Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tenants and local elected officials speak out against Icon Realty


[Photo by Grant Shaffer]

Tenant groups, community organizations and local elected officials continue to put pressure on landlords behaving badly in the neighborhood.

Yesterday, it was Icon Realty's turn.

Here's part of the news release that the Cooper Square Committee released:

[On Monday], tenants of two Icon Realty-owned East Village buildings, 445 East Ninth Street and 57 Second Avenue, along with local elected officials and community groups, call on Icon Realty to end their alleged campaign of construction-as-harassment against tenants and to meet the tenants’ demands.

If Icon refuses to do so, the tenants – represented by the Urban Justice Center and Manhattan Legal Services – will file lawsuits against the landlord.

For years now, Icon Realty has been aggressively displacing rent-regulated tenants to make room for ultra-high rent paying tenants. Like other bad-acting landlords, Icon Realty has exposed tenants to hazardous health and safety threats, brought dozens of lawsuits against tenants, and continue to deny tenants their right to live in these buildings without fear of extreme tactics to remove them.

“At the end of the day, we don’t know what we’re coming home to. In two years of bad communication, bad accounting, loss of basic services, cycles of neglect and disregard, we are now accustomed to uncertainty where none should exist,” said Ben Coopersmith a member of the 445 E. 9th Street Tenants Association. “We will demand fair play for our tenancies with Icon Realty Management beyond the glad-handing of their representatives, the unfulfilled promises, even the possibility that they will flip us once the paint dries.”

During a rally outside the Icon-owned buildings at 445 E. Ninth St. and Avenue A and later at 57 Second Ave., Icon tenants announced their demands for proper lead mitigation, safe construction practices, unobstructed building entryways ... and for Icon Realty to respect rent-regulated tenants’ rights.

City Council Member Rosie Mendez and State Sen. Brad Hoylman were among the speakers.


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[Photo by Derek Berg]


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Icon Realty bought the building at 445 E. Ninth St. for $10.1 million in April 2014, according to public records. The storefronts are now all vacant. The Upper Rust was the last to leave after a reported rent increase. Icon took over ownership of 57 Second Ave. in early 2015. Both longtime businesses have closed here too.

The Lo-Down has coverage here, including a statement from Icon spokesperson Chris Coffey.


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29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Croman, Icon, and who's next? C'mon, there's a list! One may hope that the AG is making it and checking it twice.

And while we're at it, let's bring up the topic of SCRIE tenants--seniors--being harassed for capital improvement fees that they don't owe.

Anonymous said...

There's an article in Tuesday's Wall St. Journal about Croman a k a Cromagnon, p. A17.

Anonymous said...

Problem with the protesters is they always fail to realize that city and state greed begets landlord greed.

Anonymous said...

Who pays for necessary improvements in these buildings? Do the rents in SCRIE and stabilized buildings cover all costs and taxes? If not who makes up the difference?

Unknown said...

We need a million tenants March in NYC to protest high rents and demand better tenants rights !

Anonymous said...

Great signs. Good old fashioned protest, love it.

Anonymous said...

9:40 AM: Suggestion, when you buy the building in 2014 calculate the cash flow and see if it will cover your anticipated expenses, including repairs, cleaning, painting, etc.. Buildings don't take care of themselves. You'll have to pay a super. Don't include in your cash flow the income from harassing tenants out of their apartments and raising rents. If after you do the calculations, you don't see a reasonable return on your investment, don't buy the building. Don't expect the government to end rent regulation so you can make a tidy profit on a building you bought a couple of years ago.

Anonymous said...

The tenants' grievances remind me of my time living in a Shaoul-owned building. Remarkably similar modus operandi, including having a marauding thug trying to intimidate longtime tenants into accepting sub-$5,000 buyouts to leave. Have not had nearly as negative an experience under Kushner, but I can only speak for myself. Hey Schneiderman, Shaoul deserves to be next on the grill.

Anonymous said...

12:27, ah yes, our good pal Josh, Shaoul's henchman. I hope that charming individual has fallen down an elevator shaft by now. I remember him screaming at me on the phone one time because he erroneously thought I had been strategizing with tenants' rights activists. The first thing I did after that was contact my local tenants' rights committee. What a fucking moron.

Anonymous said...

@11:35am: Perfectly said!

Anonymous said...

Kushner is terrible. They are now playing games with the lease renewals.

Anonymous said...

I can second 2:28's comment.

If Kushner is wise he will see this Croman takedown as a wakeup call and course-correct. Or he can be the "gentleman's Shaoul."

Anonymous said...

Back in the Bush era, Shaoul (via his goon Josh) tried a number of strategies to get me out, starting with trying to assert that I had a second primary residence (as if). When that didn't work he tried claiming my dog was illegal because I hadn't informed the management office I had a pet. But I'd had the dog since way before Shaoul took over, so when that didn't work Josh resorted to showing up at my apartment when I was away to threaten my girlfriend, trying to make her uncomfortable and afraid so that she'd insist on our moving. After that happened more than once, I managed to get Josh on the phone, which was the first of many unpleasant confrontations I had with him. The aggravating and threatening situation dragged on for more than five years. Eventually and to my complete surprise, weeks before the building was sold to Kushner, Josh conceded defeat and the essential repairs I'd been denied for years were suddenly approved. As much as I think they deserve prosecution and a tax audit (not necessarily in that order!) I must thank those two, Ben and Josh, for the advanced hands-on seminar in defending a stabilized lease.

Anonymous said...

I'll never forget what these crooks did to the Stage - and continue to do to our neighbors and friends all over the East Village.

Anonymous said...

Croman, Icon, Kushner, Shaoul - let's make it a team sport.

Anonymous said...

@2:28, I'm also having issues with them, with the RS lease renewals. (If you're not rent stabilized then none of the below applies.) The salient bit of info here, if you have a RS lease, is that their delaying getting you the renewal only hurts them, not you, in that it postpones when they can legally raise your rent. A valid renewal RS lease must be post-dated to take effect 90 to 120 days from when you receive it. So if they are overdue in getting it to you, it just means they can't raise your rent for an extra three or four months. As a RS tenant in this situation, your old lease is still in effect on a month-to-month basis, with all the regular RS protections, and you should continue paying your current rent. If you want to remind them they owe you a renewal lease, that's up to you. As far as not returning the signed lease to you, that's also something for which there is no penalty provided by law and it doesn't change your status. Just make sure you keep a copy of the signed lease you returned to them and all related correspondence. Again, none of the above applies if your lease is not rent stabilized.

Anonymous said...

very reassuring to hear i'm not the only one who Westminster is playing lease renewal games with right now! strength in numbers!

Anonymous said...

I just saw three goons in suits, with briefcases over at the Steiner atrocity. They looked like they were checking in on things and they were grinning from ear to ear, one of them was taking some snapshots. I must have walked by at the end of it, they were just breaking up. They were at A and 11th. What were they so ectatic about?

Jared said...

I fear that that expanse of empty storefronts will become a bank, Walgreens, or something else of that ilk. I am enjoying the lack of chain stores on Ave A from 5th to 10th while it lasts. I once drove by with visitors from Texas who gasped when I pointed out the local businesses and no chains. They had never seen anything like it.

Anonymous said...

The sad truth about Croman's arrest is due to the tax evasion and felony fraud not so much the violation of tenants rights in his buildings. I may be wrong but I've read that he already is in for $1 million in fines already for violations which sadly landlords don't do time for unless their negligence leads to someone's death and even then an expensive lawyer will have the charges lowered to a probation. If you have a scumbag landlord hope he has committed fraud as well.

Anonymous said...

No the banks are actually leaving the east village. Avenue A chase and what is the one on 2nd Avenue.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, 11:35. I made the comment that set 9:40 running. You took the words right out of my typewriter. Iced coffee at Ray's on me anytime.

Anonymous said...

hmmmm, what do Croman, Icon, Kushner, Shaoul all have in common?

Anonymous said...

6:28 is on point.

Donnie Moder said...

Unlike most of his tenants,Croman has a lawyer, Broffmnn, that will use every political and media connection, bargaining tool, legal loophole, exception, stalling tactic, investigatuve resource and plea deal that money can buy.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else have Kushner playing games with not cashing rent checks?

Anonymous said...

That Josh guy is a hothead, I've witnessed run ins he's had with tenants. Too many steroids. Glad Shaoul and the magnum gang have graduated from walk ups and rentals to developing and selling luxury condos...

chris flash said...

FROM THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE SHADOW:

ICON Realty Management, owned by Terrence Lowenberg and Todd Cohen, is known for tenant harassment, fraud, and wrongful evictions. ICON recently forced the Stage Restaurant, located at 128 Second Avenue for 30 years, out of business in the aftermath of a gas line explosion across the street a year ago, by blocking Stage from making necessary repairs to its gas lines in order to be allowed by the city to re-open.

Now ICON is looking for a new tenant willing to pay them $15,000.00 per month for the Stage's corpse, which comes complete with fixtures and equipment. ICON is in no rush, as the city rewards property owners that have removed long-term businesses by allowing them a tax write-off, due to lost commercial rental income.

An appropriate response to what ICON has done to the Stage Restaurant and countless other businesses and residences in our community is an organized BOYCOTT of commercial spaces being offered by ICON and letting potential renters KNOW it.

It is less likely that a business person will rent a space in a hostile environment or a space that has been acquired by the landlord by less than honorable means that they know will get NO business.

Renters looking for apartments can also REFUSE to rent from ICON.

But why limit your response to ICON? The other big real estate predators on the Lower East Side, known for the same standard operating procedure of reducing building services, removing rent-regulated tenants, gut renovating apartments with disruptive around-the-clock construction, getting apartments de-regulated and then renting to transients who pay much higher rents are:

• Magnum Real Estate: Fronted by Ben Shaoul with dirty money from Chinese and Russians; typically buys an apartment house, acquires new tenants who pay higher rents and then sells to Westminster Management or to ICON Realty Management.
• Westminster Management: Fronted by Donald Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner; known for withholding building services like heat and hot water as they attempt to remove hold-out tenants who refuse to be pushed out
• 9300 Realty: Run by Steven Croman; known for abuse and harassment of rent-regulated tenants; under investigation by the NY State Attorney General. Tenants have organized into the Croman Tenants' Alliance to fight back: [visit www.cromantenants.org–Ed.]

BOYCOTT THE BASTARDS!!

And, don't forget to USE YOUR IMAGINATION....

Anonymous said...

I'm game when is the protest and who is leading it?