Defying their critics, ‘mansion’ owners do return to E. 3rd St.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |  Councilmember Rosie Mendez was speaking at the rally in front of 50, 54 and 58 E. Third St. last week — where leases for market-rate tenants in 17 apartments recently weren’t renewed, causing anxiety and speculation as to what the landlord’s intent is.

As she spoke, Mendez pointed across the street at 47 E. Third St. — the site of a long and bitter landlord-tenant fight that started back in 2002.

“When we see buildings like that one being emptied out of our neighbors, we don’t know when it’s going to happen to us!” Mendez declared angrily.

At least one thing that wasn’t known — or wasn’t believed — is now known to block residents: The Economakises have finally moved into 47 E. Third St. In an e-mail to The Villager, Alistair Economakis wrote, “Catherine’s and my intentions to make 47 E. Third St. our home were always true and genuine as is now evident.”

To recap, the Economakises had moved to evict the 15-unit, five-story building’s former tenants under the “owner occupy” provision, until the holdouts — realizing they couldn’t win in court — eventually relented and took buyouts. Earlier on, in a compromise offer, trying to avoid a lengthy legal battle, the Economakises had been willing to allow tenants to stay in six apartments in the building’s front half as long as the Economakises could have the back half, but the tenants, showing solidarity (three other apartments would have had to have been vacated), refused the offer.

If the Economakises had evicted the tenants under “owner occupancy,” then they would have been legally required to live there for at least three years. Yet because the situation ultimately wasn’t resolved in court, the landlords aren’t obligated to reside there. Still, the former tenants and housing activists had all been skeptical the Economakises would actually return to 47 E. Third St. after the lengthy legal fight’s conclusion, followed by the building’s two-and-a-half-year gut renovation to transform it into a luxury mansion.

However, the Economakises, including their children, indeed did move into the place about three weeks ago.

“I saw the moving truck. They had boxes and they were moving them in,” said Ursula Kinzel, a former 47 E. Third St. tenant who managed to find a new apartment nearby.

Mel, a local dog walker who lives on the block, said she recently witnessed Alistair receive some FedEx packages, and had even chatted with him a few times, and he’s actually a nice guy.

According to Mendez, the Economakises are leasing out part of the ground-floor space to a medical facility. However, the councilmember pointedly noted, in her understanding, the landlords were denied in their effort to get a new curb cut installed for an intended garage to serve the medical facility.

“They asked for a curb cut for the medical offices,” Mendez said. “They had a problem — it was based on the zoning — and it was turned down.”

Mendez added it’s also just hard, period, to get a new curb cut nowadays.

Word is an elevator has also been added inside the place — but the plans reportedly always included one.

Alistair Economakis declined to comment on the various aspects of the renovation — including the curb cut, or lack thereof.

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13 Responses to Defying their critics, ‘mansion’ owners do return to E. 3rd St.

  1. Evicting all the tenants in an entire building so that a single family can move in is obscenely selfish, period, whether or not it's permitted by an overly broad, in my opinion, interpretation of the law. The Economakis family still doesn't seem to understand the issue, or have the sense to be ashamed of themselves.

    • Ever heard of property rights? I realize we barely have any here in NYC, with the pandering politicians telling people they have a "right" to use a building that doesn't belong to them, but what is obscene is that it took a ten year legal battle for a property owner to regain use of their own property.

  2. The Economakises offered to live with most of the tenants. Its the tenants that were selfish in not agreeing to live with the family that owns the building…..and thus continuing the litigation instead of compromising with the owners. It was in fact nice that the Economakises gave the tenants all buy outs, even after winning all the court cases. Nobody in the end was evicted, the tenants all got buyouts and now many probably even own their own homes.

  3. How did a tenant find a place to live in the neighborhood? The tenants always said thy would be homeless or pushed out of Manhattan?

  4. Congratulations to the family. The building looks beautiful, and really improves the block. I find it ridiculous that it takes so many years, and so much litigation, all to exercise your legal rights.

    The former tenants (at least those that fought to illegally stay in the building) should be ashamed, but I'm sure they don't care, because they got big payouts.

  5. CLAJR,

    Why, ithe THEIR building. They own it. Why shouldn't they be able to use it as they see fit?

  6. This is great! A big victory for property OWNERS in NY. I am so tired of all this entitlement that Rosie Mendez and others encourage. A tremendous improvement to the neighborhood. Looks fab!

  7. Alistair is a class act – congrats. It's too bad that these tenants were so greedy and cost him so much money. It's really a shame that he had to put up with such nonsense.
    The building is beautiful!!!!!! Let's hope this happens more often.

  8. nick the greek

    Indeed, you fans and lovers of property owners and landlords, GREED IS GOOD.
    Do they really own the building? Check out their very recent 1.1 million dollar mortgage from Chase on the Department of Finance website.
    But nothing to worry, WE THE SHEEPLE will bail out the BANKS and the "PROPERTY OWNERS", so that they can live happily ever after in their glorious mansions.

    • What's your problem with the mortgage? the building's probably worth 3 or 4 times that. They could probably sell it for 4 million + in 10 minutes.

  9. Nick is most likely a tenant enjoying the entitlement programs, sitting and doing nothing but complaining. Obviously doesn't understand a thing about mortgages. If the owners defaulted on their mortage the bank would sell the property and make all its money back. Nobody is bailing out this propert owner. Its just a 1.1 M mortgage. Nick – go to school, get educated, get a job and pay some taxes.

  10. Evicting several families so that one family can have a mansion is obscene, greedy just plain wrong, the fact that the tenants would not let the landlord turn them against each other, by staying while others were evicted, is a stunning show of tenant solidarity, and a true testament to their character. Of course this is capitalism and you all worship the rich and hate to poor, you ruined this neighborhood, congrats to you if you like living in a times square like environment filled with nothing but rich jerks and stupid gawkers

  11. Legally speaking, owners have complete power over their property. They could choose to hire a removals perth company anytime they wish, and move in to what is rightfully theirs. It may be unethical or against moral considerations to others, but that's the bottom line.

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