But there are exceptions. Tom Chernaik, 49, a tech entrepreneur and a longtime rent-stabilized tenant on the Upper East Side, took a more than $3 million settlement, before lawyer fees, in 2019, to give up his two-bedroom apartment, according to sources familiar with the deal. The property has since changed ownership and the building has been demolished to make way for a 13-story condo with retail space and just 12 luxury apartments, where prices have yet to be announced, but will likely climb well into seven figures.
Mr. Chernaik discovered the apartment one morning in 1993, while browsing the Village Voice, and held on tight for 26 years, last paying $3,200 a month for the 1,100-square-foot space. He was sad to see it go, but with the settlement, he was able to move his family up to a three-bedroom rental nearby, and also bought a five-bedroom house with a pool in Connecticut “for less than the cost of the cheapest studio in Manhattan,” he said.
Others still, with the right sort of leverage and brio, have held out for more. Herbert Sukenik, a holdout tenant in the way of 15 Central Park West, a market-changing luxury tower completed in 2008, received $17 million to leave his single-room-occupancy apartment at the Mayflower Hotel, which was torn down to accommodate the new tower. He was also given a high-floor apartment at a nearby property overlooking Central Park for $1 a month, with the developer paying the rest of the rent, in what was perhaps the largest payout for a single tenant in city history. He was represented by Mr. Rozenholc, who collected one-third of the settlement.
An obituary in 2011 called him a “pioneer in the field of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance.” A relative, reached by phone, said “he was brilliant and misunderstood — and, at the same time, cantankerous.”