Filed under: 11222, Criminal Activity, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic
I arrived home from this evening’s Public Safety Committee meeting (which, it should be noted handles criminal matters) to find this item (which hails from NYScanner) in my inbox. I have reached out to the head of the 94th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Hurson, in the hope he can shed some light on what happened. It goes without saying that if/when I learn anything, I will post an update here.
UPDATE, March 2, 10:55 a.m.: I have received a clarification from D.I. Hurson! He writes:
I don’t see anything for Greenpoint and Manhattan ave, we did have a DOA last night inside of 1109 Manhattan Ave but we don’t believe it to be suspicious.
For those of you who are not in the know 1109 Manhattan Avenue is the Greenpoint Hotel (hence perhaps a transposition was made?). This is one of our community’s, um, notorious establishments.
This morning I was distraught to see that the El Blablazo tree pit, a pre-eminent piece of north ‘Point pride was no more. I asked a gentleman on the premises what gives. He explained to me that individuals from the Greenpoint Hotel and the adjoining 3/4 house had taken patronizing said seating late at night. They were becoming a nuisance (READ: loitering, leaving trash and drug paraphernalia for which the owner of 1074 Manhattan Avenue was fined by the Department of Sanitation) so they had no other choice but to remove it. Follows are a few images from the better days of El Blablazo.
Gearing Up For Christmas
Ready for July 4th
Filed under: 11222, Criminal Activity, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic
Hi Heather! A neighbor told me, that one of the halfway house residents told him, that the place is closing in 2 weeks. Have you heard anything about this?
As it would happen I bumped into a friend of mine, Philip, (as seen at left) today and he told me the very same thing! Mind you, he did not look as dapper as he does in this photo. Rather, he had his left arm in a sling after having it broken by a resident of said three quarter house. He told me that life at the “Hotel” is the worst he has ever experienced. When one takes into consideration that Philip has resided at 1109 Manhattan Avenue on and off again for a number of years this is really saying something. Among other things he told me today:
1. He recently had to throw out all his clothing and bedding due to an ongoing (and I’m surmising: untreated) bedbug infestation.
2. There has basically been an ongoing “war” between Hotel residents and those of the three quarter house for some time.
That’s all I know, gentle readers. If you have anything to add please do so via comments or email at missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com. Your identity will remain anonymous if you so desire.
P.S.: On a related note I have also received a rather fascinating comment (regarding this post) from someone claiming to have once worked at the Greenpoint Hotel recently:
I was a former employee of Jay Deutchman at Greenpoint Hotel. I was hired in June ’11 as Fire Safety Director. It is the absolute worst building I have ever worked in. It is a danger to its residents and the community. The Fire Alarm system is not connected to a central station, as the phone lines are out. There are no sprinkler heads. There are no “smoke heads”(smoke detectors wired directly to the alarm panel, which are supposed to sent a signal to the central station). 100 men share 4 bathrooms, the stench of human feces is unbearable. It is loaded with lice, vermin, rodents. The first week I was there, I was paid. The second week, I was not. I quit soon after, and am still owed two weeks pay by Jay Deutchman. Contrary to his statements in his interview with you, he does not have 8 “safety directors”, he had at most three when I was there, myself being one. I have been a licensed Fire Safety Director for 18 years, and this is the worst firetrap I have ever seen. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
As a general rule I refrain from posting emails I receive from fans. However, in this case I am going to make an exception as one of Greenpoint’s most hallowed institutions is mentioned. Yes, I am talking about none other than the Greenpoint Hotel. Enjoy!
Dear Miss Heather,
I rarely (re: never) contribute to internet “comment” boards; however, as a native New Yorker (born and raised first 30 years of my life) I feel I would be remiss if I did not inform you of the great joy I have reading your Greenpoint blog. I stumbled upon your lovely online endeavor a few weeks ago, casually searching for information on the current status of the Greenpoint Hotel, of which I have many unusual memories, as my cousin lived there for a year and a half about 20 years ago (when he was first discharged from the Navy and refused to move back in with his parents in The Bronx.) I visited him frequently at the Greenpoint (or more accurately: I would go inside just long enough to knock on his door, and then we would go someplace ELSE to hang out.) My cousin eventually had to move out of the Greenpoint when, upon returning from his job at Blockbuster Video one fine fall evening, he found that the room five floors above him had caught on fire, and five stories of flaming junk had tunneled straight down onto his bed through the ceiling. Curiously, the fire caused no other structural damage to the hotel, which was a great oddity of engineering, physics and combustion, according to the many firemen on site.
Your portraits of the fine Greenpoint townfolk have a stark, unusual clarity and affectionate beauty; and your High-larious narrative describes, in my opinion, an accurate representation of what I humbly consider “real side of New York”, the side of NYC that tourists rarely seek on purpose. I’ve lived in California 10 years now, and checking up on your blog brings me right back home, reminding me of all the cringe-worthy quirks and customs in NY I grew up with and hold dear to my heart. Kudos to you, Texas gal!
PS – My former-Greenpoint Hotel-dwelling cousin currently lives in Las Vegas, where he owns a lovely three bedroom home with his wife of 12 years and their 6 year old daughter; he credits the Greenpoint Hotel for “inspiration to live right”. Perhaps the Greenpoint Hotel does serve some kind of higher divine purpose, unseen by the uninitiated? The mind reels.
Thanks for the kind words, CSC! You know, I had never thought about it but you might be right: the Greenpoint Hotel may, in fact, serve a higher purpose in the universe. Not that I care to find out personally, mind you!
UPDATE, March 30, 2011: I have received a follow-up email from CSC with more data! He/she writes:
Some interesting points my cousin told me yesterday about the Greenpoint Hotel fire, to salve your Nancy Drew-like curiosity:
1. The fire happened on either October 12, 1990 or October 17th, 1990. My cousin says he can check his journals for the specific date if exact references are requested by qualified superiors. All he can remember offhand is that it was payday at Blockbuster. (Frankly, I am surprised my cousin even kept “journals”.)
2. The fire was started on the top floor by an unattended electronic hot plate, a common material possession at the hotel, as the rooms had neither kitchens nor bathrooms. Just beds. (Thin mattress, and intentionally squeaky bedsprings on a rusty frame. Of course, this was twenty years ago, perhaps things have changed. I write that without a touch of irony or sarcasm.)
3. There are only FOUR floors in the Greenpoint, not five as I had mistakenly thought; the “fifth” floor is technically the roof, which caved in as the fire burned its way straight downward like space alien acid. Coincidentally, there had been a wrought iron city garbage can on the roof placed in the exact spot where it caved, which is why it was lodged like a cherry on top of the cake of steaming, waterlogged Greenpoint possessions in my cousin’s 1st floor room.
4. The fire’s downward path was so precise that if you stood in the hallway, you could not see any fire damage. Only once you opened the room door, then you saw the destruction, and if you looked up, you could see the narrow fire-tunnel through five ceilings all the way up the blue sky, like when cartoon characters run through walls in Bugs Bunny cartoons.
5. My cousin took actual photographs of the damage, but inexplicably refuses to show them to anyone. My guess why: the photos show his fire-burned piles of audio cassettes revealing his affinity for Bronksi Beat and Milli Vanilli. It was 1990, man, we understand.
6. Finally, my cousin also reminded me that his father originally coined the phrase “New York Shitty” seventeen years ago, which you, Miss Heather, have clearly usurped via long-range telepathy.
I would have posted these fun facts on the comments board but the button wouldn’t click for me.
Filed under: 11222, Criminal Activity, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic
Laura (who took the above photograph December 31st) writes:
Well, the Greenpoint Hotel is already starting to ring in the new year.
I’m apologize in advance if I am wasting your time, but you seem like you might be able to shed some light on a certain amount of confusion I have around 467 Troutman.
I’m looking to move into a 3 BR loft in the area and have been shown several decent options. We were recently shown a space in 467 Troutman – I went in with very low expectations resulting from some internet research and a landlord/manager that I (think) I respect telling me the following:Eeks! 467 troutman st has no certificate of occupancy, same landlord as 260 Moore street + 315 siegel .I don’t recommend living in that particular landlords buildings-besides the dept of building violations the buildings has bedbug issues and shanty build out of the building…
Anyway, the space I saw was the nicest I’ve seen so far – kitchen/bathroom seemed relatively new and clean, the hallways clean, the buildout seemed better than most I’ve seen, etc…. the overall vibe seemed good – and the the tenant who currently occupies the space told us she’d been there 4 years and had nothing negative to say about the landlord.
Do you know of any good reason to not live there? My feeling is that the building had issues in the past but things are better now… Am I missing something? It seems like Max Starck and 467 Troutman come up often enough on your website in a negative light… so I thought I’d ask you for your opinion.
Thanks so much for any info you might be able to provide, and thanks for doing what you do. It’s an invaluable resource.
Aside from having walked by 467 Troutman (and knowing that Max Starck) is its owner I know very little about this building. For this reason I am putting your inquiry to my readers, J. This having been written I am familiar with a number of Mr. Starck’s other buildings. For the purposes of this post I am going to narrow my focus to two: the Sweater Factory Lofts and the Greenpoint Hotel. Both are located in Greenpoint.
As you have probably learned by perusing my site, the Sweater Factory Lofts were vacated by the Department of Buildings last year for harboring conditions dangerous to human life. Among the violations cited were uncapped electrical wires and sprinklers being sealed over with sheet rock. A rather appalling fire safety hazard if you ask me. It should also be noted that the space in question (239 Banker Street) was zoned to be a hotel but Mr. Starck and his partner were marketing it as residential property. This may seem trivial but the fact of the matter is there are different safety requirements for transient and residential properties. See where I am going with this?
Now let’s consider the Greenpoint Hotel for a moment. Until fairly recently it was owned by Mr. Starck. The new owner (whom I have met and it should be noted acquired this property at a public auction— it was seized) is spending a lot of money to get this facility back to code. Among the violations being corrected are a sagging wall, an inoperative bathroom and, drum roll please, repairing a number of inoperative sprinkler heads.
These are but two examples be they are enough to establish a pattern of neglect and general disregard for tenant safety. I have little doubt if you were to search his other properties (like 315 Seigel Street, for example) you will find similar such stuff. While I applaud your due diligence for talking to a tenant of 467 Troutman Street I have to go with the landlord/manager on this one: keep away from anything this chap owns.
This having been written does anyone— preferably tenants of Mr. Starck’s properties— have any advice for J? If so please leave them in the comments or email them to me at: missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com. All tips/anecdotes will be kept anonymous if you so desire.
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.
I have received a great number of reader emails regarding the recent happenings at the place formerly known as the Greenpoint Hotel. Many of them more or less are along the lines of the following, which was written by a chap named Dave:
hey, i thought you would be interested to know that the greenpoint hotel got a face lift today…i was grabbing a coffee at champion and noticed scaffolding and painters updating the beige-y pink building of sin. Gone was the foreboding “HOTEL” sign, which may only be missing during the painting. Later in the day I noticed the paint was extended to the next door laundry mat. I guess the two are connected.
For those of you who are not in the know, the Greenpoint Hotel was sold earlier this month. What you may not know is who bought it: a man named Jay Deutchman. I spoke to him on the telephone this morning about the future of this, one of Greenpoint’s, more dubious establishments. Follows is a general outline of points were discussed.
- He purchased this property on September 2nd.
- The DEA had apparently seized the property from its prior owner: Max Stark.
- It was a hostile buy, e.g.; Mr. Deutchman was provided very little background information about the place. (As he jokingly remarked at the end of our conversation: I wish I would have read your blog before buying it. I might have had second thoughts.)
CHANGES AFOOT: As Dan (and many of you, dear readers, have noted) a number of cosmetic changes have been made to this complex since— much as painting the facade and removing the “Hotel” sign. Here are few more changes Mr. Deutchman is implementing:
- Curing the numerous standing Department of Buildings/Fire code violations including: a hazardous wall, repairing the fire safety doors (which would not close) and replacing 170 sprinkler heads. The latter most were done with the consultation of the Fire Department. By his own guesstimation Mr. Deutchamn thinks her has completed about 75% of the work required to bring this building into compliance.
- Mr. Deutchman is also working with the 94th Precinct’s Community Liaison, Scott Adamo, in regards to the drug activity which has long plagued this building. Among the changes he has/is in the process of making are:a. Hiring eight “Safety Directors” (security guards) to monitor the building.
b. Installing a surveillance system.
c. Requiring all visitors to sign in and present identification.
d. Installing a swipe card system at the entrance of the building.
e. Removing all the unregistered sex offenders from the building. Mr. Deutchman did not indicate to me how many there were but I intuit there were quite a few. Yikes!
- As my previous post indicated, he is in the process of vacating this property. There were 100 residents at the time he purchased it. He has since reduced this number to 70. In three weeks he estimates he will be at 95% vacancy. He is actively working with city agencies, the Veteran’s Administration and colleagues to rehouse those who are being displaced.
a. Needless to say, he is not renting rooms. He made it clear to me that he has no experiencing running a hotel and has no interest in doing so.
b. He specializes in the operation of SROs and made it very clear that this building will NOT be converted into a rehab facility.
All in all I came away with a positive feeling from our conversation. Mr. Deutchman seems to understand why the community is is in a tizzy about the changes he is implementing at this storied and notorious address. Aside from reaching out to the police department he wants to meet with our local community board (this has yet to happen) and any concerned neighbors to hear their concerns. To this end any and all are encouraged to call his office to schedule a meeting with him. Those of who want to take Mr. Deutchman up on his offer can do so by calling (347) 294-0110. Ask for Jay.
Otherwise, we have made a tentative “date” (ok, we agreed to make a date) to tour 1109 Manhattan Avenue so I can see the changes he is making in person. I can hardly wait!
To be continued…?
Just noticed the “Hotel” sign is gone and there’s a fresh coat of paint on the front. Heard anything? Up for sale or perhaps just renovating? Hoping for the former!!
The Greenpoint Hotel is dead!
Long live the Greenpoint Hotel!