Six Inches of Drama Exposed at the Former Billy’s Antiques on East Houston

Posted on: October 27th, 2014 at 6:04 am by
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As of this week, we’re starting to see the first signs of real progress at 76 East Houston. The tiny corner lot – previously headquarters of Billy’s Antiques for over two decades – is soon to sprout a two-story commercial complex. But there is currently some ongoing drama to unpack.

You may recall that the Department of Buildings issued a full stop-work order on the project back in August. Reason for the edict was a “failure to consider the influence of new footing on adjoining footings/foundations.” It was then rescinded a couple weeks later.

Let’s translate that DOB-speak. Basically, it’s much ado over Adverse Possession statutes (aka “encroachment law”) in New York City. In a nutshell, this means that occupying someone else’s property for more than ten years without dispute gives you title to it.

In New York, to prevail on a claim of adverse possession, a plaintiff must establish that his possession of the disputed property was hostile and under a claim of right, actual, open, notorious, exclusive and continuous for 10 years. These elements must be established by clear and convincing evidence. All that is required is a showing that the possession constitutes an actual invasion of or infringement upon the owner’s rights. For example, a person who fences off a portion of an owner’s property for ten years, and claims it as his own, will acquire the property by adverse possession after ten years unless the owner takes action to disclaim the actions of the other person.

In this instance, Billy’s tent leaned six inches over the property line to 288 Elizabeth Street for more than two decades. On paper, it would appear that the Goldmans are correct in their land grab of this half-foot of real estate; they already started constructing the two-story facility. Only problem is, the antiques business apparently never possessed a valid Certificate of Occupancy for the corner parcel at 76 East Houston.

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The retroactive illegality of Billy Leroy’s operation has reportedly become a thorn in the side of the Goldmans. From what we understand, since the tent was in essence against the law, its occupation of those few inches of 288 Elizabeth was not valid.

It is somewhat ironic in this neighborhood that squatter tactics were employed for these contentious six inches of space.

We hear word that $20,000 was allegedly offered to the owner of 288 Elizabeth as a settlement, but was denied. Dude is reportedly a combat veteran of World War II (Pacific theater) and doesn’t want to be bullied without a fight. This will get interesting.

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