We are two tenant associations who joined together to defend ourselves against a corporate real estate investment hydra that seeks to expel us from our homes in order to maximize their profits.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Take Out Christmas

Not going to have a White Christmas this year. Not going to be a Holiday dinner this year either, at 118 East 4th St in New York City. It will have to be a Take Out Christmas this year unless the Grinch steps in and takes that too. Still no cooking gas here, and no word on when that will change.

Monday, December 21, 2015

72 Days and Counting

72 days without cooking gas.

Not much heat either. We have temporarily benefited from Global warming the past few weeks. If there is any heat on a chilly day, its on during the day when most of us are at work. The heat goes off before we return home.

 72 days of take out food. Its getting to be 


 Most of us have had to make do with hot plates, but one can only do so much with a hot plate. In this building keeping the hot plate on for too long makes the lights flicker and the fuses blow.
Almost no contact, or progress reports from Westminster Mgmt.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

No Turkey

Six weeks and still counting without cooking gas. Looks like a no turkey Thanksgiving Holiday. Actually its probably going to be a no Thanksgiving Holiday of any sort this year.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Westminster Management made a visit to the building during the day on Friday the 13th, bearing gifts. There were 4 WM executives bearing hotplates, explanations for the gas (waiting on Con Ed inspections), effuse apologies and a passionate desire to right all wrongs/repairs immediately. They said they would be starting immediately and working this weekend. They handed out free hot plates to the tenants that were at home. Those of us that work during the day did not receive one, which is OK because we all had to buy one a month ago when all this started. Here is a photo of one of the free Hotplates.

Looks nice, but those of us that have been using a hotplate burner for a month now find them to be problematic. A tenant's quote...

  "the deluxe version: the double burner. I now have 3 burners. Not that I will be able to use them: even one burner trips the circuit breaker if anything else is on."

We all have had the circuit breakers trip in our apartments with the hotplate cooker. Gotta unplug nearly everything else and keep a sharp on it. It seems most of these electrical problems are in the Stabilized units due to neglect and careless mismanagement. There was an electrical fire in the walls in July of 2014. The FDNY did a fine job of snuffing it out, but they had to nearly destroy 2 of the market rate apartments to do it. The firemen kindly but urgently told tenants to pack things you will want to keep if the whole building goes up. They said to pack and stand by. Very SCARY. We were lucky, but its only a matter of time until some other neglected electrical wiring goes off. This fire hazard is a danger to all. I hope all tenants have some kind of renter's insurance. If there is another fire and one must use the fire escape to flee.... well just look at the pictures below.

I think these photos say it all.  Not only do these wires pose a deadly threat to the tenants, they also pose the same threat to any emergency response teams like the Police or Fire Dept. The FDNY are our friends. They have had to make multiple visits to 118 and 120 East 4th St the past 2 or 3 years. We have no Super, so the FDNY unfortunately has to put out all sorts of fires that a Super's daily work routine might prevent. These wires are part of the legacy left behind by the Ben Shaoul regime.

We'll pray that all the hot plates in use don't trip all the circuits at once and set the building ablaze. The FDNY can only do so much to protect the citizens in the neighborhood.

Not sure how long this process will take. Some of the tenants in stabilized units were told by the plumbers working on the gas lines that their stoves were too old and would not work with the new gas lines. One can easily envision a scenario where the building is hooked up with gas and the stabilized units go without new stoves or cooking gas. I would like to think that Con Ed would not allow that to happen.

Another tenant quote regarding the hot plate gift.

"I think I said to Jamie that the distribution of hotplates made it look like we were in for a long wait on gas. his reply was that it was all up to Con Ed now."

Monday, November 2, 2015

Still No Gas

We have been without gas since Oct 13. It is now Nov 2. There has been some work on the problem. Plumbers in the building today. Checking out gas lines in all the Apts. Making repairs. We may be getting close. Very hard to know for certain. Westminster Mgmt has had no contact at all with any of us as far as I can tell as I write this post. No communication. No leadership. There is actually no management of any sort, in this building at all.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Take Out Menus With Violations

Faced with the possibility of months with no cooking gas, those pesky take out menus that plague most NY apartment buildings are a welcome site here at 118 East 4th St. The placard from the pissed off tenant remains in tact. I must confess that I rather like the Folksy but knowing penmanship. There is also something else of note in this photograph. Yet another violation from the City for improper garbage disposal. All these fines are $200. Not enough in my opinion to get the attention of the landlord to correct the problem.

Jane Jacobs, 1961.

Mounting Unrest

Another dissatisfied Westminster tenant has made their anger known. This Procter Silex hot plate box, in French, was affixed to the door facing the street for the public to see, late last night. It has since been removed , suggesting that someone from management or the "Super" were here today. Either scenario, is an extremely rare phenomenon here on East 4th St. One is more likely to encounter a Sasquatch.

The Westminster City Living luxury kitchen.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Jared Kushner's Dream Kitchen

There are rumors that we will not have cooking gas in the building for months. A disgruntled tenant posted this in the lobby of the building above the mailboxes. Not sure what the "Fifth Burner" signifies, other than the fact that most of us have four, and none of them work.

If Brickman's Hardware has a run on this item, there is always take out.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hot Water

Hot water was restored to 118 East 4th St last night. Exactly one week without it. We still do not know if we have heat, though its been a bit too warm to need it the past two days. The scuttlebutt in the building is that the gas will not be turned on for months. Not sure if this is true, but it has some credibility. The building above the Carnegie Deli has been without heat, hot water and gas for nine months. I think some of the buildings across the street from the explosion on 7th St are in similar states. Time to embrace the Raw Food Diet that was fashionable last year. One good thing coming out of this situation, it that the Market Rate tenants and the Stabilized tenants are talking to each other. Getting to know each other and organizing. We have a lot in common.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

One Week Without...

It has been a full week without Heat, Hot water, and cooking gas. Westminster management has only been in partial contact with the tenants, and that is with the Market rate tenants only. No contact of any kind with the Rent Stabilized tenants. I spoke with some of the Market rate tenants this past week. Most are understandably pissed off. Its been rather cold the past few days. Temps at night dipping into the high 30s. We are fortunate that we will be in a warming trend for a few days. Time to reacquaint ourselves with the New York Times reporters. 

Photo by Iwan Baan.

I was thinking today of Hurricane Sandy and the black out of lower Manhattan below 39th street, three years ago. It took a week for the power to be restored. Quite a miraculous feat. Westminster Management and Jared Kushner have been unable and seemingly unwilling to do anything about the same situation in a single building in lower Manhattan. Incompetence? Yes. Is there a hidden agenda afoot? Perhaps.

I'm sure these three have not had to endure these conditions.

Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump/Kushner, & Donald Trump.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Market Rate Cold Water Flats

Another day without Heat, Hot water, or Gas for cooking. Our Tenant Assoc. made multiple complaints to 311. Today an official notice of violation from HPD was posted in the lobby above the mailboxes. Westminster City Living Mgmt. has been unresponsive. No email updates, no notices of work being done. Nothing. So we decided to cut to the chase and make complaints to the City.

This is the Oct 15, noon update from a tenant sleuth.

I caught the plumber disappearing down the open gates of the 118 basement. It was a short but relatively sweet exchange. In journalism it is known as a 'doorstop interview:' the subject is in motion and not inclined to linger for a leisurely chat. Here, exclusively, is the complete transcript: journalism:
Me: 'How's it going?'
Him: "So far so good."
Me: "Do you think you'll be done today?"
Him: "Yeah. But just hot water. Not for cooking. And Con Ed's still gotta come around." 

I had a casual encounter on the stair with one of the Air B&B occupants. There is an endless stream of Air B&B folks coming and going on a daily basis. The gentleman today sounded like he was from Texas. He seemed concerned about his bill. He didn't think he should have to pay without any services. This made me wonder if any of the tenants, Market Rate, Rent Stabilized, SCREE, Air B&B or otherwise should have to pay rent for the days without these services. Our Tenant Assoc. is looking into the matter.

Continued Cold Showers.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Take a Cold Shower

We are going on day three of no cooking gas, and no heat or hot water at 118 East Fourth St. Con Ed cut off the gas from outside. They posted a form on the front door to the street. This from a tenant. 

"Con Ed cut the gas tonight ..... building-wide.... at 118.

There's a cryptic notification on the front door of building that suggests the problem is gas leaks. At least the handwritten words "Leaks. Ext. Serv." appear in the section that supposedly explains the condition that has led to the issuing of a 'warning tag' on a premises. Not much warning though.... can't so much as turn on a burner on my stove. It then says that the gas has been shut off to 'bldg. HD of Serv." I have no clue how to decipher that particular bit. 

Don't get me wrong. If there's a gas danger here, I'm glad pre-emptive action has been taken. It's a good excuse to blow the budget and order in. 
118 East 4th Street is, of course, world famous for its home cooked haute cuisine. Michelin stars are pending.  But here's a warning: if you've been invited to a fabulous dinner party in this building tonight or tomorrow..... bring cold cuts."

Repeated calls to Westminster Management have been useless. No information from them. No urgency expressed on their end to resolve the problem. The elusive Super no where to be found. We don't have a Super that lives on the premises, so basic daily building upkeep is never attended to, which might prevent such problems from manifesting. Westminster City Living seems to rely on repeated visits from the FDNY for these tasks. Westminster is owned by Jared Kushner, son in law to Republican Presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

A noon update from the tenant quoted above.

"Here's your noon update, as the crippling hot water and gas stove outage disrupts 118. No solution in sight.... and the news as bleak as your morning shower was today.... and will be tomorrow... 

Around 10 this morning I conducted a systematic floor by floor search for the elusive Westminster plumber who is supposedly working to solve the problem. Floor by floor.... down to the basement which I cased in particular detail in case he was working quietly carrying a noise muffling wrench. It's like a set from The Walking Dead down there, minus zombies and plumbers.
I tracked the Super down to the basement of 120 which seemed highly appropriate in Westminster terms: here's the Super in the basement of the building that is not actually having a life disrupting crisis today (I mean I know you guys have your share of problems but right now you're Germany and we're Syria).

Anyway the Super was pretty bleak about the situation. He said a plumber had been yesterday and was now preparing 'a proposal' to remedy a leak in a pipe. After which Westminster would consider his 'proposal' and decide on what to do next. I would have thought it was pretty simple: either fix the leak if possible or replace the pipe if it couldn't be fixed. The Super made it sound like the the whole issue would need to go before the Senate Estimates Committee.

But here's the chilling bit of dialogue: 

Me: So you're saying this whole thing could go on for several more days?                                                                       Him: Yes. Nothing is going to happen today. I can't tell you when its going to be fixed."

Obviously Con Ed isn't the culprit here. They can't do anything about turning the gas back on till they have a repair to inspect and sign off on."