NYC to demolish landmark constructing owned by secret millionaire ‘bag woman’

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A millionaire New Yorker recognized for moonlighting as a can collector uncared for considered one of her Manhattan properties for practically a decade, and now town is ready to demolish the landmark-protected townhouse, The Submit has realized.

However critics say the proprietor is loopy like a fox — and set to make hundreds of thousands of {dollars} over the demolition.

Lisa Fiekowsky, 71, grew to become referred to as a unusual bag woman who drove round her Brooklyn neighborhood in a graffiti-covered, trash-filled clunker — whereas secretly holding greater than $8 million in Manhattan actual property.

Arial view of building roof with exposed rotting wood beams and holes.
The injury contains a big gap within the roof, lacking home windows, partially collapsed inside flooring, a rusted cornice and water injury.
Close-up photo of empty window frame in building revealing holes in the building roof.
The town sued Lisa Fiekowsky for failing to maintenance the landmarked constructing in 2019 and received the case the following yr.

Metropolis officers lately advised The Submit that Fiekowsky is now of their crosshairs for leaving considered one of her Harlem properties in such poor form that the 125-year-old constructing within the Sugar Hill Historic District is unsafe and have to be demolished.

The location has racked up hundreds of {dollars} in fines, numerous violations and a city lawsuit over a nine-year interval, prompting the Buildings Division to take issues into its personal fingers and plan to degree the historic brick constructing at 451 Convent Ave.

Whereas the constructing has its landmark safety, town has deemed it “a life-safety risk to the general public and neighboring occupied buildings.”

The deserted constructing — which is hooked up to 4 practically an identical rowhouses all inbuilt 1897 — has suffered from a big gap in its roof, partially collapsed inside flooring, extended water injury, lacking home windows, a rusted cornice and a raccoon infestation, in response to constructing data and court docket filings.

It was damaged into by homeless individuals searching for refuge and has been used as a haven for drug use, in response to complaints logged as lately as final month.

Homeowners of landmarked buildings are required by legislation to keep up the properties in good situation, which town says Fiekowsky has did not do time and time once more.

Fiekowsky, who resides in Brooklyn and bought the Harlem rowhouse in 2000, has largely ignored dozens of requests from the Landmarks Preservation Fee and Buildings Division — courting again to 2013 — to repair the injury or face demolition and fines.

Metropolis businesses mentioned the eccentric landlord — who owns two further landmarked Harlem properties — hasn’t paid a dime of the hundreds of {dollars} value of fines she’s racked up and has had zero precise work accomplished to restore the four-story constructing.

She has solely filed a couple of work permits through the 9 years town has been begging her to make repairs to the landmarked rowhouse, data present. The work permits have been ultimately revoked every time for being incomplete.

Red-haired, older woman sits behind wheel of graffitied 1993 Toyota Camry with trash bags, a suitcase, a hat and other items piled high in the seat next to her.
Lisa Fiekowsky, pictured right here in 2018, grew to become referred to as her neighborhood bag woman who drove round a graffiti-covered, trash-filled clunker — whereas secretly holding greater than $8 million in Manhattan actual property.
Gabriella Bass

The self-described “old school bohemian” blamed lack of constructing entry and a raccoon infestation as the explanation why she’s stalled through the years, court docket data present. She mentioned the damages stemmed from a hearth that leveled the constructing subsequent door years in the past.

The Landmarks Preservation Fee sued Fiekowsky in 2019 over her failure to make any repairs and threatened fines of as much as $5,000 per day.

A decide finally sided with the fee a yr later, ruling that the Brooklyn resident owed town damages.

“After a number of years of working to get the proprietor of 451 Convent Avenue to voluntarily make repairs, together with many violations and an order from the LPC Chair, LPC introduced a ‘demolition by neglect’ lawsuit searching for a court docket order to compel repairs and monetary penalties,” a LPC rep mentioned in an announcement to The Submit. “The decide in that case dominated towards the proprietor.”

However the court docket ruling didn’t push Fiekowsky to make repairs.

Now, two years later, the DOB made the decision to knock down the landmarked rowhouse, in response to paperwork filed July 13.

A city-contracted crew stopped by the location earlier this month to disconnect the sewer and water strains to organize for demolition.

Four attached homes with a sidewalk shed erected outside one.
The Renaissance Revival-style constructing was given landmarked designation in 2001 as a part of the Sugar Hill Historic District, which was dwelling to “a major group of black professionals” within the Nineteen Thirties and Forties.
Seth Gottfried

However neighbors on Convent Avenue are upset the the rowhouse might be torn down regardless of its landmarked safety — and by none aside from town itself.

“If [the demolition] goes forward with out a gentle being proven on it, a cynical millionaire will make hundreds of thousands extra, and an irreplaceable metropolis gem might be misplaced perpetually,” mentioned Projjal Dutta, who lives subsequent to the decrepit constructing and is a prime MTA official.

“She principally needs this constructing gone as a result of I believe the land goes to be way more profitable to her,” Dutta speculated. “It’s sort of a cynical view of issues, however I believe that’s what’s occurring.”

Together with the 4 hooked up rowhouses, 451 Convent Ave. was given landmark designation in 2001 as a part of the Sugar Hill Historic District for its structure and historical past.

The Renaissance Revival-style constructing options ornamental brickwork and limestone trim and was deemed architecturally vital for the realm and time interval.

The Sugar Hill neighborhood gained prominence within the Nineteen Thirties and Forties when “a major group of Black professionals, lively in legislation, enterprise, literature, music and artwork,” lived there, in response to Landmarks Preservation Fee paperwork.

Dutta, the MTA’s director of sustainability, mentioned he fell in love with the buildings and their historical past after studying concerning the former proprietor of his personal landmarked dwelling.

It belonged to a black political activist named Helen Taylor — who broke shade obstacles on the Brooklyn Navy Yard the place she labored as a draftsman. She lived within the dwelling up till her loss of life in 2013 at age 91.

Taylor spent her remaining years combating to get the house owners of the buildings subsequent door to hers — together with Fiekowsky — to repair up the properties, in response to her household.

“She was nonetheless making calls from her hospital mattress about getting her dwelling on Convent Avenue mounted and attempting to get the builders who owned the neighboring properties to repair theirs,” Taylor’s niece, Marsha Saldanha, told the Amsterdam News after her loss of life. “She was combating the entire time. She simply didn’t need to go.”

Dutta, a registered architect, mentioned two buildings within the hooked up row have been in worse situation than 451 Convent when he first moved into his dwelling, which he renovated himself, in 2014.

Each of these buildings have been saved by the US Division of Housing and City Growth by means of a partnership with the nonprofit Ecumenical Neighborhood Growth Group. The Harlem-based group restored the buildings after which offered them to civil servants in 2020, in response to Dutta and property data.

“Two buildings constructed by the identical developer as part of the identical block have been restored to good well being from worse situation … so it’s doable, and the poof of that’s only a few toes away,” Dutta mentioned.

Dutta believes the constructing at 451 remains to be structurally sound given its compact dimension and may and ought to be saved.

“I don’t suppose that there’s any [danger] of imminent collapse,” he mentioned.

If Fiekowsky received’t make repairs, town ought to discover somebody who will, he added.

Attached townhouses sit next to an empty lot on a tree-lined block.
A neighbor believes Lisa Fiekowsky really needs her constructing to be demolished in order that she will promote the empty plot of land to make more cash.

Dutta famous that non-public house owners are prevented from demolishing buildings with landmark standing and that Fiekowsky stands to make a hefty sum have been she to promote the land 451 sits on, which is positioned subsequent to an empty lot.

He mentioned the septuagenarian — who did stints as a advertising and marketing analyst at AT&T and briefly as a stockbroker — is smarter and extra financially savvy than her can-collecting, trash-hoarding, matted persona.

“That aura that she has is, I believe, no less than in some half cultivated,” he mentioned, given her success within the New York Metropolis real-estate market.

Fiekowsky, who holds a grasp’s in enterprise administration from Chicago College, is the daughter of high-flying Washington, DC, economists. Her father was the chief of economics for the Treasury Division’s Workplace of Tax Evaluation, and her mom traveled the globe negotiating commerce offers for the Division of Labor.

Regardless of her well-off upbringing, Fiekowsky, who lives in a $1 million co-op adjoining to Prospect Park, is understood for can-collecting and hoarding trash in her properties and her 1993 Toyota Camry — angering neighbors each in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Her two further landmarked Harlem buildings — at 47 and 60 Hamilton Terrace — have additionally been sitting empty and are in various states of decay.

The townhouse at 47 Hamilton Terrace has an open Buildings violation from 2020 for cracks in its exterior partitions, and neighbors of the 2 brownstones have complained of rat infestations, foul odors and piles of rubbish and clothes on the properties for a number of years, DOB data present.

Regardless of the neglect, one of many buildings has an estimated market worth of greater than $4 million, in response to a metropolis evaluation.

Fiekowsky claimed she deliberate on fixing up her dilapidated Harlem properties in a 2018 interview with The Post, however no work has been accomplished.

“In New York, you’re all the time beneath renovation as a result of there’s all the time stuff town is requiring you to do,” she mentioned on the time.

A yr later, she advised The Submit she’s been too busy to make the repairs.

Woman sits behind wheel of graffitied 1993 Toyota Camry with trash bags, a suitcase, a hat and other items piled high all around her.
Lisa Fiekowsky’s different two Harlem properties, that are each landmarked as nicely, are also deserted and in ill-repair.
Gabriella Bass

Fiekowsky didn’t return latest telephone or electronic mail requests for remark from The Submit. A lawyer for her additionally didn’t return messages.

The DOB mentioned there may be not set demolition date but, however Dutta mentioned he noticed work crews at Fiekowsky’s property Aug. 10. A employee mentioned they have been there to disconnect sewer and water strains.

“I believe financially I’ll in all probability be higher off with a brand new constructing [at the property] with a number of items that may promote or lease for some huge cash — that may in all probability drive my property worth up,” Dutta mentioned of 451 Convent, which is on the finish of the row of properties and whose demolition may happen with out majorly impacting the opposite properties.

“However I do really feel, nonetheless, that it is a lovely, lovely block … and these may nicely be the final single-family properties inbuilt that pre-war mould in Manhattan, and to see considered one of them be demolished is an actual pity.”

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