Tuesday, July 1, 2008

If you're thinking of living in: The East Village/Lower East Side...in 1963,1985,1992, 2000 and 2008

As you may have heard, it's expensive to live here in New York City. Rents just keep going up! For a little perspective, I looked at five articles from The New York Times on living in the Lower East Side/East Village. (Three of the articles came with the headline, "If You're Thinking of Living in: The East Village.")

Renovations on Lower East Side Creating New Living Quarters
May 5, 1963 (and written by Bernard Weinraub! Only thought he did movies...) Article only available for a fee (charged by the Times, not me).

Apartments to be found in the vicinity are primarily renovated lofts and tenement flats. Rentals in the renovated houses vary. According to Harry J. Shapolsky and Harry Gruber, builders and owners of more than 25 buildings on the East Side, south of 14th Street, the monthy rental for a one-and-a-half-room air-conditioned apartment in a building with an elevator ranges from $85 to $100. The monthly rental for a three-room apartment in the same building ranges from $110 to $145.

In a renovated building with neither air-conditioning nor elevator, according to Mr. Shapolsky, the monthly rental for a one-and-a-half-room apartment varies from $65 to $85. A three-room apartment in the same building ranges from $75 to $95 a month.

The emergence of renovated apartments has occurred mainly in the area called the East Village – north of Houston Street, south of 14th Street and east of University Place.

Real-estate manager Richard] Paley places the most favored area on the Lower East Side around Tompkins Square Park…

"This is the last frontier in Manhattan for reasonable rents," he said. "You can live here for 'Bronx' or 'Brooklyn' prices."

If You're Thinking of Living in: The East Village
October 6, 1985
Rehabilitation of scores of buildings is under way and to hear local developers tell it, the sale of condominiums is brisk. The developers of 65-69 Cooper Square, a new building with 37 studios and one-bedroom condominiums, said more than two-thirds had been sold since it opened several months ago. The apartments range in price from $175,000 to $208,000, with typical maintenance of $329 a month.

But prices are not rising uniformly: The owners of a 20-unit apartment house at 82 East Third Street recently lowered their asking price from $575,000 to $515,000.

Rents for apartments, when available, can be high. Studio apartments on East Ninth Street between First and Second Avenues are being advertised at $725 a month, and two-bedroom apartments at St. Mark's Place and First Avenue have been advertised for $1,500 a month.

Condominium and co-op prices vary widely. Sponsors of a new co-op in a building being rehabilitated at 613 East Sixth Street are asking $165,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment, with maintenance of about $500 a month.

In general, the trend of real-estate prices seems steadily upward, and that portends what many in the neighborhood fear, gentrification. It already has happened to many of the theaters, nightclubs and music clubs that used to abound in the area only a few years ago. Most are gone now, the victims of rising rents.

If You're Thinking of Living in: The East Village
June 14, 1992
Yet the allure of bohemian decadence keeps housing prices up. The building stock includes "more five-story walk-ups than anything else," said Gary Brenner of City Estate Agency. Rents in these and in brownstones and renovated spaces, he said, are $600 to $1,000 a month for studios, $750 to $1,400 for one-bedrooms and $1,200 to $1,800 for two-bedrooms.

Luxury buildings went up during the 1980's. But more than half the owners in the Christodora House, an 85-unit condominium on Avenue B overlooking the park, have rented their spaces, waiting out the recession before selling, according to James Roman, sales manager for the Halstead Property Company, a brokerage, and Red Square, a high-rise rental at 250 East Houston built in the late 80's, "still has empty apartments and a steady turnover."

St. Mark's Real Estate, which handles rent-stabilized apartments, said studios fetch $600 to $700 and two-bedrooms, $1,000 to $1,100.

If You're Thinking of Living In: The East Village; From Mean Streets to Cutting-Edge
December 17, 2000

Prices for co-ops and condominiums have quadrupled since 1996, said Jordan Gitterman, an owner of Magnum Realty, which specializes in East Village properties. Though most buildings in the neighborhood remain rental, condominiums are going on the market with prices ranging from $250,000 for one bedroom to $450,000 for three bedrooms.

''Before this big swing in the 90's, this was a pretty rough area,'' Mr. Gitterman said. ''There are still some rough blocks, but it has changed from a low-income area to a trendy, hip area for young people.''

One recent condo conversion is a 20-unit building on East Fourth Street, between Avenues B and C. The building's history encapsulates much of the neighborhood's last hundred years. Built as a church rectory in the early 20th century, the building was later sold and used as a yeshiva for Eastern European boys. It was vacated sometime in the late 60's, reopened as an arena for amateur boxing matches 10 years later and then was boarded up until it was sold to Urbatech Designers and Builders in 1989, said one of the company's owners, Yoram Finkelstein.

Urbatech renovated the building and put the apartments on the market in the early 1990's, but found no buyers. ''We had an ad in the paper in the early 90's, and people would call and hear it was on Avenue C and they would just hang up,'' Mr. Finkelstein said.

After renting the apartments for a decade, the company put the apartments on the market again in September and sold more than half in two months. Prices run from $340,000 for two bedrooms, to $380,000 for a one-bedroom unit with a roof terrace to $425,000 for a three-bedroom unit, he said.

Even more surprising to many longtime residents is the steep rise in rents in the last five years. Apartments that rented 10 years ago for $500 or $600 now go for two or three times that. Studio apartments rent for $1,300 to $1,400, one-bedrooms go for $1,700 to $1,800 and two- and three-bedroom apartments run as high as $3,000, said Jack Bick, owner of Charaton Realty.

''If you want to live in the East Village, you better be prepared to pay a lot of money,'' he said. ''The only way to get anything for under $1,000 is to share a bedroom.''

He and other area brokers attribute the rapid rise in rents to New York University students who began flowing into the neighborhood in the mid-90's. Most of the neighborhood's apartments fall under the city's rent regulation laws, which generally permit landlords to raise rent by 20 percent for new tenants, and the rapid turnover in student tenants has propelled rents upward. Since students tend to stay in apartments for just a couple of years, landlords can raise the rent when the students graduate and move on.

''By their third and fourth year in college, all the students want to live in the East village,'' Mr. Bick said. ''And Mommy and Daddy say, 'O.K., we'll foot the bill.' ''

Finally, while not specifically discussing the East Village, this article from Sunday sums up the NYC rental market:
Luring Affluent Renters in Manhattan
June 29, 2008

For Mackenzie Rosenthal, who will be a senior at New York University next year and who will be moving into a one-bedroom at 20 Exchange Place this summer, “the perks were just kind of too good to pass up.” She said she and her father had “pored over the lease, saying: ‘Where’s the catch?’ but as far as we can tell, there doesn’t seem to be one.”

When she and a roommate moved into her current two-bedroom walk-up in the East Village, they had to come up with $12,000 to cover the broker’s fee, security deposit and first and last month’s rent. “That was just ludicrous,” she said. “But when I move into my new apartment, all I need is the first month’s rent.”

Ms. Rosenthal said that after factoring in the free month’s rent, her $3,000 apartment will cost her $2,750 a month. She worries that she will not be able to afford to stay in the apartment when her one-year lease is up, but her broker, Jeffrey Carlson of Platinum Properties, said that as an original tenant, she might be able to negotiate the same rate at renewal time.


anon. said...

Well done, Grieve.

Ev Grieve said...

Thanks for the comment, anon.

Jill said...

That same recent article talks about how living across the street from the garden on 12th St. was a negative because people aren't quietly planting vegetables but partying loudly. The funny thing is that the realtors use the garden as a strong selling factor in their marketing. The other funny thing is that the garden is a place where people get to know each other and integrate into the local community, which is a very low priority to these transients looking for suburbia without the commute.