Nine Years Later, Fire-Displaced Tenants from Grand Street $900K Settlement

Posted on: February 5th, 2019 at 5:00 am by

April 2010

It’s been nearly a decade since a seven-alarm fire decimated a row of Grand Street tenements. Now, nine years later, the families who lost everything finally received a settlement.

Approximately one hundred residents of 283-285 Grand Street were awarded $900,000 in property damages after years of negotiations with the owner of the two properties, Fair Only Real Estate, and its insurance carrier. When added to the earlier settlement with the owners and managers of the third burned building, 289 Grand Street, affected tenants have succeeded in recovering more than $1 million for their losses.

Payouts were based on individual property losses, ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than $100,000.

Asian Americans for Equality has been fighting on behalf of tenants since the fire, from finding living quarters for the displaced to taking the housing owner to court.

The seven-alarm blaze that engulfed 283-289 Grand Street ignited in April 2010 due to an overheated electrical junction box at number 283. It’s considered one of the worst city fires in the last decade; an elderly resident died and dozens were displaced and/or injured. The damage was so severe that 285 had to be razed in the aftermath.

(The Hong Kong Supermarket fire the year before on East Broadway was also devastating.)

Complaints filed in New York State Supreme Court note the origin and rapid spread of the fire was due to years of severe neglect in maintaining the buildings. Among other things, the court records allege that the landlord “knowingly and intentionally” ignored “highly dangerous conditions,” including inadequate fire-safety measures, exposed wires, and rotting walls. Dozens of housing violations and citations issued by the city mirrored the myriad issues.

This block is rich with history. The storefronts at 283-287 were once part of the bustling commercial landscape of dry-goods shops. By the 1880s they were all managed by dry-goods merchant J. Lichtenstein, who also operated out of 281 Grand next door. Until this row of low-rise wooden buildings was replaced by tenements in the 1890s, 281 Grand was the tallest building on the block, and its eastern wall was prime advertising space. Not only was the wall visible for sidewalk shoppers, it was also in plain view of trolley passengers on Grand Street and el passengers passing through the station at Allen.

Recent Stories

Nitecap Says Goodnight to Rivington Street After Six Years

Nitecap probably needs one right about now. The basement bar – founded in 2014 by David Kaplan and Alex Day of Death & Co. fame – announced its permanent closure on Instagram last night, citing challenges due to COVID-19 and debts still owed. Nitecap closed down, with the rest of the city, at the outset […]

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Celebrate 20 Years by Sharing Footage from First Show at Mercury Lounge

You’re old. But you were young then. Perhaps you caught a fringe group at Mercury Lounge that night twenty years ago. Yeah Yeah Yeahs were just another on a stacked bill September 25, 2000, alongside other relative unknowns, including Candy Darlings, Kid Congo Powers, and The White Stripes (who had released their debut record months […]

‘Friedmans’ Eyes Seward Park for Latest Outpost

Friedmans, the local comfort food chain, has eyes for Seward Park. Specifically, the commercial space formerly occupied by Randall’s Barbecue. Indeed, it appears that 357 Grand Street – vacant since May – could be restaurant number eight for the Friedmans crew. Owner Alan Phillips is listed on the October docket of Community Board 3 to […]

78 People Caught Flouting Social Distancing Rules at Bowery Karaoke Bar

A karaoke bar on the Bowery was busted by the Sheriff’s office Friday night for violating COVID-19 social distancing regulations. According to a report in Gothamist, seventy-eight people were spotted inside K-One Karaoke Bar at 97 Bowery eating and drinking at about 2:30am on Saturday morning. No distancing or masks. Sheriff Joe Fucito, head of […]

Artists Stick Together with ‘We Are All Bowery’

Hard hit by the pandemic and protests, an art initiative is underway to assuage the struggles currently happening on the Bowery. The “We Are All Bowery” project is helmed by Inside Change From Within, an endeavor supported in part by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. The goal of this project is a seemingly simple one: […]