The Real Deal New York

Notorious activist plans sit-in at Shaoul’s office

Anarchist John Penley is seeking a rent-free unit for an elderly poet
April 02, 2013 02:00PM

An East Village activist is planning to camp out this weekend in front of Ben Shaoul’s Magnum Real Estate Group office in Soho to protest the allegedly poor apartment conditions of one 88-year-old tenant in a Shaoul-owned building, EV Grieve reported. The activist, John Penley, hopes to provide the elder tenant with a renovated, rent-free ground-floor unit in the same building and home-care assistance for the rest of the man’s life.

“[Shaoul] just made so much cash speculating and flipping buildings on the LES that doing something humane like I suggest he do would be a very small gesture,” Penley told EV Grieve.

The tenant, Taylor Mead, is an actor, poet and writer, and lives in a building currently being gut renovated by Shaoul. The address of his Ludlow Street home is not mentioned, but EV Grieve notes that Mead has lived in his rent-stabilized unit for 34 years. His apartment reportedly has a non-functional kitchen sink, peeling plaster and such a roach problem that the bugs crawl up his legs.

This is not Penley’s first camp out. Early last month, he held a camp out at New York University to call on the school for help in housing homeless New Yorkers, EV Grieve reported.

The EV Grieve article does not include comment from Shaoul.

Shaoul has become a controversial figure among activists, who claim that he shows disregard for his tenants and the neighborhood. For his part, Shaoul has said that he has never been found to mistreat a tenant and that he has worked with the Department of Buildings to make sure that all his buildings’ projects are done legally. [EV Grieve]Zachary Kussin