Waaaay back in 2005 East Villagers and New Yorkers alike were horrified to learn that not only were Catherine and Alistair Economakis planning to evict all the tenants in their apartment building at 47 East Third Street in order to create an 11,575 square foot mansion, but that they got away with it, too for a mere $75,000. Fast-forward six years and it is happening again. But this time it is in the district of City Council Speaker and Mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn, so naturally SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.
Landlord Gary Brown is reportedly trying to use the same loophole the Economakis family used to clear out some rent-stabilized tenants in his building at 221 West 16th Street, so as to create a luxury duplex for his family. By the law he appears to be in his rights, but that doesn’t make it right, according to Quinn. "No one is forcing him to do this," Quinn told a crowd of protesters outside the building on Sunday. "He’s made a decision to put his own greed ahead of the needs of five families."
So now it appears five tenants will be evicted from the building, including David Robards, who has lived alone in his apartment for 29 years and lost his job last year when OTB folded, and Jose Rivera, who has lived in his apartment for 22 years and now "may have to leave the city." Not that he wants to! “I love this city. I’ve watched young kids in this neighborhood become young adults," he said at yesterday's rally. "I feel like I’m a part of the fabric of this community.”
Brown had eviction notices served last week with just six days for tenants to vacate. Worse, many in the building doubt that Brown, who has been unable to be reached for comments at his business Furnished Quarters, even plans to move into the building.
Currently it is illegal for landlords to evict tenants so that they can move in outside of New York City, and there is legislation pending in Albany that would make it illegal here too.
P.S. Last time we walked by the Economakis mansion on Third Street it appeared, from the outside at least, that the family had still not moved in.