It was a scheme Assa Properties didn’t see coming.
A group of fortunetellers, psychics and other oracles rented out space at the luxury MAve Hotel in NoMad but allegedly conspired to never pay rent there. And Assa Properties isn’t letting them off the hook.
The firm, headed by Salim “Solly” Assa, has slapped a lawsuit on the soothsayers for allegedly conning the hotel into reassigning first-floor commercial space among different people who are insolvent. And Assa Properties wants close to $870,000 in skipped rent, late fees and damages.
The defendants, described in the complaint as “a group of soothsayers, fortune tellers and psychic readers” who hail from Florida and New Jersey, could not be reached for comment.
“They don’t want to pay rent so we’ve got to take them to court,” Assa said.
A couple of years ago, a psychic named Julia Stevens took over the lease of the kiosk at the hotel. She was described to the hotel’s owners as a “relative” of the former lessee, Anthony Miller, and she was going to use the space for psychic readings, according to the complaint, which was filed Monday in New York County Supreme Court. The rent was $45,000 a year for five years, and that price would bump up annually.
Late last year, Stevens also leased out the hotel’s larger corner store, with a rent of $144,000 a year for five years. That rent was also set to escalate each year. But apparently Stevens’ adult daughter, Amelia Stevens, had her own company — whose purpose is not spelled out in the complaint — and was going to be using the space instead, with Amelia serving as the lease’s guarantor, the complaint states.
Amelia Stevens cut a check for a security deposit and two months’ rent, and she paid rent as scheduled in November and December, according to the complaint.
Then, things soured. In January, Julia Stevens took over the lease for the corner store, and another person, Samantha Stevens, got the kiosk (the complaint also doesn’t say if they are related or what the spaces were used for). The rent hasn’t been paid since, though they both allegedly showed financial documents proving they could handle the rent, according to the lawsuit.
So why get the hotel to turn over the leases and guarantees to people that, at least according to the complaint, couldn’t pay up? Because then they would default on the rent, and the group would get a few months of free rent, the complaint alleges.
The 12-story MAve Hotel, located at 62 Madison Avenue, has been in the news before. In 2016, the city was paying thousands of dollars a month to house homeless families at the luxury property. The city also had sued Assa, accusing him of illegally running hotels out of four rental properties in Midtown, and last year Assa paid a $1.2 million settlement over the charges.
Assa is also suing Domenico Vacca, alleging the fashion firm is in default on its $4 million lease at 15 West 55th Street. The suitmaker hit back with its own lawsuit, claiming the high rent was only needed so Assa and his partners could receive a $91 million mortgage on the building.