From Pauper to Princess: LES Lady Paid $500 for Home Worth $1 M. or More Today

8evhouse0212 From Pauper to Princess: LES Lady Paid $500 for Home Worth $1 M. or More Today

None too shabby. (Gothamist)

What costs $500, smells like urine, and bears no trace of modern day utilities? If you guessed a great real-estate investment, well then, you’d be right!

In a new series exploring its readers apartments, Gothamist shares the experience of Lisa R., who moved into her East Village tenement in 1980. The building had been abandoned for 10 years, which may account for its exceedingly poor upkeep.

In 1980 I moved into an abandoned East Village tenement [at 11th Street and Avenue A] that lacked electricity, running water, windows, heat, toilets, sinks, stoves, refrigerators and plumbing, which had been torn out of the walls by junkies looking for scrap to sell, leaving giant holes in the walls and ceilings—the wind used to whistle through in the winter. We used to take showers in the fire hydrant across the street, and at night when we came in we’d have to crab-walk sideways up the stairs with a pipe or bat because we had no idea who might be waiting to mug us in the unlit hallways. I spent 6 months living by candlelight and using large cans as a toilet, two years without heat or running water in my space.

But the city’s real-estate junk can be a tenant’s treasure!

Under the Tenant’s Interim Lease program, Lisa ended up purchasing two of the building’s apartments, which were on the city’s rent rolls, for a mere $500. Now, 30 years later, Curbed points out that a 2BR apartment on her block can cost around $1.5 million. Damn, girl!

While most of us would consider Lisa a masochist for voluntarily submitting herself to the dangers and disease characterizing her apartment, The Observer has to commend her on finally being able to reap the benefits of living like a hobo.

kcarter@observer.com