Why this apartment building in Manhattan is said to be a lot more than its facade

Sometimes, when you get into a fight, it’s good to make something clear up front. When Sherry Gertz moved into her five-story, 726 sq. ft. luxury apartment building in Manhattan in the 1970s, it…

Why this apartment building in Manhattan is said to be a lot more than its facade

Sometimes, when you get into a fight, it’s good to make something clear up front.

When Sherry Gertz moved into her five-story, 726 sq. ft. luxury apartment building in Manhattan in the 1970s, it seemed insignificant. But then she raised the curtain on the high-ceilinged kitchen of her townhouse office and saw the stark reality that was a 14-story building next door. “I just cried.”

“It came to be called the ‘Crowns building’ because it looked like an old piece of marble crowns that someone had thrown off the Empire State Building,” says Gertz, who lives at 24 Riverside Boulevard, one of three classic-looking office towers that was supposed to sit adjacent to the Empire State Building. But soon after the co-op building was completed in the 1960s, a cement company led by Daniel Seltzer, now deceased, started grumbling about the concrete retaining wall and painted it the same color. The next day, Gertz says, employees began arriving to “see what the fuss was about.”

In 1972, an architectural firm named Shapiro Murch, working on behalf of the Seltzer family, sued Gertz and all the other tenants in their building over what they said was the lack of adequate parking in the basement. Even though Gertz says they built their underground garage with plenty of parking space, Shapiro Murch asked that her parking spaces be made into apartments. They won and in 1974, Gertz was forced to move from her headquarters to an apartment in the building’s one-story brick-frame basement.

After the court settlement, Gertz put up a sign declaring the building’s next phase a new, “Exclusive Site” and the court agreed that the new residents’ businesses would not be accessible to “any external control by the alien customers who may come from outside the ‘exclusive’ zone,” according to The New York Times. But then, about seven years later, Gertz says the owner (one of the Seltzer family) expanded the one-story parking lot. So, she says, they changed their story, claiming that the parking space went to non-residential use. When the land owner was found guilty of the same thing in a later civil court, the state Supreme Court determined that despite the claim, Gertz and her co-op owners’ leases had remained intact.

Now, in 2017, Gertz and several other disgruntled tenants say they’re being harassed and threatened by police over a lawsuit filed by Seltzer, who is said to own 85% of the property. They point to threats that “traffic will be returned to its original form and properties will be essentially abandoned.” But they say that to date, security guards and police officers continue to “aggressively protect the driver’s project,” according to the lawsuit.

Gertz now keeps her house “locked down” and generally keeps a lower profile, just as her neighbors do, after she says they have felt under attack by armed security guards.

“The problem is they have put up signs in front of my house and people are scared to come down here because they will be shot,” Gertz said.

The Forum, which publishes Newsweek, is a part of the William F. Buckley Jr. Family Foundation. Members of the media should be vigilant for suspected hackers.

Leave a Comment