85 Bowery Tenants and Landlord Officially Reach Agreement on Renovations and Return Date
Six months after the well-publicized eviction, the saga of 85 Bowery is slowly drawing to a close. Both sides last week announced the settlement of litigation and agreement on a return date for displaced tenants. Timetable is sometime “by August 31,” when renovation work is anticipated to conclude.
“This agreement represents a positive outcome for the families of 83-85 Bowery, the building owners and the Chinatown community,” reads a joint statement from the 83-85 Bowery Tenants Association and landlord Joseph Betesh. “Necessary building repairs to address problems are scheduled to be completed by August 31. As has been our shared goal from the beginning of this process, 85 Bowery will now be a safe, affordable, quality building for generations to come.”
The statement continues, “With all permits in place, work is well underway so that the tenants will be able to return to their homes. The tenants and the owner look forward to putting this unfortunate situation behind them and are glad that they were able to reach an agreement.”
More than seventy-five residents were evacuated from the sixteen-unit 85 Bowery back in January, stemming from a years-running dispute with the landlord. The after-hours inspection was the result of a State Supreme Court order in the lawsuit, and yielded several safety violations, most notably unstable staircase and fire escapes. (However, tenants had all along accused Betesh of letting the property fall into disrepair as justification for eviction.) Throughout this period in exile, the displaced remained worried about their return. Advocates mounted a media-savvy campaign (e.g. rallies and hunger strikes) to apply pressure for a definitive return date.
Until the August homecoming, most will reportedly remain lodged, on Betesh’s dime, at the Wyndham Garden Hotel just up the block.
Meanwhile, advocate Shirley Ng held a fundraiser back in February and collected $2,390 to help those tenants in need.