What’s Up At The Place Known Formerly As The Greenpoint Hotel
Filed under: 11222, Criminal Activity, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Vinyl Siding
As I mentioned previously, the weather was such that I had to find alternative means of entertaining myself and/or news gathering. First on my agenda (after working) was visiting Emi at Dog Habitat. I quickly rushed home, took a shower and ran off to my next engagement: Community Board 1′s Human Services (Shelter, Social Services, Aging, Disability Concerns, Health) Committee meeting.
This might not seem like the typical person’s idea of how to spend a Thursday night. Given the dismal turn-out— only two committee members were present— I’d say this is a fair assessment. But then again, I am not typical. I’m a weirdo (hence why I live in Greenpoint: I feel at home). What’s more, my mission had a purpose: the new owner of the Greenpoint Hotel was slated to speak. And speak he did. I was all ears (and some mouth).
Follows a general outline of the proceedings (NOTE: some of the following content is redundant to what I have posted already. By omitting it the natural “flow” of the discussion would be lost— so I kept it) :
First Mr. Deutchman introduced himself, made mention that he owns and operates a number of SROs in the city and gave a background as to how he acquired the property:
- He bought the property from the bank (foreclosure or seizure?) at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and D.E.A.’s discretion.
- He was the fifth bidder. The previous four bidders were rejected.
- He paid $3.5 million dollars for the property.
- This includes the laundromat next door (which can be seen above).
- This facility (I can honestly find no other word to describe this hodgepodge of buildings) sports 200 rooms. Just rooms. All plumbing (READ: bathrooms, sinks, etc.) is communal.
- The parcel in its entirety is 55,000 square feet.
- Although Mr. Deutchman was promised there would be 75 residents at signing. There were, in fact, 120 occupied rooms. This number has since been brought down to 80. (I will go into how later.)
- At the time of purchase this building had 300 open violations, this has since been brought down to 8.
- All structural remedies have been made, what is lacking is a “Certificate of Fitness”.
- A fire consultant has been hired to help this complex become fire code complaint.
- The exterior has been given a total overhaul. Including a healthy dose of Greenpoint’s personal panache/panacea of choice: aluminum siding!
Inasmuch as some of you might find what I am about to write hard to believe, it is the truth: this is a big improvement. But back to the subject.
- The only entrance to this building is on Manhattan Avenue. The fire exits are now self-closing and have alarms (so as to preclude people from using them in cases other than an emergency).
- Visitors are required to present valid ID to visit.
- The party being visited must meet the person in the lobby and take him (or her) back to his room.
- Fire safety directors have been hired.
- A web-based security system has been installed. It should be entirely “up and running” soon.
- The laundromat will stay. Mr. Deutchman is interested in expanding it to a full-service facility that will offer dry-cleaning.
As you can imagine, questions and concerns arose as to how current tenants are being handled. Here’s his answer:
- Upon taking possession of the property Mr. Deutchman posted notices stating he was tendering the rent roll over the the NYPD to review for unregistered sex offenders and parole-skippers.
- Some have been “bought out” through negotiation between his layer and MFY, a legal service.
- Some will be evicted for non-payment of rent. Apparently a number of tenants having (and understandably) grown tired of the squalid conditions in this building decided to quit paying rent and this was upheld in housing court. Now that the repairs have been made (which is what Mr. Deutchman purports), collecting rent from some of them has proved to be problematic.
- Mr. Deutchman has reached out to various social service agencies (the Veterans Administration among them) to help rehouse them.
- Mr. Deutchman faces paying $500,000 in rental over-charge payments to current tenants because (hang with me here, this gets interesting)…
- Any tenant who lives in a SRO more than 28 days becomes a rent-stabilized tenant, e.g.; someone who moves in paying $215 a month after 28 days will continue paying $215 a month until the rent can be legally raised. Per the rules and regulations as established by the DHCR. Division of Housing Renewal & Control.
- Per Mr. Deutchman a number of the previous owners violated the law and charged rents that were above the allowable legal limit.
And, I suspect, Mr. Deutchman’s predecessors did other things to circumvent the law. Some of the old(ish) timers reading this might remember Sammy. He was a local celebrity of sorts. If my memory serves me correctly he was once featured in the Village Voice— or was it the NYPress? I forget which. In any case, the article in question made light of Sammy’s Solomon-like wisdom when dealing with a dispute over an objet d’art (READ: cheap piece of ceramic crap) at the Salvation Army (where he worked). Two women argued vociferously over who had found the item in question first. After hearing their arguments Sammy rendered his verdict: he dropped said object onto the floor, thus rendering it into numerous pieces the two women could split amongst themselves. Problem solved.
Despite what the previous anecdote might suggest Sammy had a big heart. We were friends and it broke my heart when I heard he died (of a heart attack— he was only 51 years old). Sammy was a resident of the Greenpoint Hotel. One of the things he mentioned (mind you, this was back in 2001 or 2002) was their modus operandi of having the tenants stay there for three weeks (21 days), then stay somewhere else for one, only to return for another three weeks (repeat cycle). As crazy as Sammy’s story sounded at the time given what Mr. Deutchman said it makes sense. Sammy hated living there— as have others I know. Some food for thought— now back to my “minutes”.
The question was raised by the chair as to why Mr. Deutchman didn’t want to operate a proper hotel. I for one found this query amusing given the number of nondos which have been employed for such a purpose. Albeit, illegally. Mr. Deutchman made it known:
- He does not want to run a hotel.
- He wants to operate a SRO…
- along the lines of an “assisted living facility” or “supported housing”:, e.g.; an adult home…
- with the cooperation/oversight of an organization (such as the Veterans Administration, to use an example)
- to this end he has filed RFPs (request for proposals).
- As he reiterated will be the landlord, and they will administrate day-to-day stuff.
- In the meantime he wants to vacate the building entirely of tenants and start anew. When asked by the committee chair how long this might take Mr. Deutchman said three years.
THE FUTURE OF 1109-1113 MANHATTAN AVENUE
The committee chair asked the $64,000 question: given you have purchased such a large parcel of property, why not develop it?
Mr. Deutchman replied that at some point he would like to build “market-rate” housing on the site. “16 units” (which I would deduce to be 16 floors, I haven’t done the “math” but a footprint that big could plausibly be employed). In any case the chair, did and offered (as a fellow landlord) advise he go higher. Yup.
New York Shitty analysis:
- Mr. Deutchman has a contingency plan.
- He will develop this property. This is a given.
- He will employ it as an SRO in the interim— or given the time line he provided— skip this step and go to point #2.
- I am not against an SRO on this property provided it is well managed and maintained. I take a much broader view of “affordable housing” than many in my community do. In my world view an allocation of X units to be sold to families earning $45,000 or less in a tower does not constitute affordable housing. What I want to see (and what the market here really needs) are affordable RENTAL units, be they two bedrooms, one bedrooms, studio apartments or SROs. If the tenants of this hypothetical SRO are long-term residents, as opposed to transients (which seems to have been the prevailing trend at the “Greenpoint Hotel”) and/or a co-educational college dormitory (which is pretty much what the Northside of Williamsburg has become and what the Marzili Hostel was) methinks they’ll become part of the community and be (for the most part) good neighbors.
- Sooner or later we’re going to see something big at the corner of Clay Street and Manhattan Avenue.
My feelings are mixed. On the one hand, I hate towers. On the other, I do have to acknowledge that Mr. Deutchman has made numerous improvements to the place formerly known as the Greenpoint Hotel. Inside and out. The lobby is painted in cheerful (a term I never thought I would attribute to this establishment) hues of bright green and orange. It needs to be seen in person to truly be believed. The regular visitations by the police and fire department have abated— or at least subsided substantially.* Which brings me back to one thing Mr. Deutchman mentioned repeatedly: a desire for the NYPD canvass the area and the building proper.
On that note, the next and last 94th Precinct Community Council Meeting for the year will be this upcoming Monday, November 16. Given the wife of a good friend of mine was almost mugged on Roebling and North 8 Street earlier this week (at 7:00 p.m.) I am certain it will be interesting.**
P.S.: This post is dedicated to the Human Services Committee Member who asked how my raccoon problem was going. I assured him it has stopped. THANK GOD. I’m genuinely sorry your friend in Little Neck got bit and had to go through a series of rabies shots. All nine of them. That sucks. Big time.
*If you care to dispute this please tender your observations via comments or email them via my “tips” page.
**Here’s his account:
Last night was parent teacher night at my two sonâ€™s school. Since my wife is a teacher she like to go to meet his teachers since I pick up my kids and drop them off everyday. As she was heading out she told me that her girlfriend who I believed she would be walking with had an earlier appointment and she would be going alone.
I got a bad felling and I actually asked her to take the car the seven blocks we normally walk. I did not want her walking under the BQE alone, even though it was only a little before seven pm. She said no and reminded me how hard it is to park by the school. She assured me she would be careful. The phone rang a little after eight and I answered the phone. It was my wife. She was screaming for me to run down the block because two men had just attempted to rob her. I ran out of my house to see my wife coming up our block crying and screaming. I got her inside and she explained that she had decided to walk up North 8th street instead of north 7th because it was closer to the church and better lit. As she walked up North 8th toward Roebling she was on her old, not fancy cell phone talking to her mother. Two men walked by her. Something told her to look back a few seconds later and she saw the two men closing in on her. They told her to give them everything she had. She started to scream at the top of her lungs. Police, I am being robbed, Police over and over. The two men ran away and my wife then called me and ran the block and a half to our home. We immediately called 911 and then the 94th to report what happened. A car came about a half hour later. The officers took a description of the two but did not fill out any paperwork and left. Although my wife was lucky no physical harm occurred and nothing was taken, I fear that this violation of trust that she now fears walking in our community at night is going to be difficult to overcome. I also am angry that these men are lurking in our community and probably found someone else to rob and will do it again. I also thought about my wifeâ€™s mother who is in her seventies and had to hear her daughter screaming over a cell phone not being able to help her. I have been complaining for the last two years that things are not so swell in Williamsburg. I should have went with my gut last night. I will have to live with that decision but I am happy my wife is physically safe. Be careful out there.