By Julie Shapiro | November 5, 2010
TRIBECA — Nearly three years have passed since Cora Cohen got an urgent phone call telling her to leave her loft at 287 Broadway, because the building was in danger of collapsing.
Since then, Cohen and her fellow tenants have been through innumerable ups and downs as they wait to learn the fate of their landmarked TriBeCa building, which has been leaning ever since.
“I really try not to think about that," said Cohen, an abstract painter who lived and worked in 287 Broadway for 35 years.
But now, an answer about the future of the building could finally be at hand.
Next to 287 Broadway, a long-delayed condo tower, whose excavation destabilized the building three years ago, is finally rising. As the development, called reade57, continues adding new floors, it is providing permanent support for 287 Broadway.
Soon, that support would mean that it was finally safe for the landlord of 287 Broadway to make the repairs the building needed to allow tenants to return, said Arlene Boop, Cohen’s lawyer.
The only remaining question is whether 287 Broadway’s landlord, Randall Co., intends to make those repairs.
Boop is seeking a court order requiring Randall to fix 287 Broadway, worried that the landlord will put off the work in hopes of getting rid of Cohen, who paid very low rent as a loft tenant. She said Randall had delayed submitting plans showing how the repair work would be done.
Lawyers for Randall, a company owned by Century 21’s Gindi family, did not return calls for comment.
In spite of the pending legal action, Boop said she was more optimistic about 287 Broadway’s future than she had been in years, since the 128-year-old building was likely no longer in danger of collapsing.
Cohen, though, said she wouldn’t get her hopes up until she had a solid guarantee that she could return.
From her new studio in Long Island City, Cohen described the uncertainty and turmoil of the first few weeks after the evacuation. As Christmas 2007 approached, Cohen stayed with friends and in hotels, without an inkling of how long she would be out of her home.
“It’s just been really, really difficult financially and emotionally," she said last week.
Cohen was not the only person whose life was upended by the vacate order on Nov. 29, 2007. The building also housed at least one other residential tenant, several offices, a shoe repair shop and a pizza restaurant.
David Jaroslawicz, a lawyer representing the owners of the pizza shop, is still fighting for compensation from The John Buck Company, the developer of reade57. Since John Buck’s contractor was the one who destabilized 287 Broadway’s foundation, the company ought to pay damages, Jaroslawicz said.
“The developer of the project has fought tooth and nail to avoid paying anyone 10 cents," Jaroslawicz said in an e-mail last week. “There is no resolution and so long as the court permits the defendants to further delay this case from getting to trial, they will continue to stonewall."
Neil Khare, marketing strategist for The John Buck Company, declined to comment on the litigation.
Khare said the new 20-story reade57 development, designed by SLCE Architects, was scheduled to open with 84 condos in the fall of 2011.
The issues with 287 Broadway delayed reade57 and bumped up the costs, but John Buck had enough money to finish the project, Khare said.
“Both the design and quality of our project have not been affected in any way," he said in an e-mail. “reade57 is now on track to be a very positive addition to the TriBeCaskyline."
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