Steve Roth, the 80-year-old billionaire actual property mogul, has a dream.
With the blessing of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he needs to raze a lot of the realm round Penn Station and put up 10 skyscrapers.
However 92-year-old Arnold Gumowitz is able to spoil the relative whippersnapper’s hopes.
The true-estate mogul owns 421 Seventh Avenue, an workplace constructing throughout from Madison Sq. Backyard that may have to be demolished if Roth’s controversial glass and metal supertalls are to occur.
However Gumowitz doesn’t need to promote the 15-story construction that he purchased 43 years in the past. It’s the place he runs his industrial actual property empire, and the place he nonetheless involves work along with his son every single day.
He additionally undoubtedly doesn’t need it demolished by eminent area, a chance he simply discovered about lately when he noticed plans for the mission with a drawing of a roughly 80-story tower rather than his personal constructing.
“I search for equity however when somebody assaults me, I reply,” Gumowitz informed The Publish. “This can be a generational piece of property. That is additionally a bit of actual New York. I additionally hate to see this space change into one other impersonal Hudson Yards with nothing however tall buildings and no daylight.”
As a result of the state declared the realm “blighted” a 12 months in the past, Roth’s Vornado Realty and the Empire State Growth Corp (ESD) — the state company directing the mission for Cuomo — have the suitable to tear down sure blocks within the designated space. At the very least 200 individuals will lose their properties and 9,000 staff might be out of labor if the mission goes forward.
Gumowitz’ constructing sits at a vital spot for the deliberate Empire Station mission: it’s in an space the place the state needs to construct a subway entrance and enlarge the sidewalk.
State officers, whereas cagey about whether or not they’d take Gumowitz’s constructing by eminent area, indicated in a latest neighborhood board listening to on the problem that it’s a card they may play in the event that they needed to.
However to make use of eminent area, the ESD’s plan must endure one other overview course of, and a public listening to, stated an official who didn’t need to be named.
They may additionally purchase the constructing by way of a negotiated sale.
Good luck with that, stated Evan Cooper, who has labored for AAG Administration, Gumowitz’s actual property administration firm, for 23 years.
“Roth and this mission are coming at Arnold like a rushing practice,” Cooper stated. “However what they don’t understand is that Arnold is the immovable object.”
Constructed in 1921, Gumowitz’s constructing is the sort of inexpensive tackle the place accountants and therapists can have their very own small personal places of work. His enterprise occupies the 2 prime flooring, which embrace a dance flooring the place he appreciated to apply the tango along with his late spouse, Anne.
It’s throughout the road from the Lodge Pennsylvania, which Roth owns and plans to tear down. However he nonetheless wants the location the place Gumowitz’s constructing sits for the mission to go forward as envisioned.
Like many within the space, Gumowitz didn’t even know the small print in regards to the so-called Empire Station Complicated plan, which might permit Vornado and different unnamed builders to construct the towers, till he examine it in The Publish in March. The brand new constructions would, purportedly, generate revenues to pay for the Penn Station makeover that Cuomo helps.
The towers — together with 5 so-called “supertalls” rising as much as 1,300 ft, and two over 900 ft — would encompass the thirty fourth Road practice station in a two-block radius. Opponents say the mission is a boondoggle that may give Roth tax breaks for the buildings, and impress his stockholders, however could not do a lot to enhance Penn Station.
Gumowitz, his son, Gary, and Cooper have employed attorneys who concentrate on eminent area threats to analyze. They’re particularly upset that publicity about eminent area is driving away potential tenants.
A spokesman for Vornado referred calls to ESD.
Gumowitz has met with Roth twice to suss him out. As soon as, the 2 had lunch at Roth’s palatial digs at 220 Central Park South, on Billionaire’s Row, the place they ate poached salmon within the library, surrounded by Roth’s costly artwork assortment. “We’re two poor children from the Bronx,” Gumowitz informed The Publish, with amusing.
Then Gumowitz invited Roth to the 421 Seventh Avenue convention room for tuna sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies. Gumowitz stated Roth supplied an “insulting value” for the constructing, so “Why ought to I promote?”
Now a multi-millionaire, Gumowitz comes by his grit the onerous approach. He grew up along with his household in a $20-a-month walkup within the East Bronx and began promoting do-it-yourself ices from a retailer he opened along with his brother when he was 21. When that Harlem store failed, he received a job as a busboy at Grossinger’s within the Catskills, labored his approach as much as assistant supervisor, and met a waitress, Anne, who would change into his spouse of 62 years.
In 1958, he studied a e book referred to as “How I Turned $1000 Right into a Million in Actual Property in My Spare Time” by William Nickerson and, utilizing a nest egg of $10,000, grew an actual property portfolio of greater than 40 buildings in New York and past.
Gumowitz misplaced Anne in 2017. His longtime lawyer, who, he stated, fought many authorized battles for him, died final summer season. However he nonetheless loves coming to work, and has no plans to retire — or transfer, Cuomo and Roth be damned.
“I like having the ability to simply stroll over to the Backyard to see the Knicks play,” he stated. “I like that I don’t even have to present individuals an tackle. I can simply say we’re a block from Macy’s. We’ve received a singular residence right here.
“Allow them to attempt to get me out.”