tales of Olde Tribeca / 1980s nastiness at 151 Hudson Street

ACRIS is a wonderful thing
In the course of checking past sales and city records for an earlier lsiting at 151 Hudson Street,

I clicked on a fascinating document in the city records that is rich with TriBeCa history. (Those of you who have used ACRIS before now that you first have to go to the site here, then click on , and then click on this link (or paste it in your browser): http://a836-acris.nyc.gov/Scripts/DocSearch.dll/ViewImage?Doc_ID=FT_1450004122845)

short story of long harassment of early loft dwellers
The document is a 1986 order of the Loft Board finding that the owner of 151 Hudson harassed his residential tenants in 1984 and 1985 by renting the ground floor space to an ‘after-hours’ club in order to make the residential tenants miserable enough to leave.

longer story encapsulates the early history of Tribeca
The early history of “Tribeca” starts with some long-time commercial buildings losing their commercial tenants and these under-utilized buildings being populated by residential tenants.

In the case of 151 Hudson Street, city records reveal that it had been owned by New York Shipping Corporation in the 1970s and 1980s (and probably earlier) and had residents on at least some floors by 1978. By 1979 NY Shipping leased the whole building to a firm called Krax (a name from central casting for The Evil Landlord).

By 1984 – when this story begins — the building had an Ethiopian restaurant downstairs and was fully occupied above by residential tenants. The tenants were unhappy enough with Krax by then to be in litigation for a rent abatement, in which a fact hearing was ordered in April (which was never held).

cue the rowdy clubbers
Instead of scheduling a hearing about rent, Krax rented the (by then vacant) ground floor restaurant space to a group for after-hours parties, without checking references or licenses.

Beginning in May 1984 (the Loft Board determined) the club (East of Eden) removed interior walls, painted the front windows black, moved in sound equipment, and commenced holding events 5 or 6 nights per week lasting from midnight to about 8 AM.

You need not infer that these events were noisy and messy, as there is ample testimony in the Loft Board proceedings about that. (Indeed, one tenant testified that the club manager told him that the club was there to drive the tenants out.)

Of course the tenants complained, but the landlord’s representatives did not remember many complaints. The Loft Board found that the club (1) attracted a loud “rowdy” group, which often led to fights (one of which broke the building front door); (2) played very loud music all night; (3) left large amounts of garbage by the side of building attracting (other) vermin; (4) and served alcohol without license.

Was Krax upset by the club? Of course 😉 Krax sued the club because it fell behind on rent payments. It was not until the local precinct said that if the illegal club was padlocked as a “nuisance” the space would have to stay vacant for one year that Krax sued to evict the club.

this story ends somewhat happily
The Loft Board determined in 1986 that Krax was guilty of harassment of the tenants in 1984, which meant that the premises would not be “decontrolled” for rent regulation purposes.

chain of title
Chasing the chain of title in city records shows that NY Shipping deeded the building to an entity related to Krax in 1985 (the principal of Krax identified by the loft Board is the principal of Winterberry Corp, who signed the transfer papers), and that Winterberry sold the building in May 2003 to 151 Hudson LLC for $2.7mm.

Presumably, the shareholders of that LLC were the residents of 151 Hudson at the time, which are now in the process of converting to a condominium.

A tawdry tale, eh?

© Sandy Mattingly 2008

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