(NEW YORK, NEW YORK)— When Tavros Capital, approached Benito Barba with a multi-million dollar offer to buy out his home on 23rdStreet and 45thAvenue in Court Square, the tenacious 86-year-old said no, New York Post reports. The other seven homeowners on the block sold for a price between $3.75 million to $6.8 million. The new development planned for the site will spring up around Barba’s home.
Barba, who purchased the home in 1971, has a sentimental attachment to the property. Barba’s 24-year-old grandson, who lives with him in the home, told the Post, “This house is very precious to him.” Barba himself does not like visitors and declined to give comments to the press.
He’s not the only one. Although Barba was the only one stubborn enough to hold out in the face of the offer of millions, his neighbors likewise expressed sadness and regret. Gary Rera, whose family has owned two houses on the street since the 1950s, told the Post “I was brought up in that house,” reminiscing about falling asleep to the sound of passing trains. Rera, age 70, just couldn’t bring himself to turn down the money.
LIC Post ran an article earlier this December about the block of century old homes to be demolished for another luxury building, with no provisions for affordable housing in a neighborhood that was once middle class. Barba’s historic home, like the others on the block, was over 100 years old, and still had the street’s original name, “Ely Avenue,” etched on the corner. Ely was renamed as 23rdStreet shortly after the NYC Topographical Bureau motioned to put Queens streets on a numerical system, in 1915.
The iconic Citigroup tower was for a long time been the highest building in Queens, but it now finds itself dwarfed by new developments in the area, including the new building from Tavros. Although the new building will include 200 apartment units, and retail and office space, not one of the 200 new units will be provisioned as affordable housing. The seven multi-family homes each had 2 floors each—making their paltry 14 units a more significant contribution to the affordable housing crisis in New York than Tavros’ new luxury development.