Broadway SRO owner fights in-building tenant gatherings

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1234 Broadway (credit: PropertyShark)

The owner of a landmarked, 19th-century single room occupancy building on Broadway in Midtown South is seeking to prevent its residents from exercising a well-established right to hold tenant meetings in their building, citing the residents’ own safety.

The owner of the 12-story marble-faced building at the corner of Broadway and 31st Street, 1234 Broadway LLC, filed papers last week to appeal a Manhattan State Supreme Court ruling in May that went in favor of the tenants, sources familiar with the case said.

Marti Weithman, project director with the Goddard-Riverside Westside SRO Law Project, said tenants in the building — at 1234 Broadway and 31st Street — have been meeting since the May decision. She did not know how common suits seeking to block residents from meeting in their own buildings were, but said, “tactics like this are used and can be used to harass and intimidate tenants.”

Santo Golino, who represents 1234 Broadway, declined on behalf of his client to comment.

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1234 Broadway is owned by an affiliate of the Sabet Group, a family-owned real estate investment and management firm based in Great Neck, L.I. that is led by Alfred Sabetfard.

The 325-room residential and retail building was built in the French Second Empire style in 1868 and named the Grand Hotel. It was designated a city landmark in 1979. Today about 1,000 residents live in the building, court papers show. The building has perfume and discount stores in the ground retail spaces and no large lobby.

The case began in November 2009, when the landlord sued the Goddard-Riverside Westside SRO Law Project that had advertised in flyers that it would hold a tenant meeting Nov. 21 in the largest available space in the building, the eighth-floor hallway.

The landlord objected, and in his suit filed in New York State Supreme Court said more than 1,000 people could try and attend. It sought a restraining order against any meetings at all, or in a less severe option, against any meetings of more than 20 people. “Such a proposed meeting and any gathering of the like would create a totally unsafe situation both in terms of fire safety and the personal safety of the residents,” the landlord said.

In May, State Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden ruled for permitting meetings, citing the broad rights’ of tenants to meet in their own buildings, and saying there was no evidence of a safety hazard. The landlord has not given up yet, however, and served a notice of appeal Sept. 30, one source said. Such notices are not public on the state courts website, an employee of the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, said.