Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Residents continue to speak out about living conditions in Jared Kushner's 170-174 E. 2nd St.

[EVG file photo]

Fourth Arts Block (FABnyc) and the Cooper Square Committee issued the following news release yesterday regarding the ongoing drama at the Jared Kushner-owned 170-174 E. Second St.

What follows is an edited excerpt:

Countering the common narrative that artists drive gentrification, many East Village artists are actually long-time residents, fighting to remain in affordable housing with their neighbors, reported Cooper Square Committee, a 50-year old tenant advocacy organization.

Like many buildings in the East Village, 170-174 East 2nd Street has long been home to writers, painters, sculptors, and musicians, including beat poet Allen Ginsberg. However, since December 2013, when Jared Kushner purchased the buildings, 70 percent of the 170-174 East 2nd Street's 45 units have been vacated. Of the 9 remaining tenants, half are working artists with deep roots in the neighborhood, including Tony Feher, Richard Weinstein and Dianne Bowen.

"Unfortunately this situation is not unique. I frequently work with artists who live here in the Lower East Side who are being pushed out by profit-driven speculators," said community organizer Brandon Kielbasa from Cooper Square Committee. "These aggressive efforts to create luxury housing in communities like the Lower East Side are wiping out the affordable housing, homogenizing the diversity, and picking apart at the cultural assets of the neighborhood,"

"The arts and culture are such an important part of the life and identify of the East Village and Lower East Side," said Tamara Greenfield, executive director of Fourth Arts Block. "Historically, artists joined with other low income residents to advocate for and build affordable housing in this community. As important as it is to create new affordable housing across the City, we have to work equally hard to preserve existing affordable housing from being lost."

In December of 2013, Jared Kushner purchased 170-174 East 2nd Street buildings for $17 million, and quickly followed the purchase with the distribution of eviction notices to tenants of the two buildings. During the past nine months under the ownership of Kushner, tenants of both buildings were subjected to lengthy and severe construction work which has resulted in ceiling collapses, eroded floors, broken tiles, cut off gas service, and unannounced hot and cold water interruptions. Impacts on artists in the building range from fear of displacement, to damage of artwork, and compromised ability to do creative work under the stress and noise of construction.

"The constant barrage of emergencies for 7 months — water shut offs, violent levels of noise from jack hammering, missing steps on the stair, building floods, fire department safety inspections — create extremely challenging and draining conditions for living and working creatively," said musician Cypress Dubin. "Under these extreme circumstances and to marshal my creative resources, I made the choice to focus deeply on community organizing. As the communications director of our tenants association, I spend hundred of hours a month working to channel that same energy, integrity, and creativity that is foundational to my work as a vocalist, producer and yoga educator into protecting our homes, and preserving this part of the city that continues to be a thriving and diverse community of artists."

"The overwhelming, lightning-fast, rapid gentrification and over-development of the Lower East Side and East Village raises a great concern for the cultural heritage of an iconic NYC neighborhood," said painter Richard Weinstein.

"Gentrification in New York City has never been so aggressive and destructive as it has been in the past 8 years," added multimedia artist Dianne Bowen. "The bottom line is profit; value is a monetary term with no regard or connection to human beings or the life of the city created by all that inhabit it."

Ironically, the buildings' creative history is now being included in its marketing:

"Built in 1899, this beaux-arts building dovetails modern comfort with an older East Village - that same collision of grit and grace that inspired the likes of beat poet Alan [sic] Ginsberg, who called this building his home from 1958-1963."

Previously on EV Grieve:
Inside a classic East Village tenement before the whole building is renovated

Jared Kushner not done buying every walk-up in the East Village

Two East 2nd St. buildings sell for $17.5 million; will new owner still honor Allen Ginsburg?

Tenants claim: Kushner and Westminster want to destroy this building's beautiful garden

Reports outline how Kushner Companies is aggressively trying to empty 170-174 E. 2nd St.

Local politicos join residents of 2 Jared Kushner-owned buildings to speak out about poor living conditions, alleged harassment

Report: Local politicos criticize Kushner's treatment of tenants at 170-174 E. 2nd St.


Anonymous said...

It would be good if they (whom ever 'They' are.) Would re-mount the W.H. Alden plaque between
1st and 2nd Ave on the North-side of the street.

"If equal effection can not be, let the more loving one me me."

Free Like Texas said...

I live in a Westminster building. Of eight units there are only three holdouts and I am one of those.
Being an artist has less than nothing to do with being surrounded by the buy-outs and the subsequent gutting of rent stabilized apartments.
My long time landlord (before Kushner)never fixed anything, let the roof leak into my apt. for 20 years, refused to pay interest on security deposits, and would not even spring for a new outside garbage can.
Now that the hellish construction is past, my experience is that apt. repairs are done promptly. We have a new roof. Having resources is not all bad.