An eccentric Brooklyn woman who drives a graffiti-covered clunker isn’t just a can collector, she’s a brownstone collector with real estate holdings worth more than $8 million, records show.
Lisa Fiekowski’s junk-filled 1993 Toyota Camry has been an eyesore in her Prospect Heights neighborhood for years.
But little did angry locals know that the woman behind the wheel has an MBA and a $1 million co-op adjacent to Prospect Park — while sitting on at least three Harlem properties on leafy blocks.
“I’m an old-fashioned bohemian,” the 60-something told The Post with a laugh. “To me, what’s sad is New York used to have acceptance of people being eccentric, but now it’s like, ‘Heaven forbid!’ ”
Modal TriggerLisa Fiekowski
Like Fiekowski’s sloppy jalopy, her uninhabitable investment properties are filled with junk — an old microwave, ancient carpet, umbrella, laundry cart and toys were just some of the detritus that can be seen moldering inside one property on Convent Avenue in Harlem.
But they’re also prime real estate — one of her two Hamilton Terrace buildings has an estimated market value of more than $4 million, according to a city assessment.
Fiekowski is the daughter of high-flying DC economists — her dad was the chief of economics for the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Analysis and her mom traveled the globe negotiating trade deals for the Department of Labor.
“She was a globe-hopping diplomat. She was a trade representative. In fact, she knew Condoleezza Rice . . . She said, ‘I always knew Condoleezza was going to go far,’ ” said Fiekowski.
Fiekowski followed in their brainy footsteps, earning a master’s in business administration from Chicago University, then working as a marketing analyst at AT&T in the 1980s and briefly as a stockbroker.
“I moved to New York in ’79. Can you imagine? I bought a one-bedroom for $22,000. I thought I’d paid too much,” she said.
Fiekowski, whose husband makes about $180,000 a year working for the city, officially went into real estate in the mid-’80s, buying up properties in Harlem.
But a decade ago, she took up what she calls a “bad hobby” — collecting cans. It doesn’t pay well — Fiekowski says she earns $20 to $30 for several hours of work a day, but it keeps her healthy and fit.
One of Fiekowski’s properties at 60 Hamilton Terrace Matthew McDermott
“It keeps me active. I talk to people in the neighborhood. I guess I was always a recycler. Mostly, it’s physical activity,” she says.
“I figure I make a little money at the same time. Keep the neighborhood clean.”
Her relatives are not fans of her peculiar pastime — nor the attention her trash-hauling vehicle brings.
“My family thinks this whole thing is horrible, but I think it’s so funny,” she said.
Her neighbors aren’t thrilled, either.
They complained when she left the rust bucket parked a few blocks from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s beloved Park Slope Y last month while she was in California for a wedding, and several media outlets did stories about the mysterious “trash car” that had become a blight on the tony community.
The NYPD towed the vehicle on July 10 — even though it was legally parked — but Fiekowski doesn’t understand why it was such a big deal.
“People were so upset that this terrible car was in the neighborhood,” she said.
“It shows you how intolerant that area is.”
She claims she plans on fixing up her dilapidated Harlem properties — although neighbors say the buildings have been in decline for years and they’ve never seen anyone doing work on them.
“In New York, you’re always under renovation because there’s always stuff the city is requiring you to do,” Fiekowski said.