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Mice Included With 95-Year-Old's Amazing Apthorp Bargain

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Ever since the beginning of the Apthorp's controversial condo conversion, stories have been circulating about the neglect experienced by the Upper West Side landmark's remaining rent-stabilized tenants. The building's various ownership feuds have only made the anecdotes of declining living conditions worse. These days, there is barely room to unload the dryer! Today the NYT's Appraisal column tells the story of one suffering longtime Apthorp tenant, but with a few twists. This isn't the standard woe-is-me tale of tenant harassment. In fact, 95-year-old Holocaust survivor Irene Front isn't even a rent-stabilized tenant. Oh, and she used to own a piece of the place!

The Apthorp has always been a building of privilege, and Front and her husband were privileged enough to be distant relatives of two part-owners of the building. Decades ago those relatives helped Front land a prized two-bedroom apartment with formal dining and living rooms facing West End Avenue, and when they died, Front inherited their piece of the building. The Apthorp sold for $426 million, though it's not clear how much Front profited from the deal. She's still entrenched in her beloved two-bedroom apartment, but now she's dealing with complaints typically logged by commoners: a broken doorbell, poor heat and mice that scurry across the floor while she's watching Larry King.

The story makes it seem like the Apthorp is a bit hellish at the moment, though all of Front's problems have been addressed, if in a slightly untimely manner. (A basement renovation is being blamed for the mice issue.) And then there's this:

Ms. Front’s family would not say how much she currently paid in rent, but emphasized that it was close to a rent-regulated rate. Because of her inheritance and income from her family’s business interests, the landlord can legally raise the rent to market rate, which could easily exceed $10,000 a month. Her family is trying to negotiate with the landlord to allow her to stay for some amount less than that.The landlord is voluntarily keeping her rent low? We'd buddy up to a few rodents while watching the boob tube for that type of arrangement.
· A Tenant’s Typical Headaches, but in Grand Style [NYT]
· Apthorp coverage [Curbed]

Apthorp Building

390 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023