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Residents and Shops Booted From Building That Will Be Torn Down for Condos

 Business partners Shakil Ahmed (left) and Mohammad Hossain stand in front of their emptied restaurant Taste of Tandoor. The eatery was forced to close, after the landlord sold the Chambers Street building to a developer who will construct luxury condos.
Development at 149-151 Church St.
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TRIBECA — A developer is booting tenants and longtime business owners from a five-story Church Street building that will soon be torn down to make way for luxury condos.

Cape Church Associates bought 149-151 Church St. for $35 million in April and plans to demolish the block-long TriBeCa building next year, according to the developer and building records.

Most of the tenants were forced to leave the building's 12 spacious rental apartments in July, and the eight ground-floor small businesses — including local favorite Taste of Tandoor — have already begun to close and will all be gone by Sept. 30, the owners said.

“This neighborhood is just for millionaires now,” said Mohammad Hossain, 57, the co-owner of Taste of Tandoor, which served cuisine from Hossain's native Bangladesh, along with food from India and Pakistan. “We don’t want to go, our customers don’t want us to go, but we had no choice.”

Hossain officially closed his 16-year-old eatery last week. A neighboring watch repair shop, convenience store and gift shop will soon be shuttering as well.

“We took pride in our food,” said Hossain, looking wistfully at the emptied food counter. “We loved what we did, and I think that’ s why our customers loved our food. We don’t know what we’ll do next — rent is so expensive everywhere.”

David Kronman, a representative for building owner Cape Church Associates, said the developer is trying to help businesses find new spaces to reopen.

"We're trying to be as accommodating as we can," Kronman said. "We'd be happy to talk to the owners about coming back once we have worked out building plans."

Cape Church is still finalizing the design of the new building, but it may rise higher than the current five stories, Kronman said.

One of the displaced residential tenants was Kristina Loew, who’d lived in her 2,100-square-foot 149-151 Church St. apartment for the past 21-years. She said she was sad to leave but has also felt increasingly out of place in the neighborhood as it has grown more upscale.

“When I moved here Tribeca was a very different place, filled with artists,” said Loew, a videographer. “We’ve basically all been priced out, and replaced by people in finance.”

Loew said she paid $1,900 a month for the large space 20 years ago, and that’s incrementally risen to $5,800 a month.

“It was a wonderful place to live, and I didn’t want to go,” Loew said. “But I’m heading to new a place, further out in Bushwick, where there aren’t $18 sandwiches."

As Hossain and his business partner were packing up the last remaining items in their restaurant last week, a customer stopped in expecting to get his favorite Chicken Jalfrezi, a Bangladeshi dish of chicken simmered with green peppers, onions and tomatoes, but he soon realized the store was closed.

“Oh man, I’ve been coming here for 10 years — this is terrible news,” David Krauss said.

Krauss then passed along the number to Hossain of a contact who might have a retail space in Park Slope.

That type of help, along with kind words from loyal customers, has been streaming in, said Hossain, who left his cellphone number written on a note on his shuttered store.

"Thank you, thank you,” Hossain told Krauss. “We’re trying to find what we can.”