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.


View Larger Map

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.

Mark Your Calendars: Community Board 1 Public Safety Committee Meeting

It is interesting to note that after this agenda was circulated, Ryan Kuonen (who, it should be noted, in addition to being a member of NAG is also a member of Community Board 1) offered a clarification regarding agenda item #2:

…Item #2 will (technically) be a briefing on Weekend Walks events in CB#1, including both Williamsburg Walks and Grand Street Weekend Walks by Ryan Kuonen- NAG [Neighbors Allied for Good Growth] & Artineh Havan – Grand Street Business Improvement District

Interesting…

Community Board 1 Public Safety Committee Meeting
Tuesday, May 1, starting at 6:30 p.m. (NOTE: you must sign in by 6:15 p.m.) in order to speak
Community Board 1 Main Office
435 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11211

 

New York Shitty Videos du Jour: Live From the Memorial Walk & Ride On McGuinness

March 18, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Some of you are undoubtedly aware yours truly has been feeling under the weather of late. For this reason I have been scaling back my activities so as to get some much-needed rest. Nonetheless, there was no way I was going to miss the commencement of today’s Memorial Walk & Ride on our very own Boulevard of Death: McGuinness Boulevard (which, ironically enough, was the site of yet another motorist accident a few hours prior in front of a local watering hole called “The Pit Stop”). Let’s just say this issue hits close to home.

Not only was the turn-out by my fellow citizens and our public officials (not only did Ryan Kounen, the Environmental Chair of our Community Board co-host this walk, but Public Safety Chair (and arguably the most photogenic member of Community Board 1) Tom Burrows, City Councilman Steve Levin and 50th District Democratic Leader, Lincoln Restler, were all one hand) fantastic, but Emily Gallagher gave a very compelling introduction which I took the liberty of filming:

The first pedestrian fatality to be memorialized came to pass at Green Street and McGuinness Boulevard in 2002. Here an unidentified man crossing against the signal was struck and killed. As you will see the traffic in the background is more than a little daunting.

You can view the above itinerary and sobering statistics from today’s sojourn in larger format by clicking here.

TOMORROW: North Brooklyn Trivia Night

Garden Spot Rod and Gun Club

I have been long remiss in posting this, so here it is: tomorrow, June 21st starting at 7:00 p.m. the folks of NAG (Neighbors Allied For Good Growth) will be hosting a North Brooklyn Trivia night at the Woods. Here’s the low-down per their web site:

Have you been dying to prove that you know everything there is to know about North Brooklyn? Or are you at least curious to pick up some impressive trivia tidbits? If so, the PERFECT opportunity is approaching!

We at NAG are proud to announce our summer fundraiser, a North Brooklyn Trivia Contest, sponsored by our dear friends at the Woods Bar (S4th Between Kent and Wythe.)

The contest will be on Tuesday, June 21st from 7 to 10 pm. During this time, the Woods is kindly donating drink proceeds to us at NAG while we challenge your memory (or at least your knowledge) of this very neighborhood…

Those of you who are interested in competing can sign-up at the door (cash only) or can register via email at: nag (dot) bklyn (at) gmail (dot) com. NOTE: If you elect to do the latter, you will need to tender payment via PayPal. Otherwise, those of you who simply wish to watch will be pleased to know that that is perfectly and totally free!

North Brooklyn Trivia Night Fundraiser
Tuesday, June 12 starting at  7:00 p.m.
The Woods
48 South 4 Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Miss Heather

From The New York Shitty Inbox: NAG Needs Your Help!

April 17, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

This item comes courtesy of the folks at NAG (Neighbors Allied For Good Growth):

Everyone in North Brooklyn knows that McGuinness Blvd. is dangerous, especially for the most vulnerable road users: pedestrians and cyclists.

NAG is currently continuing a traffic monitoring effort started last year by NAG volunteer Les Brown, at the intersection of McGuinness Blvd. and Nassau Street.  (Check out this article for more).  We’ll be using Transportation Alternatives’ Traffic Monitoring Kit to tally egregious traffic violations and will need two people/shift for the following shifts:

Tuesday 4/19 am (one hour of 7:30-8:30 or 8:30-9:30);
Wednesday 4/20 am (one hour of 7:30-8:30 and 8:30-9:30) and pm (one hour of 4:30-5:30 or 5:30-6:30) shifts;
Thursday 4/21 am and pm;
Friday 4/22 am.

Below are some videos of pedestrians crossing, showing lack of pedestrian refuges and, in the second video, the heavy truck traffic volume.  With long wait times between traffic signals, many pedestrians cross against the light and then are stuck in the middle of McGuinness without a proper refuge.  According to crashstat.org and recent news, there have been at least 12 fatal crashes between 1995 and 2010 on McGuinness Blvd. and the street is part of the DOT’s “focus areas” under its Safe Streets for Seniors initiative.  This data collection will help NAG in its continuing effort to advocate for traffic calming measures on this dangerous street.

To volunteer, please contact Summer Greenstein at  summergreenstein (at) gmail (dot) com.

For more information about McGuinness and this project see:

The Daily News
Streetsblog

and videos of pedestrians crossing McGuinness at Nassau:

Follows is my favorite bit of McGuinness Death Race 2010 goodness. It hails from the intersection of Green Street and was shot by yours truly. I call it “30 MPH?”. This was shot May 12th of last year.

And then of course you have this, which was shot by Kitchen Prof on 27th of January this year.

Oops

Here’s the deal: anyone who lives in Greenpoint knows this thoroughfare is very, VERY dangerous. Speeding along this stretch has gone virtually unchecked and some of our fellow Garden Spotters have been hurt— or have died— as a result. Those of you, dear readers, who have the ability to volunteer for this study please contact Summer at the above-listed email address. Thanks!

Photo Credits: The photo gracing the beginning of this post was taken by Jay Lombard.

NEXT WEEK: Heat Season Workshop

NAGlogoSince I have received a number of complaints from folks lacking proper heat I feel compelled to pass this item along. Monday, November 16, at 7:00 p.m. NAG (Neighbors Allied For Good Growth) will be conducting a Heat Season Workshop. The purpose of this gathering (lest it is not obvious) is to raise awareness of this city’s heating regulations and outline the rights and avenues of recourse tenants have when dealing with non-compliant landlords. Those of you are tired of being cold and want to know what you can do about it should make it a point to attend.

NAG Heat Season Workshop
Monday November 16, 2009, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
110 Kent Avenue, Floor 2
Brooklyn, New York 11211

NOTE: You must RSVP for this event. This can be done by calling (718) 384-2241,  or sending an email to ryan (at) nag-brooklyn (dot) org.

Miss Heather

TOMORROW: East River Stateless Park & More!

October 27, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11211, Bloomblight, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

EASTRIVERnys

This most intriguing item found its way to my inbox courtesy of the artist in question: Geralyn Shukwit. She writes (in an email entitled “not all that shitty”):

Join me for an exhibition of work created before the state cared about Williamsburg. Black and White prints of the waterfront, the streets and people of WillyB from 1998-2000.

Opening night party Wednesday October 28th from 6pm until we fall down or all the prints are sold, whichever comes first!

I have to admit: this sounds like a wonderful way to while away what is prognosticated to be a rainy, dreary Wednesday night. Check it out!

East River Stateless Park (an exhibition of photographs by Geralyn Shukwit)
Opening night: Wednesday, October 28, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. (until all the prints are sold or everyone falls down)
Brooklyn Ale House
103 Berry Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

On a related note: if you’re in the area and find yourself craving some musical entertainment (for a good cause) why not swing by NAG’s (Neighbors Allied for Good Growth) “Raise the Roof” benefit concert at Williamsburg’s own Music Hall? You can get the full 411 about this event (They Might Be Giants is slated to be the headliner) by clicking here.

Miss Heather

TOMORROW: Smackdown!

smackdown

Tomorrow, July 28, starting at 7:00 p.m. the Williamsburg Northside Preschool will be hosting “The Ultimate Verbal Smackdown”. What will this “forum for 33rd council districts” entail? I’ll let NAG’s Neighborhood Watch give you the 411:

In a match held only once this century, seven City Council candidates will grapple with the issues important to North Brooklynites to help voters decide who will best be able to serve Greenpoint and Williamsburg in the City Council. Candidates will attempt their best verbal wrestling moves, although any metal chairs present will be for sitting and the only sleeper holds allowed are those that require a firm grasp of zoning law.

The Ultimate Verbal Smackdown forum will focus on the major issues facing North Brooklyn: affordable housing, open space, transportation, public safety, environment, quality-of-life, education and youth. The forum will be moderated by Susan Albrecht, Co-Chair of NAG…

It will probably be of interest to a number of people reading this that NAG is also taking submissions for a “people’s choice” question. You can tender your submission(s) and learn more about this event by clicking here.

ULTIMATE VERBAL SMACKDOWN
Tuesday, July 28, 2009;  7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Willamsburg Northside Preschool
152 North 5th Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Let the mayhem begin!

Miss Heather

  • NYS Flickr Pool

    Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue StationThe Friends Forever Bench #GillieandMarc #TravelEverywhereWithLovecallbox, decoratedthe colossus of the bronxJustice by Carole A. Feuerman IIfound - books!amazing books in a dumpster - mother goose
  • Ads