They made him many offers he could only refuse.
A Long Island City man rebuffed what could have been a multi-million dollar payout for his home, and now a 45-story condo tower will be built surrounding his property.
Benito Barba’s brick rowhouse with its red trim will be all that’s left on a stretch of 23rd Street next to the elevated 7 subway tracks and a block from the Citigroup tower.
Tavros Capital snatched up seven similar surrounding homes on 23rd Street and on 45th Avenue for prices that ranged from $3.75 million to $6.8 million. Demolition permits were recently filed with the city.
But Barba didn’t budge. He didn’t even want to entertain the offers for his valuable corner property, which is more than 100 years old. The home still has Ely Avenue — the original name for 23rd Street — etched in stone on its front facade.
“This house is very precious to him,” explained his grandson, Omar Aboelneil, 24, who lives with Barba.
He said his 86-year-old grandfather was a retired baker who bought the house with a cousin decades ago.
City records show the cousins purchased the property in 1971 and took out a $14,000 mortgage. Barba’s cousin died last year.
Barba, who yelled at a Post reporter for ringing his doorbell, doesn’t like to talk to strangers, Aboelneil said.
And he has stubbornly refused other offers to profit off his property over the years, declining requests to rent out backyard space for parking.
Another neighboring property owner, Gary Rera, said he also struggled with the decision to cash out, thinking the property would continue to go up in value over the years. His family has owned two adjacent 23rd Street rowhouses since the 1950s.
There was also sentimental value.
“I was brought up in that house,” said Rera, who is now 70. He recalled the hum of passing trains lulling him to sleep.
His brother and daughter who lived in the property wanted to sell and he ultimately went ahead, with each house commanding $3.75 million.
“I made a lot of money,” he said.
Residential development has boomed in the Court Square neighborhood in recent years with the 67-story Skyline Tower condo building under construction a block away from this project.
The Tavros Capital plan includes a tower with shops and offices on the ground floors and condos above. There would be no provision for affordable housing, according to a presentation to the local community board.
The developers did pledge to commit to renting space to a non profit and has to make an improvement to the Court Square subway stop.
Matthew Kahn, a Tavros partner, said having Barba’s lot would have made for “a well rounded building.”
“But just having that there doesn’t necessarily present any challenges in and of itself,” he said.
He would not reveal how much the company offered Barba, but said it was comparable to the purchase price of the other homes.
Aboelneil says he expects the first six months of construction to be the worst and then things will get quieter.
He said he understands his grandfather’s decision to stay in familiar surroundings.
“It’s his house,” he said. “For him, I think it’s something beautiful.”