[5th Street buildings that were part of Raphael Toledano's portfolio]
After a lengthy legal battle that started with landlord Raphael Toledano, longtime East Village residents Craig Smith and Elise Stone and their family have been evicted from their rent-stabilized apartment on Fifth Street.
[Smith, Stone and family]
With Toledano in bankruptcy, Madison Realty Capital is the de-facto landlord. Due to a clause in their lease, Smith and Stone are now being held accountable by Madison's lawyers for Toledano/Madison Realty Capital's legal fees, which amount to $250,000.
This petition is asking Madison Realty Capital, who reportedly manages over $4 billion of capital, to waive their legal fees.
The following, via the EVG inbox, is from the group Tenants Taking Control...
In July of 2018, Craig Smith and Elise Stone, their three college-age children Kerem, Tes and Hakima, and Elise's ageing mother Sandy were given 12 days to leave their home of 15 years — a walk-up apartment in the East Village.
Craig and Elise — much can be said about this extraordinary couple. They are parents, thespians, teachers and artists who have spent a lifetime giving to their community. Notably, they started up a local, award-winning, nonprofit theater company in 2004 that, in addition to producing shows, runs educational programs for aspiring actors, children and seniors.
The SmithStones were sued for eviction in 2015 by their new predatory landlord, Raphael Toledano, whose lawyers spotted a loophole in the city's rent-stabilization law. Rather than give up, Craig and Elise fought back. Their motivation was not just self-preservation — in keeping with their community spirit, they aimed to protect other New York City rent regulated tenants who face similar gentrification pressures. Had they won, thousands of deregulated apartments in the city could have been re-regulated.
The legal battle lasted 34 months. In the midst of it, Toledano defaulted on the loan he'd gotten from Madison Realty Capital to buy their building (along with 14 others). Although still owned by Toledano's LLC, in the bankruptcy Madison Realty Capital became the de facto landlord of the buildings, put up the money to manage the properties, and continued prosecuting the lawsuit.
In June of 2018, the Appellate Division of NY State Supreme Court ruled against Craig and Elise. Madison Realty Capital told them to leave their home, and NYC lost yet another affordable apartment. The loss to the neighborhood has been devastating.
Due to a clause in their lease, the SmithStones are now being held accountable by Madison's lawyers for Toledano/Madison Realty Capital's legal fees, amounting to $250,000. As dedicated artists and educators, this couple does not have that kind of money.
THIS PETITION ASKS MADISON REALTY CAPITAL TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND PAY ITS OWN LEGAL COSTS.
It is a private investment fund, so its earnings and revenue are not publicly disclosed. But last month, Madison's CEO Josh Zegen told The Commercial Observer: "We manage over $4 billion of capital and we have every piece of the business in-house." It's likely that they can afford their own legal fees, and still be a very profitable business.
In the same interview, there was this exchange:
COMMERCIAL OBSERVER: "What keeps you up at night?"
JOSHUA ZEGEN: "The unknown. You’re starting to really feel the rate creep more than you did six to nine months ago..."
So, the TTC (Tenants Taking Control) asked the same question of the SmithStones.
TTC: "What keeps you up at night?"
CRAIG SMITH: "Bankruptcy. No money to pay for my kids' college, no money to pay for a dentist, long commutes... the fear that we won't be able to keep the theater going, and no longer be able to show seniors and children the joy of being involved in the arts."
This family is in a precarious situation now, and really needs the help of the greater community. They have already lost their home. Please add your name to this petition, to have Madison Realty Capital relieve the SmithStones of the crushing, unfair debt burden they will otherwise face.
Here's the link to the petition.
Previously on EV Grieve:
Foreclosure notice arrives on Raphael Toledano-owned building on 12th Street
Report: Raphael Toledano files for Chapter 11; $145 million deal for EV portfolio is off the table
Raphael Toledano tenants take to Midtown streets to speak out against their landlord and his lenders
Santa delivers sacks of coal to Madison Realty Capital, Rafael Toledano's lenders
Amid claims of being a rent-stabilized tenant, Raphael Toledano faces eviction from his home