From The New York Shitty Inbox: A 239 Banker Street Update

April 19, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

An anonymous tipster writes:

a violation was issued by DOB on 04/09/12.

And so the plot thickens…

UPDATE, 6:35 p.m.: I have been asked an interesting question by a reader. A person we’ll call ‘S” writes:

The complaint status says ‘resolved’. Does that just mean that a violation was issued?

Here’s the 411 from a person in the know:

Resolution of DOB complaints is either no action or a violation. They wrote a violation in 09 for occupancy contrary to CO (which has an unpaid 25K penalty). This is just a repeat violation for not curing the first one. Nothing will come of it as far as vacating the premises. Owner probably just ignores it. Looks like this owner is well seasoned in shady dealings: http://therealdeal.com/blog/2011/07/12/israel-perlmuter-known-as-sam-perl-and-menachem-stark-face-51m-in-property-suits-over-williamsburg-and-greenpoint-developments/

So there have you.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: And Now A Word From Our City Councilman

April 11, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

It would appear, at long last, my coverage of 239 Banker Street (which is clearly being followed by real estate notables such as Brownstoner and Curbed, real estate agents and ostensible tenants of said space) has gotten the attention of our City Councilman! Steve Levin writes:

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.

Sincerely yours,
Stephen Levin
Councilmember

To wit I replied (sans visual aides):

Hey,

First off I appreciate the email— and I agree that the loft law (which is much-needed) may or may not applicable in this case. What really upsets me is we are for all intents and purposes seeing the exact same situation (as 2009) play itself out again, e.g.; a commercial building—without the applicable permits I’ll add— is being converted into residential space, this space is being willfully and deliberately marketed/presented as residential space;

people are moving in under the illusion it is legally inhabitable space, etc.

This would suggest that lessons were not learned (bye it by the owner of this property, our enforcement agencies, etc.) the first time around and/or whatever consequences borne by the owner of this space were not a sufficient deterrent from engaging in this (illegal) behavior again. Or to put it differently: the “system” we have in place is not working. I have a very big problem with this. What is the point of having laws on the books, agencies deemed with the enforcement of said laws and due process if they can be bypassed, quite flagrantly I’ll note, in such a manner?

Do I want to see people thrown out on the street again? No, not really. But I am also getting very tired of this building’s owners total disregard for the law— and the fact they have been basically enabled by the upholders of said laws to do so. No matter how you cut it, this is appalling. They tried via the Department of Buildings to have this space reclassified as residential. It was refused.

They could (theoretically) go through our Community Board and get a zoning variance— but have seen fit not to do so. Why should they? There are for all intents and purposes no consequences for their actions, thus they do whatever they want.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t add in closing that real estate agents are seemingly eager participants in this fraud. Each and every one of them (in my opinion) should be reported to the Department of State and have their licenses revoked.

Thanks again!

H

With all due respect, what seems to be lost by our City Councilman is he can, in fact, stop another “repeat” of this event. By simply asking the Department of Buildings to do its job. Months ago.

Photo Credits: All taken today, April 11, 2012, by yours truly.

Reader Comment du Jour: An Agent Speaks About 239 Banker Street

April 9, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

CitySlicker24 writes in regards to this post:

I am a real estate salesperson and I just started working for a broker that’s representing the property owner, leasing out the building’s top three floors as residential units. I had not heard anything about this building being illegal until a couple of my prospective clients cancelled on me, citing your website.

A couple of things I wanted to raise with you: Oasisnyc.com shows that this is zoned as an office building, not as a manufacturing facility, as your article claims. Also, you fail to mention that the building was issued a certificate of occupancy in 1930, permitting up to 225 occupants on the upper three floors, though you do allude to the fact that NYC Department of Finance has this building classified as a hotel.

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.

Obvioulsy your efforts to keep everybody informed are laudable, and now that this story has been brought to my attention, I have the legal duty, which I will uphold, to advise my prospective tenant clients that the building is zoned as a commercial space, that the legal status of the building has yet to be determined, since the DOB has not yet resolved the active complaints, and that an application for coverage under the loft law is pending. And I will try to get the company’s listing agent to bring these issues up with the owner and the city in order to find out whether I should even be dealing with this property at all.

While I disagree with some of Cityslicker’s analysis, for example:

  1. the building in question is permissible as a hotel per the Department of Buildings because it is located in an Industrial Business Zone and
  2. of course there’s the fact this building is not legally allowable as residential property in the first place but is being represented as such

I’ll be very interested to see where this leads.

To be continued…?

The Word On The Street: Green Point Beach

This rather amusing bit of vandalism hails from 239 Banker Street; AKA: the Sweater Factory Lofts. And if what I saw this afternoon is any indication this building is— beyond any shadow of a doubt— being quite illegally pressed into service as residential space. Let’s review my findings, shall we?

For starters, you have a very residential throw pillow propping open a window and this rather stylish lamp. Not convinced yet? No worries, gentle readers. I am just getting warmed up.

There were not one— but two people— waiting to view apartments therein. Naturally I took it upon myself to give them a very general run-down of the history of this building. E.g.: it was not legally permissible to reside at 239 Banker Street (by virtue of it being located in an Industrial Business Zone); it had been pressed into service as residential space previously; and this ended with a Vacate Order as issued by the Department of Buildings— and a class action suit filed by a number of tenants (who are, to my understanding, still waiting to get their deposit money back). Were they happy to hear this? No, they were not.

Just as I was not happy to watch this couple (tenants, presumably) exiting said building…

and this family moving their son into it. Naturally I took a moment to speak with them. They, as did everyone else I chatted with on Banker Street this afternoon, had a number of questions for me. Follows are a few:

  1. Our lawyer saw nothing wrong with the paperwork, so what makes you think this building is illegal to live in? My answer: check my site.
  2. If this building is illegal to live in, why are they leasing it as residential space? My answer: Excellent question. (But if I had to hazard to guess, I’d say greed.)
  3. If the Department of Buildings has been alerted that this space is being illegally leased as residential space, why aren’t they doing anything about it? My answer (once again): Excellent question…

This is a disgrace, folks…

Spotted At 239 Banker Street: Signs Of Habitation

March 21, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Taken March 21, 2012.

New York Shitty Day Starter: 239 Banker Street, Continued

January 12, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

As yesterday’s “Day Ender”  suggests there were clear signs of (yet more) activity at 239 Banker Street. More specifically: there were not one, not two, but THREE young men waiting to be shown apartments therein. I know this because I asked them. Not wishing to see these nice fellows ending up on the street like their predecessors, I gave them a warning— and my card. I asked them to tell me what they saw. Guess what? One did! Via comments in the previously-mentioned post:

I’m actually one of the young gentlemen photographed above, and I got the opportunity to view the apartments within this afternoon.

We specifically asked the realtor whether the building was residentially zoned and he lied to our faces. When we pointed to the fluttering pennants affixed to the light posts in front of the building which read “Greenpoint Industrial Zone”, he told us that they were old and that the zoning has been changed. There seemed to already be several units which were occupied on the third floor where the heating was on, but the second floor was freezing cold and seemed to be generally still under construction.

Fascinating!

  • NYS Flickr Pool

    Grand StreetHappy Thanksgiving to AllLego BatmanBronx Supreme Court BuildingMcDonalds next to Yankee Stadium34th Street Penn StationSunshine after the rain
  • Ads