400-408 West 57 Street (Windermere Apartments)

Address: 400-408 West 57 Street (871-877 Ninth Avenue; 869 Ninth Avenue)

Block No: 1066
Lot No: 32

Landmark status: Yes

Contact

Steven Sieratzki, Esq.
40 Exchange Place
New York, NY 10005
(212) 471-9525

Pillsbury Winthrop
724 South Figueroa Street, Suite 1200
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 488-7100

Owner
TOA Construction Co., Inc.
c/o TC America, Inc.
Tokyo Japan

Bob Kalin, Organizer
Housing Conservation Coordinators
777 Tenth Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 541-5996

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Summary of site plans and status

Built in 1881 with a design that is attributed to Theophilus G. Smith, the Windermere is one of the oldest large apartment buildings in Manhattan, featuring a typical Romanesque motif of corbelled brick arches. Combined with this, the building also has elements of the Queen Anne and High Victorian Gothic styles, according to the City Planning Commission’s report from August 24, 2005. It was granted landmark status in June of that year.

In the 1980’s, the landlord began a campaign of harassment in order to empty the building of its residents. The former owner, Alan Weissman, was found guilty of criminal harassment. (Cooney vs. Weissman NYC Civil Court No. 7174/80). Mr. Weissman was denied a special demolition permit under the Special Clinton Zoning Resolution, which prevents permits, demolition or alteration from being granted to landlords of harassed tenants.

Due to this case of harassment, any new or altered building is required to provide lower income housing for at least 28% of the total residential floor area ratio (FAR) under Section 96-100 of the Special Clinton District Zoning Resolution dealing with “harassment and cure.” In 1986, Weissman & Weissman sold the building and lot to TOA Construction Company, Inc., for $4.1 million. In early summer of 2003, the TOA Construction Company of Tokyo, the Windermere’s owner, quietly put the building up for sale; although TOA’s New York lawyer declined to comment on any matter related to the building, the reported asking price was $35 million.

The Windermere was landmarked in fall 2005. The site currently includes seven permanent tenants, and is the subject of much discussion as to its future. The Windermere contains approximately 71,911 square feet of floor area.

The landmark site is located within C1-8 (Special Clinton District Other) and R8 (Special Clinton District Preservation Area) zoning districts.

Six tenants continue to live in the building but in September 2007 the New York City Fire Department declared the building uninhabitable and moved the remaining tenents to temporary quarters.

On August 8, 2007, the Department of Buildings issued a Stop Work Order. The permit was revoked by the Commissioner because the owner did not respond to a 10-day letter. The complaint has been resolved.

Community Board 4, Council Member Brewer and the tenants want to develop this building as permanent affordable housing.

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UPDATE: 8/04/09

In May 2009, the Windermere was purchased for $13 million by Windermere Property L.L.C.  The new owner satisfied all City requirements, including shoring up the building for the Landmarks Preservation Commission.  20% of the building’s units must, by law, be reserved for affordable housing.

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