After 46 Years of Business, Bleecker Bob's Finally Closed This Weekend

John Surico
It was the record store enshrined in West Village fame; a place where Bob Dylan and Kramer found their favorite vinyls in the dusty clearance bins that sat out front. The landmark from an era of the neighborhood that no longer exists, driven out by high rents, high spenders and, in this case, frozen yogurt stores.

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The Rent Conundrum: Brooklynites Are Fleeing Back to Manhattan!

A few months ago, we sadly had to write a post titled "Brooklyn is No Longer the 'Budget-Savvy' Alternative to Manhattan." It revolved around the news that Brooklyn was now the second most-expensive place to live in the country, falling only below its skyscraper neighbor, Manhattan. But what happens when the second-most expensive place to live becomes as costly, if not more, than the most expensive place?

Let's call it the modern-day urban sprawl.

In a story that would come as a surprise to someone living in 2006, the Daily News reported yesterday that Brooklyn is becoming so damn expensive that recent transplants are actually going back to Manhattan. The slowly, then rapidly developing real estate boom in Kings County over the past decade is now pushing out newcomers as well as longtime residents.

Welcome to the rent conundrum that is New York City.

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Sunset Park Rent Strike Continues Despite New Management

Categories: Rent

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Noelle Théard and Dennis Flores
Inside one of the Sunset Park basements that led to the rent strike.

Last fall, it seemed as if justice was finally in the works for tenants in Sunset Park. In August, after organizing a year-long rent strike with three buildings on their block, residents finally had their day in court. At the time, Judge Sylvia Hinds-Radix seemed sympathetic, noting, "This building is crying out for a receiver." However, the receiver -- who's charged with the task of caring for the buildings while they undergo the foreclosure process -- didn't appear until January 14th.

In the meantime, many of the unlivable conditions that led the tenants to strike have persisted, and they're not sure they'll stop the rent strike under the receiver's management. They want to see the problems, which range from bugs to leaks to asbestos contamination, fixed -- and they're worried about handing over their money but not seeing any changes.

Orazio Petito, the slumlord who owns the apartment buildings at 553, 545, and 557 46th Street, packed the basements of his properties with construction debris and trash, which quickly became home to mice, fleas and bedbugs. Sara Lopez, one of the tenants who organized the rent strike, told us, "Any time it rains, the water runs from the roof to the first floor. The first floor floods. I get mice, I get roaches. [Petito] didn't care. I told him, 'When you clean the basement, I'll pay the rent.'"

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Rents Are Really Out of Control, No, Seriously: Comptroller's Report

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Yet more confirmation that rents are out of control comes in a new report from city Comptroller John Liu, which notes that 30 percent of New Yorkers are spending more than half their income on rent. Half of New Yorkers are paying "unaffordable rents," defined by the feds as 30 percent or more of income.

Meanwhile, Liu claims that the Bloomberg administration's "affordable housing" plan only delivered one-third of the number of units for middle-income earners that was promised. He says the middle class feels this burden far more than lower-income folks.

The city's median income of just over $50,000 a year has remained basically unchanged since 2000, but the median rent skyrocketed by about 25 percent from $853 a month to $1,004. And the situation is substantially worse here than in the rest of the country.

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Sunset Park Rent Strikers Pack Brooklyn Court

Sunset Park residents fighting the slumlord who owns their buildings sang "We Shall Overcome" outside court in Brooklyn this morning.
Sunset Park residents engaged in a protracted rent strike packed into a Brooklyn courtroom this morning to find out the fate of their three apartment buildings.

The rent strike actually began more than two years ago, when Sara Lopez and other tenants of three buildings, 553, 545, and 557 46th Street began organizing against their landlord, Orazio Petito. Tenants have stepped up their campaign in the past month, and with the help of members of Occupy Sunset Park have begun to draw media attention to their plight.

Residents say they're furious over the neglect of the buildings, which are infested with mold and vermin, frequently go without heat in the winter and without any electricity in the summer. Department of Buildings records for the three buildings list dozens of violations, many of them severe, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

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The (Manhattan) Rent is (Seriously) Too Damn High

Ah, the Manhattan real estate market. That one barrier holding you back from the Big Apple's charm while simultaneously making you go absolutely insane. This collection of brokerages and hidden fees turns this anxiety-driven urban playground into a rental nightmare, forcing inhabitants to search for their humble abode on the other side of the East River. And with good riddance.

Over this past weekend, the NYTimes reported that, according to numbers from the brokerage firm CitiHabitats, Manhattan is costing more than it ever has, passing the 2007 housing bubble threshold. To stay in an apartment on this lonely island, a person has to dish out, on average, $3,418 a month. If we do the math, that is $41,016 a year; or, in other words, run... as fast as you can.

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The Rent is Too Damn High, So New Yorkers Are Buying Homes

Jimmy McMillan might be on to something: a real estate research firm has noticed that more New Yorkers are trying to buy apartments -- because the rent is too damn high.

As it turns out, the perfect storm of inflated rents and low interest rates has pushed would-be renters into the market, according to DNAinfo.

Many home-seekers have complained that their rents have ballooned anywhere from 10 to 20 percent, so they see purchasing as the only economic option.

More » Wants to Become the 'eBay Meets Facebook' of the NYC Rental Market

Just one of the items you might rent on
Most New Yorkers are pretty O.K. about renting things, at least when it comes to our living spaces. As for those living spaces, we're pretty resigned to them being on the small side -- so small that we might have to rent additional storage space for, say, our skis or summer wardrobes or collection of whatever it is we happen to collect. But would you prefer to just rent that stuff in the first place?, founded by 29-year-old twin brothers Chris and Robert Jaeger, thinks you would. Chris Jaeger describes the site as "a eBay for rentals, or an enhanced Craigslist for the rental marketplace." There's a social component, too, a/k/a, "eBay meets Facebook for the rental market."

Jaeger lived in New York City for 6 years and says the idea for the site came from his own frustrations about living in the city, in a small apartment shared with four roommates. He says, "I'm an avid outdoorsman, and I wanted to rent equipment for a mountain bike trip. The process of finding a bike was one of more frustrating experiences I've had -- I had to leave work early on a Friday, go across the city to get it, and then I had to do the same to get it back. I realized that the bike I wanted was probably in my own building, and if I could just connect with people in my community, this would all be so much easier."

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De Blasio Report: Uptown Has the Worst Landlords

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According to NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's Worst Landlords Watch List, Manhattan's worst-run buildings are mostly in Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood. Forty five of the 56 Manhattan buildings on the list are in those areas. Four of the lowest performing five are in Harlem and one is in Washington Heights. Each of those has over 240 violations. The top five worst landlords are:

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Most Expensive NYC Rental Costs $165,000 a Month, is in Plaza Hotel

That right there is the most expensive rental in New York, clocking in at a staggering $165,000 a month. The Astor Suite went on the market today and has three bedrooms, five bathrooms, a dining room, a library and an eat-in kitchen.

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