Monday, January 21, 2008

I'm Packing, Again...

because we're moving (but staying in NYC), again...and I can't wait. I can't wait because our electric bill is out of this world expensive because we have an electric heater, rather than radiators like most of NYC. I can't wait because those guys jack hammering and pounding outside my window don't allow me my rightful peace and quiet. (The workers are back to it, finishing the basement after the "Stop Work Order" was removed. The "Stop Work Order" was placed on our landlord because of all the fire code violations. We hear he's planning on building an entire 6th floor now. Our building is 5 floors. He's planning on creating an entire 6th floor while people live here.)

I can't wait because we'll have TWO closets with even more storage ABOVE the two closets. And I mean big closets. AND storage above the kitchen where we're convinced someone could sleep. Who? Cachinnator thinks we should rent it out to Forky. I can't wait because we'll have a deck. I can't wait because things will be normal. PLEASE let things be normal.

Mostly, I can't wait because we won't be giving rent to a greedy, unfeeling, (fill in the Yiddish term) of a landlord who insists it's fair to move us BACK into the smaller apartment when he FIXES it to meet FIRE CODE. We get vacated because his lousy renovations provide us a death trap for a living space, uprooted from the beginnings of a routine LIFE, to the apartment down the hall where the only way our entertainment center will fit is to put it in front of the only window...see the irony here?...and he plans on just moving us right back over there like it's no skin off our back. Like that's only fair. That's only fair, my foot.

We're out. OUT. Please, let things be normal.

That was what I wrote yesterday but didn't post. Here's what I read to day in "AM New York".

RESIDENTS OF B'KLYN LOFT EVICTED FOR FIRE CODE VIOLATIONS

The 200 residents of a Williamsburg (Brooklyn) loft building fire officials booted from their homes Monday left their apartments - bags, boxes and containers in hand - not knowing when they would be allowed back.

While the residents were evicted because of a fire code violation, the incident revealed an even greater problem. The building, where some have lived for years, does not have a Certificate of Occupancy that would allow for residency. Fixing the fire hazard and obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy may be a lengthy process.

A police officer on the scene yesterday making sure everyone cleared out told the residents of 475 Kent Ave. that if they had a viable commercial enterprise in the building they would likely be able to return in a few days. But those who were strictly residents however, "should probably look for another place."

A spokeswoman for the City Department of Buildings, which issues Certificates of Occupancy, yesterday outlined some of the steps that need to be taken before residents can return. They not only include addressing the fire hazards, but also require the owner to retain a licensed architect or engineer "to bring the building into compliance," Kate Lindquist, buildings spokeswoman, said in an e-mail response.

It was unclear yesterday when the city first realized that legal occupancy was not allowed in the building. Lindquist turned down a request for a phone interview. The building co-owner, Nachman Brach, did not return calls.

Fire officials ordered tenants to leave Sunday evening after finding out that the grain storage for a basement matzo factory owned by Brach was improperly stored and "an explosive hazard," according to vacate order slips placed on each door.

"We addressed an immediate life hazard, that's why steps were taken to vacate the premises," said Jim Long, a fire department spokesman.

Shocked tenants had six hours to gather their things and find a place to stay on a bitterly cold day that brought wind chills around zero degrees. Some grabbed just enough to get by for a few days on the couches of friends. Some called moving vans and went looking for new places to live. Others could just stare vacantly ahead, unsure of what the next move was.

"This is the closest thing to an artist commune I've ever known," said Simon Arnold, 26, who lived in the building for 2½ years in a $2,000-a-month loft with soaring views of the East River. "It's like the dream just ended."

Residents will get a second and final shot today to move out belongings.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross is helping in relocation efforts. As of yesterday, only nine residents had taken the offer.

The building had once been a pasta factory, and later a cold storage warehouse. A group of artists who had been evicted from illegal loft conversions in DUMBO leased the upper floors from Brach.

Those first residents, in turn, built and rented out individual units, but the building never received the proper occupancy certificates, according to tenants. But the building had been well-lived in for a decade, with daily mail, UPS, and Fresh Direct deliveries, and residents wondered why they were given a few hours to gather their things and vacate on the coldest day of winter.

"It's not like this place was a secret," said Hagai Yardeny, 36, a seven-year resident of the building. "The fire department came by once a year to inspect. They could have given us time to fix the problems instead of forcing 200 people to relocate."


Well wha'doyou know. I have thoughts about this but will post later. For the record, our landlord didn't have the correct Certificate of Occupancy, either. If you renovate enough and change the ways of egress, you're required by law to obtain a new C.O. Before we lived here it was a "Single Occupancy Dwelling" (still not completely sure what that means) with one shared kitchen, maybe bath?, per floor. It was a run down crack house/ whore house, according to people on our block. Our landlord completely changed the place. Four studios per floor, each w/ kitchen and bath, with the nicest of amenities. Great for the block, but he didn't obtain a new C.O., and started moving people in before required permits were had and before essential LAWFUL things, such as the intercom from front door to apartment, were installed. Our line of apartments (in the center of the building) were evicted, or vacated, by the DOB for violation of fire code. The windows were too small to crawl through in case of a fire, and even if someone could crawl through, there was no fire escape outside. Instead it was a shaft-like area, enclosed by brick wall on all four sides, with the top of the shaft open to the sky, permitting light and air. (Remember this is Apartment B, which we thought was Apartment A.) We were given one day to get out.

Enough. More later.

3 comments:

This Southern Belle said...

Goodness. I hope that this ends the apartment drama for you!

Super Churchlady said...

I believe the Yiddish word you're looking for is.... GANUF. (Right Hammerin' Hebrew??) Here's the definition:

Noun: ganef ganuf
Usage: N. Amer
(Yiddish) a thief or dishonest person or scoundrel

kddub said...

good luck!
Sounds like a busy time for you, but glad that you are excited about moving.