This month in real estate history

A look back at some of New York City's biggest real estate stories

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, formerly a state assembly member
Congressman Jerrold Nadler, formerly a state assembly member

1983: Retail rent-control proposed in Albany

Responding to sharply rising rents squeezing shop owners, two members of the state legislature proposed a law to limit the increases landlords could impose on their retail tenants 30 years ago this month.

Republican Senator Frank Padavan, from Queens, and Democratic assembly member Jerrold Nadler, from Manhattan, introduced the bipartisan measure, known as the Small Business Preservation Act.

The law was similar to the powerful legislation that regulates how much landlords can increase rents on residential tenants in certain apartments.

Proponents argued that landlords were doubling or, in some cases, tripling rents and that small businesses could not afford the new costs.

The bill, which was introduced as the country was moving out of the recession in the early 1980s, would have only applied to rents at stores with 100 or fewer employees.

The Real Estate Board of New York, the industry’s main lobbying group, opposed the measure. The group’s president at the time, Richard Rosen, called the idea an “absurdity” that would be ‘’absolutely disastrous and impossible to administer.’’

REBNY won the day, and the bill was never voted into law.


Governor Herbert Lehman

1933: Lawmakers pass Depression-era foreclosure moratorium

Legislators in Albany approved a bill 80 years ago this month that blocked lenders from foreclosing on homes — even if the owner stopped paying down the principal.

The new law gave residential homeowners an increased chance of holding on to their properties as the economy was crumbling during the Depression.

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However, the law, which was signed by Governor Herbert Lehman, was no panacea.

It only protected homeowners who had fallen behind on paying down principal, but were current in their interest, insurance and taxes. For those who could not make those payments, the threat of foreclosure remained.

The law took effect in July 1933 and had to be renewed annually. It was renewed each year (except in 1941, when it was renewed for two years) until 1949, when it was finally allowed to expire.

But it didn’t stand without a challenge. In 1945, opponents argued their case before the U.S. Supreme Court, but the nation’s highest court backed two lower courts that upheld it.

When it finally did expire, the nation was in the early stages of the postwar boom, and few homeowners remained under threat of foreclosure.


The infamous Haymarket circa early 1900s

1911: Notorious Haymarket building sold 

The infamous Haymarket dance hall building, a hub of prostitution on Manhattan’s West Side, was sold 102 years ago this month.

The sale of the Haymarket, which was located in the seedy Tenderloin neighborhood, further dimmed the lights on the city’s onetime red-light district. (The Tenderloin stretched from 23rd Street to about 42nd Street for roughly four decades until the early 1910s.)

Investors purchased the three-story structure at 66 West 30th Street, at Sixth Avenue, along with other nearby properties. Their intent was to construct a larger commercial building, but those plans never materialized.

The building first gained notoriety after William McMahon opened it as a dance hall in 1872. A year later it was renamed the Haymarket and began to thrive among the beer halls and theaters of the Tenderloin.

McMahon retired in 1890, and after a short stint as a museum, the building was reopened by operator Edward Corey, once again, as the Haymarket. But the dance hall constantly struggled with the police, who were clamping down on the racy activity in the district. Ultimately, the city rejected the renewal of the establishment’s license, the New York Times reported at the time. The building was torn down several years later. Today, a one-story building owned by Pater Realty sits on the site.