Rick Aidekman and the Crazy World of NYC Landlords-Part 13

This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series Rick Aidekman and the crazy world of NYC Landlords

Rick Aidekman and the Crazy World of NYC Landlords-Part 13,

This article will deal with some experiences that Rick Aidekman, me, had with one particular

property owner that I did some work for several decades ago.   He was as smart as they

come and was entirely self-made.   He owned properties all over the City and in some Jersey suburbs.

Most of the properties were what were called “taxpayers.”     These were single story buildings typically with retail stores and no residential.   Occasionally, there were second floor offices, which in the secondary neighborhoods within which they were located, were quite hard to rent.   

There was one property located on what had once been a busy shopping hub in the of a middle-income neighborhood in the Bronx.    In 1973, the largest residential high-rise development in New York City was completed (over 40,000 apartments, a city in itself) on the land once occupied by Freedomland, a once popular amusement park, that celebrated American History.   Freedomland was built on what had been marshland, opened in 1960 and closed four years later.    The newly open high-rise complex, known as Co-op City, pulled the upper middle-class population out of the better sections of the Bronx, with the dream of a safe life, with nice apartments and great shopping, not to mention parking.    With this exodus, the Bronx lost its vibrant upper middle class, which was quickly replaced predominately by lower income tenants, who, at the time, were the only ones willing to move into these neighborhoods.   They were predominately Hispanic.   Over time, new communities were developed, and the next generation stayed and grew into the middle class and upper middle class.

This Taxpayer was located in an area that had many beautifully built apartment buildings from the 1930s and 1940s that were built to luxury standards, many of which had been converted to cooperatives.     They typically had large apartments, tiled bathrooms, large lobbies with vaulted ceilings.    Some had large gardens in the center of the property.   This taxpayer had three or four stores including a butcher and a local Synagogue that had a narrow entrance on the side street with most of its space in the back of the building behind the stores.      The space was about 1,000 square feet and had a small membership of mostly older people who did not move when their friends did.   The Synagogues lease had expired, and we were directed to meet with them and tell them it would not be renewed.    My associate and I said we wouldn’t do it as it didn’t feel right.    One of the friends of our client said he would do the “dirty work and through them out.”     A bit gruff, as he was trying to show us how tough he was.  We then drove up to the property to meet with the board members of the Synagogue.   As we approached the door on the quiet side street, as if it were by magic, the entrance door opened, and to our surprise, we were greeted by a couple of young girls around 12 years old.   They walked us into the main area of the Synagogue where we were greeted by another group of about 10 youngsters and half a dozen adults.    More importantly, we were greeted with home baked cookies, cake and apple juice.    It was as if we had come down from the mountain top carrying the tablets.    The adults welcomed us with such warmth and kindness, that client’s friend said “I can’t do this.   Give them an extension.”   Which we did.

Shortly thereafter, the butcher left, as a result of most of his customers had long ago departed.    We had a vacant store in a neighborhood that was just starting back on its way up as it had only been 13 years since Co-op City stripped the neighborhoods bare of their upper middle-income residents.

It looked like it would be a while before we could rent the store.   The owner of the property asked my associate to check the immediate area and see what types of stores were there and if there were any new retailers.    It turned out that a new pharmacy had just opened across the street and the owner had put some money into making his store look good.    The owner told my associate to make up a sign and put it into the window of the recently vacated butcher shop stating, “Coming soon, new Pharmacy.”    Of course, there was no such tenant, even in discussions.    Within what seemed like a few hours, the phone rang, and of course it was the owner of the new pharmacy asking what it would take not to put the new competitor in the space.   The owner asked for $10,000, which the pharmacist promptly paid for an agreement to not rent to a competitor.     The owner than said, let’s work on another sign.

On a similar property in Harlem, the same owner asked my associate to rent a store on the first floor.    The store was about 1,500 square feet and had been empty for some time.   We didn’t know that the owner had purchased the property, but my associate, as always, was eager to please, and made it his priority.    Surprisingly, he found a tenant, someone he knew from a prior leasing experience, and executed a lease.    Then came the surprise.   In fact, the owner, did not actually own the property, but had been negotiating to acquire it and wanted to see what he could get for the vacant store before he signed the contract.   My associate was clearly shaken by the fact that he signed a lease for a property not owned by our client.   Thankfully, the property was purchased, and he was off the hook.

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