For as heartbreaking as it was to watch the iconic East Village dive Mars Bar be replaced by a shiny 12-story apartment building, the relationship between the old-timer tenants and new developer has been surprisingly without drama. Two years ago, a deal was made to allow the longtime tenants of the old building to purchase units in the new development for just $10, and developer BFC Partners has kept its promise. The Journal reports that the East Village lifers are set to move into their new digs at Jupiter 21, which, by the way, got its name because "Jupiter follows Mars" in the order of the planets (there will also be a model of Jupiter hanging in the lobby). The apartments have walnut floors, lots of sunlight, built-in washer/dryers, and views of Second Avenue. There's also a serenity garden, rooftop terrace, and wet bar.
"I am grateful they didn't give us lowlifes apartments in the back," said one old-new tenant. "I feel hugely entitled to this luxury apartment, but I feel completely unworthy of it at the same time." So how did this unusual tenant-developer relationship withstand the stresses of development without souring?
The demise of the Mars Bar building didn't come because a developer bought it with plans to knock it down. Instead, the tenants of the building wanted to buy it themselves, and they brought in Donald Capoccia, a principal of BFC Partners, in the early 2000s to help them do that. The plan was to renovated the building, build on top of it, or replace it. Next door, similar plans were in motion. Both projects moved slowly, but then the city created the special zoning rules that allow for bigger buildings if they include affordable housing, so a new building was now doable.
Capoccia bought the air rights to the place next door, made the $10 deal with the tenants, knocked everything down, and that's how a beloved NYC establishment was replaced by a luxury building where apartments will rent for $3,000 to $10,000/month without a single lawsuit being slung. Welcome to the neighborhood, Jupiter.
· From Mars Bar to Jupiter 21 [WSJ]
· Jupiter 21 coverage [Curbed]
· Mars Bar coverage [Curbed]