The long-running dispute between the owners of 47 East 3rd Street and their rent-stabilized tenants seems over, as the Court of the Appeals ruled the owners can evict tenants from the 60-room building in order to create a single super-duper residence.
Alistair and Catherine Economakis took over the 15 apartment building a few years ago, after buying it for $1 million (and knowing it had rent-stabilized tenants). They told tenants, who pay $600-1200/month, they would need to vacate because of conversion plans to turn it into a "five-bedroom, six-bathroom home for themselves and their child - with a gym, a two-story living room with a walkway overhanging it, and a bedroom suite for a nanny." However, some tenants were suspicious that they were being kicked out for the building to be converted and sold as condos and took the couple to court.
Last year, a Manhattan appeals court decided the Economakises could take over the building, and the State appeals court upheld the decision, but added that the family prove to Housing Court that they will live in it. The Economakises lawyer told the Post they have already converted 40% of the 11,000+ square foot building into a "super-apartment" for themselves and their two kids, but "They want to expand the home they already have in the building."
The lawyer representing the tenants, Stephen Dobkin (disclosure: father of Jake Dobkin), said, "At a time of a really grave housing shortage, it's a matter of serious concern that an owner can be permitted to obtain 15 apartments for his own use." In the past, Dobkin has said the conversion is "the kind of thing that spoiled brats would do."
The Economakises even created a website to explain their side of the story (some of the tenants' response here -- Alistair is the son of a Greek shipping magnate, Catherine is daughter of a Columbia dean). And the stock of rent-stabilized apartments has gone down 4% while complaints of landlord harassing tenants has gone up 31%, according to the Rent Guidelines Board.