Tuesday, March 31, 2015

City serves stop work order on Icon Realty-owned building for installing gas pipe without permit across from deadly 2nd Avenue blast zone



Yesterday afternoon, the city inspected the Icon Realty-owned 128 Second Ave. across the street from the three buildings that were leveled in a gas explosion last Thursday that killed two people and left more than 20 others injured.

According to the violation notice, a city inspector observed a worker in the cellar installing a new gas pipe and new gas elbows and valve without a permit.



The city immediately served a full stop work order.



Per the sign on the door, the remedy is either obtaining a permit or restoring to "prior legal condition."

128 Second Ave. is also home to the Stage. The diner was closed yesterday. A reader spotted Stage owner Roman Diakun, who said they didn't have gas service. It's unclear when the Stage will be able to open again for business.

Last Wedensday, the tenants association at 128 Second Ave. filed an HP Action for Repairs and Services against Icon Realty in NYC Housing Court. Among other issues, the remaining residents claim that there is inconsistent heat, broken fire escapes and a lack of fire alarms in the building.

Icon bought the building in the fall of 2013.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Happy holidays from 128 Second Ave.

128 Second Ave. has been sold

'Demolitions and renovations' starting today at 128 Second Avenue

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can we just fine these building owners a million dollars for trying to work without permits already?

Fine them that enough and they'll do it the legit way.

Anonymous said...

You have got to be kidding me. Actually I am not surprised. I suspect this illegal gas work is going on all over the neighborhood.

ShutUpHooker said...

A million is not enough for a large real estate company for Icon & they probably have a cadre of lawyers to stall, stop or have a fine brought down dramatically

Contractors need to be included in any fines... and it looks like too many LandLords have too much of a cozy relationship with contractors and most likely are relatives or work directly for a particular landlord--- this alone must stop.

Anonymous said...

So how do we put a stop to this dangerous behavior? These landlords get a Stop Work Order and pay a fine, and then that's it? They are tampering with gas lines, and that's all that happens? Shouldn't the workers as well as the landlord be arrested on the spot? This isn't just a matter of getting around the rules--tampering with gas lines is putting people's lives in danger. It is killing people as we just saw across the street from this building.

Anonymous said...

It's going to make chain stores think twice about renting in old buildings with mickey moused gas.

Anonymous said...

Good. This is awesome. Perhaps something useful can come out of this tragedy. Perhaps there will be crackdowns and more awareness. In addition to stop work orders, there should be fines, disallowing any further repairs until the proper revisions have been made. I think its a start.

blue glass said...

i am sure icon will be glad to keep the gas shut-off so that stage will have no way to stay in business.
commercial rents are getting to high for even the chain stores to afford.

Anonymous said...

So The Stage gets caught in the middle by a law breaking landlord ? What happens to them if they don't have cooking gas ? The owner of the sushi restaurant said he didn't have gas service for a long time but worked around it because he doesn't need much for his type of restaurant. Stage can't wait that long.

And all this points to another possible issue as to WHY there is so much unpermitted work going on. The ConEd and DOB red tape must drive a lot of people to take shortcuts. Sounds like the whole system is broken.

Anonymous said...

Kick Icon out of NYC! Now!

Gojira said...

Con Edison needs to start a dedicated department in NYC that does NOTHING but install and upgrade gas lines. No red tape, no waiting, you file an application, they issue a permit, and do the work. The private contractors need to be taken out of the equation, as they will do anything for money, be it legal or not.

Anonymous said...

After the Harlem gas explosion that killed 8 people I said we need to move away from using gas in dense urban areas and most people disagreed. There is really no safe way to use gas which is extremely volatile and can easily destroy a building, in this case three buildings and a fourth with major damage. Houses blow up the time due to leaks. Will we never learn?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Gojira's post about ConEd taking over the installation of gas lines. And the maintenance, too. Landlords should not be able to touch them at all. Even if they have good intentions, it is dangerous work, and you have to know what you are doing.

This whole situation displays the outright greed we have all been complaining about on this site for the last few years. Many of the landlords in this neighborhood are taking shortcuts and risks to maximize their profits. I also worry about chain stores like 7-11 and others moving into these old buildings. Do you honestly believe that the electrical and other building systems are upgraded to handle the increased demand in a proper way? Even when the apartments in my dumpy old tenement get renovated and look all shiny and new--is the landlord really upgrading the wiring to handle the increased demand on electricity from people have air conditioners in every room?

The city needs to get inspectors down here to go through these buildings, and they need to take our complaints seriously.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope local elected officials, DOB, DEP and FDNY now begin to take the complaints of residents seriously. What happened here will be found to be the result of greed and neglect, something as residents we have been experiencing for almost a decade now when Shaoul, Icon, Crowman and many more, began snapping up buildings in the neighborhood and harassing out long-time tenants.

What Icon is doing above the Stage is nothing new, Shaoul and Crowman began the trend almost 10 years ago. Residents complained to our elected officials and they did nothing, residents complained to DOB and they did nothing. If the city agencies charged with protecting us eventually respond and slap a violation on a property, the landlord either pays the fine or doesn't and nothing happens. There are violations on buildings in our neighborhood for years that include things that are directly related to safety, like blocking egress etc. The use of backyards is not just an issue because of the noise that emanates from them, but because they serve as a means of egress and place of refuge for tenants in the apartments above, yet despite these issues they are the new hot thing in the hood. Sidewalk cafés that don't meet DCA requirements are popping up all over, forcing residents on insanely crowded sidewalks to walk in the street, walk in bike lanes, walk in bus lanes, etc.

The safety of residents is being sacrificed all over our community for the sake of profits and no one other than residents are doing a damn thing about it. We are not crazy, weak, lazy, stupid, puritanical, old or any of the other terrible labels that are applied to us, we are people who love this neighborhood, call it our home and want to live here in peace and dignity. Yet we are treated like the rats in TSP, an ugly nuisance that needs to be removed lest it halt progress or commerce.

Follow the link below, put in the address of your building and you will be surprised at what you see: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dob/html/bis/bis.shtml

Former East Villager said...

Gojira is 100% correct. My building (where I live now) had a gas leak and this is almost exactly how it was handled.

Anonymous said...

The Stage is very community oriented. They have been here forever. Roman is a great guy. ICON has been harassing Stage for quite a while. We have to stand behind Stage and help them come back. It is the restaurant with all the wonderful people who work there that need our support. Let'snot lose another East Village institution.

Anonymous said...

This is incredibly upsetting, but something many of us have seen signs of over the years. I'm sure in addition to the Hrynenko family, the city and ConEd will be sued over this tragedy, and hopefully this leads to some serious changes in the system: more inspections, larger fines etc., and FAST. I feel like I'm living in a pile of rubble waiting to happen.

Please keep us updated on which area businesses are open. Stage is breaking my heart (Ukrainian immigrant here), but I hope we can come together and support a variety of area businesses, before this disaster damages our community even more. I'm on the brink of mental collapse, if I see another ATM vestibule, 7/11, or Subway in that area.

Anonymous said...

My 1st thought is...seriously?? Not a week since this tragedy 100 feet away that was caused by illegal gas pipe work and you don't even bother to try to do it correctly or maybe even not do anything for a while?
Can they be THAT self-serving and full of denial that they might ever be caught?

Our building was recently bought by ICON. I can only imagine what we have in store.


Anonymous said...

The twentysomethings that have moved into our building in recent years think we older tenants are a bunch of whiners because on the surface, everything looks fine in their newly renovated apartments. I hope they will now understand that new countertops and light fixtures don't make an apartment a safe home and why we stay on the landlord to make repairs and take care of the building as much as we can. A lot of people moving into these new apartments are kids who don't have a lot of experience in life. I hope they will all join us now in being more active in reporting problems in our buildings. They are the ones being lured into these buildings where all the corners are being cut and paying high rents.

JAZ said...

Something tells me Icon is just fine with the prospect of their current ground floor tenant being unable to generate revenue.

These landlords have the game rigged where they 'win' no matter what.

Anonymous said...

11:15
very well said

Goggla said...

@Gojira - that's a great idea.

Anonymous said...

Stage should Be Able To Collect Lost Revenue From Icon as should any business inconvenienced by repairs.
I too agree with the post above to have Con Ed be the only crew to service gas lines, or to have a qualified and trustworthy con ed contractor present to supervise the entire job. Here in San Francisco, PG&E (pacific gas & electric) is very strict, but then we had the San Bruno explosion which destroyed blocks of homes. Utility Companies are greedy and sloppy too.

john penley said...

Considering what just happened the law needs to be changed to include Criminal Charges and not just fines for gas and electric related illegal work.

nygrump said...

these perpetrators of violence hide anonymous behind LLC's, and are protected by the City and neighborhood councils. This is DiBlasio's moment to show some leadership, and the wayI saw him run out of the neighborhood last week doesn't give me much confidence. Ed Koch would have hung out to talk to the residents, or maybe he would not have? .

Anonymous said...

Ok how 'bout a $5M fine? That's a pretty sizeable fine. That's the price of one co-op unit.

I'm all for these people going to jail 8:13am. I meant to say can't we fine them and do more.

Gojira said...

Oh, yes he would have, grump, remember him on the bridge during the transit strike in 1980 encouraging the people walking to work? He was out there for hours. This would have been a natural for him. De Bullshitto, on the other hand, is a total failure as a mayor; sad to say I voted for him with high hopes, figuring he had to be better than Bloomturd. Wrong.

SMICON Realty Management said...

Please be advised that it is irresponsible journalism to publish articles about any landlord/owner in the City, without asking the landlord/owner for comment.

In reality, this building is in litigation with a few of its tenants and in response to that litigation, the tenants have made a number of baseless allegations about the conditions of the building.

We note that prior to the commencement the tenant’s campaign of harassment against the landlord and as of today, there are only two (2) pending HPD violations issued in connection with the subject building. (see attachment)

Please be assured that Smicon Realty is committed to providing safe and habitable housing to the tenants of New York City, and upon notification of any issues, promptly deals with them.

We can assure the City and the tenants that no one was working on the gas lines of this building, with or without a permit, yesterday, and any violations to the contrary will be fully responded to in the appropriate forum. Moreover, it is our belief that the gas service shut off by Con Edison resulted from baseless complaints from certain disgruntled tenants and as a prophylactic measure in the wake of tragic fire across the street.

Gojira said...

"Please be advised that it is irresponsible journalism to publish articles about any landlord/owner in the City, without asking the landlord/owner for comment. " - yeah. cos landlords/owners are just SO responsible at all times, right, Smeagol? Uh, SMICON? (Like the last three letters of your name there - highly apropos.) Grieve, you keep doing what you're doing, and ignore the naysayers. Like the Bible says, "Why see them the mote that is in their brother's eye, but not the beam that is in their own?"

nygrump said...

To be fair, there are some nutty tenants.

Anonymous said...

@SMICON - UTTER BULL@&*%

Anonymous said...

@ SMICON Realty Management,

The full stop work order clearly states that violating conditions were observed and photographed. Are we supposed to believe that the city's inspectors go around entertaining "baseless allegations" by issuing stop work orders like this?

Anonymous said...

The SM before Icon in the comment above must stand for SMARMY.
(A certain attitude often accompanied by a squinty look and a superior smile. Similar to snobby.)

Anonymous said...

Hey, SMICON, why don't you hold a major press conference and show your faces to the public? Ah, right, you're busy hiding who you are and denying what you do - including the illegal work that the city SAW and TOOK PHOTOGRAPHS OF, but you still claim it never happened. Hey, your unicorn is double-parked.

Anonymous said...

How great would it be for The Stage to become the EV's Stonewall ?

Let's get the gas back on in that building, shall we ?

Anonymous said...

@SMICON the tenants of 128 Second Ave have not made baseless complaints. I live in this building and I know first hand what is going on. In the past year that you have owned this building the tenants have often gone without heat and hot water. The fire
escape is not attached to the building. The dust from construction has been everywhere in the building including our apartments. Your management company could not care less when we have called to complain about these issues. You only have one super for all of the buildings you own. How dare you say the tenants are harassing the landlord! the living conditions in this building are deplorable to say the least. This past Sunday a tenant had a gas leak in their apartment. When ConEd arrived and inspected work your contractors had done to the gas line the decision was made that the building was unsafe and the gas had to be shut off. How is this our fault? It's now two day's without heat hot water or cooking gas and there has been no response from Icon. We have asked for heaters from the management and have been told they are working on it. It's going to be 34 tonight and we have several senior citizens in our building who are suffering. This is unacceptable and maybe instead of trying to protect your image online by trying to discredit the complaints made against your lousy company you could reach out to us and offer some help!

Anonymous said...

I think it's safe to say that nobody reading this blog is going to listen to a word SMIcon has to say, because we all know it's some lame PR person just spewing out lies.
Also, to add to the list of things wrong with that building - I don't even live there but I pass it every single day during my commute, and there has never been a day when the front doors aren't completely WIDE opened. Literally anyone and everyone can just walk in at anytime throughout the work day. I know this is pretty standard during ongoing construction but jeez, yet another reason that building is unsafe for tenants.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:40pm: Good luck to you and your fellow tenants. I hope you have some good support for the court fight. My building's tenant association was greatly helped by GOLES on Avenue B and attorneys from the Urban Justice Center. We qualified for free legal assistance because many tenants in the building are low-income. With this help, we managed to get the building into the 7A management program overseen by the city. It won't last forever, but for now for the first time in many tears repairs are being done and we're not being harassed. Best of luck to you and your neighbors.

Anonymous said...

ICON REALTY MANAGMENT IS TODD COHEN AND TERRANCE LOWENBERG. If anyone is curious about their identity.

I will quote Mr Cohen from an article in the Post some years back where he makes himself sound like a pretty awesome guy !

“I have an amazing building going up, I have amazing chemistry with my girlfriend and my company is about to blow the fuck up.”

What a dou*he.

Giovanni said...

The good news is now that SMICON has made the mistake of accusing EV Grieve of jouralistic malpractice (ha!) their tenants of harrassing them (ha!) and denying a DOB inspectors report, every media outet will be picking up this story to call the landlord to make statements on the record and they will find out the truth. The landord has invited scrutiny with their ridiculous statement, and they know full well that whatever previous HPD violations or compleints have nothing to do with DOB violations which are issued whenever there is a dangerous building condition posed to the tenants and general public. the Environmental Control Board at the NYC Dept. of Buildings issued the Stop Work Order, not HPD.

In this time of grief after the dsaster on 7th Street they should have more sensitivity about what their tenants and neighbors are now going through. But since they don't live anywhere near this property or ever demostrate basic human feelings or compassion, then the authorites will just need to deal with any alleged violations that put the community at further risk ASAP.

Anonymous said...

SMIcon, The EVGrive blog is not a journalism blog, it's a whiny baby blog. Different rules apply.

Anonymous said...

@6:40pm: We hear you and believe you, and I am sorry for all that those of you living in that building have endured, and are still enduring.

Trust me when I say that NO ONE here believes a word Smicon's self-serving palaver - esp. those of us who live in or adjacent to one of their buildings. From what I've personally seen & heard of their "management" my opinion of them could not be lower.

Anonymous said...

@7:27pm: Thank you for the info!

And Giovanni, you are 100% correct. In their self-serving comment here, smicon claims there are 2 only HPD violations - BUT HPD violations and DOB violations are totally separate things.

The DOB violations include the STOP WORK ORDER and the illegal gas work that the DOB inspector observed and photographed.

Crazy Eddie said...

"SMIcon, The EVGrive blog is not a journalism blog, it's a whiny baby blog. Different rules apply"

I wonder who this could be, defending the indefensible. The usual suspect? BTW:

G..r..i..e..v..e.

"Baby!... Why does he say this "baby"? The Führer has never said "baby".

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have specific suggestions about how we can support the Stage?

If it doesn't reopen this would be a body blow to our neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Don't believe the tenants of 128's baseless claims, but do believe SMICON's baseless claims.

Gojira said...

OK, SMICON, please respond to this:

http://nypost.com/2015/04/01/shady-gas-pipe-hookup-found-near-east-village-blast-site/

Anonymous said...

Good find Gojira, now S&M ICON will have to deal with the NY Post and other media outlets. After the media gets through with them their new tagline will be "Thank you sir, may I have another?"

Gojira said...

Here's another, SMEGMACON, from WNYC, noted hotbed of lousy journalism. Still awaiting your reply to my first link posting from the Post.

http://www.wnyc.org/story/gas-shut-building-across-site-east-village-gas-explosion/

Anonymous said...

Prayer nor God has anything to do with this. It pertains to greed, ignorance, and stupidity.

Anonymous said...

I wont comment on that landlord issues but being a licensed plumber we can work on some gas lines without permits. We can also file permits post repair.

The big issue is the ConEd procedures it takes months for meters unlike Natgrid who will get them to us the next day. This is why you see places cross connecting gas lines like what happened at this deli and at 121. The issue with ConED is so bad some plumbers wont work in areas ConEd supplies gas. What happened at 121 all stems from the ConEd runaround and waiting game not money.

My opinion at 121 is they had the line in basement capped off and removed it pre inspection. whoever did it after ConEd rejected them they forgot and line was wide open when they turned it back on. You need a substantial leak for that kind of damage.

What people should look for when work is being done is a Licensed Plumber. NYC has some of the toughest licensing laws in the nation. Chances are if the contractor is licensed you have nothing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

I believe SMICON Realty Management.

Tenants think they know everything about a building. They think they know more than the landlord.
In reading all the posts one would think that they are all licensed electricians and plumbers. All they know to do is Stop work and then complain that work isn't being done. There's just no pleasing some tenants. If they're not happy where they live, they're more than welcome to move out. There is no law that forces them to remain a tenant where they are unhappy.

I am not affiliated nor do I know SMICON. I am a landlord.

Anonymous said...

For your HP action the tenants need to review the answers to all the owners permit filings ...see DOB PW1 section 26 regarding occupancy and rent regulated status. This permit application falsely states the building is not occupied and not occupied by rent regulated tenants

And there is no required Tenant Protection Plan filed as required by law for an occupied building.

Therefore the permit and likely others are invalid and illegal since they are filed with false statements.

NYS Attorney General Schneiderman has filed this specific charge of permit filed with false statements to Section 26 of DOB form PW1 regarding occupancy and regulated status in a current case of fraud 101 West 78th Street


http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobsQueryByNumberServlet?passdocnumber=1&passjobnumber=140234164&requestid=3&restore=1

http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/BScanJobDocumentServlet?requestid=5&passjobnumber=140234164&passdocnumber=01&allbin=1006312&scancode=ES394442383

Anonymous said...

I am a tenant in another Icon owned building -56 West 11th St. -- the litany of complaints & violations is identical to ours. We have been harassed since they bought the building. There are now only rent controlled & stabilized tenants left and we have suffered for a year. We are very frightened about gas work in the building-- we have been without any gas since July, no elevator since then as well.
The workers are unskilled. It is just terrifying especially in light of no protections for tenants who are made homeless by negligence. A nightmare! Please someone do a story about Icon!

Anonymous said...

Agree with the plumbers comments about ConEd's bureaucracy. They take months to do a meter installation. I've experienced it.

Anonymous said...

The tenants at 56 West 11th St should call their NYC Council rep Corey Johnson speak to Matt Green
(212) 564-7757

Corey is a strong supporter of tenants rights.

Anonymous said...

I am a 56 West 11th St. tenant and can confirm that our tenants' association has been working on this with Molly Bangs from Corey Johnson's office for several months and Johnson even sent a letter to Icon on behalf of the tenants in our building. Icon's lawyers sent a lengthy response more or less denying everything or making excuses. We are now in housing court seeking an order directing Icon to restore services. Housing court has been another rude awakening, as the court has bent over backwards to accommodate Icon's lame excuses.

EV Grieve said...

To the person who left the comment on this post last night... do you have a copy of the confrontation between the tenants and ownership that you described? I'd like to see it

grieve98@gmail.com