Friday, October 19, 2007

A victory

The Shalom Tenants Alliance won a long-fought battle to prevent their landlord from illegally converting their lower floors into a restaurant on a street that has become an unrestrained nightlife hell.

The Board of Standards and Appeals, the city agency that grants variances to allow commercial uses in residential spaces, ruled that the landlord did not need relief from hardship, the common ground for a variance. The landlord, the Shalom family, owners of several buildings around town, claimed that they tried to rent the basement as office space but had failed, and so they needed a restaurant. The BSA didn't buy that pretense: the family repeatedly refused the Board's request for evidence of having tried to rent it as office space.

Anticipating commercial use, the landlord had already removed the stoop of the building, damaging the façade, which he never bothered to repair. It's quite an eyesore. This is what happens in a city where landlords expect to get away with anything. The Shaloms were no doubt expecting a restaurant tenant to fix up the façade for them. Now they are stuck with a mess of their own making.

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