Historic Germania Bank Building on the Bowery Sells, Condos Coming Soon

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 at 12:48 pm by
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It finally happened. After years of rumors and suitors, photographer Jay Maisel finally unloaded his prized possession. The treasured Germania Bank Building at 190 Bowery. The New York Times has the scoop today in a broader piece about the buyer, Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty, which had been marketing the 37,000 square-foot property last month.

RFR hasn’t closed on the 1898 landmark just yet, and didn’t disclose the price; its estimated value is north of $50 million. The intended plan is a condo conversion with retail on the ground floor. Naturally.

Developers have been trying for years to buy the six-story Renaissance Revival structure, which appears abandoned, with blocked-off doorways, boarded-up windows and graffiti covering nearly all of the lower facade. It is actually the 38,000-square-foot home of the photographer Jay Maisel, who bought the building in 1966 for just $102,000. Mr. Maisel, who did not return calls for comment, has, until now, refused any attempts to buy him out.

“The building is in terrible shape. There’s no heat, Jay lives in just a small area of the building, another winter is coming, and it was time,” said Mr. Rosen, who spent six months cajoling Mr. Maisel into selling the home. “When you own a property for that long, and you are not a real estate professional, it takes a lot of convincing.”

Mr. Rosen, who has yet to close on the purchase and declined to reveal the price, said the building could be converted for retailing at the base with condominiums above, or possibly offices or even an art gallery.

According to property records, Maisel purchased the Germania Bank Building in 1966 for $102,000. As the urban lore goes, the artist and family refuse to scrub the graffiti from the building because the city allegedly rebuffed his attempts to do the same in the bad old days of the Bowery.

Time for the graffiti cleanup crew…

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Photo: NYPL

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