The Plight of Taylor Mead Amidst Ludlow Landlord Harassment
At 87, Taylor Mead remains a Lower East Side legend. His creative achievements are many, including appearances in numerous Andy Warhol films, published as poet, and being shown in the Whitney Biennial. But the prolific artist resides in an area which is now deemed Hell Square. And for him, the name rings true.
Mead lives on the fifth floor of 163 Ludlow Street, his home of thirty-three years. Now in the twilight of his life, the artist is allegedly on the receiving end of landlord harassment. Hated real estate baron Ben Shaoul is allegedly culprit, having purchased the row of tenements last summer for $16.5 million. The overarching story here is nothing new, often repeated throughout the neighborhood (e.g. tenants at 143 Ludlow). Make living conditions so awful to force self-eviction, then profit from the departure with astronomical rents.
To be fair, though, the previous landlord was no walk in the park, either. Mead told the Villager back in November that:
The last landlord was starting to not give heat during the winter,” he noted, “like a brochure on how to get rid of tenants. The last winter they didn’t fix the roof door — it was left open and the entire building was like a hurricane.
Clayton Patterson wrote more about his plight a few weeks ago, noting that:
He is one of the few remaining tenants in his building. The whole place is a construction site with all the expected noise, dust, obstacles, worker traffic, open doors, coldness and activities that come with construction. There is pounding on his walls, floors and hallways from early morning till late Saturday evening. Then there is the intrusion of the holes drilled through his walls. The dust. To have to live with this would be enough to send a young person over the edge. His home life has become unbearable.
A quick check of the DOB online database shows that numerous permits are in place for interior renovations…joined also by 16 complaints.Down the block, meanwhile, Filmmakers’ Co-op head M.M. Serra is reportedly experiencing the same drama in her own building, where long-term tenants are also being harassed.
Some locals are trying to fight back by sending letters to our local politicians for some sort of action. Seems the argument is falling on deaf ears, though, with barely a shrug.