Remember the giant boutique hotel that was coming to Bowery and Delancey? The one that took over four buildings with plans to demolish? Remember long-time Bowery resident and holdout Roberta Degnore? Well, WNYC returned recently to the Bowery with Degnore, and they caught us up on the current state of things.
DEGNORE: It’s weird. I’m oddly numb I think. I know I complained, about oh my god, I don’t want to go back down there but, it hurts. But in a way, time really does heal, a bit... Those are my windows up there. My curtains are still hanging.
REPORTER: She has one of those classic New York stories--Degnore came to New York in her 20s. She’s a writer and filmmaker. She lived with a sculptor, and photographer. They converted a huge commercial space themselves. It had mice. It leaked and Degnore loved it.
DEGNORE: That's really true. I made a choice to be on the edge at the time when I got this loft.
REPORTER: The Bowery has been Degnore's Main Street--from its gritty, punk rock days in 1970's--to the latest wave of luxury condos and high end grocers, like Whole Foods. And as that development wave hit its crest Degnore found herself caught in the undertow.
In the summer of 2008, her landlord sold the building for over $7.5 million to Brack Capital Real Estate. Degnore tried fighting. She was the last tenant to holdout. Then her dog died. And she gave in--agreeing to leave her home in exchange for a financial settlement, which she didn’t disclose.
photos from my flickr, July 2008
DEGNORE: I had no future anymore. I had to become unattached. I left my washer, dryer, the plants outside.
REPORTER: Now, over a year later, scaffolding stands in front of her old building. But there’s no hotel, and no construction going on. Brack Capital Real Estate still lists a project for this address on their website.
They describe it as a boutique hotel…with quote “spectacular views of Soho," which means, they were planning to build pretty high. But now the project appears to be stalled, and no one from the company returned repeated calls for comment about its status.