Tenants protest Shaoul’s illegal addition to East Village apartment building

October 20, 2011 08:56AM

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From left: 515 East 5th Street in 2005, before the rooftop addition; 515 East 5th Street as it looks now and Benjamin Shaoul

State Sen. Daniel Squadron and local City Council member Rosie Mendez joined tenants of an East Village townhouse owned and renovated by an LLC run by Benjamin Shaoul who have taken to the streets in protest of conditions within the building and Department of Buildings’ inaction towards an illegal rooftop addition, the East Village Local reported.

Shaoul purchased the building at 515 East 5th Street, between avenues A and B, for $2.8 million in late 2005 and quickly went to work to renovate the building. He added one and half stories to the top of the structure, but that was deemed illegal by the Board of Standards and Appeals in November 2008. Residents worry the building is unsafe.

The constant construction that tenants say relates to that addition is a source of contempt, and they believe it is an attempt to evict the remaining rent-stabilized residents in the building. They have banded together and hired a lawyer in an attempt to force Shaoul to dismantle the addition, as their disappointment in the Department of Building’s lack of action grows.

But representatives of the owner, called 515 East 5th Street LLC, said the suggestions that the building is unsafe are baseless, and that the rooftop addition has actually helped the building, as Shaoul has spent a lot of money to install new infrastructure to support the addition. [Local EV]