Judge Sets Date to Resurrect Landmark
BY CARL GLASSMAN
POSTED DEC. 30
CARL GLASSMAN/TRIBECA TRIB
In October, Cora Cohen returned to her loft at 287 Broadway,
where she lived and worked for 35 years.
Shuttered for more than four years, the stunning 1872 cast iron landmark building at 287 Broadway must reopen. Judge’s orders. Still, it could be almost another year before its dusty lofts and storefronts see life again.
Randall Co., the building’s landlord and a real estate arm of the Gindi family, owners of Century 21 department store, has until next November to do what is necessary to lift its vacate order.
The date was set recently through negotiations between lawyers for Ran*dall and artist Cora Cohen, 67, a 35-year tenant who was forced out of her loft when the city vacated the building in November 2007.
The Department of Buildings had determined that 287 Broa*way was leaning and in danger of collapse, the result of excavation for a residential tower next door.
But practically from the beginning, lawyers for the artist have been in court with the owners, accusing them of impeding the work needed to make the building safe.
For more than a year, 287 Broadway has been tied to the new building, apparently out of danger, and the owners have yet to make it habitable.
CARL GLASSMAN/TRIBECA TRIB
The city says the owner must remove the bracing, near the entrance
to her loft and in the stairwell, before its vacate order can be lifted.
In September, an appellate judge upheld a decision in landlord-tenant court that compelled Randall Co. to do whatever was needed to get the vacate order lifted. Still, they said they needed more time and back into court they went. In November, a judge issued the timetable.
“I think it’s a logical, very concrete schedule,” said Cohen’s lawyer, Arlene Boop, adding that negotiating with the owner made more sense than going through what could have been several days of hearings.
Kenneth Dubow, who heads the Gindi family’s real estate company, did not return a call for comment.
Beginning this month, Randall Co. is required to file plans for lifting the vacate order, then continue to meet deadlines set by the court along the way.
“These are very clear time frames. They have the ring of a reasonably good new day,” said Boop.
Wooden bracing, from when the building was leaning, remains in the stairwells of the top two floors.
By all accounts, the building is now stable and the bracing in not needed. According to the DOB, it is that bracing, which blocks legal egress, that stands between the owners and the lifting of the vacate order.
“The building’s engineer needs to sub*mit a report to this department showing that the building has been properly stabilized and egress has been restored,” Ryan Fitzgibbon, a DOB spokeswoman, told the Trib back in October.
But Cohen, who was rent-protected by the city’s Loft Law and paying about $1,100 for her top-floor loft, said she has become so weary of delays that she could hardly feel good about the enforceable schedule.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Co*hen said. “Their M.O. has always been to just not do things rather than to do them. That’s the way they were about maintenance and that’s the way they were about everything.”