Cornfeld Tenants Association (CTA) works to improve housing conditions for residents in properties owned by Arthur Cornfeld and Alan Fisher in New York City (aka ABC Properties, ABC Realty, and many other LLCs). Our concerns are both in terms of tenants’ rights and our right for security and equity. Goal? To ensure our voices are heard and to stop our landlord from further endangering our safety and our lives.
Tell Our Landlord Arthur Cornfeld to Stop Risking Tenants Lives!
Most New Yorkers become desensitized to the way landlord greed with no apparent agency oversight degrades the quality of their lives. I believe that most of the times someone gets a 24-hour virus, begins vomiting, has an upset stomach, or gets a bad case of the sort of stress-you-can’t-shake-no-matter what, are in actuality, caused by bad sanitation in a restaurant.
The two buildings we inhabit (143 West 69 Street and 2020 Broadway) have three restaurants and we find ourselves in the midst of a multi-year fight against rat infestations, fire hazards, and a multitude of other life threatening issues as a result of a 50 foot Gulliver-type landlord devouring tiny Lilliput-type tenants.
The tiny Lilliput-type tenants would be us: a total of 100 apartments in both buildings where quality of life is just a pipe dream. West Side Restaurant, on the corner of Broadway at 69th Street has been a neighborhood staple for 30 years. They are also open 24/7 – literally.
We were somewhat aware that the occasional mice and roaches that crept into our apartments becoming our unwelcome roommates probably came from West Side Restaurant. But, hey, we’re New Yorkers, and fast delivery a time long ago when their prices were affordable made this trespass almost acceptable (see how easy it is to take a tumble down the rabbit hole and suddenly overlook the basic Warranty of Habitability every landlord owes to every tenant?).
Two more restaurants followed. Noi Due Café unceremoniously appeared out of what used to be the basement of 143 West 69th Street (they stay open until 1am). And, at about the same time, we were stunned to see a third: Barcibo Enoteca, who went from a “wine bar” serving cold food to somewhere along the way getting a kitchen permit. As if that weren’t bad enough, they have a liquor license, open at 4:30pm and have a permit to stay open until 4am.
So much for sleep, quality of life, or the enjoyment of our apartments. We might as well be living on the sidewalk for all the quiet we enjoy in our homes.
As bad as all this sounds, this isn't even our biggest gripe.
Our biggest gripe, if you can call it that, is that Mr. Cornfeld (our Gulliver-type landlord) granted many wishes to these three commercial establishments which put all our lives in danger.
Wish #1) He allows them to use the alley between both buildings as a place to receive their food deliveries. These deliveries are left in an open basement. They are left unattended and have attracted the attention of about 200-300 rats along with their immediate family and friends.
Wish #2) Build Sheds Without Permits and They Will … you probably got the gist of this. Cornfeld has built three large sheds in the alley (without obtaining any permits) for their storage use. Problem here is these sheds create fire hazards. A variety of different fire hazards: one being blocked fire escapes. So, if we ever had a fire and needed to get out, many of us wouldn’t be able to.
Wish #3) The need for gas, steam, electricity, and water. None of the two quaint landmark 120-year- old buildings were built to accommodate the needs of a restaurant – much less the needs of three restaurants. And so, our Mr. Cornfeld has created an alley full of criss-crossing pipes snaking their way up, down, and across both buildings disappearing into crevices, like pneumatic tubes at a drive-through bank. None of these have permits.
With the recent explosion of those buildings in the East Village: we are concerned. Very concerned.
We ask our landlord, our city officials and everyone with a heartbeat: whether you rent or own, to acknowledge that a life is worth more than money.
To acknowledge that building through the roof (as Arthur Cornfeld has done at 2020 Broadway where he created two penthouse duplexes – again without permits); or when he placed a 15,000 lb evaporative condenser on the tiny roof of 143 West 69 Street which makes the 5 story building shake as if it were at a Tiesto concert.
Over sized streaks of condensation continuously ooze out of this contraption spreading like tentacles and claws its slime all over the small tar roof.
One day, the gross negligence along with this massive contraption will set off a blaze when oozing water of the condenser leaks onto the lighting fixtures on top floor. Who will be blamed for the deaths of the people who once lived here?
Just the massive weight of the water leakage may very well result in the collapse of the building which already has signs of buckling.
But then again, the 15,000 pound monster squatting like a sumo wrestler over the rooftop can easily demolish the 1895 five story building all on its own.
These trespasses without any agency oversight to ensure safety have created life-threatening conditions for every single tenant; to each and every one of the unsuspecting patrons who eat at these restaurants, as well as to the public at large. After reading this, would you feel comfortable even walking past our street?
All our efforts during the past several years calling every agency: The Department of Buildings (DOB), The Landmarks and Preservation Committee (LPC), the NYC Department of Health, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and really, everyone, has fallen on deaf ears.
And while on the subject of "why?" - - we would like to know how three rat infested restaurants with rats who glare at you as if you are the intruder interrupting their dinner and give you that who-you-looking-at-only-in-New-York-stare’ – WHY, we ask, do these restaurants have "A" ratings in the first place?! This is outright consumer fraud and this information must be made public. For everyone's safety.
Please, please, please sign this petition and ask our landlord, Arthur Cornfeld aka ABC Properties to get rid of the rats, get rid of the firetraps, and to comply with the law by getting permits -- even if it means getting rid of the restaurants, which weren’t really, ever supposed to be here.
Lives matter more than rent. At least that’s how we feel as the Lilliput-type residents all renters are in the City of New York.