The Real Deal New York

City report shows lead levels 36x health standard at Delshah’s 138 Ludlow Street

Residents report illness during building renovations
By Will Parker | January 25, 2019 03:25PM

138 Ludlow Street and Michael Shah

Lead levels at Delshah Capital’s 138 Ludlow Street are as high as 36 times the federal government’s acceptable health standard, according to a December report commissioned by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Lower Manhattan community group the Cooper Square Committee announced the report in a Friday press release, with Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou and City Council Member Margaret Chin quoted criticizing Delshah for what they deemed unsafe construction practices.

Lead contamination at 138 Ludlow Street

DelShah has since slowed its renovation work, according to the release.

Firm principal Michael Shah did not immediately return a request for comment from The Real Deal. Neither did DOH.

High levels of lead are known to cause illness and developmental problems in children and adolescents, and Delshah’s building is one of a number of Lower East Side properties that have recently been reported to carry unsafe levels. Meanwhile, NYCHA, which was found to have misled the public about unsafe levels of lead at public housing buildings across the city, faces steep penalties and possible federal monitorship.

Local Law 1 of 2004 sets the protocol for how landlords are supposed to address potential lead contamination. Cooper Square’s Jodie Leidecker told TRD DelShah didn’t appear to be following all the rules. “There should be daily cleaning so lead is not accumulating in public areas. There are really strict requirements.”

One DelShah tenant, Mayra Hernandez, claimed that the lead dust has caused her daughter multiple illnesses. “It’s not just my family. It’s all the people in the building,” she said, according to Cooper Square’s release.

The DOH report found unsafe lead levels in several parts of the 138 Ludlow property, with highest levels, about 36 times health standards (EPA’s lead concentration limit for floors is 40 μg/ft2), found on stairs between the 4th and 5th floors.

Shah bought the 27-unit building, which has both rent-stabilized and market-rate apartments, for $19 million in January 2018. “Despite its good bones and excellent location, this building hasn’t yet been positioned to realize its full potential for value,” Shah told Commercial Observer in a statement at the time. “We are sitting on a gem, and with our proven ability to transform properties and streetscapes we are excited to deliver the next ‘newest and nicest’ building to the Lower East Side.”

As of Friday, the Department of Buildings had not issued any stop-work orders on the property.