Tenants Being Booted from Third Street Buildings Prepare to Dig In

tenantsLaura Edwins

Less than a year ago, David Moster, a Ph.D. candidate at N.Y.U., paid a $5,625 broker fee to move into his apartment at 50 East Third Street. “It was a huge hassle moving last summer,” he recalled. Now he’s getting ready to deal with the headache again. Earlier this month, his landlord, Abart Holdings, sent him a letter informing that the building would be sold within a few months and that his lease would not be renewed.

Mr. Moster and his two roommates, who pay $3,000 per month for their three-bedroom unit, are among an estimated 17 residents of the building and of two neighboring ones at 54 and 58 East Third Street who were given 60 days to find a new place to live. Yesterday, many of those tenants met to discuss their options.

“It’s was a way bigger turnout than I expected,” said Sue Palchek-Essenpreis. “I think people are fairly protective of the East Village, and their neighborhood, and obviously their homes.”

Outside 50 East Third StreetEntwined Studio Outside of 50 East Third Street.

After describing her plight in a first-person account for The Local last week, Ms. Palchek-Essenpreis has been working with her husband Greg Essenpreis to organize those who’ve been told to leave, all of whom have market-rate leases set to expire in the summer.

Neither the market-rate tenants whose leases expire after August, nor rent-subsidized or rent-controlled tenants have received an eviction notice. But about 30 of them showed up to last night’s meeting to show their support and receive advice from two housing attorneys as well as a representative of GOLES, the non-profit housing and preservation organization. Many voiced concerns that if those paying a market rate were evicted, they would be the next to go.

All the tenants seemed frustrated at Abart Holdings’ refusal to communicate. Some said they had tried to contact the company’s principals, Abe and Arthur Haruvi, directly, but hadn’t received any information about who was buying the buildings, and whether or not their sale hinged on their vacancy, as indicated in the letter. Abart Holdings did not return a message requesting comment.

“Whenever you ask what’s going on, they don’t say anything,” said Mr. Moster. The student of religion doesn’t want to have to go apartment hunting again in hopes of another miracle. “My fear is the hassle of finding another good apartment in the neighborhood,” he said.

GOLES and the housing attorneys told the tenants to request rental histories from the city to be sure their apartments were legally deregulated from rent subsidized to market-rate.

The organizers also said mass evictions have been a trend in the neighborhood, citing the contentious fight at the Economakis mansion, just across the street at 47 East Third Street, as an example.

For now, the Essenpreises, who must be out by May 14, and Mr. Moster, who has until July 22, plan to continue organizing and continue paying their rent.

“We’re going to keep paying our rent and hope they don’t throw us out,” Ms. Palchek-Essenpreis said. “It’s like cooking spaghetti. You throw it at the wall and hope it sticks.”