It's really amazing actually. A few phone calls, a few emails, a couple stopping by's, a few blog posts and voila! Seated at the table at 890 Nostrand, Community Board 9's headquarters, were reps from Sen Eric Adams office (thanks Reuven!), Assemblyman Karim Camara's office, Borough President Markowitz's office (go Ann Marie!). Others in attendance: "Ocean on the Park" Ed, blog-orific "Babs" Rogers, down-to-earth district manager Pearl Miles and Martin Ruiz, prez of PLGNA. And yours truly of course.
After fifteen minutes or so of chit-chat amongst ourselves and with his designated good cop from his architect's office, Moses "Mike" Fried arrived and immediately threw down his charm bucket. It became clear mere moments later that his bucket was full of horse puckey.
Mike told us many things to gain our sympathies, and in fact, his story is quite remarkable. Three times he reminded us that he was a Holocaust Survivor, and twice that he was a religious man. While I certainly don't doubt the former, I'm not sure how the second is relevant. He seems to think that being religious means being ethical, and one need only read the papers to know this is utter bull. Post WWII Europe was no longer an option for him, so he moved to NY where his self-described empathy for the poor led him to build low cost homes in East New York that sold for $32,000, when most were $35,000. The specificity amazed me! That was the 1950's, he said, and ever since he has tried to provide housing for those who have nowhere else to go.
He told us how his Lefferts Hotel USED to be a whorehouse before he bought it. He told us how much the neighborhood needs a hotel (right, and a convention center too). He complained that 205's previous owners had done nothing at all, and nobody complained (how would he know?) Half a dozen times he told us there will be no prostitution. So here's the newsflash for you: He's willing to go on record as saying he has NO PLANS TO RUN A BROTHEL!!
His architect claims he's going to spend less than $100K to rehab the place (she actually said 60K; Mrs. Q tells me the permit typically under-reports to save on fees) yielding 19 500 s/f "one bedrooms." While legally he's bound to allow stays no shorter than 30 days, he was quick to add that he wouldn't turn people away for, say, a week (oops!). And in the end, it's really not about him, apparently. His grandson, who also goes by Michael but pronounces it Michelle or Mitchell (he said both), will inherit the building, so another generation of Fried's can live off the proceeds of grampa's good works. And good name.
Construction starts in the next couple weeks and goes for 6 months to a year. Oh, and he guaranteed that the Pakistani people he hired to do the job are very nice people, and that some of them probably come from the neighborhood. And the black ladies he hires to be the maids? He said they're very nice people too. So you see, he's a real champion of diversity.
I'm sorry Mr. Fried. You have every legal right to build your fleabag motel. But we have every right to watch your every little move.
Welcome to the Q at Parkside Mr. Fried! We'll leave the light on for ya...