Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Frost Building Back on the Market

The beautiful old furniture warehouse at 657- 665 Fifth Avenue last sold in 2013 for $8.5M.  An idle development site since 2015, the property is now back on the market for $11.5M.  Since construction ground to a halt three years ago, the lower portion of the site that runs along Fifth has been completely open to the elements.  One can assume that the taller portion of the property that extends up 19th Street has also suffered.

Last spring the owner of the building, Cheskiel Strulowitz, was accused of operating a Ponzi scheme that cost investors $90M in damages, and later that year he faced foreclosure on a portion of a 31-property portfolio in Brooklyn.  If someone can explain the ACRIS information that lists the 657 - 665 property transactions of the last few months I'd appreciate it.  It's beyond my scope. But at any rate, the property is being unloaded by one of the companies or banks connected to the the property.

In a related story from last December, City Limits described the plight of artist tenants at 255 18th Street.  According to City Limits, the owner of 255 is an LLC owned by Chester Strulovich (one of the many name variations Strulowitz appears to use). While the artists were successful in gaining protected tenant status, they were suffering the effects of a residential Certificate of Occupancy granted by the City before the landlord completed any of the required repairs. The story reveals an egregious record of bureaucratic 'mismanagement' and landlord neglect:

“There is no way that this building should have had a Certificate of Occupancy issued, so either somebody wasn’t doing their job or somebody got paid off,” says attorney Michael Kozek, representing a group of seven tenants at 255 18th Street who are trying to contest the certificate through the Board of Standards and Appeals, an arm of city government that allows challenges to the city’s zoning code.

The conversion of 657-665 was described in 2013 as a "game changer" for the neighborhood, but neighborhood change continued to march along without its help.

What's in a Name?
And the Game Changer?

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