‘Matzo’ bawl: Booted tenants had just an hour to get their stuff

Residents of this factory building on Kent Avenue were evicted after the city found an illegal matzo factory in the basement. This week, residents were briefly allowed back in to collect their belongings.
The Brooklyn Paper / Jeff Bachner

Scores of loft dwellers huddled in the lobby at 475 Kent Ave. for their turn to gather their possessions from the shuttered building on Tuesday afternoon — but for at least one tenant, the emergency eviction was par for the course.

Getting a deal in Williamsburg or Greenpoint sometimes means putting up with such inconveniences as faulty sprinklers, city code violations and having an illegal matzo factory in the basement.

All three conditions forced the Sunday night evacuation of 200 some tenants from the building, which is between South 11th Street and Division Avenue on the Williamsburg waterfront, city officials said.

“I’ve been through all this before,” said Doris Josovitz, who moved to 475 Kent three years ago after being evicted from 808 Driggs Ave. under similar circumstances. “So I guess I’m getting used to it.”

Still, the controlled chaos wasn’t easy for non–eviction veterans. Tenants were given about an hour to gather whatever they could.

“There’s a complete lack of co-ordination,” complained Kathryn Cook, a 28-year-old photographer who has lived in the building for three years.

The Department of Buildings cited landlord Nachman Brach for illegal basement kitchens and failing to maintain the sprinkler system, among other violations.

The Fire Department also cited Brach for several violations stemming from the allegedly illegal matzo factory in the basement.

Tenants were set to get more time in their units later in the week after three tons of grain were removed on Wednesday from silos that fed that factory.

But the ultimate fate of the tenants remains in limbo.

This isn’t the first time Brach has gotten into trouble by housing people in old industrial buildings. He was fined in June after a firefighter died battling a blaze at Brach’s converted sewing factory at 83 Meserole St.

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