Jay Maisel is best known for the incredibly expressive stories he tells through his beautiful photography. But in recent years, he’s become perhaps just as well known for his New York City real estate story where he made the deal of the century when he sold his home, the Germania Bank Building at 190 Bowery. What he’s not at all known for, though, are the stories he tells through the hundreds of thousands of memories that fill his home and studio.
Maisel, who may appear gruff on the exterior (at 87 years-old, he still likes to shock), is actually incredibly kind and sentimental. He misses his home and all his toys that once filled the 35,000-square-foot building. Although he was initially intimidated by the size and upkeep costs of 190 Bowery, Maisel grew to love the home and raise his family there for 50 years. In 2015, he sold the building for $55 million and purchased a stately townhouse on Pacific Street in Cobble Hill for $15.5 million. (At the time, it was the most expensive townhouse sale in Brooklyn.) 6sqft sat down with Maisel and discussed his real estate coup, his move to Brooklyn (which is not “the city” in his view) and his most recent New York City photography series, entitled “Jaywalking.”
Hear from Jay and get an inside look at his life and work
Image: Before the 2005 sale
It’s been two-and-a-half years since developer Aby Rosen of RFR Realty scooped up the former Germania Bank Building for $55 million. He bought it from photographer Jay Maisel, who in 1966 turned the then-abandoned landmark into his own private 72-room mansion. After removing the Nolita building’s iconic graffiti last summer, Rosen is now all systems go for his conversion to an office building with ground-floor retail. As the Post reports, Seattle-based fashion retailer Totokaelo (who counts among its designer offerings Acne Studios, Comme des Garçons, Jil Sander and Proenza Schouler) signed a lease for 8,918 square feet at street level. However, the deal only covers early fall through March 2018 for a large-scale pop-up store.
All the details ahead
190 Bowery getting a bath; photo via Bowery Boogie
Though the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a proposal to restore the former Germania Bank Building at 190 Bowery with its controversial coat of graffiti intact, the on-again-off-again spray paint layer looks to be on its way out according to onlookers (h/t Bowery Boogie). Power-washing and a “paint-removal system” are reportedly underway, disappearing decades of scrawl.
Refresh your memory on what’s in the future for 190 Bowery
EDITOR’S NOTE: An RFR Realty representative reached out to Curbed to say that 190 Bowery is NOT for sale. The listing is not current and will be removed from Cushman & Wakefield’s site.
It seems like the saga of 190 Bowery is never going to be over. As you’ll recall, photographer Jay Maisel turned the former Germania Bank Building into his own private mansion and lived there from 1966 until February of this year, at which time he sold it to developer Aby Rosen of RFR Realty for $55 million. Like we previously said, “Since that time, it’s been all eyes on Rosen. Is he removing or preserving that iconic graffiti? What the heck happened with that ‘public’ art show inside the building?”
And though the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved plans in May for a restoration and conversion to an office building with ground-floor retail, it now seems that Rosen may be getting cold feet. Curbed reports that he’s taking offers for 190 Bowery in what looks like a very high-profile flip attempt.
See what the listing has to say
More good news from 190 Bowery! After finding out last week that the Landmarks Preservation Commission-approved plans for the building include keeping its iconic graffiti, we’ve now gotten word that the storied structure will open its doors to the public this Saturday evening, May 16, for an art opening.
The Lo-Down reports that Aby Rosen, the developer who bought the building for $55 million last fall and who is also an avid art collector, is hosting an art opening on the ground-floor in collaboration with curator and art dealer Vito Schnabel. The event runs from 5 to 8pm, plenty of time to take a look around the historic former Germania Bank Building.
More details ahead
After several weeks of back and forth on whether or not the new owner of 190 Bowery, Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty, would keep its iconic graffiti, it’s now official that the historic Germania Bank Building will remain in all its tagged glory. As Yimby reports, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the proposed restoration and conversion to an office building with ground-floor retail. The plan, conceptualized by preservation architecture firm Higgins Quasebarth & Partners with the help of MdeAS Architects, “calls for restoration of metal gates, wooden doors, stained glass, and other elements, but not removing the graffiti or cleaning the façade.”
More on the approved plans here
- To coincide with Sunday’s fare hike, the MTA has released an online MetroCard calculator. How nice of them! [NYDN]
- Brooklyn’s debt is double the national average. [amNY]
- The inevitable has finally happened — 190 Bowery, the former Germania Bank Building famous for its graffiti, now has retail leasing banners. [Bowery Boogie]
- A new city program aims to help independent restaurants thrive. [BK Mag]
- Five teens got busted after climbing Philip Johnson‘s New York State Pavilion with spray paint–not the first vandalism on the iconic World’s Fair structure. [NYDN]
- It costs an average of $82 for a night out in NYC, less than in Chicago, Atlanta, and LA. [BI]
- Futuristic starchitect Zaha Hadid collaborates on a pair of sculptural wooden vases. [Designboom]
Images: MetroCard (L); 190 Bowery (R)
It’s being considered one of the greatest returns on investment in New York City real estate history, reports the Daily News. Photographer Jay Maisel bought the now-famous graffiti-covered home at 190 Bowery back in 1966 when it was abandoned for only $102,000, and he’s now officially sold the Gilded Age bank building to developer Aby Rosen of RFR Realty for $55 million.
Developers have been urging Maisel to sell ever since the Bowery changed from a seedy row of drugs and flop houses to a trendy destination for foodie-favorite restaurants and high-end boutiques. Rosen finally convinced the artist, who lived in the six-story, 72-room mansion with his wife and daughter, to sell on the basis that it had no heat and was in disrepair.
More on the epic sale
Before there were sports bars and college dorms, there were bratwurst and shooting clubs. In 1855, New York had the third largest German-speaking population in the world, outside of Vienna and Berlin, and the majority of these immigrants settled in what is today the heart of the East Village.
Known as “Little Germany” or Kleindeutschland (or Dutchtown by the Irish), the area comprised roughly 400 blocks, with Tompkins Square Park at the center. Avenue B was called German Broadway and was the main commercial artery of the neighborhood. Every building along the avenue followed a similar pattern–workshop in the basement, retail store on the first floor, and markets along the partly roofed sidewalk. Thousands of beer halls, oyster saloons, and grocery stores lined Avenue A, and the Bowery, the western terminus of Little Germany, was filled with theaters.
The bustling neighborhood began to lose its German residents in the late nineteenth century when Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe move in, and a horrific disaster in 1904 sealed the community’s fate.
Read our full history of Kleindeutschland