The fate of two landmarked tenements on the Upper East Side hangs in the air, as the Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a hearing tomorrow to decide whether to raze or keep them, Crain’s reported. The dispute surrounding these buildings, known as the City and Suburban First Avenue Estates, pits developers against preservationists, and dates back to the 1980s.
Stahl Real Estate, the owner of the properties, is seeking a hardship application that would allow it to tear down the buildings, claiming it can’t earn the threshold 6 percent return. Over half of the 190 units are vacant from previous demolition and redevelopment attempts. Now, Stahl says a property restoration doesn’t make sense given the restrictions of rent-controlled apartments.
Stahl has brought on analysts from Cushman & Wakefield, among other groups, whose findings side with the landlord’s claims.
“The one common element in all these scenarios is that in none of them do we come close to achieving the 6 percent return which is the statutory definition of hardship,” a Stahl spokesperson told Crain’s.
But preservationists have enlisted their own studies, which conclude the developer underestimated the value of the apartments. The units were set at $600 per month, according to a 2009 report, but this year were increased to just over $1,200 monthly.
The reason preservationists aim to keep the properties standing is that they are remaining examples of privately funded social housing that emerged years before housing received public funds. [Crain’s] —Zachary Kussin