Steve Roth, the 80-year-old billionaire actual property mogul, has a dream.
With the blessing of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he desires to raze a lot of the world round Penn Station and put up 10 skyscrapers.
But 92-year-old Arnold Gumowitz is prepared to spoil the relative whippersnapper’s hopes.
The real-estate mogul owns 421 Seventh Avenue, an workplace constructing throughout from Madison Square Garden that may want to be demolished if Roth’s controversial glass and metal supertalls are to occur.
But Gumowitz doesn’t need to promote the 15-story construction that he purchased 43 years in the past. It’s the place he runs his business actual property empire, and the place he nonetheless comes to work together with his son every single day.
He additionally undoubtedly doesn’t need it demolished by eminent area, a chance he simply came upon about just lately when he noticed plans for the undertaking with a drawing of a roughly 80-story tower instead of his personal constructing.
“I look for fairness but when someone attacks me, I respond,” Gumowitz informed The Post. “This is a generational piece of property. This is also a piece of real New York. I also hate to see this area become another impersonal Hudson Yards with nothing but tall buildings and no sunlight.”
Because the state declared the world “blighted” a yr in the past, Roth’s Vornado Realty and the Empire State Development Corp (ESD) — the state company directing the undertaking for Cuomo — have the precise to tear down sure blocks within the designated space. At least 200 folks will lose their houses and 9,000 workers might be out of labor if the undertaking goes forward.
Gumowitz’ constructing sits at a vital spot for the deliberate Empire Station undertaking: it’s in an space the place the state desires to construct a subway entrance and enlarge the sidewalk.
State officers, whereas cagey about whether or not they’d take Gumowitz’s constructing by eminent area, indicated in a recent community board hearing on the difficulty that it’s a card they might play if that they had to.
But to make use of eminent area, the ESD’s plan would have to endure one other evaluate course of, and a public listening to, stated an official who didn’t need to be named.
They may additionally purchase the constructing by means of a negotiated sale.
Good luck with that, stated Evan Cooper, who has labored for AAG Management, Gumowitz’s actual property administration firm, for 23 years.
“Roth and this project are coming at Arnold like a speeding train,” Cooper stated. “But what they don’t realize is that Arnold is the immovable object.”
Constructed in 1921, Gumowitz’s constructing is the type of reasonably priced deal with the place accountants and therapists can have their very own small non-public workplaces. His enterprise occupies the 2 prime flooring, which embrace a dance flooring the place he appreciated to observe the tango together with his late spouse, Anne.
It’s throughout the road from the Hotel Pennsylvania, which Roth owns and plans to tear down. But he nonetheless wants the location the place Gumowitz’s constructing sits for the undertaking to go forward as envisioned.
Like many within the space, Gumowitz didn’t even know the main points in regards to the so-called Empire Station Complex plan, which might permit Vornado and different unnamed builders to construct the towers, till he read about it in The Post in March. The new constructions would, purportedly, generate revenues to pay for the Penn Station makeover that Cuomo helps.
The towers — together with 5 so-called “supertalls” rising up to 1,300 toes, and two over 900 toes — would encompass the thirty fourth Street practice station in a two-block radius. Opponents say the undertaking is a boondoggle that may give Roth tax breaks for the buildings, and impress his stockholders, however could not do a lot to enhance Penn Station.
Gumowitz, his son, Gary, and Cooper have employed attorneys who specialise in eminent area threats to examine. They’re particularly upset that publicity about eminent area is driving away potential tenants.
A spokesman for Vornado referred calls to ESD, which didn’t reply to an e mail from The Post.
Gumowitz has met with Roth twice to suss him out. Once, the 2 had lunch at Roth’s palatial digs at 220 Central Park South, on Billionaire’s Row, the place they ate poached salmon within the library, surrounded by Roth’s costly artwork assortment. “We’re two poor kids from the Bronx,” Gumowitz informed The Post, with amusing.
Then Gumowitz invited Roth to the 421 Seventh Avenue convention room for tuna sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies. Gumowitz stated Roth supplied an “insulting price” for the constructing, so “Why should I sell?”
Now a multi-millionaire, Gumowitz comes by his grit the exhausting means. He grew up together with his household in a $20-a-month walkup within the East Bronx and began promoting do-it-yourself ices from a retailer he opened together with his brother when he was 21. When that Harlem store failed, he bought a job as a busboy at Grossinger’s within the Catskills, labored his means up to assistant supervisor, and met a waitress, Anne, who would grow to be his spouse of 62 years.
In 1958, he studied a guide known as “How I Turned $1000 Into a Million in Real Estate in My Spare Time” by William Nickerson and, utilizing a nest egg of $10,000, grew an actual property portfolio of greater than 40 buildings in New York and past.
Gumowitz misplaced Anne in 2017. His longtime legal professional, who, he stated, fought many authorized battles for him, died final summer season. But he nonetheless loves coming to work, and has no plans to retire — or move, Cuomo and Roth be damned.
“I love being able to just walk over to the Garden to see the Knicks play,” he stated. “I really like that I don’t even have to give folks an deal with. I can simply say we’re a block from Macy’s. We’ve bought a singular residence right here.
“Let them try to get me out.”