Live From 20 Clay Street…

Anthony Lopez via the Real Deal nys

Also known as the (former) NuHart Plastics Factory, a Superfund site whose owner wishes to convert into yet another glass-riven slab of Brutalist luxury housing. Why let that blue chip property lay fallow when you can rent it out for a rave? I can assure you, gentle readers, that is what is precisely what is happening there presently.

FBECcityfoxhalloween2015GreenpointNYS

Per the lady who shot the above video footage:

…It’s unbelievable. The music didn’t start yet. Just haunted sounds. A resident’s decimeter hit 9… There’s a fire engine parked in the middle of Dupont St. Cars backing up onto Manhattan Ave, cop cars around on Franklin & Clay, not that it’s stopping the crowd from smoking weed on the line…

Mind you, this event has only begun. And of course I had more than my two cents to say about this shitshow via the rather massive email string which is accumulating in my inbox. On that note, I leave you with this…

Lisa Bloodgood reply nys 2

Good times.

UPDATE, 12:34 am, November 1: This “party” is apparently getting shut down. I have been told our City Councilman, Steve Levin, is present, along with a Fire Marshal.

And now a message from our City Councilman…

Our City Councilman Speaks nys

Update, 1:05 am November 1st, 2015: Here’s touching video footage of the first wave of inebriated and swindled party-goes slogging it to the G train.

Happy Halloween.

Photo Credit: Anthony Lopez via The Real Deal.

Video Credit: Laura Hoffman.

From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part III: What To Do About Illegal Hotels?

airbnb239banker1350amonthMore specifically: What do I do when I learn that a fellow tenant is renting out his/her apartment via Airbnb? E.g.; What recourse do I have when some drunken asshat breaks my front door lock at 2:00 a.m. in the morning or simply walks in and hands my husband his luggage?

A tipster writes:

Heather!

Illegal Hotels, formally known as transient occupancy units (TOU’s) are Class “A” residential units that have been converted for short-term stays of 30 days or less without adhering to the fire codes, tax laws, Certificates of Occupancy and zoning restrictions of hotel use. The illegal conversion of residential buildings into hotels presents serious problems for permanent residents, limits the supply of available housing – in particular, rent-regulated and low-income housing. By lacking the necessary fire-safety measures that legal hotels are required to have by law, which are more stringent than multiple dwelling buildings, TOU’s also present substantial safety hazards to permanent, legal residents as well as short-term guests; many are dangerous firetraps.

The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (“OSE”), headed by Kathleen McGee, pulls together the various enforcement agencies to go after TOUs when they are reported. I know people don’t believe it, but for this people need to file 311 Complaints, being sure to tell the operator that they want it to go to OSE. Kathleen has worked to get complaints that are incorrectly taken for HPD or DOB re-routed to her shop (and has been largely successful).

The District Manager or local elected officials can also forward complaints directly to Kathleen, and can even do so anonymously. It can be hard to get OSE out immediately, unless there is a present and imminent fire hazard, but they are very good at going out to problem locations (ie: repeated complaints or severe activity). They have been stepping up their enforcement recently.*

So far, there isn’t much proactive enforcement based off of sites like AirBnB, although with recent changes in the law, which raised the fines for landlords and allows tenants to be fined as well, some landlords have started to patrol the websites to catch tenants and proactively inform OSE.

*No shit.

active239banker622013hilighted

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.

New York Shitty Day Starter: Loftgasm

Yup.

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?

Reader Comment Du Jour: No Children Allowed At 239 Banker Street?

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

If a commenter we’ll call Wayne is to be believed this would appear to be the case. He writes:

The shenanigans at 239 Banker invoked enough curiosity that I called the broker. Apparently, these lofts have been renting like hotcakes as only five remain. I explained to the broker that I am looking for 1,500 square feet. Of course, he wanted to know my credit and income and how soon I could move in. Fair enough. Must have been my lucky day since of the five remaining lofts, there is one 1,500 square foot space. Upon further inquiry about what I could expect for a monthly rent of $4,000 [not the lesser amount noted on craigslist], the broker told me I would get just an open space. No heat. No hot water. Though the building has a laundry. Fair enough. It is what it is. I asked if the landlord would allow me to construct two bedrooms. Yes. I asked if a two-year lease was possible. No, was the retort. Only one year leases. I asked when my wife and two children could inspect the space. That’s when the conversation turned around. The broker informed me there’s graffiti across the street and all over, the area is dirty and very noisy, and the building in particular is very, very noisy. I explained to the broker that we are Greenpoint loft dwellers [100% legal building I might add] and what he was stating about the neighborhood does not match reality [except for the graffiti across the street, but so what]. He went on to tell me that the building is full of shares and egads, yes, hipsters, and there are no children in residence. Of course, not wishing to rent to a family is wholly illegal [the broker is clearly unaware of this] yet one has to give this broker a modicum of credit as he fully knows 239 Banker will blowup again with the DOB and to have a family evicted would not make for good press, particularly when the new owners just plunked down $9.1 million for this shipwreck.

Fascinating. Than again, given all the laws being broken here what’s another one?

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:

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