The Real Deal New York

Tenants sue Croman over LES tenement renovations

Lawsuit is latest clash in battle between residents and owner of 309 East 8th Street

August 14, 2014 08:30AM
By David Jones

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From left: 309 East 8th Street, Harriet and Steven Croman

From left: 309 East 8th Street, Harriet and Steven Croman

Millionaire developer Steven Croman is scheduled to face tenants on Aug. 26 in a new round of litigation filed in New York City Housing Court.

The lawsuit seeks to block the construction work at Croman’s six-story tenement building at 309 East 8th Street. Judge Sabrina Kraus ordered the hearing on Tuesday after five tenants, represented by the nonprofit Urban Justice Center, filed suit seeking a halt to construction at the building and seeking correction to alleged violations at the property.

According to the suit, filed Aug. 7, the five tenants claim that the landlord has engaged in gut renovations of multiple vacant apartments at the building since 2013, causing the ceilings to collapse in several occupied apartments.

The suit clams that in March the Department of Buildings granted permission to renovate another three apartments in the building, and the following month a partial vacate order was issued for the building’s basement after a structural wall was compromised.

The renovations at the 17-unit building also caused a gas leak that resulted in a month-long gas suspension, according to lawyers for the tenants.

A new round of construction is scheduled to begin on the newly empty apartments, and the suit seeks to block any new renovation work that is considered unsafe, including demolition, drilling and installation of drywall.

“I would say that this case is symptomatic of what is going on in the Lower East Side today,” said attorney Sadia Rahman, who represents the five tenants. “Violations like the broken front door and broken cornices have been in place for years, but owners instead are investing considerable sums of money into vacant apartments so that they can be deregulated and rented at market value.”

The suit comes just days after two tenants sued the Croman real estate family, alleging that they were being harassed by a former New York Police Department detective who is facing a cease-and-desist order from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Those two tenants are among the five plaintiffs in this case. The suit names Croman as a defendant, as well as company official Harriet Croman and managing agents Harriet Kahan and Janeth Donovan.

The suit also names the Department of Buildings, which issued the partial vacate order, and the Department of Housing Preservation & Development, which oversees housing code violations. Officials, who asked not to be identified, said the building has 18 active violations. They added that $2,578 in emergency repairs have been made by HPD.

“We have not seen this lawsuit, but we will vigorously defend ourselves against any claim that the building has been intentionally neglected,” said a spokesman for 9300 Realty, which manages the building. “Since taking ownership of the property, we have made significant improvements to the building and removed numerous violations associated with the prior ownership.”

  • truthordare

    He’s a bad boy spending all that $$$ on them ladies.

  • Jill Stone

    He is the best. All you guys are stone dead wrong. He is one of the very best players out there. His success did not happen by just being a so called bad boy. He is making the City a better place. His renovations are great. his buildings well run. You may not like his business practices, but he knows the game much better then some of the other middel eastern owners. He is to be admired. He has achieved a great success in a short time and he did it by himself (please his wife was also a great help, a very great help, a real very great help) Unfortunately with this great success comes the detractors and jealous detractors. Shame on you that you can not or have not done well in this world that you have to snip on him. He has used and played the system as good as trhey get. Good luck Steve.

    • Marc

      The hatred is from the sloppy dirty loser residents that have no life. The fact they have no life was cultivated by rent control/stabilization which bred several generations of lazy unaccomplished “artistic” types as they like to explain why they have no gainful employment. They usually are estranged from their families as they have no need for them since government give them practically free rent, food, healthcare and countless other programs. They generally bathe only 2-3 times a week, have sloppy frizzy hair, unshaven ……… The Cromans are an amazing success story. They invest heavily for the long term. They have greatly improved their buildings but rest assured these angry slobs need not spend a dime to harass the Cromans. They provide more votes. Plenty of agencies to do their dirty work.

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