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.

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