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.

New York Shitty Day Starter: 239 Banker Street Craigslist Advertisement Du Jour

September 5, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Now they’re calling it the Rustic House. Nice.

 

New York Shitty Day Starter: The Latest Craigslist Advertisement for 239 Banker Street

September 1, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

AKA: GREAT LOFT CON

It would appear more “community organizing/displacement prevention” might be needed…

From The New York Shitty Inbox: An Excellent Question

August 26, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

A person we’ll call “G” writes today, August 26, 2012:

Miss Heather,

I’ve been apartment hunting in Williamsburg/Greenpoint for the last month and came across 239 Banker the other day. After meeting some spacecase “agent” and getting a tour of the building, I kept it on the list of potential rentals. Today I came across your blog and all this shitty info on the building/landlord/owners. How are they even allowed to be showing the place and renting it out? A couple happened to be getting a tour with me and my roommate as well and after, they put a deposit down on a 3 bedroom. Where can I get more info on this shady business? Thanks for the help.
Cheers…

“G” exercised something called “due diligence”. Thus, I recommended to him/her that before signing the lease to any apartment, one should consult the Department of Buildings’s web site.

As you can clearly see, in the case of 239 Banker Street there are quite a few red flags. As for why this space is still being showed by real estate agents: well, we’ll just say that is a result of “community organizing”

New York Shitty Day Starter: And On It Goes

Looks like some more Loft Law “awareness”/“changing the script” needs to happen at 239 Banker Street.

Because the rest of us simply aren’t “getting it”.

P.S.: You didn’t really think I was going to quit showcasing the wretchedly comical farce that is this edifice? In any case “Joe” seems to specialize in room shares. For example:

  1. This
  2. And this.

But by far the following advertisement is my personal favorite.

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say the towel holders are what made this apartment jump $300 in the above listing.

As you can see, they are quite nice. Nonetheless, Bushwick is just that: Bushwick.


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

August 19, 2012 ·
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.

New York Shitty Video Du Jour: Today At 239 Banker Street

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

(NOTE: If you watch very carefully between .30 and .33 of this video you will see a worker removing something from a window. No sir, no funny business going on here!)

As you can see these fellows are taking that Stop Work Order very seriously.

… With regard to 239 Banker Street, I cannot say whether they will be covered by the Loft Law.  However, when the building was vacated in 2009, many tenants suddenly lost their living spaces as well as thousands of dollars in rent and security deposits.  I do not want to see a repeat of that event.  I will work to ensure that all building code issues at 239 Banker are addressed, but I hope to avoid seeing another vacate order if possible… — City Councilman of the 33rd District, Stephen Levin.

UPDATE, 9:10 p.m.: It would appear that someone has complained to the Department of Buildings.

Actually, I know for a fact that two complaints were called in. The latter person/tipster was advised by the 311 operator they are not accepting duplicate complaints. Your tax dollars/civil servants at work, folks!

Today At 239 Banker Street…

July 26, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

…an agent showing the property to a prospective client?

And of course this.

It would appear that not merely being satisfied with illegally leasing out spaces at this edifice as residential space (and violating a Stop Work Order) our friends at 239 Banker have decided to kick it up a notch by adding this garbage can holder— or is it a bike rack?

It’s kind of hard to tell. In any case I can assure you this is quite illegal (it’s located on city property). Anyone care to call 311? Rounding out this, the latest but certainly not to be last, post about this property I leave you with this Craigslist advertisement…

and this recently issued disposition from the Department of Buildings.

Hilarious.

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