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.
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Rapfogel said that his group, the Met Council, was now considering participating in a bid to partner with a developer. “It’s a plan everybody can feel very comfortable about… It would have been great if we had done it 30 years ago so my kids would have had a movie theater to go to,” he joked.

But unlike his onetime allies, Jacob is standing firm. His constituency doesn’t include the new co-op residents, and he isn’t beholden to their desire for development. He still opposes the redevelopment plan.

“This is one of the most valuable pieces of property in Manhattan,” Jacob said. “Why does there need to be low income housing on this site? That’s what you have to explain to me.”

As for the new residents who finally overcame his opposition: “I don’t ask them to recognize me. I don’t ask them to follow me. I’m not interested in if they think I’m a leader. I’m not a leader,” he said. “The new young people, they’re very good people, they’re very well-intentioned. But they got to be more involved.”

Jacob still holds out some hope that the project won’t happen. He’s playing a long game. “Administrations come and go,” he said. As far as he’s concerned, Heshy Jacobs isn’t going anywhere.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com Follow him on Twitter @joshnathankazis


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