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!
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • 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.