From The New York Shitty Inbox: Apartments For Rent At 239 Banker?

January 8, 2012 by
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

An anonymous tipster writes:

Hello Heather,

I’ve been apartment hunting in Greenpoint and responded to this Craigslist ad about a “newly converted warehouse”:

The agent set up a showing with me today, and told me to meet her at the corner of Meserole and Franklin. When I arrived, she was 10 minutes late, so I called her phone and she told me to come meet her outside of 239 Banker.

Well I know quite a bit about 239 Banker, thanks to your blog. And I couldn’t resist going in and having a look-see.

I asked the agent whether this is the same building where all the tenants were forced out because the building was unsafe/illegal. She tried dodging the question at first but eventually conceded that it was in fact the same building. I then asked her if the building was still owned by the same guy, and whether it was up to code/legal. She assured me it was and that he had fixed all of those issues.

She showed me a number of units on the 4th floor, all priced between $3000 for a moderately-sized studio loft up to $3300 for a larger loft, and apparently all prices are negotiable. In fact when I told her I’d looked at a different loft building on Kent (59 Kent), she pressed me for details on how much they were charging for units there.

I’d say the units seem semi-habitable. Some looked as though they’d recently been spruced up, most did not yet have any appliances, and the laundry rooms did not have any machines in them. One unit still had evidence of the old tenants- a makeshift lofted space still intact, and some artwork left sitting above the kitchen cabinets.

One unit I looked at literally had a hole in the brick wall about the size of a baseball that went straight through to the outdoors. I joked that perhaps there were squirrels living in the unit. The agent did not seem amused.

Many of the floors showed signs of water/environmental damage. They were uneven in many units, and peeling up in others. It’s actually quite sad, because the space could be very nice. The original details are great, and the square footage of the units are pretty well-sized.

Anyways, I thought I’d let you know because I’m VERY curious to know if 239 Banker is legally habitable. Regardless, I won’t be renting there given the history of the building.

To address Anonymous’s question, the answer is an emphatic NO.

239 Banker Street is located in an Industrial Business Zone. Curiously enough, hotels are permissible in such areas (take the proliferation of such establishments on the Northside, for example). Residential property, however, is not. The owners of 239 Banker Street could seek a zoning variance through our local Community Board to make this arrangement legal. (They haven’t.) They can also file paperwork with the Department of Buildings to “convert” this manufacturing property into residential. This they tried…

and it was declined. Inasmuch as I can ascertain work has been conducted on this property without the auspices of any applicable permits whatsoever. Peruse the permits on file and see for yourself. This just goes to show if something strikes you as being amiss about an apartment you are viewing, gentle readers, it is best to go with those instincts (and consult the Department of Buildings’s Building Information System).

Caveat emptor, apartment shoppers.

UPDATE, January 9, 2012: It would appear this tome has come to the attention of a former resident. Here’s what he/she has to say:

Hilarious! Those pictures (well, two of them) are of my former pad pre-vacate order.


UPDATE, January 9, 2012; 5:40 p.m.: A tipster found these units listed on Street Easy.

He/she writes:


All units are up on street easy as available.  I started a discussion at the bottom.  Good looking out.

While this is clearly a listing from the previous owner, it is informative nonetheless. In 2009 these “units” went for $2,100 plus. Three years later you can have the luxury of living in this illegal apartment building at the starting price of $3,000 a month! Nice.

P.S.: In the event the above-mentioned apartment advertisement is removed by Craigslist, you can view a screencap of it by clicking here. Do give it a read. Your truly’s favorite passage is as follows:

Several units to choose from at this point! Some are complete 2 or 3 bedrooms while other are beautiful open spaces.

One has to admire this rather artful spin on an illegal (and unfinished) apartment building. And yes, there are plenty of units to choose from after a building has been, say, vacated by the Department of Buildings for conditions imminently perilous to human life. Genius!


11 Comments on From The New York Shitty Inbox: Apartments For Rent At 239 Banker?

  1. NewtownCreek on Sun, 8th Jan 2012 11:03 pm
  2. The “broker” also advertises “call me for a good time [viewing an apartment]” “your fingers and your soul are yearning [for a piano lesson]” and needs a new hard drive installed on her Mac according to Google.

  3. Peter on Sun, 8th Jan 2012 11:26 pm
  4. It looks as if the zoning change denial was 11 months ago, could something have happened subsequent to then that is not yet shown on the DOB’s site?

  5. missheather on Sun, 8th Jan 2012 11:39 pm
  6. Possible… but very unlikely. They need to get a zoning variance from the Community Board. What’s more, this property has a slew of quite dangerous problems (hence why a vacate order was issued in the first place). A baseball-sized hole in the wall which goes to outside would lead me to believe these have not been addressed.

  7. milton on Mon, 9th Jan 2012 2:25 pm
  8. The smell on Banker between Meserole and Calyer is enough to keep me from living there. I’m not sure what business is run inside the building on that triangular piece of land that ends at the intersection of Banker/Calyer/Franklin but it produces some really noxious fumes. It’s a burning chemical sort of scent. I’m not sure how people deal with open windows on that section of the street.

  9. missheather on Mon, 9th Jan 2012 2:57 pm
  10. Methinks you are smelling a couple of things.

    1. The building on Banker between Calyer and Meserole AKA 259 Banker Street: this has been purchased by an artist and is in the process of a MAJOR overhaul/gut renovation. So you may be smelling something as a result of this work— but otherwise there is no other activity happening there.
    2. What I suspect you are smelling are fumes from a nearby plastics facility. I do not recall the address but there is one over there.

  11. a neighbor on Tue, 10th Jan 2012 12:57 pm
  12. There are multiple businesses:
    1) Acme Fish
    2) the plastics business on Kent a block away from acme fish
    3) the laundry business three doors down on banker

    that said, I was sympathetic to the one guy who had been living at 239 Banker because I was sure he was there to keep out squatters. Now I know these landlords are just slime.

  13. missheather on Tue, 10th Jan 2012 1:26 pm
  14. Thanks for clarifying the location of the plastics factory. It’s one of those things I’ve been meaning to ask around about but kept forgetting.

    Otherwise, I think the real estate agent gets bonus points for slime by using old photos of a former resident’s apartment. I find this in INCREDIBLY bad taste. And then of course you have fun stuff like a baseball-sized hole in the wall. How can one overlook that?

  15. hav on Wed, 8th Feb 2012 10:56 pm
  16. I took a look at the place this past weekend and was also sent over to this article for review. That said I did my research on the DoB’s website and according to this ( the vacate order has been rescinded.

    As for the place itself there’s still some of the walls from other tenants, and most of the 4th floor apartments seem to be at least 90% finished. The realtor had mentioned that they’re looking to have individuals move in by the 15th at the earliest, but I can see it being more realistically by March 1.

  17. missheather on Wed, 8th Feb 2012 11:18 pm
  18. 239 Banker is not legally residential property. It is located in an Industrial Business Zone. The first “owner” decided to use the loophole provided in the rezoning (in regards to hotels being acceptable in IBZs) to shill this space as being residential. With the assistance of real estate agents. That ended in a vacate order:

    And now the new “owner” is doing the same thing. With the assistance of real estate agents.

    Some of whom clearly know better. Anything for a buck.

  19. hav on Thu, 9th Feb 2012 12:28 pm
  20. What you’re saying I cant debate and must have been horrible for those tenants in 2009.

    Since then though the zoning was changed from Industrial to Transient Hotel ( with the intention of providing a place for people to live (see “USE: RESIDENTAL”).It seems to me at least based on the DoB and the former vacate order that the building is now habitable.

  21. hav on Thu, 9th Feb 2012 12:36 pm
  22. Also I wanted to point out I couldn’t find anything in regards to the building being “unsafe”. All the DoB has listed are Illegal Work orders one of which was still not rectified (, however the remainder of the complaints have been. As mentioned before they do have legal work orders out now so it at least looks like the place doesn’t have any outstanding problems.

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