The longstanding d’Mai Urban Spa in Park Slope will shutter in September after financial troubles brought on by COVID-19 have made the owners of the Fifth Avenue hotspot unable to pay rent — and still, the corporate landlord is suing them for over $300,000 in rent for the remainder of their lease.
“It’s crippled my life,” owner Daniella Stromberg told Brooklyn Paper. “The stress is pretty incredible.”
Stromberg had rented the property near Lincoln Place since 2004, but now, the property owner Greenbrook Partners has shown little sympathy for the struggling business.
Stromberg says Greenbrook’s Principal, Greg Fournier, who owns a number of buildings on Fifth Avenue, offered only two months of 50 percent rent after months of unpleasant negotiations, and only if she agreed to sign a new five-year lease.
Two months wasn’t nearly enough for Stromberg, who says her revenue is down 80 percent while the coronavirus keeps customers away from high-contact businesses like spas and massage parlors, and severely limits the number of customers she can service per day due to social distancing guidelines.
Under normal circumstances, the spa was able to perform five massages every 70 minutes, and three facials every 75 minutes — which would bring in thousands of dollars, according to Stromberg. Since reopening, they are only able to do three massages in 105 minutes.
Now, her business faces bankruptcy as she deals with the lawsuit, and her longtime staff of over 30 is out of work.
“My business has employed 37 employees, most of whom have been with me since the beginning,” Stromberg said. “And now my team is out of work.”
The loss of work may also mean immigration troubles for some of her staff who are in the United States on green cards or student visas.
“It’s sort of a really heartbreaking immigration story,” she said. “I have some green card holders who couldn’t collect unemployment during the shutdown, I have some student visas who were lost in the shuffle.”
Stromberg says she fears the aggressive tactics of landlords like Fournier will drive out even more commercial tenants from the neighborhood, and she knows of another Park Slope tenant of his who will soon be forced to close but has not yet informed their staff.
“I think he’s wreaking havoc on the neighborhood,” she said.
Greenbrook Partners, which describes itself as specializing in “underperforming, poorly maintained, mismanaged, and undercapitalized assets” on its website, did not return a request for comment by deadline.
Stromberg hopes to continue her business in some form, once she gets past the lawsuit and the dust settles on the pandemic, but for now she’s saying thank you to Park Slope for 16 years of business.
“It’s been the greatest joy to work with my team to provide a healing space for the community,” she said.
The spa’s employees picketed outside the spa on Friday afternoon in protest of the unfair treatment from Greenbrook.