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Williamsburg artists evicted in crackdown on illegal building!

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City inspectors ordered dozens of Williamsburg artists out of their decrepit loft building on Thursday — and now the tenants are suing their landlord, claiming that they had no idea they were living in an illegal warehouse space with hundreds of building code violations.

The building, on Metropolitan Avenue near Lorimer Street, houses 40 or 50 residents in lofts and studios, despite the fact that it’s zoned for commercial use and the owners have 94 open violations with the city.

Tenants said that Department of Buildings inspectors arrived in the morning and demanded that the residents leave by sundown — mostly because there hasn’t been an emergency exit or structurally sound stairs for years.

“[Inspectors] told us we can’t take a s—t, shower or use the kitchen — we just have to go before they padlock the doors,” said a longtime resident who lives with a handful of others on the fifth floor. “We’re young, we don’t have savings. We had no idea about the problems here.”

And the problems are actually worse than he could have imagined. The Environmental Control Board still has 94 open cases against the building dating back to 1988, including 64 structural violations such as an unsafe elevator, a blocked emergency exit, structural dilapidation and illegally erected walls and rooms.

Department documents show that on Oct. 6, the agency rejected a permit request that the landlords filed to fix the place up, just a week before Thursday’s raid — but records show that the same owners have appealed to fix it up before, yet did no work.

The resident and a handful of young artists, who were packing their bags on Thursday night, said that they signed leases years ago without any knowledge of problems or illegal studios. They said that they’d sue the owners — who have been unreachable — for the alleged fraud.

Past that, the tenants are out of options.

“We have nothing,” the resident said. “How could [the owners] do this to us?”

Department of Buildings officials have denied that they’ve increased their enforcement on illegal residences this year, but they’ve certainly been cracking down on some substantial operations. In March, city officials raided and vacated Loftstel and Zip112, two Williamsburg hostels that were not zoned for residential use — yet both housed hundreds of people. In July, the city evicted a group of Clinton Hill artists, who racked up dozens of violations for their constant partying, from their Flushing Avenue “workspace.”

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Reasonable discourse

anywho says:
Welcome to New York.

First lesson: Trust no one.

Second lesson: Read first lesson again.

Third Lesson: If no locals other then your own "demographic" lives in your building, then there is something wrong. ("Jose" or "Juan" the super does not count.)

Third lesson: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Oct. 15, 2010, 1:31 pm
anywho says:
I meant Fourth, sorry.

This ain't "Flashdance" folks.
Oct. 15, 2010, 1:32 pm
mark from williamsburg says:
that building is well known , they say that they didn't know? really? methinks they knew, of course they knew.
now pack and go look for another place (well .. maybe for more money.. the area is expensive)

and when you see a price below market don't play "naive" and understand that you always get what you pay for .

no?

come on people go packing and ask for more money to mum and dad, and go back plaiyng the "artist"
Oct. 15, 2010, 5:04 pm
Felis from Williamsburg says:
“Tenants said that Department of Buildings inspectors arrived in the morning and demanded that the residents leave by sundown “ The City Inspectors are just doing it for your own safety, fortunately it’s not January. Just put on your helmet and ride your skateboard to one of our nice City shelters.
Oct. 15, 2010, 6:41 pm
jay from pslope says:
Anybody notice that the violation dated to 1993, and they are just getting around to enforcing it NOW? Thats 17 years, what in the world was the building dept doing. Oh, wait... these are the same crooks who took bribes to say construction cranes were safe and would not collapse. Maybe someone just did not feel like paying up any more?
Oct. 15, 2010, 8:08 pm
luis ramos from bushwick says:
@ Andy Cambell....what kind of a —— story is this that does not include the location, the landlords names. what kind of a writer are you anyway. if your gonna write a story, stop being a coward and stop being afraid of being sued, unless your in someone's pocket.
next time i see your name on an article i will not bother reading it since it seems fishy.
Oct. 15, 2010, 10:35 pm
luis ramos from bushwick says:
this story was a waste of time.
Oct. 15, 2010, 10:36 pm
Disco from Bed-Stuy says:
According to the DOB filings, "AARON BERGER" is the owner (or "President") of "573 METROPOLITAN INC".
Oct. 18, 2010, 12:39 am
Kenny from Williamsburg says:
Apparently, Third Ward - those "altruistic" (read:opportunistic) arts-community folks - was the over-tenant for the last several years, responsible for managing the property. They had done a lot of the build out and had 12 years remaining on their over-lease. Then, mysteriously, a couple months ago they painted over their name on the building, sent letters around to all the tenants stating that their security deposits had been transferred directly to the landlord, and disappeared into the night. Sound like they knew what was coming and kept it to themselves?

Anyway, whether the tenants are naive or not, it's never cool to be kicked out of your place. @hopper, @anywho, @mark - I agree a lot of these kids are annoying in their ignorance, but it don't make it right. besides, some might get help from mommy and daddy but a lot of them work their asses off doing whatever —— job is available just so they can follow their passions, and I say godbless. Plus, I remember this neighborhood before the artists moved in, and believe me, I'd rather have my kids and my mother walking around this Williamsburg then the old one...
Oct. 18, 2010, 2:54 pm
Gigi from LES says:
Surprising that there's no mention of the Asian person or persons that live under the recycling bins/stairs.
Oct. 18, 2010, 4:43 pm
Adam from Greenpoint says:
Rather than shitting on these people's bad situation... How can one find out if their building could be at risk for such a situation.

Any help would be appreciated.
Oct. 18, 2010, 11:05 pm
Stephizzle from pslope says:
Adam, google it ——.
Oct. 19, 2010, 1:35 am
jackrusso says:
hmmm...let me guess...hasidic landlord?
Oct. 19, 2010, 9:02 am
m from greenpoint says:
the building is residentially-zoned.
Oct. 19, 2010, 9:13 am
rob from williamsburg says:
jackrusso- yes, hasid. so?
m- no, not residential. check the dob website.
Oct. 20, 2010, 8:32 pm
Real NYer from Corona Queens says:
DOB should crack down on illegal conversions in one family houses in Corona, Queens. Transient residents have ruined the quality of life and safety of a once lovely neighborhood.
Oct. 21, 2010, 11:25 am
DUDE11211 from Williamsburg says:
They totally knew what was going to happen and did not say anything to not have to pay the tenants their deposit or deal with issues. I lived in that building right when Third Ward's duo Jason Goodman and Jeremy Lovitt came in. They would try to evict people living there with large loft spaces, when the eviction letter would be posted, they would make sure to be around to take off the eviction notice on the door so they could get rid of former tenants who had larger apartments so they would miss the court date, they would get the space and divide it up into little spaces to make more $$$$. They were so shifty and money hungry and could care less about the tenants as long as they got paid. Stay away from any building those guys run, or the landlord who I am sure they were in cahoots with, Aaron Berger.
Feb. 13, 2011, 2:09 pm

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