Lower East Side Development Spells Decline of Old Jewish Power Brokers

Seward Park Project Signals End of Era in Old Neighborhood

Location, Location: The development of an unimpressive looking stretch of the lower East Side after decades of delay signals a political changing of the guard in the fast gentrifying area of Manhattan.
ari jankelowitz
Location, Location: The development of an unimpressive looking stretch of the lower East Side after decades of delay signals a political changing of the guard in the fast gentrifying area of Manhattan.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published March 04, 2013, issue of March 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 6)

Observers see Silver in particular having a hand in the in the multidecade-long delay. Tom Robbins, a veteran investigative reporter for the Village Voice, explicitly blamed him in a 2008 story for that paper. Other articles have made similar claims.

In an emailed statement, Silver said: “From the beginning, I have been very supportive of an open, community-driven process for developing a plan for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.”

Jacob, for his part, has been the most vocal opponent of low-income housing on the Seward Park site. “Why target the Lower East Side for more low-income units?” he asked the New York Times in 1994, in opposing an earlier version of the plan. “We have enough of that type of housing already.”

Yet Willy, Heshy, and Shelly’s Grand Street isn’t what it used to be. Fifteen years ago, the co-ops changed their rules, lifting price restrictions and, in effect, allowing apartments to be sold at market prices. New post-gentrification arrivals came without the decades-old anxieties and grudges. All at once, the land started shifting under the old guard.

“If an apartment opens up today who moves in? Yuppies, and they’re paying a fortune,” said Jacob.

Michael Tumminia, an accountant, moved into the Seward Park Cooperative in 2004. He isn’t Jewish, but his wife is. Tumminia was elected president of the building complex’s co-op board in 2009. That year, the majority of co-op board members elected were not Jewish — a shock in a building once predominantly Jewish.

Tumminia and his allies backed the redevelopment. The new arrivals wanted more stores in the neighborhood. There are signs of gentrification in the immediate area of the co-ops, like a high-end pediatrician’s office and a fancy donut shop. But the trendy explosion on the other side of Delancey has eluded this part of the neighborhood. Some basics are missing, too, like a movie theater.

Upon his election, Tumminia told a local blog called The Lo Down that he hoped to push for development of the Seward Park site. Soon after, he got a call from Jacob.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.