90-Year-Old Widow Last to Move Out at Fourth Avenue Development Site

By Leslie Albrecht on May 17, 2013 6:37am 

Slideshow
 Developers are tearing down several buildings on Fourth Avenue and 11th Street.
New Fourth Avenue Development Razing Eight Buildings
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PARK SLOPE — Lillian Striano has lived on her block so long that everyone who passes her, from gray-haired Vito to the hip young mom pushing a stroller, stops to say "Hi Lily" when they see her on the sidewalk.

The friendly 90-year-old takes daily walks around the neighborhood and is known by her first name at the corner store and at the hairdresser down the street.

Soon she'll say goodbye to those longtime friends and the home she's lived in for 43 years. Her modest wood-frame house on 11th Street is one of six being torn down to make way for a new development. A coffee shop just around the corner on Fourth Avenue was recently knocked down, and plans are under way to demolish two adjacent mixed-use buildings, according to city records.

Striano said a developer told her he's building a condo high-rise on the corner, but Ben Igoe of JBS Project Management, project manager for the Fourth Avenue and 11th Street site, said it's too early to comment on the development plans.

Striano and her neighbors have faced pressure to sell their homes for years, as a rezoned Fourth Avenue has become a magnet for condo developments. Two of the recent arrivals are within sight of Striano's corner: 500 Fourth Ave., and the brand-new 202 Eighth St., where apartments are renting for $8,500.

Over the past several months, Striano has watched her neighbors move out one by one. She will be the last to leave. Striano refused offers to sell her house at first, but her son ultimately convinced her that moving out would be better than living with the noise and dust that the construction could bring.

The sale had not yet closed as of this week, so it was not immediately clear how much money it would bring Striano, but she said she didn't think it would be enough for her to remain in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

She's planning to move to Staten Island, a change she can't contemplate without tears springing to her eyes. Striano was married 71 years ago at St. Thomas Aquinas church on Ninth Street and made a happy home on 11th Street with her husband, Salvatore, who died four years ago.

"My husband loved this house," a stricken Striano said. "He worked so hard fixing it. I'm glad he's not here to see this."

Next month Striano's granddaughter is flying in from London to say goodbye to the house, which was built in 1901. She'll be taking away a piece of the wrought-iron front gate that she remembers swinging on as a child.

On Wednesday, Striano bought a Powerball ticket.

"If I win, I'll buy a house around here," she said. "They're going for a lot of money."

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