The Fall Of Red Square On The Lower East Side
Red Square on the Lower East Side apartment building loses its iconic statue of Vladimir Lenin.
There’s some wacky apartment buildings in New York City, but Red Square, a 130-rental apartment building that sits at 250 East Houston Street, might be one of the wackiest. It was built the year the Soviet Union fell in 1989, and the building is impossible to miss. Or, we should say, was impossible to miss, that is before the giant 18-foot statue of Vladimir Lenin that stood on the roof, was removed.
Michael Rosen was the original developer of the building, as well as a former professor of radical sociology (duh). Mr. Rosen bought the statue form artist Yuri Gerasimov who built it for the Soviet Union. But alas, the Union collapsed just as the statue was being completed, and then it needed a new home as it was no longer a viable option to display in the former USSSR—thanks, Gorbachev. But their loss was New York City’s gain and in 1994, Mr. Rosen found it on a trip to Moscow, bought it, and had it shipped to New York and installed on the roof of Red Square. This seemed appropriate as the Lower East Side was the home of the socialist movement in the US.
Just as the fall of a mighty Union happens, so does the fall of some real estate. Red Square went into contract last August with 250 Houston Investors, LP, for $100 million. The Dumont Company will manage the joint acquisition. The 13 floor building holds 23,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor as well as 130 rental units. Right now, there’s four vacancies in the retail section and two apartments are available for rent: a one bedroom for $3000 a month, and a two-bedroom with a terrace for $4,875.
Before the sale of the building was final, poor Vladimir was removed from the roof. He will no longer preside over the Lower East Side raising an arm toward the financial district as if to say, “I don’t approve, but I salute your effort.” But socialists shouldn’t get all weepy because the statue will re-appear soon on top of a walk-up on Norfolk Street… why not?
But the statue of Lenin isn’t all that’s being removed from Red Square. It turns out staff salaries at the newly dubbed, “250 East Houston” will also mostly disappear as they’re going to be cut by 30 percent. The doormen in the building were not unionized (ironic?) and were making around $16 an hour. After the sale of the building, they were given only one day to accept a new salary of $11 an hour- or find work elsewhere.
As if that’s not enough to make the statue mad, possibly come to life and crush the new capitalist owners, letters from residents have been pouring in about the safety of the elevators in the building. Residents have said they’ve “been malfunctioning for more than a year,” and “…they don’t feel safe using them.”
The letter that was written back to residents said, “(The building) will be undergoing a renovation project that will encompass updating common area spaces, adding amenities, renovating apartments and upgrading building systems.”
Like the former Soviet Union, Red Square may be no more, but the memory of giving directions such as, “Turn right onto Houston where the giant Lenin is waiving on top of that building,” will always live on.
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