In Tribeca, Neighbor Tells Developer, 'Clean Up!' Finally, They Do

On the door of 103 Reade Street, tickets from the Sanitation and Buildings departments, along with the plea from a neighbor to clean up the front of the building. On Wednesday, July 12, the mess was removed. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jul. 12, 2017

Li Wah Lai, a longtime resident of 95 Reade Street in Tribeca, couldn’t take it anymore. Living a few doors down from the chronically littered front of 103 Reade Street, she registered her anger the best way she knew how. With a sign, taped to the front door.

“OWNER” it shouted in big print, “CLEAN THIS MESS UP NOW! THIS IS A DISGRACE.”

More officially, the city had been trying, also in vain, to get the owner’s attention. Along with Lai’s bright-yellow sign were summonses on the door from the Sanitation and Buildings departments.

“I walk past it every day and the garbage collects and collects and I see the tickets,” Lai said in a telephone interview. “And we get tickets even if we have a tiny piece, like a cup, on our sidewalk. So, I’m like, hey, this is not fair.”

Purchased last August for a reported $16.2 million, the now-vacant five-story cast-iron structure, which extends through the block to 121 Chambers St., is slated for restoration and residential redevelopment with a commercial use on the ground floor. (A proposed two-story rooftop addition was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission but still needs a waiver by the Department of City Planning, and work on the building has yet to begin.)

“They got tons of money,” Lai said of the developer, “but they can’t clean the sidewalk. It’s ridiculous.”

On July 11, along with an accumulation of sidewalk debris were two large beer bottles and a plastic crate, the same objects apparently cited in a two-week-old Sanitation Department ticket.

“It’s a community and you can’t just buy a building and leave it in disarray and make it disgusting for the rest of the neighborhood,” said Amy Sewell, who lives at 99 Reade Street. “And it’s a health hazard. Dogs lick things, children are playing.”

The building, which was long owned by Ackerman Realty, is being developed by the buyer, Hubb NYC. In a telephone interview on July 11, Hubb’s asset manager, Steve Dluzyn, said he had not been aware of the problem until he was contacted by the Trib.

“I have not been down there in a few weeks,” he said. “I appreciate your reaching out to us.

“My understanding is that there are people who are sleeping there and I guess people just leaving trash,” he added, saying the company’s cleaning service will now make more frequent visits and the violations will be cured.

The next morning, the sidewalk was cleaned.

“Inadevertently, the cleaning company only was taking care of the 121 Chambers side, not the 103 Reade side,” Joe Lombardi, the architect on the project, later told the Trib.