By Sabina Mollot
A building in Gramercy that at one time was the 21st Precinct has been torn down and will be replaced with a residential building. The four-story property, 327 East 22nd Street between First and Second Avenues, had already been gutted for a couple of years and covered with a scaffolding but was finally demolished last month.
In 2014, developer Sam Suzuki of Suzuki Capital had bought the building for $11.5 million, planning to turn the building into luxury condos. However, according to Acris property records, he sold it to Atalaya, an alternative investment advisor in May 2017, who then sold it in September 2017 to Bin Yu Wang for $12 million. A deed transfer filed in November 2017 now shows a Suzuki-connected “Gramercy 1860 LLC” to be the new owner. Suzuki, meanwhile, has taken out three mortgages totaling $11.3 million from lender Calmwater Capital, the records show.
A worker at the demolition site last Tuesday said the new building will be condo lofts. Asked if they’d be affordable, the man said he doubted it. “The tubs alone cost $20,000,” he said.
According to a permit filed with the Department of Buildings in 2014 and approved the following year, the new building will be seven stories with nine units and 74 feet high. An application filed on January 17 of this year asks to put a scaffold around the property.
Suzuki, who once spent 23 days in jail over accusations of being a slumlord at a building he owned in the Bronx, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the property.
Meanwhile, there was a full stop work order at the property since January 16 that wasn’t fully lifted until last Tuesday, due a complaint of illegal demolition, according to information on the Department of Buildings’ website. This week, spokesperson for the DOB said that after an inspector went to the site, the demolition was found to be legal and permitted. However, there were two violations issued because there was no construction superintendent on site, nor was the required construction log book being kept.
Prior to being gutted, the building was a home for LGBT young people, run by Green Chimneys, a nonprofit based in Brewster, New York.
When the building was a precinct, it was during a time when the area, then known as the Gashouse District, was rife with crime. After the Civil War, the crime was somewhat more managed under a precinct captain named Alexander Williams. Better known as “Clubber,” Williams was known to beat roving gang members with a club.
By 1952, the local precinct, then renumbered as the 13th, was moved to East 21st Street.