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
This image has been archived or removed.

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.

This image has been archived or removed.

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.

This image has been archived or removed.

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…

This gallery has been removed.

Recent Stories

City Honors Sun Yat-Sen with Plaza and Permanent Statue in Columbus Park

Mayor de Blasio, Councilwoman Margaret Chin, and other politicians this week dedicated a slice Chinatown’s Columbus Park to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. This past Tuesday, what would have been the 153rd birthday of the founding father of China, also marked the return of the bronze statue after the city excavated a new permanent home. The area […]

Enter the ‘Lion’s Den’ with Lee Quinones on Delancey

An iconic handball mural from one of the local greats is again on display. Strolling down Delancey Street this past week, you may have noticed the fifteen-foot replica of Lee Quinones‘ “Lion’s Den” mural. It’s fastened to the facade of the James Fuentes Gallery as part of his one-man show there. The “Lion’s Den” dates […]

Essex Crossing Adjacent Properties on Ludlow Street Fetch $12M

Change may soon come to the Chinese food wholesaler at 89-91 Ludlow Street. The dual property just changed hands this month for $12.3 million. Buyer of record is an LLC linked to Brooklyn’s Xiaoling Huang. The two parcels in question, comprising a three-story commercial building and the adjacent lot where wholesaler C&L Restaurant Supply currently […]

LES School Again Raising Money to Buy Thanksgiving Turkeys for its Students in Need

For the second year in a row, the folks at P.S. 140 Nathan Straus School are giving back to the community this Thanksgiving. This time, the PTA is doubling down, aiming to donate 200 turkeys to students and their families in need for the upcoming holiday. So far, $540 of the $4,000 goal has been […]

‘Country Of’ Boutique Delivers Vintage Ephemera to Essex Street

Retail veterans of the Hester Fair continue to pollinate vacant storefronts on the other side of the street. Two in just the last few weeks, in fact. Partybus Bakeshop soft-opened on Tuesday. Down the block, Country Of also joins the fray. Country Of is a small pop-vintage boutique which took over the short-lived Cafe Grumpy […]