NEW YORK — In 2014, Ian Jarvis — along with many of his neighbors at 360 Central Park West — received some unwelcome news. He got a letter from the landlord, Argo Real Estate, informing him that Argo would not be renewing his lease. The building, an elegant prewar rental on the park, was going condo, and he would have to leave.
Jarvis knew that he’d never find anything remotely like his apartment, a generously proportioned one-bedroom on the 16th floor of the building with a sweeping view of Central Park. At least, he’d never find it for less than $3,000 a month.
He’d moved into the apartment in 2006, after living on the Upper East Side, in a perfectly nice apartment between Park and Madison. But he wasn’t in love with the East Side — he’d moved there a few years earlier, after the Los Angeles-based cosmetics company where he’d been a partner was sold, freeing him up to move back to New York — so he reached out to a broker.
“I said, ‘I want to move, but I’m not going down and I’m not going to the side. I’m only going up. Let me know what you can find,’” he recalled.
The broker’s first few options didn’t appeal, but one day he called to say that he’d found something on Central Park West and Jarvis needed to come right away.
“I felt like I’d hit the rental lottery,” said Jarvis, who despite the previous tenant’s waist-high stacks of newspapers going back to the Nixon era, saw the apartment for the rare gem it was. Rent was $2,600 a month.
“I thought it was an extremely good deal,” he said. “I was close to the tennis courts, the crosstown bus. There is a great staff and it’s dog friendly.”
The last item was important because his wife, Lisa Jarvis, who spends the majority of her time upstate in Copake, New York, has a dog. Lisa Jarvis runs a company based there that designs and manufactures decorative hardware for furniture and cabinetry, and the couple visit each other on weekends.
Lisa Jarvis helped him decorate the apartment, which when cleared of newspapers and covered in a fresh coat of paint, proved as charming as he’d hoped. There is a proper foyer with a coat closet, which opens out onto a large living and dining area. Here, Ian Jarvis keeps a piano — he’s been taking lessons and writing songs “in the style of Leonard Cohen and Philip Glass” — a tiny galley kitchen “that belongs on a boat” as he put it, and a good-sized bedroom with stunning views of the park.
“I really wouldn’t change anything,” he said. “This apartment is delightful to me.”
After receiving the nonrenewal notice in 2014, however, it looked like change was imminent, but he didn’t have much time to dwell on the bad news. Within a few days, the building’s tenant association discovered that Jarvis’ apartment, in addition to a number of others, could be protected under rent stabilization laws through the J-51 program (there are also other rent-stabilized tenants in the building).
Argo declined to comment, but according to a lawyer who represented the tenants’ association, leases signed during the period when the landlord received J-51 benefits were ruled to be rent-stabilized. J-51, a housing program that grants tax breaks to landlords of rental apartments who make certain repairs, prohibits landlords from deregulating apartments while receiving the tax benefits.
Since then, Jarvis said, some other tenants have taken buyouts, but he has no intention of leaving and has turned down several buyout offers. (He would not disclose what he had been offered and he said he did not know how much other tenants had received.)
“I overlook Central Park. If I move I will never again have this luxury,” Jarvis said. “I said come to me when you have a number that’s magical because I’d be happy here forever.”
“I like renting, I think the price is right,” he continued; he now pays $2,913 a month. “And I have concerns about the condo market. I think you’re in it for 10 to 20 years if you buy.”
Of course, living through a condo conversion has not always been a pleasant experience. For a number of months, he didn’t have cooking gas, during which time he had to prepare meals on a hot plate. One of the building’s main elevators was also shut down for a while, resulting in long wait times. Dirt and dust were often prevalent; he also said he saw an uptick of mice and roaches.
“Which was troubling to a lot of people, but it’s to be expected,” he said, adding that all the issues have since been resolved. “We knew going in that they were doing a conversion. It’s not going to be the Immaculate Conception.”
And he also got an unexpected conversion boon — as part of the architectural refurbishment, a second park-facing window has been installed in his bedroom. “The dust and dirt was unbelievable,” he said. “But in the end I had two windows.”
The only thing that he really minds, he said, has been the departure of a number of the building’s longtime residents, although the tenants on his floor have all opted to stay.
“It’s been a friendly place since the day I moved in,” he said. “The building had characters. And it still has some characters. The people moving in, I like them all, too, but I do have a judgment on everyone who moves in: They’re rich. The lowest apartments are going for like $1.5 million.”
$2,913 | Upper West Side
Ian Jarvis, 63
Occupation: Business consultant specializing in leadership and succession issues. Jarvis is also writing a book called “Live With Your Lights On,” which is about “how to attack and change your habits. People get to a certain age and stop doing new things, trying new things.”
On the neighbors on his floor: “They’re a really interesting group,” he said. “We help each other out. On a less intimate level, it’s like ‘Friends.’ ”
Five years ago: It seemed that Jarvis would have to move out, but the tenant association discovered that his apartment was likely protected by rent stabilization laws. “I didn’t spend much time on the fear factor,” he said. “J-51 didn’t seem that complicated to me.”
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