This evening, firefighters located the body of an 87-year old man, who was trapped in the top floor of an apartment building that was destroyed in a last night’s Grand Street fire. Sing Ho becomes the first fatality in the disaster that had already left more than 90 people homeless and destroyed three buildings. The man’s whereabouts were unclear earlier in the day. But as night fell on Chinatown, it became increasingly apparent that he likely did not make it out alive. Ho’s body was removed from 285 Grand Street late tonight.
Also this evening, more attention is being focused on the owner of the buildings that caught fire. The lead in the New York Times article posted a short time ago reads:
The building in Chinatown where an enormous blaze started late Sunday night had more than two dozen open violations for hazardous conditions, including missing smoke detectors, lead paint and other problems that signified a history of neglect, city records show.
As we reported earlier today, the owner of the buildings is Fair Only Realty in Flushing, Queens. They did not return calls from the Times seeking comment.But reporter Colin Moynihan notes:
The owners put the buildings, which were home to two ground-level stores and 30 apartments, on sale for the third time in five years in December, asking $13.5 million, according to Central City Brokerage, which carried the listing. Before the fire, the asking price had been dropped to $9.25 million. Of the 30 apartments, five were rent-controlled, 23 were rent-stabilized and two were rented at market rate, according to the listing.
Last July, a resident of 283 Grand went to Asian Americans for Equality for help in dealing with her landlord. The organization, which advocates for tenants, shared with us some of the photos taken at that time inside the apartment and in the building’s public areas. The pictures are meant to illustrate that the owner failed to properly care for the building and, perhaps, helped create dangerous conditions: