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

January 8, 2012 ·
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”:

http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/abo/2786376022.html

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.

Classy.

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

He/she writes:

FYI

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!

Spotted At 239 Banker Street: Pure Love

May 1, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Taken May 1, 2011.

Miss Heather

P.S.: On a related note I recently received an email which would suggest someone is living here. Anonymous writes:

I was past 239 Banker this morning when I saw one of the secondary doors (one of the ones between the main door and Meserole) open, and a gentleman walk out, carrying a plastic bag and wheeling a bicycle. When I walked by the door, I saw someone had taken that blue painter’s masking tape, and cut pieces to mark the door with a “239”…

If it was someone living there to make sure the place wasn’t vandalized, I could almost be sympathetic, but the number on the door makes me feel like something else is up.
I called it in to 311 (who just hands it over to the 94th, and I will call the non-emergency number later myself), and asked them to transfer me to DOB to file that complaint as well. According to BIS, Full Vacate still exists on that property.

Some of you might recall this Vacate Order was served back in 2009. If not, this might refresh your memory. As far as I know none of the former tenants of this building have received their security deposits back.

Reader Comment Du Jour: Advice For Someone DOB’d From The Sweater Factory Lofts?

October 13, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

239bankerMost folks (myself included) would consider the evacuation of 239 Banker Street to be yesterday’s news. However, when the following comment came to my attention today I simply had to post it here.  Action writes:

The vacate happened 3 days before I was supposed to move in. I’m working with Brooklyn Civil Court to start the process to get my money back. Does anyone know of alternative routes to take? Maybe a class action case?

I do not profess to be an attorney (or even playing one on t.v.). Although I have some tenant-landlord court experience Action’s problem is way off my radar. Does anyone have some advice or thoughts for Action? If so please leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Miss Heather

BREAKING: The Sweater Factory Lofts Gets DOB’d Again!

September 24, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Remember the Sweater Factory Lofts?

SFLscreencap

You know, the building at 239 Banker Street that is zoned as a hotel but is actuality being used as residential space? The one which despite being fined $5,000 for violating a long standing Stop Work Order kept on working anyway? Day and night. Well, something very interesting came to pass there this afternoon.

vacate1

Anonymous writes (at 3:19 p.m.):

Breaking news! That building next to what was studio B is being served vacated notice right now….

ousted

Unhappy residents on an unpaid vacate(ion). I’m sure Curbed will be interested. Building dept guys didn’t like me snapping pics.

WOW. I wonder how my buddy Max took the news? Just under two weeks ago he sold the Greenpoint Hotel for a paltry $3.5 millionand now this!?! I’m not too sure what motivated the Department of Buildings to issue a vacate order but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say non-compliance with fire code had something to do with it.

Miss Heather

UPDATE, 5:27 p.m.: Apparently the Red Cross has been brought in to help displaced tenants from this building (pets and all) find a place to hang their respective hats. Per a reader:

The DOB showed up today, I think, around 2, and cleared the whole building. There’s an order to vacate posted on the front (“occupancy is perilous to life”), and a  (new?) stop work order plastered on the front door, plus about a 6 yellow sheets that I didn’t get close enough to read, mainly because all the tenants were trying to read them. Probably on their arrival home from work. I do feel a bit bad for those who moved in without a clue what they were getting themselves into.*

The Red Cross is outside finding people places to live, the landlord is scurrying around, and the tenants are outside with suitcases and their cats in carriers.

Curious what finally caused the DOB to crack down?

UPDATE, 7:29 p.m.: Musings on ‘point offers his expertise:

It’s not a fire issue, FD would have been present. It’s probably a combo of two things: it’s a factory, not a residence and structural issues; the facade seems to be falling off.  The DOB is loathe to vacate solely because of occupancy contrary to the CO (see 475 Kent) but “perilous” is usually code for “we think it might fall down.” I haven’t been following this or researched it but that would be my guess. If it’s not, I wouldn’t want to be living at 475, because they’re just as susceptible to just such selective enforcement.

*I agree. The Red Cross should NOT be pressed into providing housing to individuals whose only mistake was not being informed consumers. This organization was not founded to assist people who have found themselves homeless as a result of a landlord’s malfeasance and this city’s ineptitude and/or lack of responsiveness when it comes to protecting and serving its citizens. The blame for should be laid where it is truly due:

  1. This city and the agencies charged with enforcing housing/building/fire code. Had the standing Stop Work Order on this property been enforced, this would never had happened.
  2. The landlord: for not obeying the the aforementioned Stop Work Order and having a disregard for the safety of his tenants.
  3. The real estate agents who leased out these “residential” lofts knowing full well that they are illegal and hazardous. Anything for a buck.

UPDATE, 11:44 p.m.: another reader sends photographs:

redcrossNYSsmall

DEREKLEE1

Maybe this one will stick?

From The New York Shitty Inbox: The Sweater Lofts Get DOB’d

August 12, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

DOBBIS239Banker

Anonymous writes (in an email entitled “DOB is SO STUPID”):

“NO VISIBLE MEANS. OF EGRESS INTO BUILDING ” are you fucking KIDDING me?

239bankerst

I guess they didn’t notice the front door(s).* This is sort of funny given the tenants of this building clearly have.

penske

As Kurt Vonnegut would say:

So it goes…

Miss Heather

*And then of course there is the freight elevator where Max Stark’s funky bunch were thoughtful enough to post the plans for this hotel these residential lofts.

Now At 39 Meserole Avenue: The Factory Building

February 14, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Yes gentle readers, it would appear the place formerly known as the Sweater Factory Lofts is not only continuing its brave endeavor to press a transient hotel into service as residential space, but now it has a new address, new name and these will set you back an additional $700.00 plus a month! The newly christened Factory Lofts listing on Street Easy (as seen above) can be perused by clicking here. Please do take a moment to give this a read. Follows is a sample of the ad copy which awaits your delectation:

The lofts at The FACTORY BUILDING are made for unique individuals. Each loft apartment remains different, and there are endless opportunities to divide, reimagine and design your own personal space. Yes, we’ve thrown in new amenities to make sure that you’re living in modern comfort, but how you decide to live is up to you. These are raw, chic spaces ready for you to make your mark.
Another huge perk of The FACTORY BUILDING lofts is the preservation of old windows from when the building was a factory. Come for a viewing on a bright day. Sunlight pours through the windows and adds a wonderful aura to the spaces. We’ve reinsulated and reinstalled all apartment fixtures, so you get old world ambiance with new improvements.

These words struck me as being eerily familiar. After a little research I discovered why:

It is the same exact ad copy used to pitch the Sweater Factory Lofts in 2009! And of course we all know what came of “old world ambiance meets new improvements” that time around…

 Caveat emptor, apartment hunters.

From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part II: Signs of Life at The Sweater Factory Lofts?

December 28, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

The tipster who took the above photograph writes:

Open? Vacate notices removed and door propped open. There’s even someone shoveling sidewalk out front.

New York Shitty “glass half full” analysis:

At least they are cleaning the sidewalk.

New York Shitty “glass half empty” analysis:

There is still a Vacate Order on this property.

Whoops.

Miss Heather

New York Shitty Day Ender: What A Difference A Stop Work Order Makes!

August 26, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

239bankerDOBBIS

foodiej81 writes (in regards to this post):

This weekend as we were walking by 239 Banker my partner and I noticed that the door was unlocked so we decided to take a stroll through our new neighborhood “hotel”. Well there are definitely people living there, there is mail being delivered and I saw a man taking his dog out for a walk. The “apartments” are still under construction though. We have an acquaintance that put money down on an apartment but is now waiting for a refund because they were told the place will not be ready for another month. Word is they are renovating one dwelling at a time because they have run out of money and won’t be able to finish the project till 70% are rented.
I also saw two men waiting outside the building at around 730 on Monday night; two traditionally dressed Jewish men pulled up in a minivan and met them to show an apartment. I don’t know if anyone has been there recently but the message on the door is asking for “max” to get them a real front door

Regardless I called 311 yesterday and sent in 3 anonymous complaints regarding the building at 239 Banker. It’s a ridiculous project and I wish the DOB would be more proactive in following up on the stop work order.

He (or she) is not the only who feels this way. Follows are a few photographs I received just this evening (in an email entitled “Stop Work Order In Action!) from an anonymous tipster which show just how seriously Max and his funky bunch are taking their recent visit by the Department of Buildings (and the $5,000 fine they were issued as a result).

bobcat

cans

Note the numerous residential garbage cans at left. I wonder what they’re doing?

drywall

Installing and patching drywall— silly me.

breaktime

Workers taking a breather at the freight elevator. It’s a tough job working after hours and violating a Stop Work Order!

Miss Heather

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