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!
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • 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.