BY MARY REINHOLZ | Two middle-aged New York City Hells Angels — one nearly bald with a luxuriant Zapata mustache — were sitting on a clubhouse bench Sunday afternoon. They were drinking coffee and enjoying the sunshine near 77 E. Third St., once the bikers’ home sweet home.
This reporter asked them if there was a broker on site now that the six-story 119-year-old East Village building recently had been sold and was now being listed on several real estate Web sites. It’s being listed as a rental property with 14 units, 11 of them residential featuring “hardwood floors” and “high ceilings.”
There was no contact information, so maybe the bikers could refer a name?
The pair, both wearing black Hells Angels Motorcycle Club T-shirts, shook their heads no. Asked if they knew the new owner, Nathan J. Blatter, they murmured no but said they were still living on the premises.
“I’ll be gone in two days,” said the biker with the lip poncho.
His wiry companion, whose arms were covered with tattoos, said he’d be out of there “in about a week.”
Would they be going to Long Island, where a Suffolk County branch of the Angels is currently renovating a vacant Baptist church into a clubhouse?
“Oh, no,” said the mustachioed Angel, looking a bit indignant at the very idea. “We’ll have our own clubhouse in New York City.”
He didn’t say where and both men turned their heads aside when asked to be photographed for The Villager.
Other Angels appear to have already departed following a transfer of the property last December. The transfer was from the Church of the Angels (a moniker for the famed outlaw motorcycle club, which is incorporated as a nonprofit religious organization in New York State) to an entity called 77 East Third LLC, a limited-liability company linked to a lawyer for the aforementioned Blatter, president of Whitestone Realty Group in Brooklyn.
Blatter acknowledged that the property would again be used for rentals — which include a one-bedroom listed by apartments.com for $2,750 a month starting April 1 for a 12-month lease. But he wouldn’t discuss details.
“I’m closing now,” he said Friday. “Call me in three weeks.”
Public records do not as yet reveal what Blatter paid the Angels, but a onetime resident of the building believes it’s likely they got a bundle.
“None of them were around in the beginning, but they made a 100-percent profit and are probably whistling on their way to the bank,” said a 67-year-old former biker babe named Colette, formerly known as Colette Alexander. She’s an ex-wife of the late Sandy Alexander, the first Hells Angels chapter president in New York City. It was Sandy Alexander, Colette said, who came up with the idea to incorporate the Angels as a church and arranged for purchase of the building in 1969 from Birdie Ruderman of the Bronx, “the rent lady and owner,” for a reported $1,900.
The couple had been living on the ground floor in a rent-controlled apartment that went for $32 a month, and later moved to other floors during their time at the building, Colette said during a telephone conversation from Florida, where she now lives.
Sandy Alexander was a former U.S. Marine from California who once worked as a trapeze artist at the Electric Circus nightclub on St. Mark’s Place and studied acting with Lee Strasberg. In 1983, he gained control of the E. Third St. building. He changed the deed to allow his family to live there rent free, specifying that proceeds from its sale should be divided among his heirs, according to Curbed. That development apparently led to an internecine feud and Alexander got kicked out of the club.
Following a 1985 raid on the club that resulted in the arrests of 15 members, Alexander went to prison for six years for selling cocaine. He died in 2007. In 2013, the Church of Angels, in a preemptive move, began a legal battle over the deed to the property, claiming its terms died with Alexander, the New York Post reported. The litigation with Sanders’s heirs seems to have ended in April 2018, when Colette conveyed her share in the ownership back to the Church of the Angels for zero dollars, according to public records.
She noted that the Angels had offered her “a very meager price, about equal to the deposit we put down on the building when we first dealt with Birdie Ruderman.” She ultimately decided the hassle wasn’t worth it.
It’s unclear what arrangements the Angels made with Sandy Alexander’s last wife, Alison G. Alexander, of Jamaica, Queens, and daughter from another marriage, Kimberly Alexander,who reportedly received part of a $10,000 club settlement to Colette in 2012, according to her late father’s lawyer Nina J.Ginsberg. Efforts to reach them were unavailing. But it seems clear that the rent-controlled apartments that Sandy Alexander once lived in with Colette and their son Erik (who died at 21 in Florida after being struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle on a causeway) will likely command thousands of dollars in rent each month in a rapidly gentrifying Downtown community.
Adam Vanderbrook, an agent with Dolly Lenz Real Estate LLC, a prominent Upper East Side brokerage, said Blatter could get $3,500 in monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment at 77 E. Third St., “which is par” for the area, and probably more.
Asked how much the old Hells Angels hangout would be worth as a sale property these days, Vanderbrook estimated it could fetch about $10 million — if, that is, Blatter chose to “fix it up” and maybe add a doorman.
“The stigma surrounding the clubhouse will trail that building for years to come given its history,” he predicted. He was referring to the Angels’ varied tussles over the years with the New York Police Department and federal authorities on drug-trafficking charges and alleged crimes of violence. (In 1994, the Angels successfully challenged a government effort to seize the building on grounds that members made and distributed amphetamines, or “crank.”)
Some locals regard the Angels as having been the guardians of E. Third St. They even believe that the biker club’s building, still festooned with fearsome death’s head insignia, should be landmarked. Vanderbrook agreed that such credentials could be a marketing tool.
“It’s a hot neighborhood,” he said.