Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Out and About in the East Village

In this weekly feature, East Village-based photographer James Maher provides us with a quick snapshot of someone who lives and/or works in the East Village.

By James Maher
Name: Joe
Occupation: Retired, Teacher
Location: Village View, First Avenue
Time: 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 21

This is part 2 of the interview with Joe. Find part 1 here.

When I went to high school, I didn’t pay any tuition because I used to help out in the church, in St. Patrick’s — the original cathedral on Mott Street. I would suggest anybody, even if you’re not Catholic, to go over there because there’s a lot of history, and not only in the church but underneath. They’ve got catacombs and people buried down there.

I went to cathedral school, which was where you went to become a priest. Then when I graduated, I didn’t want to go to cathedral college because that was where you went before you went to the seminary. So I gave it up and I went to NYU.

We moved to Village View in 1964, when the co-op first went up. This area here on First Avenue, before they built these co-ops, they were all low buildings like the ones across the street. Mostly all the stores were carpet stores. They used to sell carpets, rugs, and across the street they had two Army-Navy stores. When World War II was over, they bought all that surplus stuff and sold it in the stores.

These buildings were supposed to be city projects. Lindsay became mayor and there was no more money. Just the concrete frame of the building was up and not the walls, and it stood like that for almost two years. Finally they made some kind of deal. NYU took over half of the mortgage of this place. They still own it. They don’t want to give it up. Then they made it co-ops. They took away a lot of the living room space and put terraces in.

These buildings became co-op, and a lot of good people from the city moved in here. They gave the people who lived in the neighborhood first choice, but a lot of people didn’t have the money to buy the apartments. Many people who came into the building at first were originals. That’s why you had a lot of Polish, Ukrainian and Italians in the building. It’s like a melting pot in here.

I worked at NYU. I was an anatomy teacher, and after that I retired. Most of the school was very small here at one time. They only had a little part of Washington Square. Most of their buildings were up in the Bronx in University Heights. When the real estate transition came about, NYU sold most of those buildings up in the Bronx and with all the money that they got, they bought all those factory buildings down here when the factories moved out. On Broadway they had all these hat companies. That was big in those days. So NYU bought those buildings, they renovated them, and they made classrooms.

NYU happens to be a very, very wealthy institution. In fact, it’s the second biggest private school in the United States. Between the night, the weekend, the part time, NYU has over 50,000 students. They own quite a number of businesses. They’re landowners and besides that they own businesses that people will to them. They owned Mueller Pasta. Langone gave them $200 million dollars just to put his name on the medical center.

I made my money and got out. It was good in a way and it stunk in another way. It was close for me, but it was very cliquish. It was not what you know, it was who you know.

James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.


Scuba Diva said...

In the early 80s, my friend and I had a security guard at NYU remark to us, "What Columbia don't own, NYU do!"

Anonymous said...

It is a little scary that NYU has some ownership of these building (if I understand this right). Will there will come a time when the rug gets pulled out and dorms, or an extend campus is built here? It seems like most of their students already live here.

Anonymous said...

Great firsthand insight into some of the history of The Enemy aka NYU.

Anonymous said...

Am hearing stories that the Village View wants to go private.

Anonymous said...

The Mueller pasta story is incredible.

Anonymous said...

Village View is Mitchell-Lama housing. It's run by the NYC Dept of Housing. New York University has nothing to do with Village View. "Buying" an apartment in Village View is Extremely can pay no more than $20,000 for a three bedroom/two bathroom apartment. It's basically a city housing project for lower middle class people, with aprox twenty percent section 8 housing. I don't understand how this guy would think that it is partly owned by NYU...perhaps he is confusing Village View with Washington Square Village.

Anonymous said...

I know Joe, very friendly guy. I live in the same building. Village View is Mitchel Llama. It was supposed to be a NYCH project but was changed to co-operative housing before opening in the 60s. My father was one of the first families to move in. It was designed to help lower income families move up to a better building (as my father grew up in a tenement north of VV).

Anonymous said...

Hey Grieve, whether NYU owns VV or not I would love to see a detailed well-researched piece on NYU's real estate holdings throughout the city--don't think I have EVER seen reporting to this effect and tho might be more realistically the purview of the NYT or Real Deal perhaps you could consider?

Eddie of 5th Street said...

I am fasicnated by two things Mr. Grieve:

The first and we all must know - what is NYU's actual ownership stake in Village View? Is this confirmed? I cant find anything about it anywhere. The Mueller pasta story is well documented and has sources aplenty. Who knows about NYU's involvement with Village View besides Joe? Like everyone else - I was sure that it was a Mitchell Llama building. I have friends and family who have lived there and Ive never heard a peep about NYU. As Joe mentions, they bought half the mortage so perhaps the true answer to this story will lie in the financial records of VV.

Last but not least, Mr. Robert Frank holds court outside his loft on the weekends sitting on a small folding chair on Bleeker St. Can we get a small chat with him?

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

As far as I know, which is not much, VV is a Mitchell Lama coop. The owner is all the people who live in the VV apartments. Joe is an owner. NYU has 0% ownership and is not allowed to be an owner. But the state of NY puts certain limits on that ownership while VV is in the Mitchell Lama program in exchange for lowering the property tax. Plus the apartments can not be sold for a profit while under Mitchell Lama and must follow other rules like maintaining certain upkeep with building codes and only selling to middle income people through an unbiased lottery.

Anonymous said...

The buildings at VV are not owned by NYU but it is possible for NYU to own the land. Cooper Union for example owns the land under the Chrysler Building and Chrysler building doesn't pay property taxes. There is talk for VV to go private but chances of that happening are low. 3/4 of the residents need to vote yes.

Anonymous said...

Not only are they not run by NYU,the pricing someone quoted was from 20 years ago. 20K is the current price for a studio without a balcony. 3 bedroom with bath and a half depending on building and floor ranges from 42k-46k. Since many of the residents are children of the original shareholder majority of them pay a surgecharge and less than 1% qualify for section 8. Having been a resident for more than 25 yrs this is far more than a middle income co-op. As for going private by laws state we need 2/3 of the shareholders to vote for it.