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View Full Version : The Windermere - 400-406 West 57th Street at Ninth Avenue - by Theophilus G. Smith



Edward
January 23rd, 2002, 01:26 PM
From New York Times

January 20, 2002
Ninth Avenue Noir
By ELIAS WOLFBERG

LOOKING today at the Windermere, the massive eight-story apartment building at the southwest corner of Ninth Avenue and 57th Street, it is hard to imagine that for its first few years it was a grande dame of New York apartment life.

But there are ample clues that the structure at 400-406 West 57th Street was once an architectural jewel. Built in 1881, it is the second-oldest large apartment house in the borough. Only the Manhattan on 86th Street and Second Avenue, dating from 1880, is older. The Windermere's imposing patterned arrowhead cornice still proudly faces north. Intricate brickwork and three- story bow-front windows are telltale signs that its builders relished the architectural eclecticism of the 1880's. In its prime, many of the Windermere's occupants could be found nestled in the pages of Phillips' Elite Directory, the bible of upper-class New Yorkers and their prestigious addresses.

Today, plywood and sheet metal fill nearly every one of the building's 169 street-side windows, making the Windermere look like a beat-up jack-o'-lantern. The custom-made brick facade, once the color of burning coal, is mostly a dirty, weathered red. A strange urban wrap of scaffolding and a 15-foot wooden fence barricade most of the base from the street.

Inside, most of the several dozen sprawling seven- to nine-room apartments have been chopped into dreary single-room-occupancy units. The only remaining tenants are half a dozen middle-aged men, only one of whom regularly pays rent directly to the landlord.

Early last summer, the Toa Construction Company of Tokyo, the Windermere's owner, quietly put the building up for sale; although Toa's New York lawyer declined to comment on any matter related to the building, the reported asking price was $35 million. But while the building sits on a prime piece of Manhattan real estate, and Clinton, the surrounding neighborhood, has experienced rapid gentrification and skyrocketing property values, the Windermere sits like a forgotten castle on a hill, its future uncertain.

There are formidable obstacles to redevelopment. The building's legacy includes a series of lawsuits; harassment of tenants dating to the early 1980's; and a rent strike that has been going on for nearly two decades and continues to this day. Complicated issues of zoning and financing further cloud its prospects. Most tenants were driven away in the 1980's by disrepair and harassment intended to empty the building, but the few who remain are reluctant to leave.

A new owner willing to invest the $45 million to $55 million needed to buy and renovate the Windermere may emerge. But at the moment the building remains unsold, an unsung architectural heirloom shrouded in disarray while fashionable shops and restaurants and high-priced co-ops housing young professionals sprout up around it.

"The neighborhood is more than up and coming," said Arpad Baksa, a Manhattan architect who specializes in renovating old buildings and who has seen the Windermere's interior. "It came. The fact that this building is in the state it's in is absurd. But it is a problem building."

Bonanza on the West Side

The Windermere was the inspiration of three young men with little experience in real estate who were almost certainly trying to strike it rich as land speculators.

In 1879, a 24-year-old clerk, William E. Stewart, who still lived with his parents, went into business with his 37-year-old boss, a lawyer named Nathaniel McBride, and a 25-year-old builder, William F. Burroughs. They bought the 100-foot-by-125-foot site for $39,000. Unlike the developers of the Dakota or the Osborne, the work of famous architects whose reputations endure today, they hired an obscure architect named Theophilus G. Smith. The result of the collaboration was the apex of their professional lives.

West Side real estate in the late 19th century was a little like the Internet in the late 20th: a nearly empty frontier that speculators saw as an untapped pot of gold.

Two years, a catchy name (perhaps inspired by Lake Windermere in England) and $350,000 later, a modern structure that towered over nearly every other building in the neighborhood opened its doors.

Each of the 39 apartments offered five or six bedrooms. They were outfitted with engraved marble fireplaces, mirrored parlor walls, carved hazelwood moldings and glossy parquet floors. Dumbwaiters brought food from a basement kitchen up to tenants who didn't care to cook. Other amenities included liveried servants, hydraulic elevators and telephone service, a technological marvel given that the city's first telephone exchange had started operating only two years before. Tenants paid $600 to $1,100 a year, when the annual middle-class income in the city was about $2,500.

The New York Times and The Real Estate Record, the city's leading architectural trade publication, hailed the building as "important" and "notable," and a subsequent front-page article in The Times waxed eloquent on a tiki hut with sweeping views of Manhattan that a building manager had erected atop the roof.

The Windermere housed a few famous tenants, among them Henry Sterling Goodale, a blue-blooded dilettante with two daughters who wrote a popular book of poetry that earned them a reputation as the American Brontës.

But the building was quickly eclipsed by taller and grander newcomers like the Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street (1883), the Dakota on West 72nd Street (http://www.wirednewyork.com/dakota.htm) (1884), the Central Park Apartments (1885) and the Osborne on West 57th Street (1885), which siphoned off the Windermere's clientele.

The building struggled to survive by becoming a home to bohemian (a k a unmarried working) women, but it soon sank into decline. By the late 1960's, when the neighborhood around it had become known as Hell's Kitchen, its mix of large apartments and single-room-occupancy units had a population including hippies, drug users and prostitutes.

The Young McQueen and Kotto

Around this time, a young actor named Steve McQueen abandoned his room at the Windermere instead of paying the rent he owed. He was succeeded by another struggling actor named Yaphet Kotto. Mr. Kotto ultimately left too, but not long afterward found himself on the doorstep of his old digs.

"In about 1970, I'm filming `Across 110th Street' all over New York City with Anthony Quinn," said Mr. Kotto, who went on to star in the television series "Homicide." "And I park my Winnebago on the sidewalk, and I think, `God, this place looks familiar,' and I'm parked in front of the building."

He continued: "I'm in my trailer one night on my dinner break, and I hear this knock, bam-bam-bam, on the door, and it's my old landlord saying, `McQueen owes me money.' So I paid him two or three hundred bucks for me and McQueen."

One of the happiest days of his life, Mr. Kotto said, was when he left the Windermere because he could afford a new apartment.

The Windermere's darkest days began in 1980, the year Alan B. Weissman, then the owner, began trying to empty the apartment house of its tenants. This was not unusual at that time. Like many other buildings on the West Side, the Windermere was home almost exclusively to low-income renters. Emptying such buildings to be able to replace them with modern, more lucrative structures was not uncommon.

But by many accounts, few buildings surpassed the Windermere in terms of tenant harassment. All the major New York newspapers covered the trials that sent the Windermere's managers to jail. According to former tenants and court papers, rooms were ransacked, doors were ripped out, prostitutes were moved in and tenants received death threats in the campaign to empty the building.

"How often do building managers go to jail?" asked Joe Restuccia, executive director of the Clinton Housing Development Company, a neighborhood group. "They never go to jail. This was so extraordinary."

The overall case ended up changing the state's housing law, making tenant harassment a criminal offense. Although Mr. Weissman was never linked to the harassment, he and his wife, Vivien, made top billing in the 1985 edition of The Village Voice's annual list, "The Dirty Dozen: New York's Worst Landlords."

Cappy Haskin, 55, who moved into the building in 1970, vividly remembers that time. A small woman with gold-rimmed glasses and hair tucked into a bun, she habitually scowls. But as she sat on a wooden bench in a community garden in Clinton, tears streamed down her cheeks when she described how she had been forced by a court order to leave her apartment in 1983. A decade later, she settled with Toa for an undisclosed amount of money. In late 1999, after fighting landlords for nearly two decades, she finally retrieved belongings she had stored in Harlem for 17 years.

"My stuff sat in storage for all these years because in some ways I never moved out of the Windermere," said Ms. Haskin, who lives nearby and does odd jobs in the neighborhood. "I'd like to see it not torn down for personal reasons but also for the neighborhood. Because it would mean in my mind that whatever I did, and all that has gone on there, wasn't in vain."

Mr. Weissman, who sold the building to Toa in 1986, still laments that the property has never been developed.

"Look at the taxes the city has missed," he said in a recent telephone interview from his office in Port Chester, N.Y., where he is a real estate developer. "There should have been a building up. That's hundreds of thousands of dollars a year that the city is missing. It's absolutely ludicrous."

Holdouts in a Desolate Place

Today, two of the Windermere's three wings are sealed off, and inches of pigeon excrement blanket the floors of many of the abandoned rooms. An eerie greenish light illuminates the hallways. Although the original fireplaces remain, their hearths have been painted over and their marble ornamentation is gone, giving them the look of faces with their features lopped off.

Nearly all the parquet floors are warped and covered by linoleum. Water has damaged most of the walls. Gaping holes in the ceilings of the occupied apartments reveal the overhead beams. Rattling around in the immense shell, which contains 165 single- room-occupancy units and roughly eight apartments, are the half-dozen final holdouts — a seventh died at the end of December — who stubbornly remain.

One survivor, Paul Charlton, 57, has lived in the Windermere since 1976. A gray-haired man who works as a doorman at a nearby building, he has an S.R.O. in a top-floor apartment, in quarters overflowing with packed cardboard boxes, piles of old magazines, a fishing rod still in its plastic case, and shelves filled with everything from a small African mask to a toaster oven.

Another tenant rents an S.R.O. in the same apartment, but the two don't get along. The neighbor put up a flimsy cardboard barrier in the middle of the central corridor with two signs, one that reads "No Trasspassing" and another that says "Beware of Dog," although the neighbor's dog died some time ago.

In the 1980's, Mr. Charlton remembers smelling marijuana in the elevator and seeing prostitutes and their clients entering and leaving the building. "I never would have moved in here in the first place," he said, "if I knew what was going to happen."

He remains, he says, because he is close to his job and because of the low rent; he is supposed to pay $120 a month to a private escrow account. But whether the goal of the owner is higher rents is debatable.

"The owners are not really after the tenants' rents," said Fred Cohrt, an organizer at the Housing Conservation Coordinators, a tenants' rights group in Clinton. "The landlord has always wanted for the tenants to just disappear."

While other, grander buildings in New York have been torn down, the Windermere survives because part of it is in the Special Clinton District, a zoning district that protects buildings in the area. The Windermere could be demolished only if the Buildings Department determines it was about to collapse. If it came down, the zoning mandates that any new structure could be only a small fraction of the present building's size.

"If you tear it down and build a new structure, you can only build about half of what's there," Mr. Baksa said. "Economically, I don't see how that would make sense."

Since 1988, tenants and neighborhood groups have tried to get the Landmarks Preservation Commission to protect the building by designating it as a landmark.

"If it were cleaned up, it would look pretty interesting," said Richard A. Plunz, a professor of architecture at Columbia University and author of "A History of Housing in New York City" (Columbia University Press, 1990). "The upper middle class basically reinvented itself around this type of high-rise luxury building."

But the owner has vigorously opposed the designation, which would severely restrict opportunities for altering the structure, and the application is in limbo.

Even if a new owner could be found, he or she would face additional hurdles. Settling with the current tenants could cost several million dollars. Gutting and rebuilding the interior could add $10 million to $20 million. The asking price, $35 million, is considered high in today's market.

Even so, people familiar with the Windermere say it is a tempting, if tarnished, jewel.

Pamela Liebman, chief executive officer of the Corcoran Group and a leading expert on residential real estate in the city, said a refurbished Windermere could offer one- bedroom apartments renting for $2,400 or selling for $400,000, or two-bedroom units renting for $3,400 or selling for $495,000. The roughly 1,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space along Ninth Avenue could generate additional revenue.

Redevelopment projects elsewhere in the city have shown that renovating an old building can be profitable. The Manhattan, the city's oldest large apartment house, was in such bad shape that in 1988 The New York Times reported that it seemed destined for demolition. The present owners bought it for $8 million in 1998 and invested $5 million more. Today apartments rent for as much as $8,500 a month.

The Location Is a Plus

The Windermere's location is also a plus. Ninth Avenue and 57th Street is again a hot spot. The ultra-chic Hudson Hotel is just across the street. One-bedroom apartments in the ordinary-looking building just to the west of the Windermere rent for $2,500 a month and sell for more than $300,000.

So, 121 years later, the well-heeled world the Windermere first catered to has returned to Hell's Kitchen. Though the building looks much the same from the outside — if a lot more weathered — the Windermere's legacy of neglect continues to haunt it. And despite its venerable past, the building's future is still in doubt.

"The Windermere is not in bad shape, considering how bad it looks when you walk inside," Mr. Baksa said. "This building is a pariah and it got this way because of pure greed. What it needs is for someone to say, `I have a vision.' "

redbrick
January 27th, 2002, 08:24 PM
I hope this building gets restored? Any pictures?

Edward
January 27th, 2002, 09:27 PM
Here the pictures of the Windermere

http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/windermere/windermere_detail.jpg

http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/windermere/windermere_w57th.jpg

redbrick
January 27th, 2002, 09:34 PM
thanks

Forrest
October 30th, 2002, 01:46 PM
Do you have any contact information for the owners of the Windermere?

NoyokA
October 30th, 2002, 03:54 PM
wow, 9th Avenue and 57th Street. Id like to see it razed and replaced with a tall building.

NYC kid
October 30th, 2002, 07:56 PM
yea, me too. Its not all that great. A tall skyscraper looks like it would fit well there.

JD
October 30th, 2002, 09:41 PM
Only in NYC can you have totally unfathomable real estate situations such as this one. *Let's see...an extremely valuable piece of real estate sits in total disrepair. *Aside from the pigeons and some down-and-out guys, who thinks this makes any sense? *

No one's going to come along and spend the big $$ to rehab this handsome structure. *Time to bring in the wrecking ball. *

JerzDevl2000
November 1st, 2002, 02:40 AM
This building screams "New York" all over it! I love the way it looks and am very surprised that zoning wouldn't allow a bigger structure on the site if this was ever torn down.

I was just in this area a few weeks ago. It's changing a lot - the studio on 9th and 55th was torn down the Alvin Ailey dance school that's currently being built, AOL Time Warner Center is rapidly overshadowing the east view, and *gasp* 9th Ave has McDonald's and Starbucks now! Hells Kitchen, no more....

chris
November 6th, 2002, 02:58 AM
Bulldoze this eyesore.

Take a cue from the new Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation at the corner of 9th and 53(?)

http://www.exploredance.com/pressphotos/aa-gb-2-lores.jpeg

Or see:
http://www.alvinailey.org/newhome.asp

Now if they can just get someone to develop the location of the old associated food mart that closed down up there then there would be no more corners left in the neighborhood for the pimps and drug dealers to hang out.

ASchwarz
November 6th, 2002, 11:57 PM
The Associated space will be developed. It was purchased by a developer in early 2002. A timeline for construction was not given. He plans a residential/retail building at the site, which could require additional zoning. He was looking for a retailer to temporarily fill the space on a short term lease. I read it in GlobeSt.

chris
November 7th, 2002, 02:45 AM
I'm curious about the developer. If you know anything more let me know. I'll look into the Globe story and see if I can track it down.

NYC kid
November 7th, 2002, 01:32 PM
Ooh, I like that design! I hope it gets built!

Rich Battista
November 8th, 2002, 06:42 PM
lol, tell them to build another neat looking appartment building on the west side, they are popping up everywhere over there now, i love them, i hope 9th avenue turns into another "highrise canyon" like 3rd avenue.

chris
November 9th, 2002, 12:25 AM
First they will take 8th Ave. & 11th Ave, then work in from the outsides.

chris
November 9th, 2002, 12:29 AM
> ...another neat looking appartment building on the west side, they are popping up everywhere...

Oh please, all they've been building is cr*p, the cr*ppy buildings are begging to block my view of the great ones. An other wise bland brick highrise went up that now blocks my view of the old McGraw-Hill building and next another blank brick wall went up that blocks most of my view of the Morgan Stanley building. Some of the commercial development over here has been great, but the residential construction has been just that, NOT architecture, just construction.

NoyokA
November 9th, 2002, 11:30 AM
lol, tell them to build another neat looking appartment building on the west side, they are popping up everywhere over there now, i love them, i hope 9th avenue turns into another "highrise canyon" like 3rd avenue.

I hope you are wrong.

chris
November 10th, 2002, 02:22 AM
Stern,

You hope Rich is wrong about 9th turning in to another canyon?

I really think that's decades away.

8th Avenue will happen, and Hell's Kitchen will get boxed in from the west side by development along the river front. This is also what the zoning encourages (whether intended or not).

NoyokA
November 10th, 2002, 04:12 PM
8th Avenue will one day become a canyon, atleast I hope so. But not in the same way as Third Avenue, where development ruled in an all out effort to build and fill the guidelines with least expenditures, corporate holding containers, and slab housing. Since 8th Avenue has become "hot" this hasnt yet happened, but it still might. NYTIMES, Hearst, Westin, and Milstein take into account. The same cant be said for the Biltmore and the Regent both botched efforts by the same developer, Im sure he got in when things were bad and is in for the returns, a quick exit.

Rich Battista
November 11th, 2002, 12:19 PM
i guess that one is true, i dunno, i think they should go through with RiverPlace II first, then change the bloody zoning laws that would help to encourage even more growth. I happen to like the fact that people are getting smart!!! Build appartment buildings on the low lying west side and cash in on the views.

Edbain
July 14th, 2005, 01:11 AM
Odd little ghost tale about the Windermere on 57th Street at http://www.darkartsmedia.com/Windermere.html

lofter1
July 14th, 2005, 01:27 AM
Odd little ghost tale about the Windermere on 57th Street at http://www.darkartsmedia.com/Windermere.html

Thanks for that great link.

The UFO cam there is hilarious.

ablarc
July 14th, 2005, 12:09 PM
Pretty nice building. Why does everyone here want it razed? Sandblast it and redo the inside, and you've got another yuppie heaven.

sfenn1117
July 14th, 2005, 12:49 PM
A while back eyewitness news did a story about this building. I don't remember much of the details, but they interviewed some of the squatters living inside. It really looks awful inside, the people who live there always have problems because who is going to fix it for them? They've even been threatened to move out, I remember one guy saying people kept trying to raid his apartment. Really strange.

But it would be great if they rehabbed it, it's a great building. Better than another Biltmore or Marc.

londonlawyer
July 14th, 2005, 01:00 PM
I agree. It would bite the big one if this building is demolished. NYC real estate development can really suck at times. This is a beautiful building that could be restored. There are many horrible sites that cry for demolition and redevelopment, so why not build there? Another example is the alleged razing of the YMCA on Lex. It's a nice building! Moreover, Lex -- in that immediate vicinity -- is littered with dilapidated two story buildings that should be redeveloped.

londonlawyer
July 14th, 2005, 01:01 PM
8th Avenue will one day become a canyon, atleast I hope so. But not in the same way as Third Avenue, where development ruled in an all out effort to build and fill the guidelines with least expenditures, corporate holding containers, and slab housing. Since 8th Avenue has become "hot" this hasnt yet happened, but it still might. NYTIMES, Hearst, Westin, and Milstein take into account. The same cant be said for the Biltmore and the Regent both botched efforts by the same developer, Im sure he got in when things were bad and is in for the returns, a quick exit.

I hope that 8th is redeveloped because -- but for limited pockets -- it's really run down and disgusting.

Fabrizio
July 14th, 2005, 01:12 PM
This is the kind of building that a creative developer could market so well, "old world charm" and all the rest. The roof could easily take a few penthouses. All that beautiful old red brick work can not be equalled today. We know what most new residential buildings look like ....this could be something special.

londonlawyer
July 14th, 2005, 02:12 PM
... exactly! If this building is razed, a crappy yellow brick box designed by that wanker Costas Condylis (or some other goon) will rise in its place.

lofter1
July 14th, 2005, 08:51 PM
... exactly! If this building is razed, a crappy yellow brick box designed by that wanker Costas Condylis (or some other goon) will rise in its place.

Please, NO!! Not that!!!

Peakrate212
February 27th, 2006, 04:49 PM
Any news on the Windermere? Will anything ever happen here?

NoyokA
February 27th, 2006, 05:15 PM
Any news on the Windermere? Will anything ever happen here?

No news for now. I don't think anything will happen here for a long time as any replacement will have to be smaller than the current structure.

londonlawyer
February 27th, 2006, 08:17 PM
It would really bit the big one if this building is demolished. This can be refurbished easily and would be beautiful.

With all of the raping and pillaging that's occurring these days, I've concluded that NY really hasn't learned jack since Penn Station was murdered. It really sucks.

ablarc
February 27th, 2006, 08:58 PM
^ I think things might be getting worse with this new Landmarks Commission. They think like art historians instead of urbanists.

czsz
February 27th, 2006, 11:24 PM
If they were art historians, they might have at least tried to save 2 Columbus Circle.

I don't see the fuss over this building. It's squat and sits on what could be a prime parcel. I would love to see its brooding, overbearing ornamentation replaced with something light, ethereal, and iconically vertical.

antinimby
February 27th, 2006, 11:53 PM
OMG. I can't believe there are boarded-up empty buildings on 57th St. one block from Central Park! And it's been like this since when...!?

http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/windermere/windermere_detail.jpg

http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/windermere/windermere_w57th.jpg

NativeForestHiller
February 28th, 2006, 01:02 AM
The Windmere on 9th Ave & W 57th St was designated an official NYC landmark as of June 28, 2005. Perhaps some of you don't appreciate its architectural & historical significance to NYC? You can access the designation report, which is as follows:

www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/windermere.pdf (http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/windermere.pdf)

With a facade cleaning and full restoration of architectural elements, this 57th St gem will bear its true, original presence. Talk has been escalating, and I hope it will happen sometime soon. I will keep everyone infomed in regard to any updates.

Fabrizio
February 28th, 2006, 02:50 AM
"I would love to see its brooding, overbearing ornamentation replaced ...."

"Brooding and overbearing" is just fine, thank you. Could also describe the Dakota.... the Osborne...

This is a major building. There is so much culture in the brick work here... study that close-up... it´s a crazy quilt of decoration... a work of art. Of course people don´t have the eyes to see it, or understand it.

This could become an extra cool condo. Something about it reminds me of the Hotel Chelsea.

Yeah, while were at it, let´s tear down that one too.

czsz
February 28th, 2006, 03:21 AM
It's not merely a matter of ornamentation per se. The Dakota doesn't have such a hefty cornice. I have some indescribably visceral distaste for such gargantuan overhangs.

Undoubtedly pieces of the building are fascinating or even elegant by themselves, but as a whole it's quite lamentably Brobdingnagian, and would likely remain so even with a facelift.

Anyway even if one does find it salvageable there are far worthier buildings and streetscapes deserving landmark status...

Peakrate212
March 27th, 2006, 04:32 PM
well the years roll on and still nothing happens at this site - There are still 5 tenants in there and the owner is still in Japan - he is now in his 80s, and the tenants are elderly now too. Owner is crazy and now its a race to see who dies first, the tenants or the owner.

Here would be a practical use of Eminent Domain - The City should condemn the property and sell it to a developer who:

1. restores the facade (there is nothing to save in the interior)

2. allows the existing tenants to return to newly built units at the site and very affordable rents.

3. developer must be allowed to make money - so the new units should be market rate (minus the ones for the existing tenants) and the sale price must reflect the existing square footage and perhaps a penthouse or a few floors to be built on top - not a price for a tower that will NOT be allowed to be built at the site.

4. Not that foreigner shouldnt own U.S. property, but here is a clear case of a non US citizen abusing our laws. I walk past this building 4 times a day. He sits in Japan. The government should force him to restore or sell - simple as that.

I have wanted to get Councilwoman Brewer (who reps area) to back this idea. No such luck.

Any suggestions on what to do?

MidtownGuy
March 27th, 2006, 08:25 PM
This thread is new to me but I was reading back thorugh the posts and some of the negative comments about this building are incomprehensible to me.
It is a beautiful building, all it needs is renovation and it will make that corner much more exciting and interesting than any banal glass box or postmodern piece of poo.
What philistines, those of you who urge demolition! You should have a mental examination.

londonlawyer
March 27th, 2006, 08:55 PM
I agree. This building is awesome and should be preserved.

vc10
March 28th, 2006, 05:19 PM
For what it's worth, I also agree. This could be (and should be) one of the finest buildings in NYC, and it's an immense shame that it sits there in that condition.

Peakrate212
March 29th, 2006, 12:18 PM
Any suggestions on what can be done?

KitchenRes
April 22nd, 2006, 03:27 PM
Count me in with the people who would like to see this building restored. I'm strangely fascinated by it and its history. I live in the neighborhood and pass by it on my run all the time.

The past few times I've gone by it, I really started thinking about how long it's been boarded up, whether anyone was still living there, what's happening with it. So I Googled 57th and 9th and found this place.

Thanks so much for the history of the building. It answered alot of questions for me. I would hate to see this building torn down for another glass tower, or a *yawn* ordinary apartment building. I've lived in this neighborhood for 30 years, and I've seen alot of changes. I'm not fond of gentrification when it starts driving out long-time residents and changing the appearance of a neighborhood so much that you start seeing Starbucks and Duane Reades on every other block. Bah.

Edbain
June 7th, 2006, 12:22 AM
Still not sure what will happen to the great old building but meanwhile the "deceased guests on the The Ghost Hours haunt the Windermere." Hosted by the ghost of Franklin Love and his vent figure Eddie Garland with dead guests like Harry Houdini. http://GhostHours.com

WiredManhattan
June 24th, 2006, 11:36 AM
It is mind boggling to me how anyone can support the government designating private property like this a landmark. If the government feels compelled to landmark a building due to architectural or cultural significance that is privately owned, the government should be forced to take control of the property through eminent domain which would require fair market value compensation to be given to the owner. Or the government would need to work out a deal with the owner for a landmark/facade easement. While I know some argue that we need to preserve certain buildings, we have a right in this country to private property. [Even worse, designating this building a landmark because of some “fancy” and ornate brickwork, the building is “old”, it was a women’s house or the fact that some rich New Yorkers used to live there is nonsense; the whole City might as well be landmarked.] The fact that the government can impose a designation like this is crazy. The fact that people support the government’s control on designating landmarks on private property is even crazier. The government, NYC in this case, should be forced to compensate this Japanese owner if it wants to landmark this privately owned building; even if the owner is a scumbag.

I’m willing to bet people who support this control on private property are against other government controls like phone tapping, random searches and trolling bank data. I suggest reading up on the Bill of Rights. [I know most case law does not support this position but that doesn’t make it right {i.e., the supreme court once ruled that Dred Scott, a slave, could not file a suit in federal court because he was not a person but private property}]

For years, this residential building has sat empty except for a couple holdouts who live in a rat infested, should be condemned building because they pay no or minimal rent. [I know the tenant harassment part of the story is way out of line and the proper punishments should be handed down for that; I’m arguing for a policy change not just for this building.] In addition, the neighbors to this building have been hurt economically due to this eyesore. Think how ludicrous it is for six people to be able to stop development for what could be a couple hundred apartments. Obviously, New York City’s politicians and community board members who support the development controls like landmarks and rent stabilization/tenant rights [even with no lease] failed economics when supply and demand was being discussed. NYC is responsible for its own housing shortage; nobody else. So for now, get your millions of dollars out to own an apartment in Manhattan [and now Brooklyn]. Eventually, some City Planning and political leadership will come along with some backbone to zone this City correctly but for now, the housing shortage continues.

If I was the owner of this building, I would do the exact same thing for designating my private property a landmark without compensation [not that it’s the ethical thing to do]. I would let father time takes it toll; eventually the Dept. of Buildings will demolish it for me for being unsafe. If that happens; everyone looses.

Welcome to New York City real estate. Expect PS 64 to look like this building soon.

ManhattanKnight
June 24th, 2006, 12:09 PM
Yes, it is indeed deplorable how landmarking has depressed property values in that neighborhood.

http://www.theplazaresidences.com/
http://www.nyc-architecture.com/MID/MID124.htm

ZippyTheChimp
June 24th, 2006, 12:30 PM
I’m willing to bet people who support this control on private property are against other government controls like phone tapping,How much?

I support phone-tapping when it is done according to the law - cause shown in the application of a court warrant. The landmarking is not done in secret.


For years, this residential building has sat empty except for a couple holdouts who live in a rat infested, should be condemned building because they pay no or minimal rent.Did the building sit empty because it was landmarked?


If I was the owner of this building, I would do the exact same thing for designating my private property a landmark without compensation [not that it’s the ethical thing to do]. I would let father time takes it toll; eventually the Dept. of Buildings will demolish it for me for being unsafe. If that happens; everyone looses.
Historic landmarking requires the property owner to maintain the building, or the LPC can make the repairs and bill the owner. There is a better chance now that the property will be sold and developed.

alibrot
June 24th, 2006, 12:35 PM
Yes, it is indeed deplorable how landmarking has depressed property values in that neighborhood.

http://www.theplazaresidences.com/

i have no idea what the plaza has to do with all this landmarking. landmarking is used to prevent development, plain and simple. the threshold is way too low to landmark a building.

and yes, the city is to blame for the housing shortage. tribeca leads the charge...in addition to complaining about blocking views and light, recently it's been blocking air! an extra 50 fee on a building blocks air. lovely.

end story - landmark nice areas, it prevents development and increases prices. landmark a crappy area, and you depress building prices since development cant make it nice.

ZippyTheChimp
June 24th, 2006, 12:57 PM
end story - landmark nice areas, it prevents development and increases prices. landmark a crappy area, and you depress building prices since development cant make it nice. Brooklyn Heights was landmarked in 1965, Greenwich Village in 1969. Neither were nice at the time.

Tribeca was landmarked in 1991. It was also not nice at the time. The development that was supposed to make it nice was Independence Plaza.

lofter1
June 24th, 2006, 01:15 PM
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/06/20060623-10.html


For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 23, 2006


Executive Order: Protecting the Property Rights of the American People


By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to strengthen the rights of the American people against the taking of their private property, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.

Sec. 2. Implementation. (a) The Attorney General shall:

(i) issue instructions to the heads of departments and agencies to implement the policy set forth in section 1 of this order; and

(ii) monitor takings by departments and agencies for compliance with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.

(b) Heads of departments and agencies shall, to the extent permitted by law:

(i) comply with instructions issued under subsection (a)(i); and

(ii) provide to the Attorney General such information as the Attorney General determines necessary to carry out subsection (a)(ii).

Sec. 3. Specific Exclusions. Nothing in this order shall be construed to prohibit a taking of private property by the Federal Government, that otherwise complies with applicable law, for the purpose of:

(a) public ownership or exclusive use of the property by the public, such as for a public medical facility, roadway, park, forest, governmental office building, or military reservation;

(b) projects designated for public, common carrier, public transportation, or public utility use, including those for which a fee is assessed, that serve the general public and are subject to regulation by a governmental entity;

c) conveying the property to a nongovernmental entity, such as a telecommunications or transportation common carrier, that makes the property available for use by the general public as of right;

(d) preventing or mitigating a harmful use of land that constitutes a threat to public health, safety, or the environment;

(e) acquiring abandoned property;

(f) quieting title to real property;

(g) acquiring ownership or use by a public utility;

(h) facilitating the disposal or exchange of Federal property; or

(i) meeting military, law enforcement, public safety, public transportation, or public health emergencies.

Sec. 4. General Provisions. (a) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) authority granted by law to a department or agency or the head thereof; or

(ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(c) This order shall be implemented in a manner consistent with Executive Order 12630 of March 15, 1988.

(d) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity against the United States, its departments, agencies, entities, officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
June 23, 2006.

ablarc
June 24th, 2006, 03:03 PM
^ A decisive victory over an army of straw men.

Hollow posturing. Makes not a bit of difference in reality.

WiredManhattan
June 24th, 2006, 07:24 PM
Here is an example of Landmarks hard at work to put the money into historic buildings that property owners won't:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lvlewitinn/sets/72057594052380823/

Get your cameras out because eventually the Windermere will have the same fate.

WiredManhattan
June 24th, 2006, 07:47 PM
Your point about the Plaza and the Hearst Building are not true comparables.

(1) The Plaza is on Fifth Avenue and Central Park South - not really a comp for 57th Street and Ninth Avenue

(2) The Hearst Magazine tower went through a painful zoning process which included working with Landmarks to get the tower approved. It’s also on Eighth Avenue which is a little different than Ninth. The Hearst Empire had to basically threaten to leave the City if the entitlements were not granted. Plus it’s also an office building, not an apartment building.

Go ask the property owner directly to the south of the Windermere if his retail rents are impacted from this eyesore. Walk down 57th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenue and see all the glory of this residential block. But when you do so, try to avoid the bums pissing on the Windermere, the boarded up retail stores and sidewalk shed that makes it an attractive sleeping area.

infoshare
June 24th, 2006, 08:24 PM
I have always wondered (noticed it about 10 years ago) about this building. Each time I saw it i would assume it was undergoing renovation: then after leaving the area - out of site, out of mind. Thanks for the great thread folks; the mystery has been solved.:)

p.s.... that "ghost story (http://GhostHours.com)" link was great. :eek: :eek: :eek:

Fabrizio
June 24th, 2006, 08:49 PM
Alibrot: "landmarking is used to prevent development, plain and simple".

No Alibrot...you´re wrong. Landmarking CREATES development and increases value. There are countless examples of this all over NYC and the US.

Will you please point out a neighborhood in NYC that has depressed real estate prices because of landmarking?

Tribeca? Soho? the Village? The Upper East Side historic district?

Where?

ablarc
June 24th, 2006, 09:03 PM
landmark a crappy area, and you depress building prices since development cant make it nice.
Where has this been done?

WiredManhattan
June 25th, 2006, 02:18 PM
We can argue all day long whether landmarking a building deflates its value. There are examples of both but I'm sure the owner of PS 64 and the Windermere would argue that is does impact their value negatively.

Even simple minded individuals can understand that the $1,400,000,000 purchase price of the GM Building is more than the $675,000,000 purchase price of the Plaza Hotel. [Even with the construction costs for the SF difference between the two buildings.]

The real issue here is the right to private property in this country. I feel real sorry for you if you believe the government has an absolute right to alter or landmark private property without fair compensation. If you do, I hear a knock at the door and it's the Chinese government. They want to sell you a building.

ZippyTheChimp
June 25th, 2006, 02:29 PM
^
So you think nothing should be landmarked?

The Woolworth building, ESB, Chrysler?

Fabrizio
June 25th, 2006, 02:41 PM
^after answering that one:

"We can argue all day long whether landmarking a building deflates its value. There are examples of both..."

Name them.

The truth is the Windermere will go up in value as a landmarked building (as always happens).....as will it´s immediate neighbors for being next to one.


http://therealestate.observer.com/2006/03/historic-districts-and-residential-property-values.html

ablarc
June 25th, 2006, 03:40 PM
I live in a historic district, and my house has appreciated greatly in value. That said, I think it would likely be worth just as much if my neighborhood had not been designated, because the architecture is first rate and now fixed up, and that's independent of whether there's a designation. You could say both higher values and designation are outcomes of the fine architecture, and they coincide in time; but the designation per se is not the cause of the higher values; in fact, values in my 'hood were already skyrocketing at time of designation.

Incidentally, you wouldn't believe how many hoops I have to jump through to make a small improvement in my house. It's definitely a disincentive for me.

I'm enthusiastically in favor of preservation and historic designation, but I don't think the designation itself increases a property's value, nor does it decrease the value; there are much better arguments for doing it than its effect on property values. Preservation should be done for cultural reasons; it's a record of the best of who we were.

.

americasroof
June 25th, 2006, 05:00 PM
The initial message which started this thread in 2002 notes it would cost $45 to $55 million to purchase and renovate the building -- that's petty cash by today's standards.
http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=4231&postcount=1

The National Register designation only occured in 2005.

According to the article, the building's problems were caused by the scummiest of tactics by the private owners who were attempting to empty it (which in turn resulted in a host of court orders regarding it).

It should also be noted that the building is in the "Special Clinton District" which were created in the late 1960s when Madison Square Garden at 50th and 8th Avenue was torn down. City plans called for massive construction throughout Hell's Kitchen however neighborhood residents got the special zoning to maintain the neighborhood's low rise character. One of the rules was that no new building was be greater than 6 stories.

Areas along Eighth Avenue are extempted from the district (that's why there's a boom there now) as was 42nd Street. The other big projects in the neighborhood now are over the Amtrak tracks on 11th Avenue.

Fabrizio
June 25th, 2006, 05:07 PM
I remember the Windemere as a run-down wreck of a flop house way back in the 1970´s. It´s current condition has NOTHING to do it´s recent landmarking.

finnman69
June 28th, 2006, 04:09 PM
Here the pictures of the Windermere

http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/windermere/windermere_detail.jpg

http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/windermere/windermere_w57th.jpg


Here's one that should be saved and restored. Very NYC.

londonlawyer
June 28th, 2006, 04:44 PM
I remember the Windemere as a run-down wreck of a flop house way back in the 1970´s. It´s current condition has NOTHING to do it´s recent landmarking.

I have been away a lot lately and may have missed very good news about this building. Was it landmarked? I really hope so. It would have been a shame to see this razed.

antinimby
June 28th, 2006, 04:55 PM
Yes, someone more knowledgable several pages back confirmed that it was landmarked.
Go on, go back several pages, you'll like it - I promise.

Peakrate212
June 28th, 2006, 06:05 PM
How much?

I support phone-tapping when it is done according to the law - cause shown in the application of a court warrant. The landmarking is not done in secret.

Did the building sit empty because it was landmarked?


Historic landmarking requires the property owner to maintain the building, or the LPC can make the repairs and bill the owner. There is a better chance now that the property will be sold and developed.

As I have said before, the owner is an 85 year old crazy man who lives in Japan. This building has sat empty because he is a stubborn old goat. I live next door and have had to live with this great building deteriorating before our eyes. He has gotten great offers to sell but he refuses them all. He is not an american citizen. Here is perfect example for the use of eminent domain.

MrSpice
June 28th, 2006, 06:31 PM
Yes, someone more knowledgable several pages back confirmed that it was landmarked.
Go on, go back several pages, you'll like it - I promise.

You guys have to put on really good glasses on (or contact lenses - whichever you prefer). This building looks like an old factory somewhere in Ohio. Can this be un-landmarked so we can build a tall glass tower in place of this? Where is the "tall glass tower" lobby when you need one? :)

ablarc
June 28th, 2006, 07:19 PM
This building looks like an old factory somewhere in Ohio.
Maybe so, in this condition. But cleaned up it would be another thing entirely.

MidtownGuy
June 29th, 2006, 01:01 AM
Can you really not see the beauty in this building Mr. Spice? It's magnificent. I bet you would like this if it was cleaned up, with beautiful night lighting to set off the details at the top. The wonderful brickwork would be so nice if restored. Look at it not for what it is now, but for what it can become, and you will see a pearl.

Another glass tower? There's plenty of room for those, but why would you want to destroy a piece of history? Buildings aren't made like that anymore. We have a city with buildings like this(it's current condition aside) AND we have new glass towers. Let's keep it that way.

WiredManhattan
July 10th, 2006, 10:53 PM
"Wonderful Brickwork" and "Piece of History"... you got to be joking. People have lost their minds... we might as well landmark the entire city if that is the criteria for the Landmarks Dept.

No wonder the USA’s most innovative and brazen projects are taking place in Chicago and Miami. (i.e., Fordham Spire and Empire World Towers)

A site that could accommodate 300 to 400 apartments is now left with an empty building and maybe 50 units on a renovation someday (i.e., construction and acquisition costs indicate a breakeven of about $2,500,000 per unit)

Peakrate212
July 10th, 2006, 11:00 PM
:mad: wired Manhattan, you couldnt be more wrong.

sorry, but true

BrooklynRider
July 10th, 2006, 11:02 PM
I suspect he'll change his tune when he gets the sight back in his good eye.

ablarc
July 11th, 2006, 12:51 AM
Now and then a building's exterior is fixed up independently of its inside. That's happening currently at the Farley Post Office. Could the city clean up the outside of this building and send the owner a bill for the work? Is he maintaining a public nuisance?

stache
July 11th, 2006, 03:30 AM
Because of the age of our city it's time to start concentrating on saving what we have left of historical buildings, like Philadelphia has. The old will continue to draw people here just for the variety. Other cities will eventually become filled in with many towers but if we don't act soon, we won't have any distinguishing feaures left.

ZippyTheChimp
July 11th, 2006, 08:46 AM
http://hdc.org/boundariescase.htm

NYC Independent Budget Office report on property value in historic districts.
http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/pubs/IBO_HistoricDistricts03.pdf

WiredManhattan
July 13th, 2006, 01:02 AM
:mad: wired Manhattan, you couldnt be more wrong.

sorry, but true

I have spelled out my case in several posts and I get no information and no evidence in responses back like this. At last one person has linked the NYC report on property values. There is something we can debate but otherwise nobody answered why it is acceptable for the government to landmark private property without fair compensation.

Also, someone else posted that I am a "He". No evidence of that either.

WiredManhattan
July 13th, 2006, 01:10 AM
http://hdc.org/boundariescase.htm

NYC Independent Budget Office report on property value in historic districts.
http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/pubs/IBO_HistoricDistricts03.pdf


Downside to this report is that it does not address loss of value attributable to unused development rights. While property values of landmarked existing and encumbered property increase [so-so argument because just about every property in NYC appreciates over time], there is nothing that points out the property value of the in place zoning compared to the property value of a landmark under built site.

Nice attempt at justifying landmarking buildings, but ultimately it goes back to the right of private property in America. I just can't support anything that does not guarantee a right to private property. It's un-American.

WiredManhattan
July 13th, 2006, 01:15 AM
I suspect he'll change his tune when he gets the sight back in his good eye.


What a dumb response. There is a reason you are living in Brooklyn instead of Manhattan.

I dare you to post something intelligent.

ZippyTheChimp
July 13th, 2006, 07:39 AM
Downside to this report is that it does not address loss of value attributable to unused development rights.If you think that a city (any city) should just be continually built out to its maximum development potential, then you don't understand what makes one city unique from others.

You never answered my other question:

So you think nothing should be landmarked?

The Woolworth building, ESB, Chrysler?
Don't bother.

If you're going to stand on a soapbox and preach to us about property rights in America, then it has to apply equally to all. So if the owner of the Windemere can sell his property to maximize value, so can the owner of the ESB. You can economically justify tearing it down and replacing it with class-A office space.

Is this your vision for what a city should be?


What a dumb response. There is a reason you are living in Brooklyn instead of Manhattan.
Yes, what a dumb response.

ZippyTheChimp
July 13th, 2006, 10:06 AM
No wonder the USA’s most innovative and brazen projects are taking place in Chicago and Miami. (i.e., Fordham Spire and Empire World Towers)There are protected landmarks and historic districts in Chicago.

http://www.ci.chi.il.us/Landmarks/Maps/Maps.html

WiredManhattan
July 13th, 2006, 07:06 PM
If you think that a city (any city) should just be continually built out to its maximum development potential, then you don't understand what makes one city unique from others.

Is this your vision for what a city should be?

It's not your choice to decide. Private land owners get to decide what they want on their private property.



If you're going to stand on a soapbox and preach to us about property rights in America, then it has to apply equally to all. So if the owner of the Windemere can sell his property to maximize value, so can the owner of the ESB. You can economically justify tearing it down and replacing it with class-A office space.

Technically, yes. If the government, city, etc. feels that something should be protected, it needs to BUY it or BUY an easement. If a private property owner wants to tear something down or build something, that is their right. That is what private property is all about. If you feel that the ESB should be protected, you can buy it. I'm sure Peter Malkin will sell it to you for the right price.

WiredManhattan
July 13th, 2006, 07:12 PM
There are protected landmarks and historic districts in Chicago.

http://www.ci.chi.il.us/Landmarks/Maps/Maps.html

Even so, it does not make it right. NYC's Landmarks Dept is out of control. Events like trying to landmark a rope factory and equivalent is just crazy. If anyone at NYC's Landmarks Dept. has an IQ over 100, I would be very surprised.

ablarc
July 13th, 2006, 07:18 PM
If anyone at NYC's Landmarks Dept. has an IQ over 100, I would be very surprised.
They've got problems, but lack of IQ's not one of them.

Ed007Toronto
July 13th, 2006, 10:35 PM
If a private property owner wants to tear something down or build something, that is their right.

So does that mean I can buy the property next to your home and build a garbage dump or oil refinery if I like? Its my land and so I can do whatever I want?

TimmyG
July 13th, 2006, 10:51 PM
That's a bit of a straw man argument.

pianoman11686
July 13th, 2006, 11:08 PM
Not really. What WiredManhattan is basicallly saying is that there should be no regulation on what one does with one's property. That means no landmarking, no zoning, and certainly no restrictions such as developable air rights or FAR. It's quite a shortsighted view, one that would wreak havoc on the continuity of many neighborhoods and streetscapes. It creates a free-for-all for anyone with enough money to do what they please. It's what allows a casino to be built in place of the Plaza hotel, or the Jets stadium on the West Side, all without any approval process or input from the community.

Private property is a tough issue, but because nothing is truly "private," especially in a city like New York, there have to be some regulations. Here's an example: Dr. Nicholas Bartha blew up his townhouse on the upper East Side a few days ago. He owned it fair and square, but that did not give him the right to do it (for obvious reasons). Now, whatever is built on that site will, because it's in a historic district, be restricted to the size and style of its demolished predecessor. I'm sure someone would love to put up a 50 story condo on the block, but it's not going to happen, and I agree with why it shouldn't.

But it's not just big cities. The town I live in has explicit restrictions on commercial development such as retail and gas stations. It's part of the goal to keep the area quiet, clean, and green. It's a goal that a lot of residents happen to agree with, and it's a big reason for why the area has seen property values rise dramatically in the past few years.

There's a reason we're not allowed to walk around nude in public, or shout "fire" in a movie theater. There's also a reason why any development isn't automatically permitted. Some examples might seem silly; for the most part, it's justified because we don't all live independently of each other. We live in a thing called society. What we do affects a lot of people around us.

ZippyTheChimp
July 13th, 2006, 11:26 PM
That's a bit of a straw man argument.
It's not, because the position taken is that real property rights are inviolate.

That's a myth.

In reality, if you remove landmark designation, many laws still exist that control property rights, and they exist virtually everywhere in the US.

See what happens if you try to exercise your right to deny renting your property to people of a particular ethnic group.

ablarc
July 13th, 2006, 11:31 PM
^ Well said, pianoman.

TimmyG
July 14th, 2006, 12:45 AM
I guess you're right. I just didn't think he would actually support the right to open a dump next to his home.

WiredManhattan
July 14th, 2006, 07:32 PM
I guess you're right. I just didn't think he would actually support the right to open a dump next to his home.

You guys are missing the point [plus I never responded to the question about the dump]. Obviously, there has to be rules of some sort just like you must pay taxes to the country you live in. For private property, the rules should be simple. You can build what you want as long as it does not cause harm to others. A dump or oil refinery could potentially harm people if it was placed in a residential area. If you truly wanted to build the dump, you would have to buy the area, not just a plot of land.

My point is that you should have a right to private property and the government should not be in the business of "taste". If you like the brickwork on some building and want it preserved, buy it. If you think you like something because someone famous used to live there and you want it preserved, buy it. It's just not fair for the government to encumber someone's property because a couple of knuckleheads getting paid $50K per year or so at Landmarks like it [i.e., the Federal Government landmarks very, very little; only the truly worthy {White House} and they usually own it {Vanderbilt Mansion}].

As to the earlier, point, yes you should have the right to tear down an office building to build a different office building. You own it. The government has a right to buy it on the open market. [In the case of the ESB, I defiantly wouldn’t want to see it go; I love the building but I do not own it so I do not get a vote.]

PS from Earlier Post - It would not be economical to replace the ESB; (1) you are building the same use and to justify the economic benefit between a class A and Class B/C office building which would require something crazy like 300 stories, (2) chances are you could not find a NYC user for a 300 story building and (3) the plot of land that the ESB sits on might or might not be big enough to build a 300 story building (engineering of it would be interesting; anything over a 1000 ft or so gets very tricky structurally due to the sway).]

lofter1
July 15th, 2006, 12:10 AM
Moscow (http://www.maps-moscow.com/index.php?chapter_id=209&data_id=118&do=view_single) -- where unbridled capitalism and the demolition of glorious buildings in the name of "propgress", "property rights" and pure greed seems to run rampant -- might be to your liking.

Citizens there are fighting to save Russia's architectural heritage before it is completely wiped from the landscape ...

OPEN LETTER TO THE MOSCOW COMMUNITY AND THE RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES

13.04.2004http://www.maps-moscow.com/images/emp.gif

To: President of the Russian Federation (RF) RF Government RF State Duma RF Ministry of Culture Moscow Municipal Government Cultural Committee Govt. of Moscow Moscow State Committee for Architecture and Urban Planning Russian Union of Architects

Based on the position of the RF Constitution guaranteeing the right of citizens “access to cultural treasures” and their obligation to “concern themselves with the preservation of historic and cultural patrimony and to care for historical and cultural monuments” (Article 44), we turn to the authorities of all stations with the request to take immediate steps to rescue the architectural legacy of our country, and first of all, Moscow – a great city of globally historic significance.

In the last decade irreparable harm has been done to the historical appearance of the Russian capital. Several buildings, all of them architectural monuments, have been lost forever. The intense development of Moscow has been accompanied by gross, unpunished violations of the Russian Law on Objects of Cultural Significance. This process has now reached the point of an avalanche.

The center of Moscow, including the immediate vicinity around the Kremlin, a monument of global significance – and protected by UNESCO, has been subjected to catastrophic deformation. In the whirlwind of the construction boom invaluable examples of 17th – 19th century Russian architecture, the basis of historic Moscow, have vanished. During the chaotic clean-up of the city center hundreds of buildings have perished to be replaced by “replicas” and new structures which destroy the integrity of the city. In violation of norms and methods of scientific restoration, international charters and conventions on the historic preservation as adopted in civilized nations, “reconstruction” and “restoration” in Moscow as a rule have been replaced by the total destruction of historic buildings and their replacements with false clones devoid of artistic and historical authenticity.

On the backdrop of major investments in new construction outstanding examples of Moscow classicism and neoclassicism (the works of Bazhenov, Zholtovski and many others) are close to extinction. As a result of numerous fires under peculiar circumstances many historic monuments have perished, including the unique Manezh building, a jewel of European architecture. Several buildings from the Soviet avant-garde of the 1920’s, recognized as a major contribution of Russia to the development of 20th century architecture, are living their final days. All of the works of Melnikov have been disfigured and the demolition of one of his masterpieces, the factory club “Kauchuk”, has already been planned. The degradation of Moscow’s world-famous subway stations from the 1930 – 50’s is already happening. Due to unresolved engineering and technical issues, the renowned Mayakovski station is gravely deteriorating. Add to that the totally unjustified demolition of emblematic Moscow buildings such as “Voentorg”, the Hotel Moscow, as well as the threatened demolition of “Detski Mir” and the Hotel Peking.

Today in Moscow entire urban design ensembles are being torn apart; the broad, holistic shape of the city, a form that developed over centuries, is being destroyed. The historic Ostozhenka region has vanished and the face of Moscow’s embankments – Sofiiskaya, Kadashevskaya and Sadovnicheskaya has been utterly disfigured, while the Arbat, Polyanka and other historic regions have been radically altered.

Commercial gain and the reworking of property cannot justify the wholesale destruction of our own cultural history and national identity. The building policies being practiced today in their very essence are criminal, antisocial and antistate and deprive future generations of Russia their historic legacy.

The destruction of Moscow’s architectural past exerts a destructive influence on other Russian cities which have also rapidly lost their historic countenance. The total destruction of the material testimony to Russian greatness is under way.

A cultural calamity has begun, to which neither the state nor society should resign themselves. All branches of government must realize an urgent and effective program to rescue and preserve the monuments of our national architecture throughout Russia. The loss inflicted to our national culture in Moscow and our country, should not go unpunished. Russian laws, and above all, the Law on Objects of Cultural Legacy should be enforced with due stringency and thoroughness. The preservation of our cultural heritage should be the foundation of the national rebirth of Russia. The realities of today emphatically demand that policies in the area of architecture and urban design acquire the status of being a federal priority.

pianoman11686
July 15th, 2006, 02:28 AM
You guys are missing the point [plus I never responded to the question about the dump].

I think you're missing the point. This debate has come to revolve around one main argument:


If you're going to stand on a soapbox and preach to us about property rights in America, then it has to apply equally to all. So if the owner of the Windemere can sell his property to maximize value, so can the owner of the ESB.

To which you responded:


Private land owners get to decide what they want on their private property.[...]If a private property owner wants to tear something down or build something, that is their right.

You go from defending an absolute position on property rights (above) to this:


Obviously, there has to be rules of some sort just like you must pay taxes to the country you live in. For private property, the rules should be simple. You can build what you want as long as it does not cause harm to others. A dump or oil refinery could potentially harm people if it was placed in a residential area. If you truly wanted to build the dump, you would have to buy the area, not just a plot of land.

Which is in agreement with what I said earlier:


There's a reason we're not allowed to walk around nude in public, or shout "fire" in a movie theater. There's also a reason why any development isn't automatically permitted. Some examples might seem silly; for the most part, it's justified because we don't all live independently of each other. We live in a thing called society. What we do affects a lot of people around us.

Since you acknowledge that development should be restricted so as not to harm other people, you're also acknowledging that what people build on their private propery isn't entirely private. It doesn't only affect them, but everyone around them as well. To make up for this, you start going down a slippery slope by saying that you need to insulate people from potentially harmful development by buying an entire area. But political/legal boundaries don't restrict the harms that occur within them. Pollution is a prime example. If you build a dump, or a refinery, or let's say, any kind of industrial complex near a residential area, you run the risk of contaminating the air people breathe, the water they drink, and the soil they may eat from. Maybe the latter won't be an issue in urban New York, but it will be an issue in rural Illinois, where developers want to build huge new coal processing plants to harvest fuel. You can still say it's their right to build, and in that case, they're definitely not building within a residential area, but there are still real impacts on people living nearby. Thus, acquiring more land is not an end-all solution.

Furthermore, how do you define what lies under the definition of a harm? I may have given a rather extreme example to illustrate a point, but the fact is, people feel they are harmed by seemingly innocuous residential development all the time. There are issues like traffic, noise during construction, added pressure on municipal services, and even something as benign as blockage of natural light. They come up when new developments are being reviewed by the community; this shouldn't occur, if by your logic, every private property owner followed the "simple" rule of not building in the immediate area, and not harming the neighbors.


My point is that you should have a right to private property and the government should not be in the business of "taste". If you like the brickwork on some building and want it preserved, buy it. If you think you like something because someone famous used to live there and you want it preserved, buy it. It's just not fair for the government to encumber someone's property because a couple of knuckleheads getting paid $50K per year or so at Landmarks like it [i.e., the Federal Government landmarks very, very little; only the truly worthy {White House} and they usually own it {Vanderbilt Mansion}].

Well, I've already shown how your previous point about harm to the neighbors and general area proves that there has to be some regulation of private property, and that the lines aren't always clearly drawn. But let's move on. You keep bringing up this idea that buildings should only be preserved if someone has the money to preserve them. But this is rather discriminatory against the vast majority of the public. Let's say a greedy developer comes along and wants to destroy a landmark-worthy building in New York (I'll get into more specific examples later on). Not one of the philantropists in the city wants to spend his/her money to preserve the building, so now it will face the wrecking ball and be replaced by another bland condo. But what if there was a large group of New Yorkers (especially those living very near to the possible landmark) who used the building, and truly admired it? Do they not have the right to have it remain as part of the city? Apparently in your view, they don't.

By the way, the Secretary of the Interior (the branch of the Federal gov't responsible for landmarking historic buildings) has landmarked nearly 2500 buildings since 1960. More than half of them are privately owned (including the Vanderbilt Mansion (Biltmore Estate) in Asheville, NC.) Others, such as the Hearst Castle in California, were donated to the government to be administered by the National Parks Service, and later landmarked. Here's a brief article from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Historic_Landmark) that summarizes why national historic landmarks are created:

"A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a building, district, site, structure, or object, almost always within the United States, officially recognized for its historical significance. Landmarks are designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they are:

Sites where events of national historical significance occurred;
Places where prominent Americans lived or worked;
Icons of ideals that shaped the nation;
Outstanding examples of design or construction;
Places characterizing a way of life; or
Archeological sites able to yield information."

The reality is that there are many "truly worthy" landmarks, but there are also hundreds of others that you've probably never even heard of. And, they're not usually owned by the government. Moving on...


As to the earlier, point, yes you should have the right to tear down an office building to build a different office building. You own it. The government has a right to buy it on the open market. [In the case of the ESB, I defiantly wouldn’t want to see it go; I love the building but I do not own it so I do not get a vote.]

I've already addressed why it's not ethical for other residents (who don't have the means to spend vast amounts of money for the sake of preservation) to not have a say in a situation like this. Clearly, you'd be disappointed if the ESB was demolished. Why is that? It's just an office building, right? Apparently, you have some sort of connection to it, but that probably still pales in comparison to the connections that other people may have to different landmarks.

In New York State alone, 252 National Historic Landmarks have been designated - the most out of any state, and almost one-tenth of all landmarks in the country. Looking at the list, I see a vast majority of these are concentrated in New York City. Some of them we recognize: ESB, Carnegie Hall, the NYPL, and Woolworth. There are many others, though, like the Eldridge Street Synagogue. Built in 1887, and designated a landmark in 1996, it was an important gathering place in one of New York's formative neighborhoods - the Jewish Lower East Side. Prior to landmark designation, it languished in disrepair for nearly 50 years, and is now undergoing a $10 million renovation. I'm sure many people whose parents and grandparents used this as a place of gathering and worship would have been devastated if it was demolished, just because it was old and crumbling. But our Federal Gov't saw that it was worth preserving.

An old church (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Ascension) built in 1841 provides yet another example: "In 1957, the Municipal Art Society and the New York chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians named the Church of the Ascension as nationally important and worthy of preservation because of its architectural value, sculpture, stained glass, and painting. In 1988, the church was declared a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior."

But let's move away from buildings of worship. Surely you know of the tenement building at 97 Orchard Street, also landmarked by the Secretary of the Interior, or the Merchants House Museum, which is a preserved red-brick row house, built in 1832, on East 4th Street. No Presidents, and certainly no one famous, lived here. But it has all these landmark designations:

1936 - Documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.
1965 - Designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission as one of the first 20 New York City landmarks.
1965 - Designated as a National Historic Landmark.
1981 - Designated as a New York City interior landmark.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I will give one final example to illustrate the importance of landmarking, as well as its extension beyond the immediate area of a building's location. As you probably know, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission was formed in 1965 following the destruction of Penn Station. The outrage among New Yorkers was so great that an actual Landmarks Preservation Law was enacted, thus ushering in the first wave of landmark designations.

I could use Penn Station here to conclude my argument, but I can't speak as sincerely about it, having never stepped foot in the original. Perhaps you had the opportunity, and feel at least a little remorse because you can't see it again; or maybe you've seen pictures and heard how magnificent it was, and nonetheless wish it hadn't been destroyed.

I prefer to bring up Grand Central Station. In 1968, the Penn Station Railroad planned to demolish it and replace it with an office tower. Outrage ensued, including the famous activism of Ms. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis:

"Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future? Americans care about their past, but for short term gain they ignore it and tear down everything that matters. Maybe… this is the time to take a stand, to reverse the tide, so that we won't all end up in a uniform world of steel and glass boxes."

The City of New York, under pressure from the LPC, filed a lawsuit against the railroad, which culminated in 1978 with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of preserving the station - the first such ruling ever on historic preservation.

Now, given all that you've said on how important private property rights are, do you agree with this decision to prevent the legal owners of Grand Central from demolishing it? If so, that's great. If not, do you at least understand why the city fought for it, and why so many people wanted to see it preserved? Do you also agree with this: if structures like some of the ones I mentioned earlier were worthy of being awarded National Historic Landmark status, then isn't an historic structure like the Windermere is also deserving of landmark status, if not by the federal gov't, then at least by the city? Perhaps your architectural taste precludes you from having any real appreciation for the Windermere (just as mine led me to believe that 2 Columbus Circle wasn't worthy of landmark status). But can you at least acknowledge that there are buildings out there, like the ESB, GCT, City Hall, and the American Stock Exchange, that are important enough historically, and architecturally, to never be demolished? Can you realize that in a city like New York, with so many historic and masterful buildings, there should be an agency like the LPC to ensure that not everything from the city's past is lost? Are these "knuckleheads" really only protecting what they like, and not also what would be in the benefit of the city to preserve? Finally, is it so unreasonable to back down from your strict stance on private property?

I hope the answer to at least one of those questions is "yes", otherwise this entire post was written in vain.

bluebell
July 27th, 2006, 03:48 PM
It so happens I lived in this building for almost 20 years. I lived through the horrors and threats from 2 landlords and testified in the criminal trial against Weissman for beating up a fellow tenant. Contrary to some of your beliefs, we were a rather mixed bag of people. I lived on the top floor with a roof garden, fireplace and fabulous16 ft high skylights. I rented the apt as a student at the Art Students League. I also raised a daughter there. We fought as tenants constantly for improvements. Some of us fought for and some against the landmark status. Actually, those of us who lived there didn't really want the landmark status, but a group of former tenants pushed hard for it and won eventually.

Yes, it was at times fairly abyssmal living there, but what a great space I had and on the corner of 57 and 9th, no less. I had hoped it would go co-op in the early 80s, but instead we had many years of court fights on our hands. Meanwhile, I grew tomatoes and raspberies on the roof and entertained with barbeques in the summer. Maybe we were a bit less "normal" than all the latest influx of money-hungry, money-making, non-eccentric folks moving to NYC, but we were no better or worse than other people who struggle daily to make it in NYC.

It's really a potentially great building and the current landlord TOA construction of Japan bought it in about 1986 promising to renovate. Well, that was 20 years ago!! They really are just waitng for everyone to die in hopes that they can knock it down. Meanwhile, they have made it an eyesore by putting that scaffolding in front. We had fought for several years to remove it and it was removed for about 5 years, but it's back. It's there so the neighbors get disgusted and demand something be done about that awful building. It's a tactic, you see.

Anyway, it was my home for a good portion of my life, and awful as it may appear, it still has a soft place in my heart.

Peakrate212
July 28th, 2006, 08:26 PM
[quote=bluebell]It so happens I lived in this building for almost 20 years.

Bluebell - Where are you now?

why did you move out? story

krulltime
December 22nd, 2006, 11:57 AM
HOBO'S SWEET DEAL
$104 APT. HE WON'T USE


By DAREH GREGORIAN and MARK BULLIET
December 22, 2006

Vagrant Michael Tsitsires might not be home for Christmas - but at least he'll have one.

An appeals court yesterday denied a landlord's bid to boot the homeless-by-choice man from his $104-a-month apartment on West 57th Street because it's not his "primary residence."

Tsitsires, who's in his 50s, is mentally ill and spends most of his time outdoors in a 10-block "safe zone" around the area of his dilapidated apartment building at 400 W. 57th St., usually sleeping in Central Park, the Appellate Term ruling says.

The landlord, TOA Construction, said that means his "primary residence" is the streets - and he should clear out of his studio in the former Windemere building.

Civil Court Judge Gerald Lebovits agreed, and gave them the OK to give Tsitsires the bum's rush. "This court is not condemning [Tsitsires] to a life of homelessness," he ruled last year. "Whether by choice or circumstance, [he] is already homeless."

The Appellate Term reversed that decision, saying they refused to find a tenant "maintains his primary residence on a park bench."

The panel noted that Tsitsires, who gets Supplemental Security Income disability payments, had lived in the building for 35 years and keeps his "his clothing and personal belongings in the apartment and received mail there."

The 2-1 decision also found his "homeless" lifestyle is the product of deep, longstanding emotional difficulties, fueled by a panic disorder and substance abuse problems. He is so far gone, his testimony had to be taken at a hotel within his "safe zone."

The dissenting judge, William McCooe, said Tsitsires caused his own problems and should get the boot from the nearly vacant, boarded-up eight-story building.

"He maintained a homeless lifestyle likely caused, one psychiatrist explained, by substance abuse. Another psychiatrist stated that he is claustrophobic and hates his apartment" - and both said he won't take his medication, the judge wrote.

Tsitsires' lawyer, Trisha Lawson, said she was "thrilled" by the majority decision, and called her client "a nice, gentle man."

Tsitsires could not be reached. Neighbor Lascelle Wright said their building - a former SRO - isn't the nicest, but "at least I have heat and hot water."


Copyright 2006 NYP Holdings, Inc.

londonlawyer
December 22nd, 2006, 12:05 PM
Only in NY. That's absurd!

(However, if the owner plans to raze this beautiful building, then I'm rooting for the homeless guy.)

antinimby
December 22nd, 2006, 08:42 PM
For the last time, the building is LANDMARKED.

There is no demolitioning in it's future, ever.

What we have is a ridiculous situation where an entire dilapidated building is left to sit there as an eyesore, when it can be fixed up and have more people living in it.

TMM
December 31st, 2006, 03:38 PM
I recently visited NYC and stayed in a hotel near this historic building. It is such an interesting and potentially beautiful building, that I wondered about its history and future. Thanks for this website and the information it contains. Have there been any further developments on possibilities for its restoration, or (Horrors) demolition? I read with interest all the posts about private property rights, etc., and while interesting, they cast no light on what has, or may happen to this lovely old building that should be restored.

ZippyTheChimp
December 31st, 2006, 04:32 PM
The building is landmarked.

LPC designation report (http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/windermere.pdf)

stache
December 31st, 2006, 05:57 PM
I'm guessing it will eventually go condo unless it falls down or burns.

noman212
September 26th, 2007, 08:21 PM
Here is a link to a NY Times story on 9/22/07 regarding the Fire Department evicting the remaining tenants at Windermere.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/22/nyregion/22windemere.html

lofter1
September 26th, 2007, 09:21 PM
They were EVACUATED due to unsafe conditions -- Not EVICTED ...



... the residents were not evicted from the Windermere, which was declared a city landmark in 2005 as an example of one of the first apartment buildings in New York.

“The tenants moved at the mandate of the Fire Department and at my urging,” Councilwoman Brewer said yesterday. “The tenants moved out temporarily to the hotel ...

scumonkey
September 27th, 2007, 12:29 AM
Thank you for pointing that out.....
by the way - nice sex change ;)

lofter1
September 27th, 2007, 12:57 AM
It's just a temporary switch :p in honor of the season (http://www.viewimages.com/Search.aspx?mid=2665593&epmid=3&partner=Google)

(if only this too-warm weather would give us a break already :mad: )

Front_Porch
September 28th, 2007, 10:41 AM
I'm sure your avatar is just waiting to break out the mink.

lofter1
September 28th, 2007, 11:25 AM
The mink would molt in this weather :(

What is up with this non-stop 80 + degrees at this time of year?

In all my years here I don't remember anything quite like it ...

Alonzo-ny
September 29th, 2007, 02:24 AM
Hey ronaldo pick an avatar already!

lofter1
September 29th, 2007, 02:47 AM
I switched to something more tropically oriented -- in keeping with the weather :cool:

Alonzo-ny
September 29th, 2007, 11:17 AM
And he's not to bad with a ball between his legs either!

Fabrizio
September 29th, 2007, 08:15 PM
Ok... since you requested.

---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFe2YFPUa7M&mode=related&search=


---

nycstef
October 9th, 2007, 02:23 AM
I've lived in this neighborhood since 1993 and have since then been fascinated by this building and its history. Today when I walked by it, I noticed Xs inside boxes had been spraypainted all along its facade. I've usually seen this painted on buildings that were about to be demolished. Since I read here that the Windermere is landmarked, what do these markings mean? Could the building be demolished anyhow since it was recently declared unsafe by the fire dept?

lofter1
October 9th, 2007, 11:51 AM
Those are often markings made by the FDNY.

Since the recent work at the Windemere which lad to the Violations (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/ECBQueryByNumberServlet?requestid=20&allbin=1081701&ecbin=34527198R) / Vacate Order involved improper removal of fire stops and the interference with other fire preventative measures it could be that FDNY inspected and then left the marks as a visual record to guide firefighters should a fire occur at the building.

A LINK (http://www.hellskitchennyc.com/windemere.htm) to info on the Windemere.

Edward
October 22nd, 2007, 12:27 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/nyregion/22windermere.htmlOctober 22, 2007

An Epic Landlord-Tenant Fight, Crossing Years and Continents
By ANTHONY RAMIREZ

For nearly a quarter century, since Ronald Reagan was in the Oval Office, Lascelle Wright, 49, and his neighbors have been locked in a dispute with their landlord.

Even by the standards of New York City, where such disputes are blood sport, their face-off has become a long, strange war of attrition.

Mr. Wright is one of seven holdout tenants, most of them poor, elderly and in ill health. They want to remain in the Windermere, an echoing, ruined beauty of a building that was designated a city landmark in 2005. The alternative, they say, is the street.

Mr. Wright’s rent is $100 a month, but the landlord has provided no mailing address for his checks, so Mr. Wright has not paid even that.

A grand apartment house in the Romanesque Revival style, the Windermere is an eight-story building at West 57th Street and Ninth Avenue. It was famed in its late-19th-century heyday for its marble fireplaces, its uniformed “hall boys” and the latest in technological wonders, the hydraulic elevator and the telephone.

Today, however, the Windermere is covered in graffiti, its bright red brick a sickly gray covered in scaffolding. The landlord, Masako Yamagata, wants Mr. Wright and his neighbors to vacate the building, which is a prime piece of Manhattan real estate.

The tenants contend that the landlord has let the Windermere go to seed. They say he has turned a blind eye to mice, roaches, water from the ceilings, shattered windows, hallways cold enough in winter to fog the tenants’ breath, and pigeons in all seasons flying and defecating indoors.

Nearly 7,000 miles away in Tokyo is Mr. Yamagata. The head of the Toa Construction Company, he is 89 years old and hospitalized.

Last week, Mr. Yamagata did not respond to a list of questions. A woman who described herself as an employee supplied his age and the status of his health and said she would notify Mr. Yamagata of the inquiry. But she added, “I cannot tell you when he will or if he will answer at all.”

Last year, one of many housing activists who have tried to help the holdout tenants, Roseanne Haggerty, was finally granted a meeting with Mr. Yamagata in Tokyo after six years of entreaties.

She described him as white-haired and charming, if enigmatic. In a wood-paneled office that reminded Ms. Haggerty of an American recreation room from the 1970s, Mr. Yamagata had many American souvenirs, including a small Statue of Liberty and an ashtray with a New York logo.

In an informal gesture, he rolled up the sleeves of his white business shirt and showed Ms. Haggerty small scars on his arms from kidney dialysis. He could no longer visit New York because of his illness, he told her.

Ms. Haggerty is the president of Common Ground, an advocacy group for the homeless that tried to buy the Windermere in the 1990s. In the nearly hourlong meeting, Mr. Yamagata, speaking through an interpreter, said he was frustrated with the holdout tenants. He said he had ambitious plans for the Windermere but could not “act on them because the tenants won’t move,” Ms. Haggerty recalled.

In 2001, Toa Construction put the Windermere on the market, reportedly for $35 million, but apparently found no bidders. Ms. Haggerty asked him if he would ever sell and Mr. Yamagata replied no, several times.

Last month, the clash between Mr. Yamagata and the tenants took a decisive turn following a routine inspection by the Fire Department.

The city closed the Windermere until repairs, including the restoration of electricity, could be completed to make it safe for the tenants to live there.

The Red Cross arranged for the tenants to stay in a nearby hotel; they later were transferred to a single-room-occupancy hotel, in accommodations paid for by the city.

Today, the tenants are scheduled to appear in housing court on a motion to hold Mr. Yamagata and Toa in contempt for failing to repair the Windermere. Mr. Yamagata or his legal representative did not appear in court last month.

For now, Mr. Wright and his fellow tenants are unable to return to their apartments in the Windermere and are uncomfortable in their small rooms at the Hotel Yale on West 97th Street, their temporary housing. The city pays $45 a night for each of the three single men and $55 a night for each of the two couples.

Bennett Baumer, a tenant organizer with Housing Conservation Coordinators, a nonprofit group that provides legal and other aid for the tenants, describes the holdout tenants as retired and unemployed.

One resident has a history of mental illness. In 2006, an appeals court denied Toa Construction’s plan to evict him despite the tenant’s contention that he preferred sleeping on park benches.

Dennis Neville, another holdout tenant, is voluble although he cannot talk, because of throat cancer. In a long e-mail message, he described conditions in the Windermere before the tenants were evacuated.

“Prior to the vacate order” on Sept. 19, Mr. Neville wrote, “we were without electricity for a week, because they didn’t pay the bill.”

Gale A. Brewer, the local city councilwoman, worked “very hard to finally get it turned back on, and it was,” he wrote.

Mr. Neville added that the Fire Department was justified in closing the building.

“The sprinklers weren’t working, the powers that be weren’t doing anything,” Mr. Neville wrote, adding that the vacant apartments were full of refuse that had not been carted away.

The Windermere’s decline has been long and slow. Built in 1881, it is older than but not as famous as the Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street (1883) or the Dakota on West 72nd Street (1884).

In the beginning, the Windermere had 39 large apartments, some with as many as six bedrooms. Today, the number of units has quadrupled, with 156 apartments carved out of the old ones.

Through the mid-20th century, the Windermere’s residents became more working-class, with stenographers, dressmakers, waiters and plumbers being typical tenants.

By the late 1960s, at a time when the neighborhood was widely known as Hell’s Kitchen, the tenants included artists, actors and musicians, but also drug users and prostitutes.

When Mr. Wright became a tenant in 1980, the Windermere was about half full, with about 80 families, he recalled.

By 1982, a previous landlord was offering incentives of up to $5,000 an apartment to vacate the building. Many left. By 1986, when Mr. Yamagata’s Toa Construction bought the building, Mr. Wright counted only a dozen or so families remaining, most protected from eviction under the city’s housing laws.

For the next two decades, the tenants and their advocates, in and out of housing court, attempted to resolve the standoff.

On Sept. 19, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, using reports from fire inspectors, cited Toa for 209 violations, including fire safety problems like exposed wiring, “the accumulation of refuse and/or rubbish” and “no electrical supply entire building.”

At the contempt hearing today, Mr. Yamagata could agree to the repairs.

If he does not, the city could perform the repairs and send him the bill.

Or some form of long-term alternative housing might be sought for the tenants until the building is habitable, according to Housing Conservation Coordinators.

Mr. Wright said he remained calm throughout the fight.

“I don’t curse, I don’t yell,” he said.

“The landlord is waiting for us to die,” he said. “But I’m 49, and he’s, what, almost 90?”

Yasuko Kamiizumi contributed reporting from Tokyo.

Edward
October 22nd, 2007, 12:51 AM
This is so ridiculous it's actually funny. Housing seven people appears to be an impossible task for a city like New York. People fly to Tokyo, councilwoman fights "very hard", firefighters are involved, articles written to find housing for people not even paying $100?!

If the city cannot solve housing problem - for 2 decades - for 7 people, no wonder housing situation sucks for everyone else. What a shame...

NoyokA
October 22nd, 2007, 02:55 AM
I don't understand why they don't just renovate the building. Anything that replaces it will have to be smaller, which I don't even think is possible given the landmark status of the building. They have a great template to work with. It doesn't look like all 7 remaining tenants are going to be leaving anytime soon. So why not make something of all the abandoned units instead of letting them sit in squalor? Can renovations be made with tenants still inside?

ablarc
October 27th, 2007, 01:32 PM
Can renovations be made with tenants still inside?
Of course. Hotels do it all the time.

sterling76
December 24th, 2007, 06:15 PM
Has anyone noticed that they recently renovated the scaffolding here? Any new updates on the property since the fire department's recent activity? I hope something's coming soon..

sterling76
December 31st, 2007, 12:13 AM
I should get photos on here, for anyone who is still interested, but something's happening! They're (whoever they are) starting to put up scaffolding all around the facade. I've lived near this monstrosity now for about 10 years so I'm psyched. I can't wait for this to be cleaned up and don't care what they do with it (so long as it isn't another methadone clinic!). If anyone hears something, please do tell.

lofter1
December 31st, 2007, 12:25 AM
DOB shows (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobsQueryByLocationServlet?requestid=1&allbin=1081701&allstrt=WEST+++57+STREET&allnumbhous=400) that new Permits for facade repair / scaffolding / boiler replacement have been issued in the past couple of weeks.

infoshare
January 1st, 2008, 03:37 PM
I should get photos on here, .....

Agreed, any photos of new developments on this project would be greatly appreciated. Interior photos - probably hard to get - would be great too. :cool:


P.S. I will post more photos of the Visionaire (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=204731&postcount=205) if you post photos of the Windermere. (LOL) ;)

Peteynyc1
January 5th, 2008, 06:40 PM
http://curbed.com/uploads/2008_1_windemere.jpg

HELL'S KITCHEN—The Windermere at 57th Street and Ninth Avenue is the most-emailed-about building in Curbed history. Trapped in litigation for decades—with the latest update (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/court-delays-windermere-contempt-hearing/) concerning the remaining seven tenants, 200+ violations and an owner stuck in a Japanese hospital—the landmark now has some scaffolding up, per the photo above sent by a tipster. DOB (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobsQueryByLocationServlet?requestid=1&allbin=1081701&allstrt=WEST+++57+STREET&allnumbhous=400) shows some permits for facade repair, among other things. Does this mean the owner recovered? [CurbedWire Inbox] http://curbed.com/

Peteynyc1
January 5th, 2008, 06:58 PM
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/26/49477881_8c4d807946.jpg?v=1148076055
Black and White: Bernice Abbott.
Color photo: Ed Stern, 2005. All rights reserved.

The Windermere, constructed in 1880-81, is significant as the oldest-known large apartment complex remaining in an area that was one of Manhattan’s first apartment-house districts. With its exuberant display of textured, corbelled, and polychromatic brickwork, the Windermere complex is a visually compelling, imposing, eclectic, and unified group of three buildings anchoring the southwest corner of Ninth Avenue and West 57th Street. Adding to its significance is the Windermere’s role in the history of women’s housing in New York City.

In the late 1890s, in an era in which housing options for single, self-supporting women were relatively limited, the Windermere was recognized as a remarkable home for a substantial population of these so-called “New Women.” As such, it appears to have anticipated later residential projects in the city catering specifically to bachelor women.

Upon its completion, the Windermere, which is attributed to architect Theophilus G. Smith, stood within an area that had been sparsely settled only ten years before. By the mid-1880s, this area was home to several prominent examples of the apartment house, which was then a new and evolving residential building type.

Today, the Windermere and the later, 1883-85 Osborne (a designated New York City Landmark) are the only-known large apartment houses or large apartment complexes dating from this district’s early years.

The seven-story Windermere buildings are of impressive scale, topped by story high cornices, and crowned, at No. 400 West 57th Street, by a high, false pediment with an inset, blind brick arch. Although they vary in width, the three Windermere buildings are united by common materials, decorative elements, and design into an asymmetrical group combining features of the Queen Anne style with brick polychromy and horizontal banding typical of the High Victorian Gothic, and with Romanesque elements including round-arched windows and the round arches of the Windermere’s massive,
machicolated cornices.

Among the Windermere’s most notable features are the three-story bowed oriels
at No. 400 West 57th Street; the segmental arches used as a framing device on both the 57th Street and Ninth Avenue facades; the use of contrasting Ohio stone trim; and the robust, channeled brick pilasters, which corbel upon reaching the cornices.

Changes to the buildings over the years have included the addition of windows at the cornice level on the Ninth Avenue façade, and alterations to the ground floor of No. 400, including the removal of the original paired entrance portico and stoop, and the
resurfacing of the façade with stone veneer.

The Windermere’s primary facades, which remain substantially intact after nearly
125 years, are among the features that distinguish the Windermere as an outstanding example of a large apartment complex of its time.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/edstern/49477881/

mykeylykesit
January 6th, 2008, 01:30 AM
Whats up with this sketchy Japanese character? Is he really in a hospital bed making major decisions on a building project that he still has ownership of halfway around the world? Only in New York can sh*t like this happen. That's why I love it! I hope he's forking over the money for the revisions, and repairs necessary to yeild those 200+ citations the city has sued him for over the past few months, and that these poor tenants have been putting in for years!

My prayers are with those 7 tenants who had to endure their lives in that hellhole for as long as they did. Hell, who knows...maybe they're fooling us all. Maybe they have built duplexes up in that piece, with marble floors, mohogany cabinets, brass fixtures, Persian runners welcoming the few who enter, and a diamond collared expensive pussy I sometimes see in the 5th story window (sike).

I really despise all of those in favor of demolishing the Windermere on w57st/9th avenue. Why?

Granted, it's not the best looking building in our neighborhood right now, but would you really prefer another Hearst or Trump establishment? You probably would you greedy (edited)

Though I do think the building is going to be repaired or possibly restored. The scaffolding is now covering the entire building, from bottom to top. This happened within a 3-day period. Would they scaffold an entire building just to demolish it? I highly doubt it yuppies...

Who are you people?
Ahh, yes....
Alas, the NEW New Yorkers...
Who want the city painted white, Glass and Metal everywhere, yes?
Well, you'll get what you wanted boys and girls...the city is certainly losing it's character, effective immediately.

Though the new retail space directly under the Windermere, to the left of the entrance deems otherwise. Freshly painted white walls, vaccumed, cleaned, and ready for rental...this newly available retail space says to me that the Windermere isn't going anywhere anytime soon. In addition to itself, 4 other retail spaces are now available for rent, within a 4 block radius SOUTH of w57st/9th ave. Thats right, FOUR! Okay, okay...that's not a major deal...but for upper HK it is!

Once you get above 53rd st/9th avenue, there is not really anything to see, nowhere to eat, or go. So I'm kinda excited to see what happens to our new upper Hellsea. I think it will deffinetely bring change, whatever that may be, to the Hells Kitchen/Clinton/Theater District area.

Let's not make this into a towering luxury condominium complex, please! For the love of God, you have over 75% vacant residences in the poorly interiorly constructed West Side Trump Towers you can waste your money on. Move over there Republicans! Leave Hells Kitty alone!

Or else it will come back to bite you in the ass!

ASchwarz
January 7th, 2008, 07:47 PM
Force the owner to renovate or demolish already. This slum needs to be fixed or replaced.

An ideal solution would be keep the facade and build within, ala Hearst.

lofter1
January 7th, 2008, 11:14 PM
Won't be demolished -- The Windemere is Landmarked.

mykeylykesit
January 7th, 2008, 11:54 PM
They're not demolishing the Windermere. It's scaffolding is up the entire building, and it isnt' going anywhere. I can't wait to see how it cleans up...it looks so lovely now, I can't imagine how it will look with $15million in repairs.

infoshare
January 8th, 2008, 12:05 AM
News article about a recent gas leak in the building - http://www.flickr.com/photos/edstern/2170458737

excerpt from article: "As expected, Con Ed was the last to arrive on the scene." (lol)

ASchwarz
January 8th, 2008, 01:42 AM
I can't wait to see how it cleans up...it looks so lovely now, I can't imagine how it will look with $15million in repairs.

It would look much lovelier if the owner could build a Hearst-style building while keeping the facade. The Hearst was also landmarked, so the LPC has established a precedent.

No owner is going to fix the building unless he is allowed to generate income from the building. The nonpaying tenants need to be relocated and the absentee landlord needs to sell or negotiate with LPC.

Fahzee
January 8th, 2008, 01:51 PM
My prayers are with those 7 tenants who had to endure their lives in that hellhole for as long as they did.

Those tenants are a group of crazy people, who have taken advantage of loopholes to live practically rent free. One tenant in particular uses his apartment to store garbage while he sleeps in the park every night. Feel bad for the tenants all you want - but the Windmere is the least of their problems

Fabrizio
January 8th, 2008, 01:59 PM
The Hearst Tower was originally designed to accomodate a tower. The Windemere was not.

The Windemere, while I could imagine a couple of nicely hidden penthouse floors added, would look it's best with a faithfully restored exterior. This building, if done properly, could be incredibly cool and desirable. A mini-Dakota or Osborne. 1880's is OLD for an apartment house. Living in a landmarked building will have huge appeal. This building does not need a modern tower sticking out of it.


---

Peteynyc1
January 8th, 2008, 03:28 PM
http://www.darkartsmedia.com/Windermere.html

mykeylykesit
January 10th, 2008, 01:13 AM
Those tenants are a group of crazy people, who have taken advantage of loopholes to live practically rent free. One tenant in particular uses his apartment to store garbage while he sleeps in the park every night. Feel bad for the tenants all you want - but the Windmere is the least of their problems


With rents at an all time high, and most people my age (in their 20s) having to work 2-3 odd end jobs just to make it at the end of the month, and waste all the money they have to pay for a roof over their head....I would love to be one of those tenants. The city is becoming a place for the priveleged, well-established, and successful. And if I were, I'd just use it to take a ****, and possibly install a fancy bidet to clean my **** when I'm done.

The loopholes deserved to be taken advantage of, if a homeless person can find them...let em' work it!

ASchwarz
January 10th, 2008, 02:19 AM
And if I were, I'd just use it to take a ****, and possibly install a fancy bidet to clean my **** when I'm done.

The loopholes deserved to be taken advantage of, if a homeless person can find them...let em' work it!

Classy. Do you cheat on your taxes and steal from little old ladies too?

krulltime
January 10th, 2008, 02:38 AM
With rents at an all time high, and most people my age (in their 20s) having to work 2-3 odd end jobs just to make it at the end of the month, and waste all the money they have to pay for a roof over their head....I would love to be one of those tenants. The city is becoming a place for the priveleged, well-established, and successful. And if I were, I'd just use it to take a ****, and possibly install a fancy bidet to clean my **** when I'm done.

The loopholes deserved to be taken advantage of, if a homeless person can find them...let em' work it!

Hmmm, are you sure you are not one of the 'lucky' Windermere tenants?

Fahzee
January 11th, 2008, 12:02 AM
A renovated Windmere with 20% affordable apartments is a much better option than 7 crazy squatters.

nycstef
February 1st, 2008, 03:29 PM
I'm confused. Why is it covered with scaffolding? Is it getting a restoration now? Or is it a safety measure?

lofter1
February 1st, 2008, 05:55 PM
The scaffolding is there due to "facade repair (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobDetailsServlet?requestid=2&allisn=0001456354&allboroughname=&allnumbhous=&allstrt=)" -- but in this case it's more likely that it's there to protect passers by from anything that might fall from the facade due to the Owner's failure to maintain the building.

Over the past 10+ years there have been numerous Permits (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobsQueryByLocationServlet?requestid=1&allbin=1081701&allstrt=WEST+++57+STREET&allnumbhous=400) for sidewalk sheds / scaffolding regarding "facade repair" at this building.

btw: The LPC Designation Report for the Windermere, both in PDF (http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/windermere.pdf) and HTML (http://209.85.207.104/search?q=cache:mEoQnigewDMJ:www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/windermere.pdf+windermere+ninth&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us)

sterling76
February 7th, 2008, 01:17 AM
Ha! I just wanted to see if I could get Lofter to post yet another mention of the fact that the building is landmarked! Why do people just jump into the thread and ramble on about yuppies and Republicans and stuff - mykeylykesit?

Anyhow, I haven't seen anything new going on and am inclined to agree with L's expert opinion that this might be more of the same with nothing new to come for awhile. I'm not in the area during weekdays so has anyone seen any activity? No change that I noticed.. :mad:

Peteynyc1
March 20th, 2008, 10:47 PM
City sues owners of historic West Side apartment complex


http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/

Windermere on Ninth Avenue



The city has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the Windermere (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C05E3D61F38F933A15752C0A9649C8B 63), a vacant, landmarked seven-story residential complex at West 57th Street and Ninth Avenue, seeking fines of $5,000 per day until the building is repaired. The lawsuit against Toa Construction, based in Tokyo, Japan, claims that the owners must repair the 127-year-old building in order to make it safe for tenants and to preserve it. The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building – one of the city's oldest remaining large apartment houses– a landmark in 2005. The New York City Fire Department ordered the complex's last remaining tenants out in September after determining that living conditions were unsafe. TRD

lofter1
March 21st, 2008, 12:57 AM
The city should put a deadline on the repairs -- and if the owner does not comply then the city should take the building and auction it to the highest bidder (with some amount of the sale price going to the current owner).

brianac
March 21st, 2008, 07:10 AM
March 20, 2008, 5:54 pm

City Takes Windermere Owner to Court

By Sewell Chan (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/schan/)

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/03/20/nyregion/20windermere.span_cityroom.jpg
The Windermere, at Ninth Avenue and 57th Street, was built in 1881 and originally had uniformed “hall boys” to assist its apartments’ occupants.
(Photo: Librado Romero/The New York Times)

The saga of the Windermere — a once-grand complex of three 1881 Queen Anne-style buildings that has become a decrepit eyesore of Hell’s Kitchen (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/20/realestate/20livi.html) despite having received city landmark protection in June 2005 — took a new turn today.

Today, the city filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Manhattan against the owners of the Windermere, demanding that they repair the vacant seven-story complex and pay fines of $5,000 a day until they do so. Sadly, the legal actions do not make much of a practical difference for the seven tenants who had held out over the years as the building deteriorated, but were forced to leave last September (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/nyregion/22windermere.html) after the Fire Department deemed the structure too dangerous to inhabit (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/22/nyregion/22windemere.html). The city has determined the Windermere’s walls, floors and roof are collapsing.

On Oct. 22 of last year, a legal aid organization representing the tenants showed up in Housing Court, where they hoped a judge would find the landlord, Masako Yamagata, and his Tao Construction Corporation, in contempt for failing to repair housing-code violations. But as City Room reported, the hearing was adjourned (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/court-delays-windermere-contempt-hearing/) after Mr. Yamagata’s lawyer, Steven S. Sieratzki, told the judge, Sheldon J. Halprin, that he had not seen all the materials in the case and that he had another engagement in court that day.

A trial in the tenants’ case — which has the support of the Buildings, Fire and Housing Preservation and Development Departments — has been completed, but the Housing Court judge has not ruled yet. The housing agency recently filed post-trial motions for contempt and for an emergency order directing the owners to secure the building.

The lawsuit brought directly by the city today arises from the building’s status as a protected landmark. “City laws require that owners of landmarked buildings keep them in a state of good repair to prevent architectural integrity from being compromised and to prevent intentional ‘demolition by neglect,’” the city said in a statement.

“This suit will send a message to owners of landmarked buildings that they must keep them in a state of good repair,” said Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. “Not only will this preserve important city treasures, it will have the critical added benefit of protecting the safety of New Yorkers as well. Buildings like The Windermere contribute to New York City’s architectural heritage and must be preserved for future generations.”

The Windermere was designed by Theophilus Smith, the architect of several tenements and row houses on the Upper West Side. One of the oldest large apartment houses still standing in Manhattan, it was built for middle class residents and acclaimed for its marble fireplaces, its uniformed “hall boys” and technological innovations like the hydraulic elevator and the telephone. Single women working as cashiers, waitresses, nurses and teachers lived in the building, as did artists. Former tenants include the actor Steve McQueen and the composer Quinto Magnani, known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera “The Argonauts.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company.

HKPioneer
May 10th, 2008, 02:06 PM
Repairs Ordered at Windermere

The owners of an apartment building where the actor Steve McQueen once lived must repair the decrepit landmark, a judge ruled on Friday.

Justice Karen Smith of State Supreme Court ordered “the permanent repair and restoration” of the 127-year-old Windermere building. It has been vacant since September, when the Fire Department found it to be unsafe and told tenants to leave. City inspectors have said the walls, floors and roof are collapsing.

A lawyer for the building’s owners, which include the Toa Construction Company of Japan, did not immediately return a telephone call on Friday night.

“The Windermere is an invaluable part of the city’s heritage and now will remain so for future generations,” said Robert B. Tierney, the chairman of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The commission and the city sued in March to try to force repairs at the Windermere, one of the city’s oldest large apartment houses. The Romanesque Revival structure on Manhattan’s West Side was built to accommodate the city’s growing middle class in the late 19th century, but it eventually became popular with people working in the arts.

The landmarks commission gave the building landmark status in 2005. City laws require owners of landmark buildings to keep them in good repair.

The judge ordered the Windermere’s owners to let city officials assess the building and delineate what needs fixing. Then the owners must make repairs and keep the building in good condition, Justice Smith said.

Mr. McQueen starred in movie classics including “The Great Escape” and “Bullitt.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/10/nyregion/10windermere.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion&oref=slogin

antinimby
May 10th, 2008, 07:33 PM
About time. Fix it up, rent it out or sell it and start getting a cash flow. That's like Economics 101.

macncheese57
July 12th, 2008, 12:43 PM
There was a comment/rumor on Curbed earlier this week that the building is being marketed right now. Anybody know if there is any truth to this?

Peteynyc1
July 12th, 2008, 01:23 PM
Some good rumormongering in yesterday's thread about Hell's Kitchen's landmarked/screwy Windermere (http://curbed.com/archives/2008/07/09/the_windermere_strikes_again.php#reader_comments): "this building was just sold. it is under contract. the japanese owner finally agreed to sell it a few weeks ago and it is being quietly marketed by the contract vendee for about $60M. It is being represented as being totally vacant and unencumbered by ANY pre-existing leases." ['The Windermere Strikes Again']
http://curbed.com/images/spacer.gif

Peteynyc1
July 12th, 2008, 01:31 PM
HOME STREET HOME

'ABSENTEE' BUM BOOTED FROM APT.


By DAREH GREGORIAN

Last updated: 8:26 am
July 9, 2008
Posted: 3:50 am
July 9, 2008
A homeless-by-choice man is now just plain homeless - after a state appeals court booted him from his rent-stabilized, $104-a-month Midtown apartment. Michael Tsitsires has had an apartment at The Windermere, at 400 W. 57th St., for 38 years - but he hasn't actually lived in it for at least the past decade because he prefers to sleep on the streets.
Tsitsires, 59, "suffers from a mental illness, which includes a panic disorder, that has resulted in his feeling compelled to spend virtually all his time away from the subject apartment," the Appellate Division decision says.
While he keeps his possessions in the apartment and gets his mail there, he lives "the lifestyle of a homeless person in a psychologically 'safe' area within a 20-block radius of the building," the ruling notes.
But Tsitsires had told a lower court that he still needed the apartment, and if he was forced out onto the streets full time, it would be a "death sentence."
In 2006, an appeals court found that he could stay, because to rule otherwise would be a judicial determination that his primary residence is the street.
In yesterday's 3-2 ruling, the Appellate Division said he has to go, because otherwise, "the concept of rent-stabilized tenancy is warped beyond recognition."
"The laws of rent stabilization do not allow for the indefinite retention of the right to rent-stabilized premises by a tenant who does not actually reside in the premises and has no intent to reside there at any point in the future," the ruling says.
Tsitsires moved into the Windermere with his "constant companion," Alberta Lang, in 1970.
The historic building - one of the city's first apartment buildings where late actor Steve McQueen once lived - was bought by Toa Construction in 1985, and the landlord allowed the building to fall apart in an apparent bid to clear out tenants. By 1996, only 11 remained.
The landlord sought to give Tsitsires the boot in 2000, arguing that he rarely stayed there and the home couldn't be considered his "primary residence."
Shrinks found Tsitsires, who pays his rent with his Supplemental Security Income disability payments, had a mental illness that prevented him from living inside the apartment.
In a strongly worded dissent, Justice Richard Andrias said Tsitsires had good reason to hate his apartment.
The stove in the kitchen hadn't worked in 10 years, the fridge hadn't worked in six years, and one of the two bathrooms was unusable because the ceiling had fallen in, Andrias noted.
Additional reporting by Peter Cox
dareh.gregorian@nypost.com (dareh.gregorian@nypost.com)
http://www.nypost.com/seven/07092008/news/regionalnews/home_street_home_119112.htm

NoyokA
July 12th, 2008, 03:15 PM
I would love to go inside this building and see the splendid ruin.

Peteynyc1
July 12th, 2008, 07:36 PM
^^ On the 9th Ave side about half way between 56th and 57th one of the metal security cages has been unlocked for quite a while. Behind it is a little square entrance to the building about 3 feet by 3 feet. It appears to me that homeless people use that as an entrance to the building, although I have never actually gotten down in there to check it out fully. I have often wanted to sneak in there but there's quite a bit of garbage around it and I had visions of being eaten by a giant rat or contracting some new exotic malaria strain.

mlewis78
August 1st, 2008, 10:58 PM
I pass by there every day (sometimes on the other side of the street -- it's pretty icky under the scaffolding there), since it's part of my neighborhood. Saw a mouse or small rat among some junk in a doorway of the building a couple of 1:45ams ago. I would imagine that right now most of the building is quite rat/insect infested and moldy.

I'd like to see it completely renovated from the inside.

If anyone learns more about the future of the building, please let us know here. About a year ago I'd heard that the Henry Hudson Hotel had bought it and was going to turn it into a hotel, but I never heard any confirmation of that rumor, so I dont' think it's true.

Dogbert
December 12th, 2008, 07:06 PM
This story looks and sounds a whole lot like the windermere -
http://ltvsquad.com/Locations/urbanexploration/ID/301/

The link contains a lot of interior photos. If it's true that part of the interior has caved in, this place might be a bigger danger to the community than previously thought.

Peteynyc1
December 15th, 2008, 10:50 AM
Those are amazing photos! I considered sneaking in thru the vent which has been kicked in. Looks like a regular entrance for homeless. The inch thick grime and rat turd scared me off. Unreal what it looks like inside there.

Shadly
December 15th, 2008, 12:02 PM
Wow, those guys are having some fun. I'd sign up for that in a second. It's like urban Spelunking!

scumonkey
April 23rd, 2009, 05:15 PM
From TheRealDeal:
04/23/09 at 11:30AM
Tentative deal reached to sell Windermere




By David Jones


http://s3.amazonaws.com/trd_three/images/76400/windermere.jpgSteve McQueen once lived at the Windermere

Following five months of litigation from state and city regulators, sources say that Toa Construction has reached a tentative deal to sell the landmark Windermere apartment building on the Far West Side.
The Tokyo-based developer is also negotiating a deal with its former tenants, who were evacuated in 2007 by the New York City Fire Department due to unsafe conditions at the building, located at 400-406 West 57th Street.
"Since then we have been engaged in a court battle with Toa Construction to fix the building," said Bennett Baumer, a tenant organizer with Housing Conservation Coordinators, a non-profit based in the Hell's Kitchen/Clinton section of Manhattan, which has provided legal assistance to the Windermere tenants.
Baumer said the 2007 evacuation stemmed from major structural problems at the building, and vandals have since demolished parts of the building with sledgehammers and the property has become infested with pigeons. Records from the city Department of Housing Preservation & Development show 649 violations at the building, ranging from exposed wires to water leaks and piles of garbage.
Terms of the agreement were not immediately available, however sources confirmed that as recently as 2007 a number of organizations and individual investors had approached Toa Construction about buying the property for as much as $40 million.
Evan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Common Ground, a Manhattan-based advocacy group for the homeless, confirmed that his organization met with principals of the company in Tokyo in 2007, but were unable to reach an agreement on a deal.
A spokesperson for the New York City Law Department declined to comment, and referred inquiries about the possible sale to Toa Construction's attorney, Adam Kaiser at Dewey & Lebouf. Kaiser was not immediately available for comment.
The sale of the Windermere would end years of legal wrangling over the 128-year-old complex, which received landmark status in 2005 and was once the home of screen legend Steve McQueen.

In May 2008, state Supreme Court Judge Karen Smith ordered an injunction against Toa Construction, to compel the owner, Masako Yamagata, to repair the property, which city officials said had been neglected for two decades.
The buildings department on Feb. 9, 2009 issued an emergency declaration regarding falling bricks and other unsafe conditions at the building, and two days later, HPD awarded a $12,000 contract to Monte United to repair deteriorating mortar and loose bricks.
Meanwhile, attorney Steven Sieratski filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court against Toa Construction in October 2008, alleging his former client had failed to pay him more than $291,000 in legal fees after representing the firm from 2006 to 2008. Reached by telephone, Sieratski declined to comment on the Windermere or his relationship with Toa Construction.

ablarc
April 25th, 2009, 10:42 AM
Toa Construction has reached a tentative deal to sell the landmark Windermere apartment building on the Far West Side.
Finally some good news.

Peteynyc1
May 21st, 2009, 07:12 PM
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/blogs_v3/cityroom/cityroom_post.png (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/)


May 21, 2009, 12:58 pm New Owner to Repair a Once-Grand Landmark

By Jennifer 8. Lee (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/jennifer-8-lee/)http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/03/20/nyregion/20windermere.span_cityroom.jpgLibrado Romero/The New York Times A new owner of the Windermere, an apartment complex on West 57th Street in Hell’s Kitchen, has agreed to begin repairs.
The Windermere — a once-grand complex of three 1881 Queen Anne-style buildings in Hell’s Kitchen (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/20/realestate/20livi.html) that fell into disrepair and became the subject of contentious litigation — has been sold by its absentee Japanese landlord to a company that has reached an agreement with the city to repair the building, which was declared a city landmark in 2005.
The buyer, Windermere Property L.L.C., has agreed take immediate steps to stabilize the building and then enter upon a program of long-term repairs, said Kate O’Brien Ahlers, a spokesman for the city’s Law Department.
The Windermere’s walls, floors and roof are collapsing; the Japanese owner of the structure, Masako Yamagata and his Tao Construction Company, had let the building deteriorate for years to the point where it was forced to be evacuated.
Tenants sued Tao in 2007, and the city filed its own suit in 2008 in attempt to force Tao to make repairs to the building (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/20/city-takes-windermere-owner-to-court/). While a judge issued an order calling for repairs, city lawyers said they found it difficult to enforce the order against a foreign owner.
Both the tenant and city lawsuits were settled this week, before the purchase, as a condition of the sale. Tao also agreed to pay $1.1 million in civil penalties to the city for the company’s failure to maintain the building under landmark status. The tenants collectively settled for $2.6 million in exchange for agreeing to relinquish claims on their apartments.
Seven tenants in six apartments were forced to leave in September 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/nyregion/22windermere.html) after the Fire Department deemed the structure too dangerous to inhabit (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/22/nyregion/22windemere.html). The tenants’ original lawsuit, which had been backed by a number of city agencies, had wanted the building restored to a habitable condition, so that the tenants could regain possession of their apartments. As part of the settlement, Tao agreed to repay the $125,000 in costs that the city incurred in relocating the tenants.
Tenants and city lawyers had to be present for the closing between Tao and Windermere L.L.C. Lawyers for the two entities did not respond to requests for comment.
Tao started showing interest in settling the lawsuits around two months ago, tenants’ advocates said. “Once it was clear that there was a buyer that had every intention to buy, the settlement process escalated quickly,” said Aurore DeCarlo, director of legal services at the Housing Conservation Coordinators (http://www.hcc-nyc.org/), a nonprofit housing preservation organization in Hell’s Kitchen that provided legal representation for the tenants.
Ms. DeCarlo said that the tenants were allowed to return to the building on Tuesday to see what belongings, if any, still existed. The property had been vandalized, she said. In addition, the ceilings and stairs were collapsing and there were leaks everywhere.
The new owners had agreed to put braces in place by Sept. 30, said Ms. Ahlers, the spokeswoman for the Law Department.
The seven-story three-building structure, at 400-406 West 57th Street, at the southwest corner of 57th Street and Ninth Avenue, was designed by Theophilus Smith, an architect who designed a number of tenements and row houses on the Upper West Side. Built to accommodate the growing middle class in the last decade of the 19th century, the Windermere became popular among single working women like teachers and waitresses, as well as artists. At the time, it was acclaimed for its marble fireplaces, its uniformed “hall boys” and technological innovations like the hydraulic elevator and the telephone.

Ssliver
May 27th, 2009, 10:32 AM
7251

On Memorial day Monday, there were two workers inside the building checking it out, yesterday a load of wood was delivered. This morning there were workers working in the building. It looks like the new owner may actually live up to his word.

avngingandbright
May 27th, 2009, 11:30 AM
It really is about damned time.

Ssliver
July 16th, 2009, 11:39 AM
7384

Yesterday they started hauling out the debris from the westernmost building. They filled a dumpster to the brim from the 1st floor, know they are working from the 2nd floor as well. The only interesting items I've seen come out are the outdoor signs from what I presume was the diner that used to be on the corner.

missmeri
July 23rd, 2009, 12:41 AM
Yes! It is true! Something is definitely going on. I've lived on this block for 8 years and there isn't a day that goes by where I haven't wondered about this building. I've just read through this string of threads dating back all the way from 2002~ THank you everyone for bringing me up to date. Man, wouldn't that be incredible if the building was renovated? I would kill to live there. :) I walk by the building every single day and this morning I really tried to get a peek inside while they were toting out the debris, but it was too hectic. Maybe I'll try to talk to one of the workers.

sterling76
August 19th, 2009, 05:48 PM
Yup, it's about time anything started happening here. I would've taken renovation or an all-out collapse. After living with this building and its scaffolding in my sight for 10+ years, this is good news.

Now I wonder if that dang fenced in MTA parking lot on 9th bet. 53rd & 54th will ever disappear..

infoshare
August 19th, 2009, 07:17 PM
7384

The only interesting items I've seen come out are the outdoor signs from what I presume was the diner that used to be on the corner.

Thanks for the update! I look forward to seeing this building restored: a real gem.

teresa
December 10th, 2010, 04:11 PM
This is for a project...probably wont make sense to readers/responders11593

Merry
December 10th, 2010, 10:41 PM
There doesn't seem to be any recent news about this. It's a beautiful building and I hope it can be restored to its 1880 glory.

The link below is from 2007, but the exterior photos are nice.

http://www.michaelminn.net/newyork/urban_renewal/hells_kitchen/the_windermere/

Merry
April 23rd, 2011, 01:57 AM
Good news, at last.


Windermere on the Rebound

April 22, 2011, by Joey Arak

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/2011_4_windermere.jpg

HELL'S KITCHEN—Faded Ninth Avenue landmark the Windermere was bought by controversial developer Larry Gluck two years ago following a long and twisted saga involving an absentee Japanese owner and some squatters. This is what it looks like now.

A tipster adds, "Not much of a tip, but just walked by the Windermere at 57th & 9th and there are lots of workers doing façade repairs… looks like it may finally be on the way back."

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2011/04/22/windermere_on_the_rebound_design_disasters_casting _call.php

bigchet
April 23rd, 2011, 04:08 PM
Sounds like there is a lot of work involved. Probably would have been better to knock the damn thing down and put up something new and tall.

MidtownGuy
April 23rd, 2011, 05:35 PM
yeah, because historic and irreplaceable beauty are so overrated.

scumonkey
April 23rd, 2011, 07:59 PM
better to knock the damn thing down and put up something new and tall.
aside from the fact that it's landmarked, if they did tear it down they wouldn't be allowed to replace it with a building that is taller,
or even as tall as this one is- the current zoning would not allow it.

CowJazz
April 25th, 2011, 02:14 AM
It is a beauty worth restoring imo. Developer can at least get 20 percent back in Federal Historic rehab credits if they know what they are doing.

Merry
May 14th, 2011, 02:18 AM
Notorious Hell's Kitchen Landmark Takes Step Towards Restoration

A once elegant apartment complex with an ugly history has turned a new corner on the road to restoration.

By Tara Kyle

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2011_05_R7796_windermere_hotel_512.j pgOrnamentation atop the Windermere's north facing side on 57th Street. HELL'S KITCHEN — A once elegant apartment complex with an ugly history has turned a new corner on the road to restoration.

The latest owner of the Windermere, a landmarked, 130-year-old Queen Anne style apartment complex located at the intersection of 57th Street and Ninth Avenue, has parted ways with nonprofit partner Project Find.

New Jersey-based developer Mark Tress, who bought the Windermere in 2009, plans to open a boutique hotel on site.

But, because the Windermere is located within the boundaries of the Special Clinton District, any rehabilitation must also include affordable housing units, which Project Find was in charge of.

The nonprofit and Tress could not reach an agreement on building plans, including offering residents an exclusive entrance and elevator, Project Find executive director David Gilcrest said at a meeting of Community Board 4 this week.

Now, the developer will work with the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.

No-one should expect the Windermere, uninhabited for the past few years and still covered by boards and scaffolding, to reopen any time soon. Negotiations for new plans will likely stretch through the year, City Councilwoman Gale Brewer told CB4 members.

In its heyday, the Windermere housed a glitzy mix of tenants including actor Steve McQueen. The building also played an important role in the 1890s when it was one of a small number of residences catering to single, self-supporting women, according to Landmarks Preservation Commission documents.

In darker times, beginning in the early 1980s, it hosted one of the city's worst cases of tenant harassment. CB4 land use committee chair Joe Restuccia, who served on the board at the time, recalled cases of tenants who would leave for work in the morning and come home to find cement blocking their apartment entrances — with their belongings still inside.

One former Windermere manager came to a CB4 meeting with a gun peaking out of the shoulder of his jacket, Restuccia recalled. On another occasion, management took chainsaws to building beams, forcing some tenants to move out abruptly following an FDNY order to vacate.

"People were picked off one by one," Restuccia said of the tenure of owner Alan Weissman, whose building managers served jail time. Weissman sold to Japan-based Toa Construction Inc. in 1986.

The building fell into disrepair, and the city ultimately penalized Toa with a $1.1 million fee for failing to maintain the property, landmarked in 2005. The Japan-based company also paid $2.6 million to a group of tenants who sued after an FDNY order to vacate in 2007.

Once Tress' restoration is complete, the hotel is expected to be relatively inexpensive and serve a predominantly European clientele — something closer to the pod-style Yotel than the neighboring Hudson Hotel, CB4 members and Brewer said.

http://www.dnainfo.com/20110513/chelsea-hells-kitchen/notorious-hells-kitchen-landmark-takes-step-towards-restoration#ixzz1MIicrf86

IrishInNYC
June 18th, 2012, 10:21 AM
Anyone have any updates on the Windermere? I used to live a block from it hoped to see it restored (the facade) some day. No news since early 2011 from what I can see.

Peteynyc1
June 20th, 2012, 01:35 AM
I walk by there often and I have not seen any activity in a long time.

EastMillinocket
September 25th, 2013, 12:58 PM
New York YIMBY strikes again...

http://newyorkyimby.com/#/2013/09/renovation-imminent-400-west-57th-street.html/1

babybackribs2314
September 25th, 2013, 03:54 PM
SO INCREDIBLY EXCITED that renovation is FINALLY underway here. I've been in NYC for five years and this building has been a hulking decrepit monstrosity for all of them; the renovation is going to improve this corner so drastically I can't even begin to comprehend what it'll look like.

My most memorable time walking by this was when there was the homeless man who had his TV in front. He had to have been there for over a year, but I do believe the TV was functional.

stache
September 25th, 2013, 07:31 PM
Probably an outlet in a lamp post. I used to see that quite a bit in L. A.

lofter1
September 25th, 2013, 10:57 PM
This is on the LPC Public Hearing Calendar for 10/08:

MODIFICATION OF USE AND BULK
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN 14-8803-
Block 1066, lot 32–
400-406 West 57th Street, aka 869 9th Avenue and 871-877 9th Avenue -
The Windermere-Individual Landmark
An Eclectic style apartment complex consisting of three buildings designed by Theophilus G. Smith and built in 1880-81. Application is to request that the Landmarks Preservation Commission issue a report to the City Planning Commission relating to an application for a Modification of Use pursuant to Section 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution.
Zoned C1-5/Clinton/ C1-8 Community District 4

stache
September 26th, 2013, 07:01 PM
Does this mean adding a restaurant?

IrishInNYC
September 26th, 2013, 10:29 PM
I do hope there are no surprises and they can save the facade as it is and this doesn't turn into a tear down.

EastMillinocket
November 11th, 2013, 01:48 PM
DNA Info

Neglected Hell's Kitchen Landmark to Be Converted Into Boutique Hotelhttp://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131111/hells-kitchen-clinton/neglected-hells-kitchen-landmark-be-converted-into-boutique-hotel
http://assets.dnainfo.com/generated/photo/2012/11/mathew-katz-1353962741.jpg/thumbnail.jpg (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/about-us/our-team/editorial-team/mathew-katz)
By Mathew Katz (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/about-us/our-team/editorial-team/mathew-katz) on November 11, 2013 9:36am | Updated 3 hrs agohttp://cloud.dnainfo.com/img/widget/bio/twitter.png@MathewKatz (http://twitter.com/MathewKatz)







HELL'S KITCHEN — A long-neglected Hell's Kitchen landmark — which was covered in scaffolding for decades and had become home to squatters and vagrants in recent years — is getting an overhaul to become a boutique hotel, its owners announced.
The Windermere (http://www.nylandmarks.org/programs_services/endangered_buildings_initiative/windermere/), a landmarked Queen Anne-style building at West 57th Street and Ninth Avenue, is set to be transformed into a 175-room upscale hotel with an outdoor rooftop space, according to owner Mark Tress, who purchased the property in 2009.
In addition to the hotel rooms, Tress also plans to build permanent affordable housing, which would take up 28 percent of the building, plus retail spaces on the ground floor, the developer said.
"We find the proposed work for the most part praiseworthy and welcome, especially after the building’s long history of neglect and decay," Community Board 4 wrote in a largely positive letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/%E2%80%8E) after a meeting last week.
However, CB4 objected to the ninth-floor rooftop extension, and hoped that a handicapped access platform would be changed so it blended into the building.
The plan will require approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, along with the Department of City Planning and the Buildings Department.
The Windermere has a rocky history. Built in the 1880s and converted to an artists' residence in 1895, it eventually was converted to single rooms and smaller apartments in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the managers of the building were convicted of harassing tenants and sent to jail, according to Community Board 4.
The next owner, Toa Construction, took over the building in 1986, but let the building fall into disrepair, leading the city's to file a judgment against Toa for "willful neglect of a landmark" and collect more than $1 million in penalties, CB4 said. The five remaining tenants left the building in 2009. After that, locals said squatters took over the building.
Many neighbors were happy for the restoration of the property, but some expressed concern that the new hotel could be a party-filled hotspot.
"For 30 years, it's been an awful thing to pass and it's time that something goes forward," said Serhij Hoshowsky, 66, who's lived next door for 35 years.
"I think putting amenities on the rooftop, a party room, or having outdoor space that is accessible to guests that are going to use this boutique hotel is the wrong way to go."
Michael Sillerman, an attorney for the project, said that the design of the building may change based on community input.
"We're going to explore ways to redesign and address those concerns," he said after hearing from worried neighbors at the CB4 meeting last Wednesday night. "We recognize there are quality-of-life concerns...and we want to be a good neighbor."
Steven Golden, who manages 408 W. 57th St. next door to the landmark, said he hopes the project moves forward, but in the right way.
"Our biggest concern in security and noise," he said. "We're supporting the development of the site — cleaning up that corner would be a great benefit to our building and the immediate community."

IrishInNYC
November 11th, 2013, 01:58 PM
I hope they follow through on this. It's a real gem that has been neglected for far too long.

EastMillinocket
January 8th, 2014, 02:24 AM
http://imageshack.us/a/img15/5572/z224.jpg

Peteynyc1
January 9th, 2014, 02:04 AM
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304014504579248151639659722
After Ups and Downs, Windermere on MendThe 1881 Queen Anne-Style Landmark Is Slated to Become a Hotel By Lana Bortolot


Updated Dec. 9, 2013 10:58 p.m. ET
Enlarge Image (javascript://)

http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NY-CS748_WINDEM_G_20131209170354.jpg http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NY-CS748_WINDEM_P_20131209170354.jpg
The landmark Windermere at 57th Street and Ninth Avenue is slated to become a boutique hotel after a renovation. Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal




The Windermere on West 57th street, once one of the city's pioneering apartment houses but long an empty ruin, is on its way to becoming a boutique hotel.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission has given the go-ahead for the Windermere to seek a zoning waiver for the eight-story building, which would allow the addition of a rooftop structure as well as historically accurate storefront windows and affordable housing units.
"The proper permitting process just recently begun, but all the signs are pointing to going ahead," said Mark Tress, who acquired the building in 2009 for $13 million.
The project still needs further reviews and approvals that may take up a year to complete. But that is a short detour on what's been a long and troubled road for the building, the second-oldest apartment house in Manhattan.
Commanding the southwest corner of 57th Street and Ninth Avenue, the 1881 Queen Anne-style landmark is a complex of three tenements that in its early years was used as apartments for mostly professional women. Through the decades, it became progressively run down, turning into a pigeon- and rodent-infested hovel for a remaining seven tenants who were evicted in 2007. At various times the building housed families, a flourishing creative community, prostitutes, pensioners and actor Steve McQueen.
The luxury class had yet to come to the West Side in the early 1880s, but the Windermere mimicked a rich lifestyle for its middle-class residents with its harmonious ornamented facade wrapping the corner. The 39 apartments boasted between seven and nine rooms, and the latest technology of the times: hydraulic elevators and telephones.
Enlarge Image (javascript://)

http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NY-CS749_WINDEM_D_20131209170426.jpg http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NY-CS749_WINDEM_G_20131209170426.jpg
The building in a 1940s view with the shadow of the Ninth Avenue elevated tracks. New York City Municipal Archives




"It was an antecedent to later buildings in the 20th century," said Alex Herrera, technical director at the New York Landmarks Conservancy, a nonprofit preservation organization that has championed the Windermere's rescue.
As people migrated to those more fashionable buildings, the Windermere was marketed as a destination for the "New Woman." By the late 1890s, working women comprised nearly 80% of its 200 residents.
Over the years, the building's composition increasingly reflected life on the streets around Hell's Kitchen. The grand apartments were subdivided and the building became an SRO, or single-room occupancy residence for artists, musicians and people on the skids.
By the 1980s, the building was half-occupied and those remaining were subject of a well-documented harassment campaign, which ended in convictions against the building management and owner in 1985.
The building changed hands, and yet, remained neglected, even after its 2005 landmark designation. The last tenants were evacuated in 2007 after the fire department found the conditions unsafe. The landmarks commission initiated a "demolition by neglect" suit, forcing the then owner to pay $1.1 million in civil penalties. In 2009, the building was sold to Mr. Tress.
"It's been an amazing turn around—here's a landmark on the precipice of collapse and now on the cusp of resurrection, said John Weiss, a landmarks commission attorney. "It's quite dramatic."
The rehabilitated building will have 175 hotel rooms, an interior courtyard and 1,500 square feet on the ground level devoted to retail space.
If approved, the rooftop will support a 3,000-square-foot restaurant, set back 25 feet from the cornices and not visible from the street, a concession made after the commission and Community Board 4 reviewed initial plans.
To compensate for past tenant harassment, the plan provide 20 affordable housing units equaling 28% of the floor area.
"For the most part it's a home run," said Robert J. Benfatto, district manager of the community board.
Design details are in the works, said Morris Adjmi, architect for the Windermere's renovation. Because the building interior was so badly damaged by multiple fires over the decades, and the floors have all but crumbled, he said they're starting from scratch on the interior.
"We've been really focusing on the cure and restoration work," Mr. Adjmi said. "It's been really setting everything up so that we can now have discussions about what the hotel looks like." The architectural team can continue stabilization work while waiting for permits.
Mr. Tress is in contract to purchase another long-abandoned landmark, the 1886 68th Police Precinct and Stable in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Peg Breen, president of the landmarks conservancy, said both of the buildings reflect the potential of reusing historic buildings.
"Developers look at them because they're going to get a product that doesn't look like everything else today and they can make money," she said. "It's good for business and it's good for the city."

IrishInNYC
August 7th, 2014, 11:55 AM
Any news on this?

Czervik.Construction
August 8th, 2014, 10:30 AM
I walked by the site a few days ago and there were a few people on the scaffolding on the upper floors swinging hammers and stuff. It seems like every few months there will be a 3-4 guys working on the exterior for a few days and then nothing for a few more months.

I guess this is directed toward people who know better, but could this pattern be because to keep certain permits active, they need to do a minimum amount of work?

infoshare
August 8th, 2014, 11:50 AM
I guess this is directed toward people who know better, but could this pattern be because to keep certain permits active, they need to do a minimum amount of work?

There is no getting to answer that question; there are any number of factors that could be holding up progress in the redevelopment of this building. One thing for sure is that this prime corner of 57th street has had this 'blight' sitting there for literally decades: and it really is detrimental to the quality of life (and property rents/values) in that immediate area. I like that particular intersection on 57th street and I think everyone would have been better served by 'not landmarking' this one: demo and replace was the way to go. IMHO

scumonkey
August 8th, 2014, 02:18 PM
I think everyone would have been better served by 'not landmarking' this one: demo and replace was the way to go. IMHO
how shortsighted...would be better if this was simply restored, plus if they tore it down it's replacement could not (due to zoning) even be as big.
It's only sat there blighted for so long due to a lazy/skeezy owner.

Stroika
August 9th, 2014, 07:39 AM
I like that particular intersection on 57th street and I think everyone would have been better served by 'not landmarking' this one: demo and replace was the way to go. IMHO

Um. Wrong.

antinimby
August 9th, 2014, 09:37 AM
Look at its ugly and depressing looking modern neighbors. Thanks but no thanks to "demo and replace."

infoshare
August 9th, 2014, 09:42 AM
My point is that this building, despite being truly landmark worthy, is now still sitting fallow many years after the previous owner 'finally' agreed to sell it for development. My impression is that the attempt to preserve this aging and obsolete structure has become an engineering/construction boondoggle - thus, some 5 years after the purchase they are still stalled on the construction.

The turn-around time for demo and rebuild would have been no more than about 2 years: as of now the intersection appearance, tax revenue, new housing supply ; would all be currently in place. So, in this particular case "everybody" would have been better served with a 'new build' from the ground up as I can see we now have many more years with that 'blight'
Sitting on that most prominent of 57th street.

antinimby
August 9th, 2014, 09:48 AM
You just need to be more patient then. I'd rather wait ten years for this, then two seconds for a (likely) unremarkable new building.

infoshare
August 9th, 2014, 12:54 PM
You just need to be more patient then. I'd rather wait ten years for this, then two seconds for a (likely) unremarkable new building.

I fully understand your preference on the matter: that's why it is called an 'opinion' - I can not reasonably say "um you are wrong".....

Cheers

scumonkey
August 9th, 2014, 02:59 PM
But when you base your opinion on such wrong information, as you have just done, we can reasonably say "um you are wrong".

ASchwarz
August 10th, 2014, 02:44 AM
But when you base your opinion on such wrong information, as you have just done, we can reasonably say "um you are wrong".

He never had any "wrong information"; he just has different priorities. I happen to agree that this corner is a waste, sitting there for decades rotting because the landmarking made the building almost worthless. It wasn't redeveloped until Manhattan became so insanely expensive that even lowrise, totally gutted buildings subject to landmarks regulations became somewhat valuable.

You are saying "I value the presence of old buildings moreso than an increased tax base, more housing and neighborhood redevelopment". That's fine, and plenty of people agree with you, but others prioritize housing and tax base. If the corner had never been landmarked, you probably would have a 50 floor building and hundreds of housing units, as well as extensive street-retail, all making this corner much more vibrant, active, and valuable.

But since landmarked buildings are basically permanent, and the decision is almost always irreversible, we might as well deal with it, and get as nice a renovation as possible. Hopefully adjacent sites will allow for new housing and tax base.

scumonkey
August 10th, 2014, 04:13 AM
You are saying "I value the presence of old buildings moreso than an increased tax base, more housing and neighborhood redevelopment". That's fine, and plenty of people agree with you, but others prioritize housing and tax base.
I'm not saying anything like that at all.
I was simply pointing out that this situation is a bit more complicated.

#1 None of this (the buildings state of disrepair) should have been allowed to happen in the first place.
(Many reasons for, and people to point fingers at, here.)

Also local zoning (and it's not likely to change here anytime soon), would not, if this building was removed, allow another one nearly as big to be built on this plot. So a newer, smaller, boxy glass building (which is surly what we'd get), would not produce (i would assume),as much revenue/taxes as the Windermere could if it was not falling apart.
And that same zoning squashes any thoughts about having "a 50 floor building and hundreds of housing units, as well as extensive street-retail, all making this corner much more vibrant, active, and valuable."

This building had been purposefully left to rot over the years by a slimy owner, long before it was land marked, which wasn't until 2005.
The recent land marking at least, allowed the city to levy heavy fines at this douche for failure to maintain- finally forcing him to sell to, hopefully someone more willing to finally do something about it (and that seams to be the case, also because it's now land marked, we can be assured this corner won't be the victim of another plain glass box.)

And you have to remember there is (or was until recently), still a lot of red tape for the courts to wade through regarding the past tenants, that were forced out by the unscrupulous landlord. This also hasn't helped in getting anything done here- one way or the other.

Merry
August 10th, 2014, 04:17 AM
We don't know what would have replaced the Windemere had it not been landmarked. I'm glad it's still there and being renovated. It's unique, unlike the most likely cookie cutter replacement.

I also don't agree that a replacement would result in "making this corner much more vibrant, active...". "Valuable", obviously, but at what cost? There are plenty of crappy buildings that could provide replacement opportunities for housing etc. Vibrancy and retail activity don't have to exist at every street corner (it doesn't look too bad on Google street view anyway IMO). It doesn't always have to be the older buildings that have to go. Irrespective of how anyone here feels about new versus old, it's an indisputable fact that New York City is renowned for its amazing architectural legacy. Let's hope it stays that way.

...oh, I forgot, this is 57th Street! How silly of me...;).

IrishInNYC
August 13th, 2014, 02:09 PM
Someday the wait will be worth the land-marking. This building reminds me of the Endicott on 81st. Somewhat similar facades, age, history etc.

BBMW
August 14th, 2014, 01:47 PM
I used to walk by there all the time. What a waste of a really prime piece of real estate. This building shows everything that's wrong with the concept of landmarking.

scumonkey
August 14th, 2014, 01:53 PM
-Sigh

ZippyTheChimp
August 14th, 2014, 11:50 PM
A high percentage of landmarked property looked like crap at the time they were designated.

http://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/john_y_smith_house_0116.jpg?w=420

http://imageshack.com/a/img845/5610/xxp8b.jpg

Part of the reason it's difficult to understand why there was not greater protest to the demolition of Penn Station is that almost all of the images we see are B&W photos of a sparkling building.

Here's one of a series of color photos of Penn Station at the time of demolition by photographer Norman McGrath.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-T3Q4yR6nuwI/T85uZu-SJlI/AAAAAAAABq0/n2Gb_JttAgE/s1600/pennstation_entrance7thavenue.jpg

It was a dirty mess inside and out. Many people began to hate it. The railroad effectively stopped any maintenance during its last decade. Contrast the better maintained Farley Post Office in the background.

http://www.shorpy.com/files/penn_demo.bmp_.jpg