New York Shitty Day Starter: Business As Usual

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

Yesterday before I celebrated our nation’s birthday, I felt a constitutional was in order. I wanted to see the latest Stop Work Order issued to 239 Banker Street (which I reported about in this post) in person. This has become my hobby. But alas, it was not to be.

Sure, I saw ample amounts of detritus. The stuff which fell onto an adjoining property’s backyard, and in so doing, wrecked a barbecue grill. Major party foul.

No Sir: nary a Stop Work Order was to be found. And when I got back home I learned why:

In a rare act of bureaucratic efficiency/mercy it has been lifted! And I suppose it goes without saying our real estate professionals have wasted no time posting capitalizing on this most miraculous turn of events.

To be continued, no doubt…

P.S.: Oh yeah, you can see the above advertisement by clicking here.

LAST GASP: 239 Banker Street Gets SWO’ed (again)

July 2, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Perhaps this has something to do with the pile of debris this fellow saw at this building’s “open house” last weekend? Among other things. Follows are a few complaints about this property I found interesting. Enjoy!

Reader Comment Du Jour: A Dispatch From 239 Banker Street

July 2, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Some of you might recall that last week I posted an item about Greenpoint’s my favorite illegal residential conversion: 239 Banker Street. More specifically that this— one of Greenpoint’s more notorious “loft spaces”— was to have an “open house” last weekend (as seen at left). In this tome I wrote:

Your eyes are not deceiving you, Greenpointers. This weekend there will be an open house at 239 Banker Street! Those of you who are curious to see what an illegal residential conversion in an Industrial Business Zone looks like (or simply want to ask Mr. McHale a lot of really uncomfortable questions about the legal status and history of this building) this is your golden opportunity!

Guess what? Someone did! A commenter who calls himself/herself “gittlebass” writes today, July 2nd, 2012 (NOTE: I have taken the liberty of bold-facing my favorite passages— and there are many!):

i went to this.

1) the first broker never showed. when asked if we could see an apartment he said “if the door is open just go in and look around” which i did, and it was a horror show reminiscent of the basement scene from the burbs, i just couldn’t find the furnace. Also, they did the ol’ “This apt is on calyer and franklin” then when i got there “oh its a mistake in the ad, go to 239 banker st”

2) he said the rooms can be built out to whatever i would like. Ok, ill bite, how about…i dont know…windows and floors!? there was a huge mound of dirt in the middle of the hallway and bricks for where there should be a window. the realtor on the phone assured me that this would be ready for july 15th, which is impossible just short of a miracle in which jesus returns as the carpenter he was in order to build lofts for the poor.

3) All the apts had to be moved in by august 1st, no exceptions. i found this odd and asked them about it, they didn’t have a reason why, just that they had to be occupied. I was offered a free months rent to get me in there

4) It was a realtor frenzy there. I asked about the legality of the building because of its sordid past, and they offered to show me the documents that proved they were legal, only thing is, they had the docs in the office and had to go get them if we wanted to see them. i said i did and that i’d wait patiently, but she couldn’t leave cause there were other people coming to check out the place (red flag). She also told me that all my info was wrong and that no one was ever evicted. then there was this other broker who asked if i had a broker,  i said he didn’t show up and then the broker who was there did the “money rub” with his fingers and at that point i left

overall it’s a shit show there and i feel bad for anyone who gets duped. save your money and get a nice place to live for cheaper. hell, even the gawdy condos they keep building are cheaper and LEGAL.


UPDATE, 11:45 p.m.: It would appear 239 Banker Street was served a Stop Work Order this weekend. Click here for the deets (they’re interesting to say the least).


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: (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

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.

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:

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:


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

To wit I replied (sans visual aides):


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!


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.

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