Residents of 43 Essex Street Still Without Cooking Gas; DOB Issues Separate Stop-work Orders

Posted on: May 26th, 2016 at 10:27 am by
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More drama over at 43 Essex Street, where the stripped store remains barren. Activity revived last week with more shuffling about the premises; it appeared that build-out was back on track. Not so fast, though. The city quickly stepped in and shut it all down.

The Department of Buildings sent an inspector last week, which resulted in three (!) full stop-work orders onsite. It’s not entirely clear why the edicts were issued, but the database categorizes it as related to a permitting issue.

The building was acquired by Paul and Dean Galasso in the fall of 2014. The owner purchased the five-story tenement from the G&S Sporting Goods team, and quickly resorted to “upgrading” the facility. This meant tapping the services of “relocator” Michel Pimienta and creating miserable living conditions for tenants. There had been allegations that the owners were using the air shaft as a makeshift garbage chute.

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To that end, the tenants organized and sued the Galassos in April 2015. We understand that there is still no cooking gas available, which marks a year without. Tenants still rely on portable gas stoves and purchase readymade food in order to eat. Staff attorney Cynthia Weaver at Manhattan Legal Services tells us that the landlord has until the end of May to restore the gas. They are thinking about next steps, which could include filing another “contempt motion” (the third).

There are currently approved permits on file to renovate several apartments within 43 Essex Street. It’s also worth noting that Galasso received an ECB violation and $2,400 fine for: “FILED FALSE STATEMENT ON PW-1 SEC 26 FOR APP #S 140352838 & 122378612, BOTH MARKED UNOCCIPIED AND NO FOR RENT CONTROL & BLDG OCCUPIED.”

It wasn’t always this way at 43 Essex Street. In fact, this five-story building was previously owned by second-generation owner of G&S Sporting Goods, Lenny Zerling. (The store was founded in 1937 by Lenny’s father, an Estonian immigrant boxer named Izzy Zerling.) Due to health issues, he sold the property to the Galassos.

“If the Galassos take over your building, be prepared. They represent the worst of humanity,” one building tenant told us back in January.

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43 Essex St. in the 1970s,, Photo: Ranjan Roy

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