Samy Mahfar’s Luxury Conversion Creates ‘War Zone’ for Tenants of 102 Norfolk Street [PHOTOS]

Posted on: July 14th, 2014 at 5:38 am by
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Controversial real estate mogul Samy Mahfar (pka SMA Equities) purchased 102 Norfolk Street back in April of this year. It was around this time that we first started hearing chatter about the luxury conversion, and tenants caught in the crossfire.

Last week, however, we learned via the New York Times that “some tenants had accepted” buyouts to escape the mess. The truth of the matter is that three regulated residents took the money because Mahfar had leverage over their living situation. Of twenty-five total units, eighteen rent stabilized remain, a third of which are comprised of immigrant Chinese families (some not speaking English).

But that’s only part of the story. Here’s more. The holdouts, who are organizing opposition, continue to live in a “war zone” of constant construction, purported landlord bullying, and hazardous worksite practice. Tenants must contend with weekly water shut downs, exposed wiring, an influx of rodents, and ill-timed exterminator visits that don’t fit anyone’s schedule.

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Moreover, the apartments are falling prey to the constant banging. For example, one particular tenant reportedly came home to find that a screw had shot through his living space. Imagine the danger had he been at home. Also, fissures are forming in the walls and ceilings, resulting in lots of dust and peeling. Not to mention the constant scent of turpentine and the rash of “plastic vaginas” over each apartment door.

Yet it is the aforementioned dust that is of utmost concern. HPD paid a recent visit and conducted a lead test on the paint in the apartments and common areas. It came back positive. The fear is that residents are now inhaling toxic air.

The other fear is landlord muscle. A so-called relocation specialist is allegedly spreading lies and using bully tactics to ensure that tenants feel small and without choice. Methods employed include asking for identification before entry, removing the lock altogether, and threatening that buyout refusal could have consequences. Oh, and it’s definitely worth noting that HPD and DOB have apparently been barred from entry on numerous occasions.

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The battle continues to rage.

Through it all, the holdout tenants aren’t going easily, stating thresholds for buyout in the low six-figure range. The one glimmer of good news in this clusterfuck is that Councilwoman Margaret Chin’s office is involved, as well as advocacy groups CAAAV, Cooper Square Committee, and AAFE. All are working toward a resolution. After all, there’s media attention and headlines…

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