Ben Shaoul Buys Three Ludlow Street Properties

163-167 Ludlow Street.

Ben Shaoul, the young developer who has emerged as the East Village’s most despised landlord, is apparently expanding his real estate empire into the Lower East Side. In June, he bought three contiguous buildings on Ludlow Street between Stanton and Houston, according to city land records.

In a package deal dated June 11, corporate entities under Shaoul’s Magnum Real Estate Group’s name purchased apartment buildings at 163, 165 and 167 Ludlow St. for a total of $16.5 million, records show.

It’s a significant acquisition for Shaoul, whose high-profile deals (and controversies) have been concentrated mostly in the East Village of late — though he has developed properties all over Manhattan, including renovations of old tenements and new construction. This year, he has come under fire from his tenants and local community leaders for a variety of reasons: stranding an East Fourth Street resident without a staircase, ousting low-income seniors from Cabrini Nursing Home and dodging landmark restrictions by mere hours on East 10th Street, to list just a few of his headlines.

City Orders Ben Shaoul to Present Staircase Removal Plan For Approval

Last month, Kym Gomes looked on as workers dismantled the staircase at 435 East 12th Street.

There are new details to report this morning concerning the renovation saga at 435 East 12th Street, one of controversial landlord Ben Shaoul’s many Manhattan rental buildings.  As we have recounted in past stories, he has tried to replace the staircases in the six-story tenement on two separate occasions in the past four months.  But after at least one longtime tenant, Kym Gomes (pictured), called Community Board 3, complaining that she had become trapped in her apartment, the Buildings Department (DOB) slapped partial “stop work” orders on the project.

Now the DOB has issued what’s known as a “Commissioner Order,” spelling out specific procedures Shaoul must follow before  resuming the job.  According to Buildings Department spokesperson Ryan FitzGibbon, Shaoul’s, contractor must submit a timeline for the staircase replacement project to the city; only one flight of stairs can be replaced per day.  After the plan for each day has been approved, residents must be notified by certified mail when the work will be done, so that they can make arrangements to be away from their apartments. In many cases, landlords are allowed to “self certify” their projects without getting approval from the Buildings Department.  That’s not going to be allowed in this case.

Staircase Replacement at 435 East 12th Street Catches Attention of Buildings Department

Yesterday, Kym Gomes looks on as workers dismantle the staircase at 435 East 12th Street.

We first met Kym Gomes this past April, a couple of days after she was plucked from her fourth floor apartment by a fire department cherry picker.  This 18-year resident of 435 East 12th Street was unable to walk down the stairs of the tenement because the staircase had been ripped out. The Buildings Department put an immediate stop to the project and imposed a $1500 fine on the owner, controversial East Village landlord Ben Shaoul.  Yesterday morning, we visited Gomes again,  although speaking with her was not easy.  As you can see from the photo posted above,  we were separated by the rubble created after workers finally resumed the staircase-replacement project.

Firefighters Pluck Woman From Tenement, After Staircase is Suddenly Removed

435 East 12th Street.

On Monday afternoon, Kym Gomes left her apartment at 435 East 12th Street, on her way to work (she has a night job).  She walked down the stairs of the five-story tenement that’s been home for the past 18 years but was stymied upon reaching the second floor landing. The problem?  The staircase leading to the ground level was gone.

Renovations have been ongoing for the past couple of months.   A notice posted in the lobby warned tenants that “repairs to the stairways” would begin Monday morning and continue through the week.  “We strongly suggest that you stay out of the building during this time frame,” the notice read.  But Gomes was more than a little surprised to learn the stairs had been completely ripped out.  She immediately made a call to the Cooper Square Committee, a well-known tenant advocacy organization, who in turn contacted Community Board 3.  It wasn’t long before the Buildings Department, as well as the police and fire departments were on the scene.

Cabrini Nursing Home May Keep Building, Remain Open Under New Owner

The Cabrini nursing home provides care for 240 patients.

There may be some good news for Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in the East Village today, just as 2011 comes to a close.

This afternoon, we’ve received a copy of a letter from an attorney representing the owner of the building, who bought it for $25.5 million in September. The letter, a response to last week’s plea for help from local elected officials seeking to avoid closure of the low-income nursing home, reveals that the potential buyer negotiating with current owner, MM 62-74 Avenue B Owner (believed to be backed by Ben Shaoul), is actually a for-profit operator who is seeking to acquire both the nursing home operations and the real estate it occupies.

Writes Kenneth Fisher, of Cozen O’Connor:

On December 6, 2011, Cabrini’s counsel advised me that it was negotiating with a for-profit operator for the sale of its business operations, and identifying him as a potential purchaser for the real estate as well … after some discussion, and recognizing the urgency of the situation, the parties reached an understanding of what will be necessary for a transaction to occur.

Fisher goes on the caution that no deal has been inked, and asks the recipients of the letter to encourage Cabrini’s leaders and the new operator to conclude their negotiations and reach a deal as soon as possible, as the real estate sale is dependent upon the sale of the business.

Elected Officials Urge Ben Shaoul To Maintain Cabrini Home, as Re-Sale Appears Imminent

Cabrini Nursing Home, 542 East 5th Street.

Earlier this month, The Lo-Down learned the building housing the Cabrini Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation on East 5th Street recently sold for $25.5 million.  Today, the neighborhood’s elected officials are out with a letter to the new owner, Magnum Real Estate Group, expressing concern about the prospect that the company intends to sell the building yet again.