New York Shitty Day Ender: 239 Banker Street, Revisited…

August 19, 2012 by
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

possibly, probably for the final time.

Another day (August 19, 2012 to be specific), another move-in at 239 Banker Street.

Another day, another advertisement for the “Sweater Factory Lofts” on Craigslist.

I know what you’re thinking, gentle readers:

Why is this allowed to continue?

I have been long remiss in sharing the good news so here it is: what you have just seen is not a failure on, say, our municipal agencies and/or elected officials to defend the public’s interest/safety. It is a community organizing success story. You read me correctly: S-U-C-C-E-S-S. S-T-O-R-Y!

This I learned from none other than a Community Board 1 member who also happens to be a Community Organizer for an organization called “Neighbors Allied For Good Growth”.* She writes— after educating me on the specifics of Loft Law eligibility regarding landlords willing to “build out” (such units are eligible, as I learned) and I pointing out to her that by the time window allotted by the law alone 239 Banker does not qualify or Loft Law protection. I have taken the liberty of bold-facing my favorite passages.

It seems like everyone is waiting to see families (I thought they didn’t rent to those —Ed. Note)evicted onto the streets (again) and for these tenats to loose all sorts of cash (again). Filing the application protected these tenants from being further victimized. They arent stupid and can do the math. They understand that they dont qualify and they really dont need you to spell it out for them. However lame you may find it, the application will allow them leverage to get back deposits, gives them time to find new homes, and changes the script from them being victims in the scenario to having a voice in what goes down.

Let’s review/play Devil’s Advocate for a moment:

1. If I were able to afford an “apartment” to the sum of $2,700 – $3,200 a month (which is in my opinion a lot of money) methinks a little due diligence would be in order. A simple Google search reveals this building’s dubious history.

2. Hell, some disgruntled neighbor even noted this ON 239 Banker Street itself not too long ago (as seen at left).

3. But I suppose mistakes will be made— over and over— and that’s why we need “Community organizers”. Nevermind the fact tenants who can outlay the kind of money to reside in such a building can probably also afford to hire an attorney and file a class action suit.

But there I go again being “lame”. What’s worse, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Naturally, I was very intrigued by what this Community Organizer/Community Board 1 member had to say. Especially since she had an active hand in the Loft Law application in question:

i know who filed the app. Kinda goes with the territory of tenant organizer. It’s not easy to stop a slumlord. Spend one day in housing court or read the articles about the buildings we focused on for our tenant rights rally a couple of weeks ago and you will see all sorts of outrageous behavior. the slash and burn budgets of bloomberg dont help anything but it is more than just a city issue. dhcr — a state agency– has an average 2 year wait for a first hearing on an overcharge….

After informing this Community Organizer that I had, in fact, experienced some rather outrageous landlord behavior myself (over a $850/month apartment, no less, and have been to housing court) I pressed on:

If the applicant(s) knew what they were getting into was illegal; know they are ineligible for protection and you are bemoaning the fact our city agencies, the loft board among them— which has a 15 month backlog— why are you adding to the problem (e.g., filing this application in the first place)? This strikes me as being inconsistent. Is that 15 month window why the landlord “going along for the ride”? Just curious.

To wit I was informed:

they didnt know it was illegal when they signed the lease. filing the application was the only way to get them due process. it is also a great way to get the landlord into a city agency. the old tenants could never find him to serve him, etc. once a tenant files, there is no way for a landlord to stop the action–something this landlord tried to do. trust me, he doesnt want any rent stabilized tenants. in the end, you will probs end up with a hotel in that space….

…probs…

That’s my prob. This property was issued permits by the Department of Buildings under the ostensible purpose of it being a hotel. It didn’t exactly pan out that way.

Fifteen months to two years (possibly more) is a very long time— especially when a slew of elections are around the corner. And politicians will do anything for votes.

New York Shitty analysis:

1. Contrary to what this individual alleges, I do NOT want to see people thrown out on the street.
2. Rather, I (and I suspect a lot of folks who read this site) would have preferred to see this nipped in the proverbial bud. But it wasn’t.
3. Numerous complaints were filed about what was happening at 239 Banker Street and (other) Community Board members have brought it to the table both via correspondence and during public meetings. All to no avail.
4. This leads me to no other conclusion than other, higher forces are at work here. Not that I’m pointing fingers, mind you.

I’m not.

What this seemingly well-intentioned individual fails to comprehend is there is a flip-side to her “organizing”. Namely, that while protecting the interests of these tenants she is also basically enabling the landlord to go about “business as usual” (as clearly illustrated by the images gracing the beginning of this post).

Be it violating a Stop Work Order— repeatedly, dumping bricks into some neighbor’s backyard (and in so doing, destroying his barbecue grill) or real estate agents (acting on the behalf of the landlord/”management”, apparently) luring in more “victims” (her words, not mine) into leasing apartments in this quite illegal space. “Victims” who (apparently) need her assistance so as to become empowered.

Am I the only person who thinks this is total and utter bullshit? As a friend of mine recently opined:

Nothing refreshes disillusionment quite like ethics (or in this case, the law — Ed. Note) unequally applied.

Consider yours truly “refreshed”.

No amount of pointing out how utterly absurd this situation has become is going to change the fact the landlord(s) at this property have basically done whatever they wanted— for years— and have for all intents and purposes suffered no consequences for their actions.

I suppose I should simply drink the Kool Aid and see the glass half full:

Our public officials and municipal agencies charged with upholding the law and serving in the public’s interest did not fail. Rather, 239 Banker Street was (is) a stellar example of community organizing in north Brooklyn.

*Formerly known as Neighbors Allied Against Garbage.

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