Quicklink: The New York Times Takes On 239 Banker Street

December 3, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Choice excerpt:

“It’s not crime and disinvestment that’s the enemy of the working-class jobs here anymore,” said Leah Archibald, the director of the East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization that administers the Industrial Business Zone. “It’s gentrification that’s become the enemy.”

You read their take by clicking here!

New York Shitty Day Ender: Moving Day

October 23, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Just another day at 239 Banker Street (taken today, October 23, 2012)*

*For those of you who are wondering, “Mike” is still advertising this very-much-illegal bit of residential space on Craigslist.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Dispatch From 239 Banker Street

October 23, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

A person we’ll call “J” writes:

Hello!

It’s been great reading about 239 Banker Street after I had moved in from your blog. Already planning my move out.
Work restarted this morning: lots of workers all over the building working on apartments. Of particular interest were the bags of cement in the lobby ready to be turned into concrete, and a work permit that expired in July explicitly prohibiting concrete work. So they took down a STOP WORK order to put in an expired work permit that doesn’t even permit them to do what they’re doing in the building.

What a goddamn mess.

New York Shitty analysis: I suppose posting a permit (even an invalid one) is a(n albeit deceptive) step in the right direction. Hilarious.

Highlights From Community Board 1: Let’s Talk Trash

One of the more provocative parts of last week’s convocation— and there were quite a few, I assure you— were two ladies speaking on the subject of illegal garbage can holders.

More specifically: these garbage can holders. Behold the Community Board 1 action regarding them for yourselves, gentle readers (start at 7:28).

New York Shitty analysis:

1. Exactly what constitutes a “beautiful” garbage can holder? If there is in fact such a thing, it in the eye of the beholder.
2. While certainly nice, they are placed on public property (READ: the sidewalk). This is a big no-no.

As these ladies noted, their neighbor is obeying the law:

3. This is not to suggest I am not sympathetic to these ladies’s plight. I am. They brought up a very salient point: the developer of their respective properties did not consider trash collection when designing their respective condominiums. This is clearly a problem. One which should have been prevented at the “planning stage”. Which brings me to…

Yesterday I decided to see how 239 Banker Street’s illegal garbage fixture cum bicycle rack was faring.

Not only is it still there, but among the assorted detritus I found something of interest.

Not one but two boxes which formerly contained stoves. (For those of you who are not in the know, “estufa” means stove in Spanish. Somewhere my high school Spanish teacher is smiling!)  As you can see the powers that be behind this illegal conversion are scarcely concerned about getting caught. What’s more, I learned at last week’s proceedings why.

So there have you: fines are simply part and parcel of “doing business”. Given the “lofts” at 239 Banker Street are going for anywhere between $2,700 – $3,400 for 700 square foot (if that) of “living space” nowadays, well, it has become all too clear how effective these “penalties” have been as a deterrent against this landlord continuing to illegal legally lease out this property as residential space.

Yup.

In closing I will leave you, gentle readers, with the latest bit of “immaculate construction” I spied at 239 Banker Street.

As the screencap of a video I shot on June 3rd of this year indicates, what is now an “apartment” used to be a doorway.* But don’t take my word for it: view the video for yourself.

*For those of you who are wondering, this is perfectly in keeping with the plans for this “hotel”…

Plans: This is what a "hotel" looks like at 239 Banker Street

in 2009.

239 Banker Street: $15,000 in Stop Work Order Fines & Counting!

October 3, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

I know what some of you are asking:

Why do you have such a big problem with 239 Banker Street?

Well, among other things:

1. Using the pretext of “Loft Law” protection (which was ostensibly put in place to preserve “our” artistic community) for “lofts” sporting stainless steel appliances and $2,700+ rent is laughable— and hypocritical.

2. Claiming that this measure protects “families” from being displaced, and the “Community Organizer” seemingly responsible for this loft law application seems to be under this impression, is wretchedly comical. From what I have been told, families are actually being steered away from this property (which is in and of itself illegal). What’s more, windows upon windows of identical “loft beds” do not exactly inspire confidence that this is a family friendly place.

3bunkbeds

Rather, it screams “college dormitory”.

3. Let us consider this complaint, shall we?

Had these fellows simply perused Craigslist they would know there’s plenty going on. No inspection required!

Methinks the better questions are:

  • Why was the above-listed advertisement for the former “Sweater Factory Lofts” listed as 245 Banker Street  as opposed to 239 Banker Street?
  • Why so many others have had a problem with 239 Banker Street?

(Those of you have patience and wherewithal can view the rest of this litany of complaints by clicking here.)

  • And why our City Councilman, who did not even reside in Greenpoint (or the 33rd City Council District for that matter) when this shit show started, saw fit to email me about it?

In closing, and for everyone’s edification, I have complied a photo set highlighting the immaculate construction of 239 Banker Street. Without further ado, here it is. Enjoy!

New York Shitty Day Starter: Another DOB Complaint Lodged Against 239 Banker Street

September 19, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Lest the Department of Buildings needs any help verifying this complaint I offer this video, shot August 6, 2012:

These photos taken one month later (September 6th) by an anonymous tipster:

And this image which was taken September 10, 2012 by yours truly:

New York Shitty analysis:

  1. The only thing this complainer failed to note is that the owners of 239 Banker Street are violating a Stop Work Order. This is understandable given they have removed the Stop Work Order from their building (which is in and of itself a violation of the law).
  2. And despite (0r more likely to due to) a Loft Law application, the landlord is going about business as usual…

But I suppose this makes for even more tenants to organize. It is my understanding the Loft Law (and its revision) were intended to preserve the artistic integrity/fabric of our community. Speaking as an artist, I fail to see how stainless steel appliances and $2,700+ a month rent are crucial factors in “displacement prevention”.

New York Shitty Day Starter: Loftgasm

Yup.

Greenpoint Photo Du Jour: Men At Work

September 10, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

This vision hails from none other than 239 Banker Street and was taken today, September 10, 2012.

Oh yeah, for those of you who are wondering this building still has a Stop Work Order on it.

 

239 Banker Street Craigslist Advertisement Du Jour

September 4th, 2012

You know what they say:

Here today, gone tomorrow.

This is doubly the case when it comes to the smash-jaw world of north Brooklyn Real Estate. For example: the latest advertisement posted by this fellow on September 7th:

As you can see:

  1. Greenpoint has been dispensed with altogether
  2. as has the wretchedly comical moniker “The Rustic House”.

Perhaps the latter is due to the fact this factory (which is firmly located in the 11222 zip code) was divested of bricks and other construction/demolition-related material September 6th? That would certainly make it less “rustic”. Regardless, this individual’s new angle is one of safety, luxury and of course: Williamsburg. I find this fascinating for a number of reasons. Follows are two:

1. A recent account from someone who inquired about one of these “apartments”:

I have viewed one of these units, cuz, you know, looking for 3 bedrooms I was cruising Craigslist and I was *very* bewildered when they came up. Oh. My. God. Even the realtor (first week on the job, just moved to NYC and is couch surfing) said “Yeah. I’m sorry. I don’t know why they said that. It’s not a 3 bedroom at all. And I wouldn’t bring a kid here, no way”

This sort of negates the safety argument— among other things.

2. I have previously noted a “Community Organizer” from NAG (Neighbors Allied For Good Growth) had some involvement in someone filing a Loft Law application for this property. It’s been my personal experience the most damning thing one can do to a hypocrite is to use his (or her) own words. So here it goes:

…NAG has been a big proponent of industrial retention and affordable housing. It is our goal to protect the little guy, both small manufacturing and loft tenants. We have advocated continuously for mixed use districting in our neighborhood, supporting standards that allow manufacturing and creative residences to share space safely and effectively.  Our neighborhood has the immense pressure of luxury housing constantly looming and we feel that the Loft Law expansion can help alleviate displacement of residents from the Greenpoint & Williamsburg community

Let’s take a very rational look at 239 Banker Street.

1. Exactly HOW is “organizing” residents, who were seemingly unaware of this property’s “history” (if said “organizer” is to be believed)— but are willing to pay $2,700- $3,300 a month in rent, going to realistically address the issue of “displacement” in Greenpoint is it actually exists? (Answer: It won’t.)

2. The above-listed advertisements purporting roof-top views, stainless steel appliances, etc., strike me as being amenities associated with “luxury” housing.

3. How does enabling the conversion of 239 Banker Street (and other properties like it) to become residential property by legislation (as opposed to going through our Community Board, of which the aforementioned “Community Organizer” is a member) help “the little guy”— be it an artist seeking an inexpensive place to work, a small business, mom and pop landlords or (especially) long term residents— the latter of whom made this community “safe” in the first place?  (Answer: it does not.)

4. The Certificate of Occupancy on file states it was (is?) a factory building. Sort of.

As you will note Job number 302260871 has been listed— but alas there is no Certificate of Occupancy available and/or on file. Here’s a synopsis:

NOTE:

  • This application was approved on July 21, 2008 but the permit was not issued until January 25th, 2011.
  • This application seeks to convert 239 Banker Street to J-1 Residential (Hotel).

Now let’s jump back to NAG’s Loft Law page (which states the revised requirements for Loft Law protection):

  • Three or more units in your building must have been put to residential use during any consecutive 12 month period from January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009. (239 Banker does not qualify. NAG’s “Community Organizer” certainly made quite me aware of this fact.)
  • Some portion of your building must have previously been occupied for either manufacturing, warehousing, or commercial purposes. (239 Banker does qualify.)
  • Your building must currently lack a residential certificate of occupancy. (We’ll get to this shortly.)
  • Your unit must have at least one window opening to the street, a yard, or court. (I suspect this is why neighbors were complaining about bricks falling in their backyard and why bricks and other debris were hauled out of 239 Banker two days ago: these windows were being made.)
  • Your unit must be at least 550 square feet. (239 Banker’s “hotel rooms” are.)
  • Your unit cannot be located in a basement or cellar. (Inasmuch as I know none are at 239 Banker Street.)
  • Your unit cannot be in a building that, as of June 21, 2010, contained certain uses determined by the Loft Board to be incompatible with residential use. (Very, very vague. I’m guessing 239 Banker will pass.).

To wrap it all up: How can 239 Banker Street be taxed as a hotel (which it never has been) without a Certificate of Occupancy? That is a question for the New York City Department of Finance. As to why the present owners of 239 Banker Street have seemingly gotten away with little more than a slap on the wrist, perhaps that has something to do with the following?

Anyone care to guess who “He”  really is?

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Today At 239 Banker Street

September 6, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Yesterday we learned 239 Banker Street (AKA: 39 Meserole Avenue) has been given yet another moniker: The Rustic House. I for one found this more than a little amusing. The folks at Curbed did as well. In fact, they did such a wonderful job of articulating the utter absurdity of what is coming to pass at this edifice I feel compelled to give it a shout-out here. Mr. Hogarty writes:

The latest ads for the now-“posh” Sweater Factory building on Meserole Avenue in Greenpoint are refreshingly honest—describing the address as a “Factory Building”, which it is because it’s still illegal for people to live there. All the unfortunate illegal residents who thought they were living in a legit building were evicted for their own safety in 2009. Now the advertisements take a fun direction with re-branding the beleaguered propertyby identifying it as The Rustic House, which is a fixer-upper of a name if we’ve ever heard one…

Bearing the previous in mind I present for your viewing pleasure a trio of photographs* I received from an anonymous tipster today at approximately 2:30 p.m.

It doesn’t get much more “rustic” than this, gentle readers. As you can plainly see, we have six industrial garbage cans, some kind of thingamajig on casters and a trash container. The more eagle-eyed among you might also have noticed a rather large garbage truck parked on the sidewalk at left.

I am going to use my powers of deduction and presume this vehicle has been charged with unburdening the above-depicted assortment of trash receptacles of their contents. Next the question becomes (in my mind, anyway) exactly what kind of  “activity” has come to pass which would require this— perhaps construction work of some variety?

The last time the Department of Buildings checked, none was to be found.

I find this rather fascinating given Department of Buildings apparently can and does notice fifteen air conditioning units in imminent danger of falling on some unwitting passerby’s head.

Am I missing something here?

*You can view ’em all by clicking here.

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