The Real Deal New York

Menachem Stark’s tenants, brokers paint conflicting pictures of slain developer

“If you don’t like what someone did, you take them to court. You don’t kill them.”

January 06, 2014 05:40PM
By Hiten Samtani

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Menachem Stark (right) with his wife and son

Menachem Stark (right) with his wife and son

The family and tenants of slain Williamsburg developer Menachem Stark hosted a press conference today demanding justice for his brutal murder and pledged a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of his killers. But as the search continues, members of the real estate community are speaking out, illuminating a complex image of the late businessman.

The death sent shockwaves through the ultra-Orthodox Satmar Hasidic community, whose leaders described Stark as equal parts gregarious and generous. But a look at Stark’s track record over his roughly 1,000-apartment portfolio – the majority of which he owned with partner Israel Perlmutter — certainly suggests mixed results as a landlord and real estate player.

“He has been a person that couldn’t say no — that was his problem,” said Rabbi David Niederman, the executive director of United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg. “I’m so heartbroken I couldn’t face myself.”

Stark was abducted late Thursday night from outside his office at 333 Rutledge Street by two suspects, according to police reports, and his charred corpse was found in a dumpster in Great Neck the following afternoon. Once the victim was positively identified as Stark, police informed his wife of the murder on Saturday afternoon. Stark is survived by his wife and seven children.

Menachem Stark (seated with infant) and his family

Menachem Stark (seated with infant) and his family

“I was actually at his house when they were notified,” Abraham Buxbaum, Stark’s brother-in-law and his partner on seven of his buildings in the Williamsburg-Bushwick-Greenpoint area, told The Real Deal. “It was a terrible scene. [The family] was hysterical beyond description. You can imagine how a child and wife would react.”

Buxbaum was among the more than 1,000 people who attended the funeral Saturday evening at Lodiner Bais Medrash synagogue in Williamsburg. “I don’t remember ever being at a funeral like that,” Buxbaum said. “It was jam-packed for blocks.”

But the city’s tabloids have had a field day with the dramatic murder, most notably the New York Post, which opted to go with a front-page story with the headline, “Who didn’t want him dead?” The story chronicled a long list of Stark’s alleged enemies – from disgruntled tenants to partners on real estate deals that went sour.

Indeed, some tenants might paint a dark picture of Stark. In 2006, for example, he bought the seedy single-room-occupancy Greenpoint Hotel at 1109 Manhattan Avenue, but despite hiking the rents by up to $200 per unit, failed to improve living conditions, according to a New York Times story published at the time.

But other tenants at 100 South 4th Street, such as three-year resident Jordan Brown, told The Real Deal that his experience with Stark as a landlord was “overwhelmingly positive.” The building was well maintained, he added, and Stark was known as a jovial and kindly character throughout the neighborhood. “He saw me walking on the street and drove me home once — that’s just the kind of guy he was.”

Melissa Manning, a commercial tenant at a Stark-owned building at 467 Troutman Street, said that Stark was a friendly landlord who gave her a good deal on her roughly 6,000-square-foot space. “In Brooklyn, people know the value of their properties, but he was really flexible and not at all money-hungry.”

A broker who foreclosed on four of Stark’s properties said that he was a hardball negotiator, but seemed like a straightforward person.

Perlmutter, whom sources told The Real Deal was helping the detectives with their investigation from shortly after the kidnapping until Sunday, was unavailable for comment.

“I don’t think he is mentally prepared to speak yet,” Buxbaum said.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called a press conference on Sunday to take the Post to task for its story and demand an apology from the newspaper. And an op-ed article titled “Death of a ‘Slumlord’ a Teaching Moment” that chronicled Stark’s numerous failings as a landlord was published on the website the Jewish Press this morning, but was removed shortly after publication.

To be sure, Stark had more than his fair share of legal troubles related to his property holdings, the most notable of which was a June 2011 suit filed by CWCapital Asset Management to recover $29 million lent on 100 South 4th Street in 2007, as The Real Deal reported.

Buxbaum conceded that Stark had several business and financial problems over the years, but always stayed within the legal system to resolve his issues.

“Yes, Menachem was a shrewd and tough businessman, and tried do everything legally possible to hold on to whatever he was able to,” Buxbaum said. “If you don’t like what someone did, you take them to court. You don’t kill them.”

  • Jane

    I just checked the building departments web site on the 1211 Avenue of the Americas which the offices of the NY Post is located.

    There are 298 DOB violations one of them ECB-WORK WITHOUT PERMIT, currently 9 open violations.

    31 ECB violations.

    Please note: They have no residential tenants

    • murlocs gurgle

      THAT’s why the NYPOST is claiming he DESERVES to be murdered?

    • Deborah Beaudoin-Zaki

      Does that address also have millions upon millions of loans taken out and not paid off also. Who gave these men such huge loans and let them default without paying them off? We all could be millionaires if we can borrow millions and not pay back the loans. Is this how the money was obtained to lend out money in the “community” by this group of men? Was money from the millions used for charities. It all sounds like a Bernie Maddoff scheme to rob one group and line another groups pockets!

  • scallywag

    At the same token, the Jewish community must also embrace the abrupt question as to how this crime came to happen and what it is about Stark or their community that may have incited such behavior in the first place or whether it was just the lonesome act of a madman who may have facilitated such behavior. And as much as any one of us has the right to believe and act in any way that we wish or affirms our belief system one ought to also be aware and cognizant that sometimes there are points of views and retributions beyond one’s own capacity to accept. An ugly mandate that an ugly newspaper was compelled to reiterate in response to an ugly crime…

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2014/01/should-the-ny-post-apologize-over-their-menachem-stark-headline/

    • be fair

      High risk business is no excuse to murder. Loans are risky, real estate is risky. If lenders or partners can stomach the risk, they should get into a less stressful business. As for slum lord allegations, a landlord can’t give a tenant a luxury, full service apt if their rent is low and tenants are not willing to pay more. Some increases are necessary just to keep a property in basic working order. And to blame a community for one man’s murder is the start of mass hate mongering, the sort that has happened before…

      • Brian Geary

        LOL. The tenants in question were paying thousands per month. And you feel it was fine for this guy to refuse to give them heat and hot water? Ridiculous. Why? Because they aren’t part of his “community”? Did he make his wife and children live without heat and hot water? I’ll bet not. But he didn’t mind making other people’s kids and families live without it, despite the thousands of dollars in rent every month.

        • anon

          LOL? there is nothing funny about it! Renting apartments to this demographic is a difficult proposition to say the least. Even landlords with the best intentions could be brought to their knees by the tenants. They have no heat or hot water because they steal the copper pipes. Repairs are made and no sooner than the repairman leaves the unit, it is destroyed again. They vandalize the properties and nobody sees anything or says anything. I do this for a living so I know what of I speak. Nobody wants to be a “slumlord” the tenants make the owners into them.

          • murlocs gurgle

            they can also leave all their windows open and turn off the radiators in their rent control apartments which they do NOT live in and never visit hoping to make the pipes burst so that a tortured widowed owner has to visit the building in the middle of the night to close the windows at least in the public areas because the rent controlled tenants refuse to give her access and intimidate her so she can’t even get in without a lot of hassle for necessary repairs.

        • murlocs gurgle

          How many times did Mayor Bloomberg limit the beneficiaries of his donations to Jews?

          There is no other group in this country who donates on such a scale for the benefit of others without receiving any genuine benefit of aggrandizement or goodwill.

          They’re not building fancy Mormon Churches. They are building much needed hospitals and schools. NYU would not exist without their donations.

        • David

          Hi there Jew Hater. Is this your “feel good” moment?
          Jews are by far the greatest givers of any group in this country. Not good enough for a Jew hater like you? Stop whining like a little bitch and go accomplish something/

      • murlocs gurgle

        real estate is not risky unless you are Alexander Pantages and you turned down Joe Kennedy’s offer or if you are an Ashkenazi in Berlin

        • George

          Regardless of what the newspapers are printing the only people who can have any say in the matter of his character are those who actually knew him. The tenants that are unhappy are the ones writing reviews. People who are satisfied review less then people who think they have something to say. He has hundreds of tenants yet only 10 reviews on yelp which 2 of those are positive. Do the math. He managed 17 properties how do you think all of his tenants could be happy? There were business decisions to be made with his co owners about upkeep of the buildings , why are people blaming him if there were multiple owners… I don’t get it…
          The fact that he was murdered is unchanged and his family is aching bacause I didn’t know him and I am aching …. Just trying to understand how anyone would do something like this… His family is undeservingly being hurt again and again…
          To all the haters out there… It says not to judge someone til you are in his shoes…

    • murlocs gurgle

      what are you talking about? Other than Eastern and Mittel Europe, this is NOT a common crime against Jewish landlords. This is INSANITY This is CRIMINAL. Why would you think this is a Jewish thing?

      Getting burned alive? Oh, yeah, that IS a Jewish thing. They WERE burned alive frequently but in EUROPE.

      To me this reads cleanly, uncompromisingly as a pure crime – nothing about the victim mitigates it.

      It was violent and painful and the dumping further violates the OBVIOUSLY sheltered PRIVATE lifestyle of the victim’s family.

      Remember when the religious Jews came to the aid of their Rockaway neighbors after Hurricane Sandy? Remember the volunteer ambulance drivers after the MTA derailment?

      What are you SMOKING that you think this was INVITED by the victim?

      • David

        Why you try to reason with a Jew Hater? A self Hating one at that.

    • David

      another Self- Jew hating LIbtard with an opinion. snoooooooze…

  • Incomplete Data

    Please show me just one other personal attack on a recently, very viciously killed individual, detailing everything bad they could find on him, that had the same or even similar strength of passionate anger, hatred, and mockery, aside from when Osama Bin Laden, and other world famous terrorists expired!
    I wonder if the Post would be negative to that degree, if the same had happened to a person of another religion/race with identical reputation! The negativity here was unique even for the New York Post!
    Over the years, there have been many criminals with horrendous records of crimes against humanity and none got the treatment that Stark did. I challenge you to find one!
    Despicable Editors! And Im not Chassidic by any means.

    • Brian Geary

      Trayvon Martin. Although the poor coverage was mainly from Fox and right wing papers, but still. It shows that no one is immune.
      On the other hand, we deserve to know why this guy was allowed to rack up so much debt with banks – and foreclosures – and still be allowed to buy properties and rack up more mortgages. I don’t know anyone from my community who could rack up even one foreclosure or bad debt and still be lent millions…

      • murlocs gurgle

        that’s not uncommon in the Chinese community with cronyism and banks that need to lend since they have so many deposit accounts

    • murlocs gurgle

      Maybe it was a Bonjour to all the Europeans who are flooding into this city and making themselves at home because the real estate outlook looks so rosy compared to their fatherlands since Menachem Stark’s death is DEJA VU for the Jewish experience in some parts of Europe.

      What happens when these aristocrats make themselves at home and look around and realize how Jewish New York is – because Germany may have officially lost the war but the Jews actually lost and never won it back. Europe lost the Jews and now they pour their hot money into New York of all places. Why? Isn’t Europe the way you want it now since the Holocaust? It’s in the right hands, correct? Your cities are really BLOOMING. Nothing but blue skies on the horizon over there.

      I mean if we’re going to DISCUSS the Jews and property ownership in New York. Let’s REALLY discuss it because Menachem Stark got kidnapped and killed. Let’s DISCUSS it.

      There is nothing the Stark family can do to get any form of justice not even if the transgressors are arrested and temporarily imprisoned. They are on the losing end of this permanently.

      Let’s talk about his real estate ventures and get some kind of vicarious sadism at what his murder means for his family.

      Let’s not discuss the antisemitism that his obviously Jewish appearance is inviting from third parties.

      If Europe was so sorry to lose the Jews, the Jews would have more of an open presence there especially in German-speaking countries just as Chinese immigrants would be more than multigenerational restaurant owners in Japan.

      If we’re going to discuss antisemitism and how the Jewish community INVITED it, we MUST reference the Europeans. It’s only fair and accurate to do so.

      Willkommen, right?

      Can we get the local papers – maybe make it a rule of journalists to NOT mention antisemitism without referencing its origin? If not to ancient history then at least to the lovely Swiss origins of the Black Plague massacres of Jews.

      Fordham University even has a webpage on it:

      http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/1348-jewsblackdeath.asp

      As third parties, let’s NOT perpetuate the Nazi agenda by ignorantly and casually questioning whether the Jews “INVITED” this. THEY started the propaganda and stereotypes of Jews but what’s more moneygrubbing than designing hidey holes in the concentration camp baracks for the prisoners to find and use to get the last bit of treasure out of their rape and murder victims?

      • brklynmind

        Dude – get some help.

        • Mytakeful

          Yeah, pronto!

  • Oouch

    The Post has been far from Anti-Semitic in its coverage over the years. But, the Faux News empire will go after any whiff of blood, let’s face it. Tenants don’t kidnap landlords and snuff them for DOB violations though, or there would have been a lot more killings let’s face it. Tenants go on rent strike. Burned buyers don’t go killing developers over leaking pipes or poor delivery. They sue and claw back. So, from all appearances, this was likely some thugs sent out to get money back that was off the books and lent on blood credit that was blown off. There are certain people you never want to owe money to, and that was very likely the case here. These types get really furious if they think you’re spending ‘their money’ on good works and good PR.

    • what a tool

      idiot. what the hell does fox news have to do with this? go watch the poverty pimp on msnbc and melissa harris cry about how unfair life is u zealot.

      • Oouch

        You are a tool, but without a purpose. At least you don’t type all in caps, that’s about all I can think of nice to say about this post.

    • murlocs gurgle

      We have a rent controlled building on Mott Street that has an apartment

    • David

      You really write like the communist you are. A typical NYC Libtard Communist. Actually “Faux” as you and millions of other loser libtards like to describe Jews are quite pro Jewish and pro Israel. You CNN (Communist New Network) and all your favorite news outlets are actually the ones behaving like what you accuse Fox of doing. Keep sitting in starbucks all day.

      • Oouch

        David, you have your nomenclature a bit fakakta, do you mean “Communist” – or are their “liberal communists?” As opposed to “Stalinist Communists” – is that it? Or are there simply cretinous, single digit morons like yourself who will fight to the death for the right to be fed childish paranoid falsities by bloated toads like Roger what Ails Us hiding behind silicone deformed bimbos and failed bible salesmen like Riley?

    • murlocs gurgle

      two of the nongangster apartments who joined the AAFE lawsuits hit me repeatedly as the landlord representative – I didn’t hit them back

      there’s no basis for your claim that tenants don’t harm landlords only the other way around

      • Oouch

        Learn to read, mulocs gurgle, it’s a wonderful thing. I wrote, “Tenants don’t kidnap landlords and snuff them for DOB violations though,” I didn’t say that tenants don’t sue, make claims that support their view of the housing courts being prejudiced in their view in favor of the landlord, or go on rent strikes. I said that there are no recorded or documented cases of tenants kidnapping and murdering their landlord, no matter how much they might hate him, or her. Therefore, this murder seems to have more to do with criminal revenge motives involving greed. You and others responding here overreact in a way that makes you seem like self-justifying injustice collectors to any outside observers. Ill informed ones who don’t even register in their pea brains that Rupert Murdoch owns Faux News, which owns the Post, and has always take a personal interest in its contents. If murlochs is saying Rupert Murdoch is an Anti-Semite and Anti-Israel for not suppressing his reporter printing a story based on information coming to them from the police, then say so.

        • murlocs gurgle

          My response was to the claim that tenants are the victims and not the attackers of landlords. My own case is perfect because my father was murdered by the gangster brothers of the sister and brother in law who possess a rent controlled apartment in our building AND an FBI agent told my mother that the address is being used by one of the murderers now as his address of record.

          • Oouch

            Then your response had nothing whatever to do with the thread, the point I was making or anything besides your personal obsession. So if you insist, go there. What are there names, what is the address, Mott Street, what number? You obviously have to get it out. If it’s real, state it and ask for justice to be done. But, if it’s just your personal mishegas against RC tenants and rules of succession, then get therapy, as others have already suggested.

          • murlocs gurgle

            how many landlords were murdered by the brothers and brothers in law of the rent controlled tenants of record, how many arson fires were set in that same building on the birthday of the murdered landlord, how many bouncers were killed on the birthday of the son of the murdered landlord with the children of the gangster leader involved but not charged with the crime. I already told everything to a reporter and to the FBI agent who showed up a few years ago to let us know that one of the freed murdering brothers was using the rent controlled apartment in our building as his address as record. Afterwards, their sister and brother in law still bothered my mother by pointing to things that were placed on the landings and telling her to clean them up including a brown mound that the sister said was feces.

          • murlocs gurgle

            what’s even worse is the FACT that the other rent regulated fellow Chinese tenants in the same building exploited my mother’s pain and hoped with the assistance of AAFE to take the building for themselves. This is totally different from the way my mother was treated by rent regulated tenants across the street so it is NOT my mother and my father’s terrible personalities that invite this kind of treatment. There IS something wrong with the tenants in this building.

          • murlocs gurgle

            I don’t feel that I was off topic at all. You originally claimed that tenants don’t tend to be cruel and violent to landlords who are usually depicted in the press especially in New York as evil slumlords. Our personal experience especially given my father’s nonaggrandizing history of shortchanging himself for the benefit of others clearly shows that you are wrong in your assertion.

  • Charles Rich

    Nice Article, Thanks

  • anon

    Hello?! Look, the guy was kidnapped by men in a minivan. Who else drives minivans other than suburban housewives??? Do you know what I am getting at???

  • murlocs gurgle

    Why didn’t they just determine who and how often someone made a posthumous complaint against him and realize that complaints were made by resentful and probably envious tenants when his conduct should be detailed and shown to outweigh the posthumous character assassinations?

    No one in New York would LIE about a landlord being better than he is yet this guy got praised by other tenants. However, there is a long history of maligning building owners and getting away with it coasts on that wave of true stories that build up the legend that all owners are slumlords and all tenants especially rent regulated ones are not undeserving lottery winners but beleaguered entitled “victims” even if they own multiple “second” homes and earn six figures so that they really don’t require the “protection” of rent regulated status.

  • Clinton H

    Israel Perlmutter, Menachem Stark’s murdered business partner is now a suspect The NY Daily News reports. Israel Perlmutter swindled millions from banks in fraudulent property transfers and fake property purchases, he has no credibility and is therefore suspected in his partners murder.

    • murlocs gurgle

      look at all the swindlers on realdeal.com – does this mean the bootleg handbag guy involved in the delshah lawsuit is a murderer too?

  • Graveshift

    NYC operated this way in the early 20th century – during the days of the infamous Arnold Rothstein et al, up until the fall out with the Mafia. Everyone seems to have forgotten over the recent decades that dealings involving millions of dollars, aggressive lending and loan sharking, hustling and engaging in the type of risky business activities that MS engaged in were highly dangerous and still are – especially when dealing with dangerous people. It is truly a tragic death and does not warrant the type of persecution that media has launched against him, but it is a sobering wake up call to the Community that this type of business dealing and practice has very real consequences. As of this moment no one knows why MS’s life was taken, but clearly a message was sent and I hope some good will come from this and certain people will realize its time to clean up their act and demonstrate real professionalism and care for others when conducting business

  • http://www.christopherlondonblog.com/ Christopher London, Esq.

    FROM – THE JEWISH DAILY FORWARD

    Judging Menachem Stark’s Jewish Life — Not Just His Death: Is Hasidic Community Proud of Landlord’s Shady Record?

    http://forward.com/articles/190402/judging-menachem-starks-jewish-life-not-just-his/

    Truth told you can only wear the cloak of being a ‘Man of God’ or a ‘Philanthropist’ for only so long if you are pursuing an unrighteous path devoid of spirituality

    • murlocs gurgle

      I still don’t understand what he did wrong other than borrow money because he couldn’t keep afloat and have violations but I don’t understand what all the violations are and the violations were associated with real estate not personal crimes like organized crime, right?

      I think this wouldn’t even be discussed if he wasn’t involved in real estate which invites so much third party avarice that without even knowing who he is, a lot of strangers are interested. I’m not that interested except for the antisemitism that he seems to invite and the burning which is very European; I can’t imagine a Chinese borrowing from a Japanese or Korean bank. It would be weird.

    • murlocs gurgle

      Once again the Jewish community won’t explain themselves within earshot of outsiders. I’m not prone to investigating the Holocaust except that the Germans scare me ever since I read “Piepel” and I guessed from watching “Black Sun” that John Rabe facilitated the Japanese breaching of the protected foreigner zone – he did it with his forked tongue right in front of a dismayed American eyewitness by telling the Japanese that Nanjing police had removed their uniforms and sought refuge with them.

  • jerkoff

    fox news has nothing to do with that cover regardless of who owns anything. u think fox news proof reads everything>?get a clue

  • Oouch

    Jeff – if you confuse jerkoffs with those concerned with mere facts you’re trying to reason with the prematurely senile.

  • puttermanissoriginal

    actually if you weren’t so dumb you would see the arrow after the name jerkoff is pointing to you. wow how original.propaganda machine..did media matters tell u that?.. how does that kool aide taste?

  • Jeff Putterman

    Koolaid tastes much better than the piss you drink. Now go back under your rock, you lowlife worm.

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