Aby Rosen is the subject of a lot of well-earned disdain. The multimillionaire developer/art collector/wearer of pressed jeans has recently made headlines for forcing the Four Seasons Restaurant from its Philip Johnson-designed space on the ground floor of the Seagram Buildingso synonymous with its operationby raising its rent fivefold from $20 per square foot to $105 per square foot when its lease expires in the Summer of 2016. For those who might forget, Rosen is also the developer who smoked photographer Jay Maisel out of his 38,000-square-foot hidey-hole on the corner of Bowery and Spring Street with $55 million.
As Rosen moves ahead with redeveloping the former Germania Bank Building into office and retail spacea high-profile project in a city of high-profile projectsperhaps the notoriously unobtainable developer is looking for all the press he can get. At that, New Yorker columnist Emma Allen followed Rosen for a day of sauntering in his "suede loafers" down a corridor he is in a large part responsible for transforming. Here now, Allen's best quips about Rosen, or, what she learned in his big, "walrusy" shadow.
1) "Last week, with the status of a million rent-controlled and rent-stabilized New York City apartments stuck in legislative limbo, Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to crack down on any landlords caught taking advantage of addled tenants. Meanwhile, one mega-landlord, the real-estate investor and art collector Aby Rosen, who's been in the news for edging out a notable lessee—the Four Seasons restaurant, in the Seagram Building—roamed the Bowery, relaxed and graham-cracker golden after a week in St. Bart's."
2) "Rosen, a walrusy white-haired fifty-five,...turned to a visitor and described the ejection of the Maisels. After the sale, he said, with a German accent, 'we gave them six months to find a new home.'"
3) "Is Rosen a hoarder? 'I hoard only quality,' he said. 'If something is not good, I throw it away.'"
4) "Rosen wore pointed suède loafers, tight jeans, and a checked oxford shirt, severely unbuttoned, to reveal two necklaces—his wedding band on a cord ('I can't wear rings') and a string of pink coral beads, a gift from his children (aged twenty, eighteen, eight, and seven)."
5) "Rosen has seized the chance to do some refurbishing [in the Four Seasons space]; his new restaurant will feature nouvelle food—'How many times can you eat Dover sole and creamed spinach?' Referring to himself in the third person, he added, 'It's not like Aby's doing an Indian or a Chinese restaurant.'"
6) "Rosen also hopes to expand the clientele. 'You want to have the guy coming to the Four Seasons who has the ripped jeans and a T-shirt equally as much as you want the guy with the Tom Ford suit,' he said. 'Because the guy with the jeans, I promise you, has a lot more money.'" (Ed. note: Rosen always wears jeans.)
7) Rosens take on the Four Seasons verdict: "'We can change everything. We got from Landmarks basically every approval that we wanted, from the leathers to the panels to the woods.' He added, 'They made it sound like this is World War III coming. O.K., they didn't give us the hinges'—a proposed tweak to the panelled walls of the Pool Room. 'Who cares?' Nor would they condone Rosen's removing the glass divider in the Grill Room. But he said, with a smile, 'It's a loose item, so you can pick it up and move it anywhere you want.'"
8) On 190 Bowery's exterior graffiti, "'It gives the building some sort of aura, some sort of cachet,' [Rosen] said. 'But, once the building is finished, who knows? I mean, graffiti is nice, like the gritty seventies of New York. But let's be honest—those days are gone.'"
· Landlord [New Yorker]
· Four Seasons Restaurant Iconic Modernist Design Is Safe [Curbed]
· A Survey of the Bowery's Changing Landscape In 20 Photos [Curbed]
· Bowery's 'Bohemian Dream House' Gets Gentrified, Literally [Curbed]
· All Aby Rosen coverage [Curbed]