Ground/first floor is always vacant.

I also want to understand why these large commerical lots aren’t being “chopped” into smaller lots. The space where LOWES was on 68th or so will never become retail – it’s too big. We don’t need more and more Urgent Care centers and pet clinics. Smaller lots would encourage and permit more small mom and pop shops.

Speller
Speller
9 months ago
Reply to  Bale CX

It would be great if those large spaces could become a communal commerce center, like an antique center or arts center or something like a flea market where many vendors rent a booth to sell their items all under 1 roof. Even a food court if that is even practical? Granted, the city would probably require them to use electric only but wouldn’t that be a nice addition? then we wouldn’t have to wait until Sunday for the flea market at the school. We could have one every day!!! That might be more conducive for a fledgling business or a pop up?

mkmuws
mkmuws
9 months ago
Reply to  Speller

The point is there are a lot of intentional vacancies by the landlords, presumably to hold out to sell to developers as described above.

Bale CX
Bale CX
9 months ago
Reply to  mkmuws

There are also a lot of intentionally bad run “hotels”. So bad that the owners make more money entering contracts with the city DHS to function as a homeless shelter. I can’t understand why someone in hospitality would not be ashamed that their hotels are so horrible they’re literally shelter quality. But we all know the truth which is that they’re not in the hospitality business. They’re in the shelter business. Until these people exit the hospitality business we will always have bad hotels that are fodder for shelters.

RAB
RAB
9 months ago

… “According to papers filed, the Friedlands argue that the agreement is ‘unenforceable because it was not in writing.’”

Gotta love that. Not, “There was no agreement.” Just, “It can’t be enforced.” Almost as good as “My fingers were crossed.”

Andrew
Andrew
9 months ago
Reply to  RAB

It sounds that in their papers the Friedlands unintentionally acknowledged that there was a verbal agreement. I wonder if they’ve just sunk their case.

Spencer
Spencer
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Unfortunately, not likely. NY has a law called the Statute of Frauds (Section 5-701 subsection a. of the N.Y. GOL) which requires agreements that last longer than a year be in writing. Unless there is something in writing, even if the Friedlands acknowledge the existence of the oral agreement, the agreement is void.

Nila R. Perez
Nila R. Perez
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Frankly, I hope so! While the building itself is not particularly beautiful, I like that it is a smaller building (in terms of height). I love that the UWS still has a good mix of low-rise and medium-rise and hi-rise. I love that many of the beautiful old brownstones still exist. It gives the neighborhood a much more (almost) European feel that places like much of the UES have long ago lost. I love that the Zabars are trying to preserve the feel of the neighborhood. More power to them!

JT10000
JT10000
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

I was thinking the exact same thing.

Eric
Eric
9 months ago
Reply to  RAB

The Friedlands sound like lovely people.

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago
Reply to  RAB

A proposal of marriage was (and or still is) considered a valid contract like any other if certain conditions are met. This is why in past families wanted witnesses to any proposal of marriage and were against “secret engagements”.

One reason engagement notices are published in newspapers is sort of hold over from those days. It serves notice to public than an offer of marriage was made and accepted.

If one party withdrew said offer and or otherwise failed to complete said contract without mutual consent he or she could be hauled into court for “breach of promise”.

https://martingeorge.net/v2/index.php/2015/04/24/what-is-breach-of-marriage-promise/

https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/Notebooks/Pathfinders/Marry.PDF

Sarah
Sarah
9 months ago
Reply to  RAB

“Unenforceable” is a term of art here. It’s a specific legal argument referring to what’s known as the Statute of Frauds. For example, in NY, most contracts touching an interest in or power over real estate must be in writing (notably, leases shorter than one year are excluded from this). Since oral contracts present particular problems of proof and opportunities for fraud, a written contract is required to reduce the number and complexity of disputes in the courts. An unenforceable contract, in the legal sense, is no contract at all.

Westender
Westender
9 months ago

Stanley Zabar is a gem. I hope they prevail and fill the building with tenants again.

Crawdad
Crawdad
9 months ago

It’s very sad that the Zabars are some of the biggest NIMBYs on the UWS. The community desperately needs new housing, not vacant taxpayer buildings. It would be wonderful if the Zabar family redeveloped all of its UWS holdings, so that the community can actually have some new housing supply. Their holdings are almost entirely temporary depression-era taxpayers or former parking garages. Not exactly the Sistine Chapel. Build, already!

UWS Dad
UWS Dad
9 months ago
Reply to  Crawdad

Agree! We need more housing on the UWS, even market rate housing allows for more families to live here and building these developments support property (and likely income taxes) that pay for our police and teachers.

Phoebe
Phoebe
9 months ago
Reply to  UWS Dad

…police, and especially, teachers and other school-based professionals, who couldn’t afford to be tenants.

Anthony
Anthony
9 months ago
Reply to  UWS Dad

oh please. nobody is building high-rises for affordable housing. And the increased taxes you talk about, well, I’d be more open to that argument if I didn’t know how much of it is so economic migrants can live in Manhattan hotels.

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago
Reply to  Anthony

Not true at all,

Tons of affordable and low income housing are part of Hudson Yards/Far West Side development. Still more are located in Hell’s Kitchen and mid-town west.

New building at 1 West 60th will have affordable component.

https://newyorkyimby.com/category/1-west-60th-street

UWS residents cannot have it both ways; thanks to insane costs you aren’t going to get any affordable housing that isn’t part of larger market rate building. Thus all those moaning about keeping UWS frozen in time /no high rise developments are part of the problem.

Thanks to generous zoning and other land use laws or restrictions piled on with large amounts of historical or landmark properties there really isn’t much in ways of available land for new development.

So called “brownstone” zoning of UES, UWS and few other areas of Manhattan restricted height midblock, but allows greater density along major avenues or cross streets. This is why over years all those taxpayer properties along avenues or major through fares over years have come down.

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago
Reply to  B.B.

Your definition of “tons” must be very different from mine. Right now in Hudson Yards, there are exactly TWO buildings with a total of 247 units of “affordable” housing between them. (Of course, “affordable” to whom?). So “tons” is a bit hyperbolic.

Marge Roukema
Marge Roukema
9 months ago
Reply to  UWS Dad

You need housing that people can afford. You need to incentivize people who work on the UWS or in Manhattan and commute from NJ to be able to afford to live here.

Vanya Krik
Vanya Krik
9 months ago
Reply to  Crawdad

We need middle class housing not luxury condos for fiserv dudes, weekenders or foreign moola. About 11 buildings have gone up from 86-96 st in recent years, only i is a rental. This over building of condos does not solve anything, only makes it worse.

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago
Reply to  Vanya Krik

Building anything in NYC from hospitals to multi-family and all in between is extremely expensive. Rental housing in particular is highly regulated which is one reason why developers rather go with co-op or condo buildings.

Two the market supports condo buildings as seen by fact most if not all new developments in Manhattan (excluding “Billionaires Row” which is a whole other matter) sell out.

Sam Katz
Sam Katz
9 months ago
Reply to  Crawdad

Really? How hilarious are you to imagine any developer is interested in “affordable” housing. New housing in Manhattan means a studio that starts at no less than one-million dollars. Many of us love seeing the SKY. We do NOT need new, tall, skyscraper housing. The vacancy is because mom and pop stores — now apparently even large retailers — cannot afford the existing rents.

good humor
good humor
9 months ago
Reply to  Crawdad

Why specifically do we need more and larger buildings? Let

Eric
Eric
9 months ago
Reply to  Crawdad

Do you think the Friedlands intend to build affordable housing or anything close to it? Luxury housing sucks up the limited resources of the neighborhood.

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric

Rents at 222 West 80th (the new Friedland building next to the DSW site) are running between $11,000 and $25,000 per MONTH. HARDLY “affordable” to anyone but the ultra-wealthy.

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric

What are these “limited resources” you speak of?

If referring to properties in question they are all privately owned and thus said owners are free to do with them as they see fit long as it is within the law.

There is a dire shortage of multi-family housing for middle-class to lower upper households, especially “family sized” units with two or three bedrooms.

72RSD
72RSD
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric

More housing is more housing; it reduces price pressures for all.

Interesting that the Zabar family assiduously wants to avoid being in the residential real estate business and stick with commercial. They clearly saw other landowner families do poorly with residential proper. Or they have reputational concerns.

AS 77
AS 77
9 months ago
Reply to  72RSD

Just look at the photo of the building! It has a significant number of rental units, as does at least one other building that the Zabar family owns, and I would bet you that those apartments are far more affordable than anything that would be built in its place. These types of buildings are often referred to as “commercial” because they have commercial tenants, which pay far more in rent than the residential tenants.

Daniel Krieger
Daniel Krieger
9 months ago
Reply to  AS 77

It is a commercial building, as confirmed in the legal documents, and there are no residential tenants living in it. Of course, it could be cool to convert all or some of those spacious studios into apartments, but that’s not how it is currently set up.

Liz G
Liz G
9 months ago
Reply to  72RSD

I don’t think this is true, I live next door to the recently built Charlotte Of The Upper West Side (ha!!) and its incredibly expensive single floor apartments remain vacant, I believe after about a year they have one tenant for five floors. They have a front desk for a door man and it is vacant (I just let myself in with some wrongly delivered Amazon packages.) One family ordering from Amazon who paid upwards of $11M for their apartment really does nothing for our otherwise vibrant neighborhood. Before this, it was a single story gym, that at least would contribute to street life. Luxury housing in this neighborhood is unnecessary.

UWS Dad
UWS Dad
9 months ago
Reply to  Liz G

Yes when you can’t build very tall towers, the units have to be very expensive to make up for the land cost. I bet the new building pays more in taxes than the old gym ever did. I recall that old building being an eyesore, it’s nice to have new beautiful buildings

Peter
Peter
9 months ago
Reply to  Liz G

Did you just admit to trespassing on private property in writing in a public forum?

But to the point, the reality is that this building will also sell out – and will be mostly filled out with families – just like other similar buildings in the neighborhood (207 W79, 101 W78, The Harrison, etc. etc. It might take longer, given the price point, it might require discounts, it might be driven by further turn-up in the financial markets, etc, – but no, it won’t be filled by foreign moguls desperate to park cash. There seem to be plenty of families with the requisite wealth/income – and the desire to live here.

“Necessary” and “unnecessary” in this context are questionable concepts that serve noone. There’s clearly a market that clears for apartments like these.

Nila R. Perez
Nila R. Perez
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter

I don’t believe he said he trespassed. What he said was that he let himself in and that there was no doorman, just a front desk (apparently unattended?) in order to bring some mis-delivered Amazon packages. It’s something I have done myself in own neighboring buildings.

Eric
Eric
9 months ago
Reply to  72RSD

More luxury housing increases the inventory of empty (over-priced) apartments, second home investments, and blocks of empty ground-level commercial spaces.

Look around the UWS and then tell me another luxury building will ease any housing problem.

Isaiah
Isaiah
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric

Most of the UWS is either (1) landmark status or (2) rent controlled / rent stabilized.

NYC has added hundreds of thousands of jobs in the past decade, but only a fraction of the new housing units to accommodate.

It’s not like the UWS is covered in construction cranes. NIMBYs have dominated for decades and we can see the consequences all around us.

My wife and I would have loved to stay in the UWS, but we moved to Harlem to get a bedroom for young children. In the process, we probably contributed to other young families moving from Harlem to the Bronx, and on and on.

Housing markets are connected across the city. The selfishness of those who don’t want “luxury housing” in their neighborhood contributes to unaffordability and poverty across NYC. We have made it illegal to build a Corolla, and are appalled when the only new car we see is a Lexus.

Speller
Speller
9 months ago
Reply to  Isaiah

Thank you for saying this. And the other elephant in the room. Those people who are lucky enough to have leases on rent controlled apartments that are well below market. Many also have “cottages,” “cabins,” “2nd homes” elsewhere that they are able to afford because of their under market rent. They refuse to give up these gems to those who would use them as full time affordable homes. And this is why these manipulated rent regulations don’t work. The UWS is going through change. Maybe it is just NOT the UWS of yesteryear where you had these pre-war gems with moldings galore, 12 foot ceilings, terraces, back yards, easy access to 2 parks, and you had it for a steal. Shhhhh.

Neighborhoods change and as long as there are buyers who are able to pay the prices, if you can’t or won’t then maybe you need to look elsewhere. The market dictates price. Maybe if you want to live in a certain place you need to get a job where you earn the money to afford it?

Last edited 9 months ago by Speller
Sad
Sad
9 months ago
Reply to  Isaiah

Same with us. Wife and I were renting a 1 bdr at 81st and Broadway. We loved the neighborhood and had made friends and life was good. We had a baby and bought a 3bdr, 2 bath house in NJ. There is simply nothing comparable in Manhattan for even quadruple what we paid unless it were a totally run down dangerous hole in the wall.

It’s a shame but NYC is only for the very rich, the very poor, or the very single (that doesn’t mind renting tiny spaces). Middle class families have no place here.

UWS Dad
UWS Dad
9 months ago
Reply to  Isaiah

Isaiah is 100% right, very well put!

Phil
Phil
9 months ago

In the early 20th Century, this building was the home of The New York School of Fine and Applied Arts, an early iteration of what is now Parsons School of Design.

Sky
Sky
9 months ago
Reply to  Phil
I <3 Zabars
I <3 Zabars
9 months ago

NO MORE GODDAMN TOWERS!!! The existing ones are half empty, hideous and serve no end to the neighborhood at large.

Good for the Zabar brothers for having some spine to stand TF up for keeping the neighborhood LIVEABLE

Eric
Eric
9 months ago
Reply to  I <3 Zabars

Yes, indeed. Our neighborhood owes a great deal to the Zabar brothers. Mensches both. The Friedlands, not so much.

Heather
Heather
9 months ago

I’m on Stanley’s side!

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago

Introduction To Law 101:

Oral agreements aren’t worth the paper they are printed upon…

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago
Reply to  B.B.

Introduction to Law 102: Oral Agreements are enforceable, and HAVE been enforced in many cases.

Spencer
Spencer
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Alterman

Introduction to Law 103: The statute of frauds makes many oral agreements void. NY GOB § 5-701.

Emiliya Zhivotovskaya
Emiliya Zhivotovskaya
9 months ago

I was given the same threat as Randy for the rental I had on the fourth floor of the building for my company The Flourishing Center. I was told that I could not extend my lease, they would be knocking the building down and I would have to be on a month by month. Knowing that I could be kicked out without much notice, I took my business elsewhere. Dealing with Friedland was always a terrible experience!

Susan
Susan
9 months ago

The UWS is now home to a bevy of tall, overbearing high rises of luxury condos and rentals. Sacrificed were hundred year old contextual historically rich buildings now replaced with homogeneous, anonymous big boxes for the most part that could be in midtown, or Chelsea or Chicago. Nothing about them is distinctive with the exception of the one Robert Stern building on the corner opposite Zabar’s.

With all this demolition has come the demise of small family owned businesses. So much that made the UWS unique and full of character is gone or will be gone including the actual affordable housing that was demolished along with these architecturally unique contextual buildings. The arguments for more housing which would make the cost of housing go down was a red herring. Now with all these new buildings all the way up to 96th St. on Broadway rents have never been higher. I believe the latest report was that one bedrooms are now going for $4500 a month-so much for the affordable housing moniker.

So thank goodness for the Zabars who have skin in the game and know what was so authentic and identifying and soulful about the UWS. Our human-scaled neighborhoods, our family owned stores which Zabar’s exemplifies, and our history which once demolished will never be recovered.

L. Gerson
L. Gerson
9 months ago
Reply to  Susan

This is so absolutely an accurate summation of what has happened not only on the UWS but all over the city.
Real Estate is the 21st century version of the Gold Rush. Time was when the working class–waitresses, domestic workers, police, teachers –could afford a decent apartment in this city.
Then around the time of Reagan and after we had the plague of Co-Op and Condo conversion, benefiting greedy real estate moguls and lawyers..

The bottom line is better leadership on the municipal, state and federal level. We don’t have it and it seems to be impossible to get those reps who are subsidized by these developers out of office.

Speller
Speller
9 months ago
Reply to  L. Gerson

Interesting, but when this “plague” of coop and condo ownership came into play, residents/owners invested in their neighborhoods. Many areas of the UWS significantly upped their game. A lot of the crime and filth was removed. Crack houses were turned back into lovely brownstones, restored to their former glory. Owners made investments in their streets, community, stores. The one thing I do miss, the local mom and pop inexpensive restaurants. I don’t miss the filth and crime of the 80s but…..sadly a lot if back because the electeds seem intent on social engineering by housing new people in this neighborhood, who were not from this neighborhood, and cannot afford to live here, without giving them the support they need to properly integrate. I don’t need a return of Needle Park to make me feel connected to the UWS roots and would trade that in a second for a charcuterie place.

Oli
Oli
9 months ago
Reply to  Susan

“Small family owned businesses” are closing for many reasons, namely competition from big box stores and online purchases.

There is plenty of empty commercial space throughout the city in both new and old buildings. The problem is there are no takers for this space at any price.

And by “affordable housing” I assume you are referring to rent regulated apartments. Buildings with rent regulated tenants can generally never be torn down. For the rare times these buildings are demolished the developer will likely offer to a huge payout to these RR tenants.

Furthermore, these allegedly “historically rich buildings” you refer to are often rundown and it is not financially viable to rehabilitate them.

Overall, your arguments make little sense.

Susan
Susan
9 months ago
Reply to  Oli

To you maybe my argument makes little sense. Your city and state have mandates to build affordable housing or hadn’t you heard? Affordable housing is on the lips of nearly every elected leader in this city. Many buildings are in fact not run down on the UWS and had thriving businesses within many of which were family owned. And now they’re gone. The size of commercial space in new construction makes it impossible for anything but a major corporate commercial space like Verizon or FedEx. That is by design to collect high rents. Small spaces are non-existent in these new luxury condos. The small store rental doesn’t exist now largely because of the rents which are unaffordable unless you own the building as in the case of Zabar’s. That may not be to your liking but it is based on reality.

Speller
Speller
9 months ago
Reply to  Susan

The small mom and pop business. A wonderful memory, but the reality. Are there enough patrons willing to buy from them to sustain their business, even if their prices are higher? This model worked when they were the only game in town but now we have delivery workers willing to get you a bagel with a shmear from cross town. Does the family have family members willing to work there who they can trust to run the shop or do the kids have no interest. These are many of the challenges and why mom and pops, unless it is their retirement hobby, don’t last.

Gretchen
Gretchen
9 months ago

I remember fondly when H&H Bagels was on that corner. Still miss it.

Prashanth
Prashanth
9 months ago
Reply to  Gretchen

Yep. Absolute Bagels now, is about 85% of what H&H was.

Sam
Sam
9 months ago
Reply to  Gretchen

H&H closed due to significant tax issues/fraud. Not because of landlords or rent issues.
Many others have closed due to landlords/rent, but not H&H (original 80th Street location).

MikeDNyc
MikeDNyc
9 months ago
Reply to  Gretchen

Gretchen: Yup. H & H was a true neighborhood gem. Big loss when it closed.

Kevin
Kevin
9 months ago
Reply to  MikeDNyc

H&H Bagels isn’t gone. It’s at 526 Columbus, just south of 86th. So go get some bagels, stat!

Jerry
Jerry
9 months ago
Reply to  Kevin

Not the same establishment, at all. Not even close.

Steve B
Steve B
9 months ago
Reply to  Kevin

While I do enjoy the H&H on Columbus, it’s an indirect spinoff of the H&H that was on Broadway and quite different. It’s easy enough to look up the somewhat convoluted and interesting history of those businesses.

Prashanth
Prashanth
9 months ago

No more towers on the UWS… say some who in all statistical likelihood based on the preponderance of towers on the UWS, currently live in one.

I <3 Zabars
I <3 Zabars
9 months ago
Reply to  Prashanth

Nope, live in a walkup. Most of the neighborhood is *not* in those buildings and if you’ll actually use your eyes, you’ll see how empty they are at night.

Paul
Paul
9 months ago

There’s another and very simple explanation why people in their 90s don’t want to sell a major asset. It’s called stepped up basis at death.
Delaying a sale of an asset this size past death can save millions in taxes.

Sarah
Sarah
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Just looking at the complaint, I don’t think these buildings are held directly by individuals, but rather by LLCs, so I don’t think that rule is relevant here. But I’m not a tax expert, so could easily be wrong.

Otis
Otis
9 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

LLCs do not pay taxes but their taxable income or loss flows thru to the LLCs partners.

Ultimately someone pays tax on the income an LLC generates.

Google It
Google It
9 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

It works the same for LLCs. Google it.

Sam
Sam
9 months ago

Tear those buildings down and build something new and modern there. It would cost millions just to make them habitable.

Community Matters
Community Matters
9 months ago

When one side of an argument is based on self enrichment (greed) and the other side is foregoing significant financial gain… I tend to side with the non-greedy.

Power to the Zabars!

Dames Jean
Dames Jean
9 months ago

I’m fine with more housing, yes, even if it’s luxury housing, but I’m worried about the neighborhood losing one of its last regular and affordable gyms. The NYSC is the only gym left west of Amsterdam between 90th and the 60s that isn’t the exorbitant JCC and it would be tragic for it to depart. Maybe the new building could offer it space?

Schvitz
Schvitz
9 months ago
Reply to  Dames Jean

Not correct. The JCC. (76/Amst) has a gym and 25m, 5 lane pool, the nicest in Manhattan.

Cato
Cato
9 months ago
Reply to  Dames Jean

Many/most/all (?) new buildings provide their own gyms. It’s a basic “luxury” amenity. Indeed, many existing co-ops are feeling pressure from investment-minded-residents to add gyms were there weren’t any.

So if you’re “fine with more housing, even if it’s luxury housing” — which, let’s face it, is the only kind developers are going to develop — then you had better get used to there being a dwindling market for free-standing gyms like NYSC. You can’t have it both ways.

Marcus
Marcus
9 months ago

The Friedlands are true vampires. Praying on the people of the UWS for decades. Extraordinarily wealthy family who only care about making another dollar. God bless Zabar for trying to keep the high rises out of the area. They own the building and shouldn’t be held hostage by those Friedland vultures.

Pete
Pete
9 months ago

Wow, a Shakespearean tale of dynastic wealth and family principles! Great story. Given the difficulty the Friedmans have had renting out the building on the east side of Broadway, how can they be sure this would be a better investment?

Paul S.
Paul S.
9 months ago

How does this square with the recent residential development above/next to Zabars? I assume Saul and Stanley were okay with that high rise? What is the difference between the buildings?

Daniel Krieger
Daniel Krieger
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul S.

I don’t believe there is a reason to assume that they approved of that development since they did not own the building on the southwest corner of 81st Street. Based on statements they have made, for quite some time they have not wanted luxury high-rises put up in the neighborhood. You have the quote in my article as well as what Saul Zabar told the New York Times in 2002 about the matter:
”We’re not interested in development,” he said. ”The real estate just came along with the store. The neighborhood shouldn’t be overwhelmed by East Side-type buildings. It supported us, it gave to us, and we owe something back.” And for the record, there is one case in which they sold a building that was torn down to make way for a luxury high-rise. It was the Montana, on 88th, in the early 80s, and according to the New York Times, the Montana was the first luxury high-rise that was built above 72nd St. in many years. Of course, we know what came after that!

Last edited 9 months ago by Daniel Krieger
Susan
Susan
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Krieger

Excellent and important article Daniel! Thanks.

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul S.

The Zabars did not own that lot. They own the 1/2 of the block that the store currently inhabits. They would have had no say in what went up on that corner.

Paul
Paul
9 months ago

It’s amazing / crazy / cool that the two photos look exactly the same – all the same buildings are there, same features etc. It looks like the first photo is from the 40/50s.

mkmuws
mkmuws
9 months ago

It seems like there’s plenty of legal basis to show the Friedlands in breach when they were not renting or were scaring away renters. Shouldn’t that be dealt with first?

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago

One big mistake that people are making in the comments is conflating “empty storefront syndrome” with a lack of housing – affordable or otherwise. (To say nothing of how confused many are about what is considered “affordable” housing – a misnomer from its very beginning).

The empty commercial storefronts have nothing to do with development (or lack thereof) of potential residential property. Both are legitimate issues, but please stop conflating them.

As for “affordable housing,” that is determined by a strict financial metric created by HUD/HPD. That metric has always been absurd (e.g., right now there is a new “affordable” housing building for which an income of over $100,000 is required! That is HARDLY “affordable” housing!).

“Affordable housing” also does NOT mean rent-regulated housing; again, two unrelated things are being conflated. Besides, it is nearly impossible to build rent-regulated housing at this point, even if a developer wanted to (and they don’t, for obvious reasons).

“Affordable” housing should be just that: affordable, to the working and middle classes. Given ACTUAL incomes vs. the metric used to define “affordable,” the working and middle classes do NOT have very much available housing at all. It is all condos and co-ops now, and if you are not a millionaire (or close), you cannot afford very much.

In this regard, I would bet that if a developer actually wanted to build a normal-sized rental building, and planned to offer units at prices that the working and middle classes could afford, the Zabars might well provide one or more of their lots. But they know that this is NEVER going to happen, and they do not want expensive high-rise (or even ultra-high-rise) housing on their properties. For example, based on a combination of as-of-right rules, variances, “set-backs” and purchasing of air rights from nearby properties, a developer could potentially build a 60-story building on the old DSW site. Do we REALLY want a 60-story building on the corner of 79th and Broadway? I think not.

Peter
Peter
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Alterman

Ian – It’s not very clear from your comment but I’d think you already know that a family with $100,000 income in Manhattan, and particularly this neighborhood, is distinctly lower-middle class – and most certainly “working” class. It’s the reality of things that such a family likely can’t afford a decent market-rate 2-bdrm here, I’m no big fan of City rules and definitions but even such a family would need help with affordable housing. What you seem to be advocating for is housing affordable to the poorest New Yorkers, something which, indeed, no commercial developer could ever justify building on the UWS. They’ll simply have to live elsewhere; there’s no financial program that can sustain such burden.

Sam
Sam
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Alterman

Actually the entire article is based on the relationship of empty storefronts and development.
The old Verizon store is vacated (hence an empty storefront) because they were threatened with the building being developed by the Friedlander’s (and others were threatened with month-to-month leases because of potential development).
So there is no “conflation” of the two issues. They are directly related.

Sarah
Sarah
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Alterman

“Besides, it is nearly impossible to build rent-regulated housing at this point, even if a developer wanted to (and they don’t, for obvious reasons).”

Hm? Virtually every new rental project going up now has an affordable, rent-regulated component (still not enough to meet city needs, though). Even that schmancy building at 1 W. 60th. Developers apparently consider the tax break well worth it.

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
9 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Again I ask, “affordable” to whom? Rents at 1 West 60th run from $5,000/month for a studio to $14,000/month for a 2-bedroom. And “affordable” and “rent-regulated” are two VERY different things. VERY FEW of the new apartments being built are rent-regulated.

Gale Brewer
Gale Brewer
9 months ago

I wish more owners were as generous to our neighborhood as the Zabars are. May Stanley and Saul live forever; and thank goodness they have great children and grandchildren who have the same philosophy as they do.

Sheila Wolk
Sheila Wolk
9 months ago

looks like (unfortunately) Zabars is being dupped by Friedland Group…in the old days WORD was bond but not anymore! Pity that both didnt finalize their hand shake into written form , AKA: contract

WE DONT NEED ANOTHER HIGHRISE!!! for what purpose????.pay construction companies to build another empty building cause the landlords ask for TOO MUCH MONEY per month to occupy??
….You can walk along upper west side from 70’s to 90 street and see soo many empty stores..i am on 87 street and on Columbus aveneu , its starting to look like a ghost town because of greedy landlords!!

I am so aggrivated to even think that Zabars has to fight to stay,,,they should be respected in the building that is so beautiyfully built in the tradition of the 1800’s

Cathrine Steck
Cathrine Steck
9 months ago

Stanly Zabar, I couldn’t agree more. Enough with the superfluous new high rises!! I know there will be many of us on the UWS who appreciate the principled stand that you and your brother Saul are taking!!!

Dav*P
Dav*P
9 months ago

Right On, Zabar’s Brothers! I’m tired of big buildings tearing apart the fabric and texture of our beautiful neighborhood. It’s why people want to live here. “Entitled” families living in luxury apartment buildings stress the infrastructure and don’t contribute to diversity and multicultural flavor of this special place. None of the new towers are affordable housing for “regular” people just adds price pressure for local market rate apartments. My daughter went to PS 87 – such a wonderful multicultural environment – she grew up “color blind”. Say goodbye to that beautiful multiculturalism with more luxury behemoths!

Susan
Susan
9 months ago
Reply to  Dav*P

These new buildings are really in many cases not affordable for most people who live in this neighborhood or most neighborhoods-that means many who are upper middle class too. The lowest price I have found in sales is $1.5 mil for a one bedroom where the views are not terrific and usually rear facing. Imagine that! The new building across the street from Zabar’s which is attributed to the Friedland group advertised rentals starting at around $15,000. I see what appear to be many vacancies. That was a beautiful old building like the one next to it which PC Richards is moving into on the south east corner.
How comfortable can we feel living in a city which has no interest in the wants or needs of its tax-paying residents? It’s the residents who hold this place together. And the Zabar’s of the world too.

B.B.
B.B.
9 months ago
Reply to  Susan

You think people paying $24k per month in rent aren’t paying their fair share of taxes? Do they not have “wants” and “needs” that should be taken into account?

These apartments are mostly all large family sized units (2-3 bedrooms with equal number of baths). That and other bits are factors reflected in rent.

https://streeteasy.com/building/222-w80/16a

Susan
Susan
9 months ago
Reply to  B.B.

There is no lack of luxury housing now in this city for those who can afford to pay $24,000 per month for an apartment. Almost all new housing is geared to people like them to have their wants and needs. And you cannot have any idea what taxes they are paying. They could be living under a foreign owned LLC. There are many ways very high earners avoid paying taxes so I would not be so sure of the benefit to the city or state.

Daniel Krieger
Daniel Krieger
9 months ago
Reply to  Susan

222 W. 80th, the Friedland building, currently has 5 apartments listed as available of 72 total, ranging from $11,500 per month to $25,400. My understanding is that the difficulty has been with the retail rentals, while the apartments have rented well in the five years the building has been online. If anyone knows the history of the rental of apartments in the building, please share.
https://222w80.com/availability/

Last edited 9 months ago by Daniel Krieger
Susan
Susan
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Krieger

Then the rents must have been reduced as they had hung a banner across the front of the building when they started renting which said rents starting at $14,500 or $15,000. That was quite unforgettable at the time! So the rents are ONLY $11,500-$25,400??
Thanks for the clarification on the occupancy. That’s not the appearance from the outside which I often look out on.

Anthony
Anthony
9 months ago

This answers the mystery of why so many prime retail locations remain vacant, sometimes for years. it’s not that they are waiting for a tenant willing to pay more (tho surely some of the vacancies are that, they want the whole block to be empty.

Sheila
Sheila
9 months ago

Along these same lines, does anyone know what is going on with the low rise Ancott apartment building on the northeast corner of Broadway and 96th? The Bicycle store is closing and moving and reportedly the whole building is going to be torn down. Anyone have any info on this?

Stuart Blumin
Stuart Blumin
9 months ago

Good for the Zabars! As long as they are around the Republic of Zabar (UWS) is in good hands. I will continue to work out at NYSC–and then go shopping at Zabar’s.

Prashanth
Prashanth
9 months ago