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Low-Income Housing Association Plans Major Rent Hikes, La Sirena May Close

IMG_2995Stephen Rex Brown Dina Leor’s Mexican memorabilia store, La Sirena, may have to move due to a 30-percent rent increase.

A low-income housing association in the East Village is planning substantial rent hikes for its commercial tenants — a move that has already forced the Mexican trinket shop La Sirena to notify its customers that it will close.

Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association’s executive director Val Orselli explained that the rent increases will pay for $400,000-worth of renovations to some of its 25 buildings over the next couple of years. The Association’s tenants include familiar names like the 4th Street Food Co-op, East Village Music Store, Rivington Guitars, Bond Street Chocolate, and FAB Café. As many as 24 will face rent hikes once their leases expire.

“We tried as much as possible to use our reserve funds, instead of increasing the rents of the tenants through big increases that tenants cannot afford,” said Mr. Orselli. “So either the cost has to be borne by residential tenants, who are very low-income, or the commercial tenants.”

“We don’t have a choice,” he added.

The owner of La Sirena, Dina Leor, faces a rent increase of around 30 percent, according to Tower Brokerage president Bob Perl, who will be negotiating the new lease. “Their mission is to have affordable housing,” he said of the Association. “The board has decided to make good use of the retail values in the area.” Read more…

Sara’s Jewelry On East Fourth Street Closes Amidst Eviction

IMG_0395Stephen Rex Brown The shuttered store at 64 East Fourth Street.

Sara’s Vintage and Handmade Jewelry on East Fourth Street closed over the weekend, and the landlord says it is being evicted.

The store, which opened in 2008, sold vintage and antique jewelry as well as handmade jewelry by local designers, according to Yelp.

The store’s landlord said that it was far from an ideal tenant.

“They didn’t pay the rent for roughly the last six months,” said Valerio Orselli, the executive director of the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association. “They are being evicted.”
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