Thursday, April 18, 2013

An update on James Panitz

[Photo of James from last year courtesy of Damian Panitz]

Last October, we told you the story of James Panitz in a post titled Despite plea, landlord doubling rent on East Village family with cancer-stricken 2 year old.

Shortly before his 2nd birthday, doctors diagnosed James with rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of cancer often found in children. He lives with his parents, Damian Panitz and Kate Perry, on East First Street. (Last September, friends and neighbors held "James Day," a benefit in First Park to help cover medical expenses.)

While James was undergoing intensive chemo and radiation therapy, they learned that their landlord, Steve Croman of Croman Realty/Croman 9300, was doubling their rent from $2,100 to $4,100. At the time, James, a technician with NYU, and Kate, a nurse, could not afford the price bump. Worse, moving James during his extensive treatment could have been detrimental to his recovery.

Last fall, Damian said Croman reps were not receptive to just a 10 percent rent hike while James recovered. They said they'd move out as soon as James was well enough.


That was the last we heard from Damian. This past weekend, he provided an update.

First, the really good news. While doctors will continue to monitor James for a few more years, "so far he is doing great," Damian reported.

"It's been almost eight weeks since my son's final chemotherapy session," Damian said. "We had an entire six weeks without a clinic visit, an emergency room visit."

As for the housing situation, shortly after the story on James appeared, Damian said that they received a six-month extension without the rent hike.


Damian and Kate are making plans to move by the end of May. Unfortunately, they are having challenges finding an apartment in their price range in the East Village.

"We would love to stay in our neighborhood, but everywhere we've looked the prices are [too expensive]. We are looking at Brooklyn. We hope to find something not too crippling. It's funny, you'd think two hard-working people could find a place around here," said Damian, a longtime East Village resident. (His mother's family emigrated to St. Mark's Place in the early 1920s from Bratislava, Slovakia.)

Meanwhile, he said that Croman is letting the current property go on East First Street. Workers removed all of the yard furniture, BBQ and garden buckets out back.

"Since then we've had a rat infestation — these rats are huge. I am afraid to take the trash out at night," Damian said. "As soon as I open the back door, they go running. Scattering all over the place, under your feet and up the walls. At night you can hear the rats fighting over a parcel of trash with trash can lids clinking."


"In summary I have a lot to be grateful for. My son is doing well. It's terrific to have a sense that he will grow up."

Previously on EV Grieve:
Despite plea, landlord doubling rent on East Village family with cancer-stricken 2 year old

Tomorrow in First Park: 'James Day,' benefit for 2 year old with cancer

The clinic that treated James is having a walkathon on May 19 on the Upper West Side to raise funds and spread awareness of children's cancers. People do not have give money — you can simply walk, learn about childhood cancers and gain knowledge that could be passed on to other families. Find more details here.


Anonymous said...

I was wondering about this boy and his family the other day. Thank you for the update. Wishing them all the best.

Anonymous said...

And some silver spoon fool will pay 4100.00 for that rat infested apartment.What a sad joke the city has become.

Anonymous said...

Please come to Astoria! We'd welcome your family with open arms and I'm sure you could find a place that suits your needs and wants within your price range. So glad to hear your son is doing well.

Big Brother said...

So happy hear to hear he is doing well. Best of luck with the apartment hunt.

Anonymous said...

Some great news in an otherwise shitty week.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about them as well. They just popped into my head for some reason. Glad to hear they're doing well. Best of luck and go James!!

Anonymous said...

Good news! Was talking to a neighbor a few days ago about the boy and the Croman buildings on East 1st St.

We have started a website for Croman / 9300 tenants:

Sh!tMyTenantsSay said...

Wait, where was the big story about the 6 month extension AT THE SAME RENT (not even the 10% increases they asked for)??? I know EVG likes to portray LLs and the enemy, but the bias is overwhelming sometimes.

Marty Wombacher said...

Really glad to hear James is doing better! Good luck with the move, come over here to Peoria!

Anonymous said...


Yes, the LL did this out of the goodness of their own heart. It wasn't the large amount negative PR and pressure put on them by the community and specific influential pople. What ambivalence!

Are you really this shameless?

JohnEverywhere said...

I love how ShitMyTenantsSay only mentions the 6-month reprieve of the rent hike and not the health of a 2 year old boy with cancer.

Tells you everything you need to know about landlords.