Thursday, April 2, 2015

The possibility that the Stage won't reopen on 2nd Avenue

[EVG photo from Monday]

As we first reported on Tuesday, the city issued a Stop Work Order at 128 Second Ave. for what they say was installation of a gas pipe and fittings without a permit.

According to DOB documents, a city inspector on Monday observed this taking place in the cellar of the Icon Realty-owned building, across Second Avenue from the site of the gas explosion that killed two men and brought down three buildings. (Officials have said that a gas pipe underneath 121 Second Ave. might have been "inappropriately accessed" by outside contractors.)

According to a report at Gothamist yesterday: "Some of [128 Second Ave.'s] tenants say they've heard they may be without gas for six to 12 months."

All this has put the Stage, housed in a storefront at 128 Second Ave., out of commission. The beloved diner was able to open for business last Friday and Saturday, but had to close on Monday without any gas for cooking.

A Stage regular spoke with owner Roman Diakun yesterday. Per the regular: "Unfortunately, he might have to close down the restaurant for good. It's going to take much longer to turn the gas on than one would think. Between plans, permits and checking every apartment ... it could take months."

There's also complaint on file with the city Tuesday claiming the following: "Customer is reporting a restaurant hooking up gas pipes. Name of restaurant is Stage."

One resident said that this was a bogus claim, which led to more finger pointing in a building that tenants say has been plagued with problems since Icon bought it in the fall of 2013.

Per Gothamist:

"Tenants have had issues from the get-go," Yonatan Tadele, a community organizer with the Cooper Square Committee, told us. He noted that since Icon took over in 2013, landlords had been taking rent-stabilized tenants to court, then terrorizing remaining tenants with lengthy renovations, frequent gas shutdowns and other quality-of-life issues.

On March 24, 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.

As for the landlord and the city's Stop Work Order, WNYC reported the following:

Mitch Kossoff, a lawyer representing building owner Icon Realty, said the owners were "puzzled" and not aware of any gas work being done.

Early last evening, an Icon rep sent this email to residents of 128 Second Ave., several copies of which landed in our inbox:

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.

Unfortunately, and as a backlash of the recent and tragic circumstances that occurred across the street, Con Edison has shut off gas service to a number of buildings, our building included.

Please be assured that we are acting diligently to have the gas service restored as quickly as possible and in the interim, we are trying to make arrangements for a temporary boiler.

We are also going to provide all tenants with double burner hot plates so you can cook. We would like for all tenants who wish to relocate to a Hotel of your choice starting immediately.

For those tenants who are not otherwise in arrears, Management will cover up to $200 per day for your Hotel accommodations until the hot water has been restored building wide.

Management will not cover any expenses that exceed the $200 per diem. Please submit your Hotel receipts into our office for reimbursement.

Your reimbursement check will be processed within 30 business days of receipt.

Your rent will be adjusted accordingly for the days you are without heat and hot water.

We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience and hope to have this matter resolved in a timely manner.

Previously on EV Grieve:
City serves stop work order on Icon Realty-owned building for installing gas pipe without permit across from deadly 2nd Avenue blast zone (48 comments)


Anonymous said...

I hope this shows people that it doesn't matter if the owner is large or small, they all behave the same way.

Anonymous said...

The Stage needs to lawyer up immediately. Maybe the Urban Justice Center can help them. The landlord is trying to set them up and force them out by planting a fake accusation with DOB. Let a lawyer gather the facts, including all these EVGrieve posts. There's no reason for Stage to have been installing gas pipes, they barely had room to fart in that place, not to mention expand with new equipment. This is bogus.

Anonymous said...

Once again, the bs'ing skunk of a landlord wins. It's pretty clear to me who called in the accusation of Stage installing a gas pipe.

I'd like to see NYC take over that building due to clear & evident bad intent on the part of Icon.

Roman, I really hope you can find somewhere else nearby to open - someplace where the owner is not a skunk and doesn't want to displace everyone in their building.

Anonymous said...

The only thing this tells us is that ICON is an evil landlord, which is what we already know. STAGE is a wonderful family run restaurant. They have been here forever, served the community,the people are great, the food is good, and well priced. We cannot let this wonderful place be closed down due to greed. THis is what it is about - GREED.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, it's always about greed...

Giovanni said...

One of the few good things to come out of this tragedy so far is the media attention plus government and criminal investigations into these landlords and their shady practices. For far too long we have known who these landlords are and what they are doing thanks to EV Grieve and the Village Voice"s annual Worst Landlord list, but it often takes a tragedy for things to change.

This tragedy was a historic event, coming just days after the 104th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire which also happened in the Village. 146 factory workers who were trapped inside that factory died due to locked fire exit doors. That tragedy ended up changing the nation's fire safety laws and making landlords more accountable.

But rich people always seem to get away with murder. The factory owners were charged with manslaughter and acquitted. Just three years later one of the factory owners was arrested again for illegally locking his factory's fire exit doors.

Some people never learn and will always put profit ahead of people's safety. Some people will always value their next dollar over someone else's life.

We can't expect these landlords to learn from this tragedy and simply change their ways. We already have seen new reports of illegal gas lines in other EV buildings. Now the Stage might have to close, and residents have no heat or hot water. If a landlord can't provide tenants with the most basic services maybe they should not be a landlord. If they break the law and do illegal things that cost people their lives they should be put in jail.

It's time for new legislation and oversight. It's time to finally hold landlords more personally accountable for their actions.

Some people will say if you don't like it then move to XYZ. But this is still our city, we're not going anywhere. We will stay here and fight until things change. #SaveNYC

Anonymous said...

STOP MESSING WITH THE STAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

nygrump said...

This is the new template for Landlords to maximize profits. They get to socialize the risk to the community at large but keep the profit. Its the elite way. Fukushima is the ultimate example.

sam_the_man said...

Trust me, I have no love for Icon; they really are the dregs. But the situation here is complicated.
I too spoke to Roman yesterday. I couldn't follow everything he was saying, but he said he blamed more one of the upstairs holdout tenants, rather than the landlord. They called con ed to complain about something, some non up-to-date paperwork concerning work done last year was turned up, and they basically turned everything off and issued the full stop-work order.

As a tenant, residential or commercial, you're caught between a rock and a hard place. Of course you should call 911 and con ed if you really smell gas. But it seems now if you bring in con ed instead of the landlord in a non-emergency situation, you can understand Con Ed being a little, um, skittish, and defaulting to just shutting everything down. No heat, no hot water, no gas,which could be fatal to commercial tenants like The Stage. See the WPIX story above.

Again, not defending Icon, and safety is paramount, but as always, it's the little guy that bears the brunt.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Is the poster at 11:04 who claims to have talked to the guy from the Stage sure he heard the man right? I love the Stage, but how can he blame the holdout upstairs tenants who refuse to be shoved out of their homes? Are they not supposed to call ConEd for a problem? And there was apparently a big problem here. They don't just shut off service for no reason. Seriously, are you sure you heard him right?

Anonymous said...

Why am I not in the least bit surprised that ICON is the landlord?

dwg said...

Don't blame the tenants. Icon's miserable history as a landlord and developer is well documented. They don't deserve an ounce of consideration. What they deserve is a pound of prosecution. Their actions are criminal. If only the legal system saw it that way.

Cosmo said...

@Giovanni - well said!

Anonymous said...




Anonymous said...

If Stage doesn't re-open, we should stage a demonstration. Does anyone know where we can rent a sound stage?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What upsets me most about this isn't even the actual fact that Stage might be closing for good - it's that time and time again, the voices and wills of the residents actually living in a community mean LITERALLY NOTHING, and are completely ignored in favor of the wills of 4-5 real estate tycoons. How is it possible for such a "progressive" and large city, in the year 2015, to still put the literally criminal desires of a few individuals over the very loud voices, and clearly defined preferences of the actual citizens and majority?

Anonymous said...

I have fondly called The Stage "my kitchen", as I eat many of my meals there. It is a wonderful diner, and I am heartbroken that Roman is being forced to stay closed because of this plumbing issue. Why this cannot be taken care of quickly is a mystery to me. I would think after this disaster the city would force landlords to handle things in a timely manner. It does sound like ICON not wanting to have them reopen, so that down the line they can put in another bank or something useful like that. :/

Anonymous said...

To me all this sounds like a way for the landlord to get stage out so they can rent the place for double, and if it doesn't rent they can just write the expenses off until it does..

Anonymous said...

We need our local elected officials to get involved; call Rosie Mendez. This an injustice that is taking place in full view of everyone. As a community we must rally to save The Stage. It's been here too long and is too good to let it go. ROSIE, REACH OUT AND HELP THE STAGE TO REOPEN!!!!

Soulful1 said...

This dam city should take over hundreds of buildings, it's a dam shame what tenants have to go through, there is a list of 50 worst landlords, start there. My friends landlord is one. The landlord in the next building is on that list. This is on East 7th street

Soulful1 said...

It's a dam shame the way the law's in this city allow tenants to be treated the way they are, the city should have taken over hundreds of buildings starting with those landlords on the 50 worst landlords. Corrupted judges, people being displaced through no fault of their own who can't afford a lawyer, thinking they didn't need one because they don't know how this system works.