Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On East Ninth Street, hot plates and hell

On Monday, we posted a video showing what life was like for residents living through a gut renovation in a Suffolk Street building.

We've also heard from a tenant at 610 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C, where residents say they've have been without gas for cooking since late February as, one tenant put it, "[the landlord] continues their 'renovations'/shock-and-awe strategy to get the rent-stabilized people out."


The landlord isn't offering buyouts, just one-month-rent offers to exit, according to the resident. At least three residents in the building have been there for 20-plus years.

Aside from not being able to cook at home, there are some more serious health issues, the resident says. One neighbor has reportedly been coughing up blood due to the extreme dust from the ongoing renovations.

Also, the tenant says there are no abatements in the works for the inconvenience of not being able to cook at home, among other things. The management company did drop off hot plates for residents to use 10 days ago. However, they do need to be returned once the gas is restored, the resident said. (ConEd is scheduled to inspect the building today.)

The Icon Realty Management website is currently listing four units for this address — three that are available immediately and one that is ready May 1. Prices range from $2,300 to 3,200.

Here is the listing for the two-bedroom going for $3,200:


All apartments are newly renovated featuring: bleached-plank hardwood floors, recessed lighting, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, cherry wood cabinets, crown and baseboard moldings, marble bathrooms, along with premium washer-dryers. This new apartment has never been lived in!!!

According to Streeteasy, it appears that nine of the building's 24 units have been renovated.

Said the tenant, "Everyone in the building has been going through hell since September."

[Updated]

A reader sent along a few shots of the building from today...



[Top image via PropertyShark.com]

35 comments:

Kimberley said...

3200 for that? Seriously? There's no tub.

nygrump said...

Same thing going on at 322-326 E 6th St since last spring - since most of the workers are illegals, we can conclude the lawless days of the East Village never left us, the perps just sit in offices now.

Tom said...

Icon is hard at work on my building as well near E 19th. Guess I should count my blessings we have gas and heat.

SteveMGrossman said...

Icon are also the management company overseeing the disaster at 325 east 10th. looks like they are having quite the impact on the neighborhood.

Lisa said...

"All apartments are newly renovated to look like pretty much every other piece of bland, soulless crap currently being offered in this price range to unsuspecting sheeple who think that by renting a POS place like this it confers a vast degree of coolness upon them, rather than vapidity and an inability to see how conformist and timid they really are."

Hey, just sowing some wheat along with the chaff.

Anonymous said...

Here is a clue people: If the management company's website does not have any names on the "about us" page, RUN RUN RUN like an Antelope...

Anonymous said...

Where are our public officials? Where are our radical lawyers? One of our best, the lawyer Harvey Epstein is stretched pretty thin. We need more people to get involved. It's like nobody gives a damn. Everybody cares only about themselves.

I think that Rosie Mendez and residents should chain themselves to the front door of the building until they turn the gas back on.

People should stand outside of Icon Realty on 14th Street with big signs that say:

ICON REALTY STAY OUT OF THE EAST VILLAGE

Then make up flyers listing all of the buildings that they have destroyed along with pictures and post them all over the East village.


Icon realty Management
433 West 14th Street
Suite 429-3R
New York, NY 10014

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

Does Councilwoman Mendez know about this (212-677-1077)? Does this building have a Tenants Association? If not, start one now. What Icon is doing is clearly against rent law. This is from the NYC Rent Guidelines Board website:

HARASSMENT

A landlord is prohibited from any action intended to force a tenant out of an apartment or to compel a tenant to give up any rights granted the tenant by law. No landlord, or any party acting on the landlord’s behalf, may interfere with the tenant’s privacy, comfort, or quiet enjoyment of the apartment. Harassment may take the form of physical or verbal abuse, wilful denial of services, or multiple instances of frivolous litigation. If a landlord lies or deliberately misrepresents the law to a tenant, this may also constitute harassment.

Rent regulated tenants who feel they have been victimized by harassment should contact DHCR. Landlords found guilty of harassment are subject to fines of up to $5,000 for each violation. Under certain circumstances, harassment of a rent regulated tenant may constitute a class E felony. Penal Law § 241.05.

Further, New York City tenants have additional recourse against harassment. Tenants may bring a claim in housing court and the court may issue restraining orders against owners if violations have been found. NYC Admin Code § 27- 2115.

Anonymous said...

this sounds like Mr. Penley, should help these folks This would be a Great Spring action

will said...

If the NYC's housing market were fair and reasonable, the owner of that building would have been allowed to tell all of his tenants, "I'm renovating the whole building next year, so I will not be renewing leases." Then the building would be empty while this work goes on. When the renovations were done, there would be an entire building of apartments fit for living in the 21st Century, and anyone, including the former tenants, would be allowed to apply to live there.

But, No-o-o!!. These whiners want their artificially cheap apartments NOW (subsidized by their now and future neighbors), and to require the landlord to do all the work AROUND them. . . most certainly at considerably higher cost. And then they have the audacity to complain about the work.

I have no sympathy for these tenants whatsoever. NO ONE is forcing them to continue living in the building. If they do not like living through what it takes to keep a building viable in the NYC rental market, they should move to a building where that sort of work has recently been completed. But, I have news for them. No matter where they live, eventually, it will need extensive repairs; that's just what happens to ANY building. And, this is especially true if the building is full of people who have accepted their elected representatives offer to keep their rents below what it really takes to keep a building in good repair in exchange for their support at the polls. Basically, classic political corruption.

Why are people so greedy that they think they are entitled to have everything their way all the time and not pay for it.

Anonymous said...

Rosie Mendez as well as famous revolutionary artists, writers, filmmakers and others still reside here in "artificially cheap apartments" with lots of character. Get an education and get out asshole. This is not your town.

Anonymous said...

I am a radical lawyer. I just recently obtain a settlement of 10 months rent for lack of gas for a year. I live in the EV - fighting landlords since 1977. So far, I have never lost.

I could advise anyone who needs it, contact Mr. Grieve, and he can contact me.

I'll say this is one problem vis-a-vis landlord abuse. Tenants are less willing to get together and fight. It's the only way - the only way to win.

Will (the "asshole") said...

Anonymous,

I have no idea what your point is other than the cheap, ad-hominen "argument" you make at the end.

In any event, for every artist you can name that had (or has) an artificially cheap apartment, I can point to: (a) an apartment that would be cheap even without the subsidy that he or she could live in (maybe not the same neighborhood); (b) an artist who was priced out of an apartment because the burden of making up the shortfall caused by the artificially cheap apartments had become too steep; (3) an artist who was never able to find an affordable apartment because the number of apartments in NYC is artificially reduced by rent control and stabilization and, thus, wound up elsewhere; and (4) a wanna-be artist in an artificially cheap apartment who has, in fact, not made a single contribution to the culture at large in years - if ever.

I have an education. That's how this "asshole" is able to keep paying the bills that keep these buildings standing. If all of us "assholes' left NYC, these free-loaders' homes would come crumbling to the ground in short order.

And one more thing. This is my town. I just don't need to be paid by my neighbors and other taxpayers to stay here. I pay my own way.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness the building passed its gas inspection today. Anyway, it was Con Ed that shut off the gas, not ICON. I heard them arguing with the inspector in the hallway but he said his boss insisted he shut it down. I once lived in a building that had its gas shut off for almost 8 months. The city and Con Ed are very strict about natural gas lines for obvious reasons.

Rocky Raccoon said...

Will:

You sound like one angry fellow. I am not sure why you are so angry at people who simply want a decent place to live at a rent they can afford. I am sure you work hard like the tenants in this article to pay your rent. They are not receiving a subsidy like section 8 - they work and pay rent. Rent stabilization is not the reason that the NYC RE market is so out of whack and there is just no facts that back that up. If your landlord has people like you willing to pay what you pay then why would they suddenly lower your rent because rent stabilization didn't exist anymore. Do you actually believe that? Time and time again we hear from people like you who are essentially telling people who have lived here there entire lives that they should just pack up and leave. The buildings in question are not run by an individual or a family who actually live in the building like the good old days. Back then being a landlord was about making a living and feeding your family - in other words landlords were small business owners not giant corporations answering to private equity investors only interested in making huge profits. These are the folks who have screwed us all and have driven up the RE market not the people living on East 9th Street.

nygrump said...

My neighbors do not subsidize my rent stabilized apartment. There is no tax payment to the landlord. My rent increases each year, probably more than market rents these days. The building is equally filthy for the market and stabilized rentals. I'm really curious how my neighbors subsidize my rent stabilized apartment.

Anonymous said...

You go through all the renovation-noise-dust-inconveniences galore--to remain in your rent stabilized apt that needs a new kitchen-a paint job,etc. and are hated that you have a deal.

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

The wonderful thing about the internet is that it allows guys like Will (the "asshole") to anonymously vent their spleens on subjects that they know absolutely nothing about.

At some point in time, maybe sooner than we think if Cuomo has his way regarding independent redistricting, the real estate industry will no longer outright own the majority party in the state Senate. At that point, it may be possible to begin thinking about (a) restoring home rule to NYC (best case scenario) or (b) passing state legislation ensuring that renters like Will (the "asshole") have some legal rights, rights that still protect about a million of us, rights that most NYC renters had until they were taken away by the Pataki Administration in 1997.

Will said...

Rocky,
If a tenant's rent isn't enough to cover the expense of providing the home he or she is renting, that tenant is receiving a subsidy - even if they are too proud to admit it. SOMEONE is making up the difference. People who think it is only the landlord who has to reach into his pocket for that difference should think about where landlords get their money - other tenants. The only break most landlords get is lower property taxes because of their low rent-roll. But, don't kid yourself into thinking the city just sits by and takes the loss . . . they jack up property taxes on everyone else (everyone else who is a tenant that is - not private homeowners where there is at least one voter for each person who would have to see the tax bill).
Look into the inequity of property tax in NYC and see how the pols have managed to drive the cost of rental housing through the stratosphere by placing an out-sized property tax burden on multi-family housing. That way they can campaign that they are tough on landlords ("Tax the landlords!!") while pandering to tenants by supporting laws they claim "protect" tenants from the landlords but that actually create MAJOR inequities between tenants. The only people the pols are protecting - are themselves. One-third of a building's revenue (not income after expenses - revenue) is the amount the city wants out of every rental building. That means that 1/3 of your rent goes straight to the city's coffers before your landlord even starts trying to meet expenses, fix the building, and maybe pay himself. So, people with rinky-dink rents pay next to nothing for all the city services they consume (and their housing) while their neighbor in an $1,800 a month studio pays $7,200 a year that goes straight to property taxes. THAT'S a subsidy. If everyone paid fair, negotiated rents, the tax-burden would be distributed fairly as well. And if landlords could pass along tax-increases to all tenants evenly, those tenants could shout in unison (even WITH their landlords, if you can believe it), "Hey,, how 'bout taxing someone else for change . . . or we vote you out!" If tenant activism wasn't so dominated by people trying to preserve their unconscionably low rents at any cost, maybe pols could be held accountable for making rental housing so expensive to begin with (basically, the market-rate tenants who are footing the bills: (a) don't have time to lobby their officials because they all work too much; and (b) are not even remotely on the radar-screen of the so-called tenant activists).

As for the assertion that landlords are all absentee corps. backed by private equity, this is simply not the case. While it is true that rent regulation drove thousands of the small landlords for whom you are nostalgic into bankruptcy over the years and their buildings wound up in the hands of large corps (or worse, the City or State - the worst landlords in the City), there are still many more small-time landlords out there, and they are hurting (I read at some point in the last ten years that a majority (60%) of all landlords are immigrants. I am looking for a current statistic on this, but, the point is, they are not all big corps and immigrants are not known for filling easy-money, lucrative jobs). Regardless, if I find a place I like, whether my landlord is big-time or a small guy is not a deal-breaker. I just want to pay a fair rent that I get to negotiate AS AN ADULT without some vote-pandering, busy-body, baby-sitter from Albany messing everything up (yes, I prefer small, just like where I buy my coffee and drink my beer).

Regardless, the rental market in NYC has been a mess since long before the arrival of the so-called big corps you decry. Thus, I fail to see how it is their fault. Rather, Rent Regulation is the single biggest reason the NYC real estate market is out of whack - and there are mountains of data to support that fact.

chris flash said...

Hey Will:

"If the NYC's housing market were fair and reasonable," prices of residential buildings would be reasonable and long-term tenants wouldn't be victimized because the purchasers of their buildings have paid too much!!

RE investors, knowing full well that rental income won't cover debt service, taxes, insurance and maintenance, know what they're getting into. They have NO business buying such buildings, but they buy ANYway because they intend to terrorize folks out of their living spaces to make big bucks from monied assholes who somehow think it's cool to be in the "East Village" at ANY price!!

Rent controls became necessary due to real estate predators. NO ONE is subsidizing tenants whose rent is lower than lunatics who are willing to pay thousands of dollars for a room hardly larger than a prison cell!!

Perhaps the city could help by LOWERING taxes on buildings with cheaper apts and RAISING taxes and adding surcharges on those who buy and flip buildings in an inflationary market and on those who charge outrageous rents. This would encourage long term ownership (read stability) and help to dissuade landlords from trying to remove lower-income tenants.

STOP blaming victims, Will. YOU are part of the fucking problem here -- your ilk is destroying the character of my neighborhood!!

With your ability to pay insane rents and your contempt for those who cannot, it is YOU who should get the fuck out of here!!

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

I always love hearing from landlords, or their attorneys, about how tough they have it in NYC, articles in the NY Times from 2006 notwithstanding. And if my memory serves, something like 12% of landlords own something like 80% of multi-family housing in NYC.

And while it is certainly true that NYC property tax system is a mess, the way to solve that problem is not by killing rent regulation. Ending rent regs will not magically create the kind of atmosphere where landlords and tenants will hold get together, hold hands and negotiate "fair rents." Not with vacancy rates under 5%, and not based on what happened in Boston. There was a time when NYC realized that the only way to keep middle income people in largely rental housing NYC instead of fixed mortgage homes in NJ or CT, was to offer them rent protections. Maybe some people won't mind saying bye bye to NYC middle class families, but the state Dem party allows that to happen at their own peril.

Rocky Raccoon said...

Right on nygrump, ken and chris. Perhaps Will doesn't work as hard as I thought to pay his rent because he seems to have a great deal of time on his hands to post on the Grieve. However he works too hard to have time to lobby elected officials. That is another common thing we hear from people like Will and his friends - they like to complain, but then don't have the time to do anything, but they call us whiners. These are people who want everything from safe streets, clean air and water, good schools, clean beaches you name it, but they are not willing to do anything to make it happen because they don't have time because they work too hard.
If Will wanted a rent-stabilized apartment or a rent subsidized apartment as he calls them he should have moved here 20 or 30 or 40 years ago when there was plenty of them because people didn't want to live here. They didn't want to live among drug-users, the homeless, radical gays, trannies, squatters, people with AIDS, artists, poets, musicians. They didn't want to see garbage strewn lots, crumbling buildings or have there car broke into every night. Now those of us who found beauty in those vacant lots, new and loved those drug users, watched those people with AIDS struggle to live on AZT alone, fixed-up those crumbling buildings, listened to those poets and musicians perform at the bandshell, raised our kids on those un-safe streets should just leave so that Will and his buddies can move in and reap what we have sown - i think not.

Anonymous said...

What makes any neighborhood in new York attractive to investors anyway? The artists! They always precede gentrification! How can you say they shouldn't hold on to there cheap apartments when they are the ones who made the neighborhood what it is in the first place!

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

Tenants at 610 E. Ninth St. might also consider contacting the Urban Justice Center. Their attorneys offer legal advice regarding affordable housing and tenant organizing. Individuals seeking legal consultation should call for clinic info (no walk-ins).

123 William Street 16th Floor
New York, NY, 10038

Phone 646.602.5600
Fax 212.533.4598

blue glass said...

many of us moved here a long time ago because it was the only neighborhood we could afford. it was not safe and there were many abandoned buildings.
there were also stores that had been here for generations and landlords that actually lived in their buildings. a feeling of neighborhood, community.
now we can't afford to move because rents are so out of whack in the city.

soon they will have to bus in folks to work at local chain stores because their salaries won't pay for the high rents here.

there is a provision for landlords to petition for higher rents if they are not making a profit. they have open their books and prove it. they may not get market rate but they will get an increase. they are too greedy and want everyone to pay market rent.

and commercial spaces are out of this world. café centosette's rent went up to $26,000 a month. can they charge $10 for a cup of coffee? who would go there?

this is a complicated issue. those folks that pay thousands of dollars with neighbors paying hundreds feel they are getting a raw deal. never mind what the long-term tenants had to put up with while the neighborhood was unsafe and landlords made no repairs.

you can't come here and then complain about what was here before you. perhaps you picked our neighborhood by mistake, thinking all those expensive new hotels and boutique shops represented the area.

nygrump said...

Regarding stabilized renters "subsidizing" market rates, I appreciate your reply but I have to disagree, in terms of the NYC market. To take your logic further, then someone paying a higher "market" rate is subsidizing someone paying a lower "market" rate. The thing is, Manhattan is a 'heroin' economy - it is a commodity of high demand and of limited resources. I think you might be under some illuison that rent stabilized people are paying "rinky dink" rents, I'm sorry but in my book the $1200 I part with each month for the tiny noisy dirty space I rent (and the same quality is provided to market renters) is not trivial. And the assholes landlords keep making artificial improvements so they can increase the rent - like replacing the intercom system that didn't need to be replaced. Yet they have a hard time putting a lock on the door. When I moved into my space it was owned by an old Jewish guy who had been int he hood forever, but he sold it a bunch of Indians who lived in New Jersey and they flipped it 2 years later to E. Vil Mgmt owned by a large corporate concern.

Chris, I think it unlikely the city would try and stop flipping, they make great revenues from this. And the landlords are totally locked into this 'socialism' - no one forces them to take the rent increase every year.

Will said...

I though this blog was moderated to limit flames an personal attack - I guess I have different standards on those points.

Most of the responses to my points seem to the product of smugness and people wanting to play the victim. I don't know how or why it is that people think they are better than their new neighbors just because they got to a neighborhood first (even if it is just because they were born earlier), but it seems to be a form of prejudice or bigotry that still has purchase in some circles. Clearly, it leads people to jump to a lot of erroneous conclusions. I won't go into my life story, but virtually every one of the assumptions made about me was wrong.

Writing on this blog probably is a waste of time - both mine and my bosses - and, believe me, I have reached out to my elected representatives (They don't seem to care much for me since I don't promise to vote for them if the pass laws that create special privileges for me - I am, simply, not for sale). It will be interesting to see if there is ever a debate of these issues (thank you Blue Glass for at least acknowledging that the issue is "complicated") that will not be reduced to name calling, accusations of "destroying the character of my neighborhood," and posturing by people who think they are superior and entitled in a manner akin to the patrician classes of Ancient Rome. If that debate ever takes place, maybe the thought that one is entitled to everything the 21'st Century has to offer while demanding the right to have to pay nest to nothing at all for it will be seen for what it is - greed. It's so common to hear landlords described as greedy. But, the tenants with the sweetheart deals that just want more and more and to never have to pay anything but the puniest of increases have been some of the greediest people I have ever met.

For what it's worth, two quick FYI's: I first moved to the EV well over 20 years ago (but no, not 30); it was the right flavor at the right price. At that time I payed many times what some of my neighbors paid (and they were obnoxious toward me). Also, I did not "no [sic] and love the drug dealers," but I did have to take a friend to the emergency room after one of them cut him for sitting on a bench the dealer claimed was "his."


And a thank you to whichever one of you pointed out may failure to include the hyphen in Rent-Stabilization. Sorry about the typo.

Anonymous said...

I LIVED IN ONE OF ICON'S BUILDINGS- HEARTLESS LITTLE RICH BRAT KIDS THAT GOT MONEY FROM THEIR PARENTS TO OPEN ICON. SAD. THEY REMODEL THE APTS TO LOOK GOOD BUT SCRATCH THE SURFACE AND THE TRUTH COMES OUT

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

Wow. Seriously, Will. Talking about playing the victim. It's a very small -- no, make that an itty bitty -- violin I'm playing for you, my friend.

Anonymous said...

My response to Will would be: if the current "market rate" rents had been reached legally, well okay.

But during the 1980s (and it continues today) there was plunder by the landlords. Now, if the landlords want to get the law change and then abide thereby, well okay. But they don't seem to want to do it that.

Kimberley said...

As the only market renter in my rent controlled building, I'm with Will.

blue glass said...

here's a thought.
if you pay a higher rent because you earn more, what happens if you lose your job and your income goes down?
shouldn't the rent also go down accordingly?
what other purchase price is determined by one's income?

Kimberley said...

If I lose my job, I have savings. If my savings run out before I find another, so does my opportunity to live in Manhattan.

chris flash said...

Kimberly:

Your smug attitude toward tenants who pay less rent than you reminds me of a kid I knew in grade school. During recess one afternoon, we wanted to sneak into a restricted area, but only I had the balls to do it. He then ratted me out to a monitor, explaining to me later, "if I can't get away with it, why should you?"

So, according to your and Will's convoluted illogic: if YOU have to pay a ridiculous rent, why shouldn't everyone else?

You people reveal your envy with phony accusations that your higher rent payments are subsidizing lower rent paying tenants, but it can be legitimately argued that it is the higher rent paying tenants who are fueling speculation, gentrification and forced displacement of lower-income residents, as well as tearing the fabric of our community here.

AGAIN: YOU people with your willingness to pay outrageous rents just to be part of a "scene" that your very presence DESTROYS are the problem here and it is YOU who should get the fuck out of here, not folks trying to survive in an inflated environment that YOU have contributed to!!

Anonymous said...

Wow. I just googled "coughing up blood dust renovation". I googled it because tonight I coughed up blood for the first time in my life. I have been coughing lately due to demo and renovations in my building on E. 5th Street and Up came this article. I see that someone else is coughing up blood who is having their building worked on by Icon Group. Icon just demolished and started renovation on the apartment below me. I have been told that a visit to 111 center Street would be beneficial to me and provide me with much needed information. If the person who wrote about coughing up blood due to Icon demolition and renovations would like to get in contact with me , I will post contact info to this forum asap