New York Shitty Day Starter: 239 Banker Street, Revisited Once Again

June 4, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Once again, a word from our City Councilman:

Heather,

I have noticed your posts and am glad you continue to bring light to the issue of lofts in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. The Loft Law was designed to protect residential tenants who, knowingly or unknowingly, moved into manufacturing or commercial spaces and it may grant rights for tenants to save and stabilize their housing and avoid the excessive costs associated with being vacated.  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.  All I can do is try to spread the word about the Loft Law so that tenants in such spaces can apply for coverage that they may be legally entitled to.  Of course, the Loft Board will make final determinations about each application individually.

And I suppose “ensuring all building code issues are addressed” includes doing work without a permit on a Sunday?

New York Shitty analysis: they ain’t doing pointing.

You can view this, the latest advertisement for the “lofts” at 239 Banker Street on Craigslist by clicking here.*

*A casual search of this phone number netted this gem:

Alas this apartment is no longer available. I have little doubt the availability of “bras” is to blame. In closing, here are a few screencaps of advertisements from StreetEasy for 239 Banker Street for your viewing pleasure:

Quicklinks: 239 Banker Street Sold?

May 24, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

If Brownstoner and Curbed are to be believed, this is the case. Per the latter:

The latest development at perpetual Greenpoint headscratcher the Sweater Factory Lofts has us, if possible, even more puzzled. The building just changed hands for $9.1 million, according to a deed that hit public record this morning. The buyer is an LLC, so we don’t know anything about who has plans for this building or what those plans might be. But the building’s long and slightly sordid history means our mind is slightly boggled by that sale price.

Brownstoner notes that the LLC in question is “JL Take Two LLC” and goes on to add it is unclear whether or not the new owner is a developer. In regards to this a commenter on Curbed tenders an interesting analysis:

Read the court case Lebedowicz v Meserole Factory LLC. JL had a mezz loan on the property above the $8m first mortgage. Probably either just got foreclosure or deed in lieu. Mezz lender foreclosure would explain the low price on the deed. It wasnt an arms length sale.

This keeps getting more and more interesting folks…

UPDATE: Here’s some more analysis from someone “in the know”!

You no doubt saw that this sold – if you haven’t already, you’ll want to spend your morning on ACRIS: http://a836-acris.nyc.gov/Scripts/DocSearch.dll/BBLResult (block 2593, lot 1)

I don’t have time to get into too much detail, but the transactions there are interesting.

JL Take Two is owned by Jerry and Lucy Lebedowicz, and they bought the property for $9.1 million from Meserole Factory LLC (the only name I could find was Israel Perlmutter, but I’m not sure if he is associated with the seller). Jerry & Lucy appear to hold the mezzanine debt on the property, which $3.5 million and dates to November 2005.

Separate from the sale, there is a four-year lease from Jerry and Lucy to Northside Lofts, LLC (390 Berry Street, Joseph Brunner is the manager of the LLC). Northside Lofts seems to have an option to purchase, but I can’t see any details.

Separately, an entity named Lex Debt LLC has a four-year option to purchase the property from Jerry and Lucy. That option is for $9.679 million if it is exercised today, and there is an escalator clause of $22k per month for the first 36 months and $42.5k per month for the last 12 months. So if they wait until the end of the option period, the price goes up by $1.3 million. The only name I can find associated with Lex Debt LLC is Israel Worch (not sure the spelling of the last name, it was scrawled). The address for Lex is a PO box in 11230 zip code.

So – Jerry and Lucy of Flushing hold a big chunk of debt on the building, and now they own the building outright. But Northside Lofts is the tenant of the whole thing, and a third party has an option to buy the property, with incentives to buy sooner rather than later.

I think I have that all correct…

Curbed: Someone Just Bought Greenpoint’s Sweater Factory Lofts
Brownstoner: Greenpoint’s Sweater Factory Lofts on Banker St Sells

New York Shitty Day Ender: Reader Comment du Jour

May 9, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Asshole, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Calyer Cooze notes (in regards to this post):

And here’s the latest Craigslist ad! Nausea, indeed. http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/abo/3003528111.html (As seen above, for posterity)

On that note, I had a very interesting bit of information brought to my attention. That being:

239 Banker Street does not have an a Certificate of Occupancy for a hotel. Thus the question becomes why are they being taxed as such? Anyone who cares to take up this interesting discrepancy can (and should) do so by clicking here.

New York Shitty Day Ender: 239 Banker Street

May 7, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Taken May 6th, 2012.

New York Shitty Day Ender: If At First You Do Not Succeed…

April 30, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Our City Councilman writes to yours truly on April 11, 2012 (regarding this post):

…The Loft Law was designed to protect residential tenants who, knowingly or unknowingly, moved into manufacturing or commercial spaces and it may grant rights for tenants to save and stabilize their housing and avoid the excessive costs associated with being vacated. 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…

Cityslicker24 writes on April 8, 2012:

…Furthermore, an application for legalization under the NYC loft law is pending, and indeed the building has undergone modernization, including new windows, floors, and fire sprinklers installed throughout each unit. I was in the units two days ago and saw that there have been significant projects intended to make the building appropriate for dwelling use…

hav writes on March 29, 2012:

non-surprisingly someone decided to complain to the DOB which ordered the building to vacate yesterday. As of today there are some interesting developments but nothing solidified yet. It is however looking like the building has a strong possibility of getting covered by the NYC Loft Law which will protect tenants from being vacated…

Given that 239 Banker has— at long last— overcome their recent brush with vandalism, the above-listed comments; and Mr. Levin’s apparent confusion as to whether or not this rather notorious edifice qualifies for Loft Law protection, I decided to do a little research. First, I perused the Loft Law proper. Then I proceeded to parse through each and every post I have authored about 239 Banker Street. You see, unlike our City Councilman, I actually lived here when this shit show started.

My conclusion is as follows: I can assure cityslicker24, hav and Mr. Levin that 239 Banker Street is in no way, no HOW entitled to Loft Law protection. And the best reason of all can be found on the New York City Loft Board’s own web site:

In June of 2010, the State Legislature expanded the Loft Law to include tenants who lives in a commercial or manufacturing building where three or more families have lived independently from one another for 12 consecutive months from 1/1/08 through 12/21/09, in a building that lacks a residential certificate of occupancy.

So let’s review a (somewhat) concise timeline of 239 Banker Street with the previous data in mind, shall we?

1. For starters, the permit approving the conversion of 239 Banker Street into a “hotel” (as seen at left) was not granted until July 30, 2008. This expired on July 30, 2009 and was not renewed until December 11, 2009.

2. Advertisements shilling apartments at 239 Banker Street were noticed on Craigslist May 28, 2009 (as seen below). In fact, there was a website created for the sole purpose of marketing “The Sweater Factory Lofts”. Alas, this is long gone, but you can view screencaps by clicking here.

3. Individuals were spied moving into 239 Banker Street May 31, 2009 and June 2, 2009. Following me so far? Great!

4. A Stop Work Order was issued shortly thereafter. This was (naturally) disregarded. So complaints were filed July 31, 2009.

5. The Department of Buildings actually saw fit to cite 239 Banker Street for violating a Stop Work Order (at right, which you can view in larger format by clicking here). This came to pass September 8, 2009.

6. And last— but hardly least— the Department of Buildings issued a Vacate Order citing “conditions imminently perilous to life” on September 29, 2009. Among their dismal discoveries were disabled/concealed sprinkler heads and uncapped electrical wires.*

Follows is ABC’s footage of this death trap. Seeing is truly believing folks!

Post-script: as of December 28, 2010 this Vacate Order was still in place.

Let’s review:

  • The Loft Law requires that three or more families reside in a commercial or manufacturing building for twelve consecutive months between January 2008 and December 2009.
  • 239 Banker Street did not have tenants— much less three families living independently of each other— until at least May 31, 2009.
  • 239 Banker Street was vacated by the Department of Buildings September 24, 2009.
  • This makes five months total— not even close to what the law requires.

So why file such a spurious application in the first place? Well, as one commenter noted recently:

they can apply for loft law status, but they will have an almost impossible task of getting coverage. The problem is that once they apply and receive a docket number they are actually protected from any action from DOB, which actually sucks because there is a 2-3 year back up to hear the case with the loft board. So while they will almost certainly lose the hearing they will keep moving people into the space who will get evicted in 2 or 3 years at best…

Unless of course in the meantime someone changes the law**:

Assemblymember Vito Lopez told more than 200 tenants gathered at a meeting last night on his 2010 law protecting their right to live in former industrial spaces that he is their best ally — and suggested that Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez is the one they should throw out of office this year.

“[Councilmember Diana] Reyna and Velazquez wanted the area carved out of the law,” said Lopez, who also heads the Brooklyn Democratic Party, referring to the industrial zone bridging Williamsburg and Bushwick that lies within his district. “They really don’t like you. This was Velazquez’s way of saying you don’t matter.”

Velazquez faces a primary challenge this June from term-limited Councilmember Erik Dilan, a close ally of Lopez who sat at his side onstage at the event. Flanking Lopez on the other side was Williamsburg GREENPOINT Councilmember Stephen Levin, who formerly served as Lopez’ chief of staff…

*Which, it is interesting to note, netted them a paltry $25,000 fine. Not they they have bothered to pay it or the litany of other penalties they have accrued. They haven’t.

**You do not honestly believe Mr. Lopez and Mr. Levin are pushing for an expansion of the Loft Law out of the kindness of their own hearts, gentle readers? No sir. Rather, this is simply an expedient means to use voters so as to rezone by decree and reward landlords/political backers who have no regard for zoning laws— or their tenant’s safety. Landlords like Meserole Factory, LLC.

Thought Of The Day

April 27, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

If you are going to, say, conceal an offending piece of graffiti and hose-down the exterior of your building it might be advisable to do the latter first. At least if the paint in question happens to be water-based.

Whoops.

P.S.: If the owners of 239 Banker Street cannot see fit to complete a task as simple as this successfully, one can only imagine what the quality of the construction inside must be like.

Greenpoint Photos du Jour: Live From 239 Banker Street!

April 27, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

After sharing the good news about some unhappy citizen scrawling commentary about 239 Banker Street on 239 Banker Street (as seen again above) at 9:52 this morning I decided to swing by and see the Greenpoint glory for myself. But alas as of 11:30 a.m. it was gone!

Looks like Meserole Factory LLC Googled 239 Banker.

In any case, they were thoughtful enough to station a worker whose sole purpose was to make sure the residents of this building used the second entrance. It brings a tear to my eye to see the owners of this property demonstrate such concern for the safety of their tenants!

UPDATE, 2:30 p.m

Note to self: when endeavoring to conceal an offending piece of graffiti with water-based paint and hosing-down the exterior of your building (presumably with water), it might be advisable to do the latter first. Whoops.

Spotted At 239 Banker Street: Direct Action

April 27, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Street Justice 

This item comes via an anonymous tipster who notes:

Someone irked at 239 Banker took action last night…

 

 

Coming to 239 Banker Street: The Loft Law?

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

That’s right folks! It would appear this month someone has filed for protection under the Loft Law! Given the amended law states three or more families must have lived independently from one another for 12 consecutive months from 1/1/08 through 12/21/09— and 239 Banker Street (which started showing signs of habitation May 31, 2009) was vacated by the Department of Buildings on September 24, 2009:

Do the math.

New York Shitty Day Starter 239 Banker Street

April 22, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Taken April 21, 2012.

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