Bounced Between 2 Landlords, ‘Las Venus’ Flees the LES After More than 20 Years

Posted on: May 23rd, 2016 at 5:00 am by
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One of the most controversial landlords on the Lower East Side – SMA Equities – finally gets its way at 113 Stanton Street. Vintage furniture shop Las Venus – on the Lower East Side for some two decades – is now gone from the commercial space.

Just call it a tale of two terrors. First, with Ben “Sledgehammer” Shaoul with the OG Las Venus at 163 Ludlow Street (he purchased it in 2012). That location closed in the summer of 2013 after more than fifteen years on the block, and consolidated operations at 113 Stanton (aka LV2). Crinkled signs onsite still promise unseen “remodeling.” Then Samy Mahfar’s SMA Equities took the reins of ownership at the latter; an eviction notice arrived on the doorstep last week, capping an eighteen-year stint here.

“I am not under threat of eviction because I have already moved out, and the landlord [SMA Equities] is aware of this,” store owner Kenneth Clark tells us.

“Our legal team has had no correspondence from the landlord about this action,” lawyer Stefanos Athenagoras adds.

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We are further informed that a design group currently holds the lease and that they were planning an exhibition (“Parallels in Modernism”). Hence, the papered windows and accompanying computer printout.

“I have been in the Lower East Side for 20 years and I have a genuine passion for the neighborhood. But honestly it is no longer a good place for daytime retail. The neighborhood is all about nightlife now. Very sad. I had been keeping this location for what might be best described as ‘sentimental reasons,’ but the best business decision was to move on.”

Clark and his counsel tell us he’s consolidated once again into his lone store on Broadway. Outside the Lower East Side.

When asked if SMA Equities was a reason, primary or otherwise, for departing 113 Stanton Street, we received no further comment by press time.

Kenneth Clark opened Las Venus at 163 Ludlow Street back in 1995. The popularity of his shop propelled the brand into the local mainstream. MTV hosted lots of shoots from there, apparently. The expansion to 113 Stanton happened in 1998, according to the brand’s website.

You’ll recall that 113 Stanton is one of the buildings at forefront of a tenant lawsuit filed against the landlord last year.  (Mahfar purchased the building in 2014 for $5.25 million) the Mahfar Tenants Alliance, as it’s known, settled the beef back in March. Mahfar agreed to pay 23 tenants approximately $205,000 in rent abatements. According to the public settlement documents, “the rent abatements are intended as reimbursement of past rent paid based on demolition and construction conditions (in the affected buildings) that allegedly deprived (the holdout tenants) of full use and occupancy of their apartments.”

SMA Equities also agrees to refrain from harassing tenants, which includes:

  • Causing repeated interruptions and discontinuances of heat, hot water, and electrical services;
  • Hiring Michel Pimienta or any other buy-out specialist or “relocator”;
  • Ignoring requests for repairs;
  • Engaging in illegal construction and construction without permits; and
  • Using threatening, intimidating, or obscene language in conversation with tenants

The other Mahfar properties involved in the “Group HP and Harassment Case” were 102 Norfolk, 210 Rivington (now under new ownership), and 22 Spring.

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