The site has been at the center of a land-use dispute dating back years between Singer, who bought the property in 1998 for $3.15 million, and multiple city officials, according to Crain’s.
The school housed the headquarters for the nonprofit CHARAS when Singer purchased it, but he sent them an eviction notice within one year. He said that former Councilmember Margarita Lopez threatened to reject funding to other nonprofits Singer tried to rent the space to, so he attempted to turn it into a 27-story dorm instead, which East Village residents said was just a flimsy front for building a youth hostel.
The project never got off the ground, and Singer sued the city over it before ultimately losing the battle in 2008 before the state’s highest court.
Things briefly started looking up in 2015, when Cooper Union and the Joffrey Ballet Center signed leases to rent floors for their students at the site and Singer received permits to convert the building to a dorm. However, the city then rescinded these permits after Lopez’s successor Council member Rosie Mendez complained that the language in the leases was too vague.
The scenario occurred again this year when Singer signed a lease with Adelphi University, and he has also faced accusations that he is letting the building fall into disrepair on purpose so he can demolish it even though it is landmarked.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a town hall meeting in October that the city would like to reacquire the building, but Singer maintains he is not interested in selling. So for now, it seems the most likely outcome at 605 East 9th Street is that nothing will continue to happen. [Crain’s] – Eddie Small