Report: Ben Shaoul Purchases Lot of Low-Rise Buildings on East Houston for Development; Businesses to Vacate in May
Relish that open air spanning the one block of East Houston from Orchard to Ludlow Streets; savor the flavor of Bereket, Empanada Mama, and Ray’s Pizza. Word is, it will soon disappear. In all likelihood, Hell Building part deux is probably on the way.
At the end of December last year, we reported on some rumors that the notorious slumlord Ben “Sledgehammer” Shaoul was in contract (or close) to acquire the properties occupied by 196-198 Orchard and 187 East Houston. Now the talk has gone from whispers to shouting. We hear he’s pretty busy in this neck of the woods, and his intentions are much more alarming than previously believed.
Reliable sources allege that Shaoul just bought the entire lot of single-story buildings along this strip, and that lease buyouts were offered to merchants operating in these stores. Apparently commercial tenants have until May to vacate.
This is an absolute game changer, opening up a nice chunky “L” for some serious development. From what we understand, the portfolio purchased includes Bereket and around the corner to Karaoke Boho on Orchard (Katz’s not affected).
No sales are currently on file with the city for this address; DOB is also silent.
What’s worrisome is that the 2008 rezoning is not so favorable to East Houston. In this new C6-2A district (Houston, west of Essex), developers are permitted to build up to twelve stories (or 120 feet). That’s with inclusionary housing [PDF].
Said one of our tipsters, “it’s hard to imagine a single block is being subjected to such a massive unwanted upheaval (with absolutely no benefit to the residents).”
In light of this purported monster deal, it’s rather appropriate to mention here that the Sledge is currently being sued by his own parents. Mom and pop allege that Ben treats Magnum Real Estate (the family company) like a “personal piggy bank,” and misappropriated millions from refinanced mortgages on properties he co-owned with them.