I almost can’t write about this since it makes me both furious and queasy, but once again, the Loft Board is denying permits for the retail space at 325 Greenwich since the upstairs apartments have not been renovated — despite the fact that the landlord cannot access two of the apartments.
After a year of back and forth with the Loft Board (which is part of the Department of Buildings and regulates some smaller manufacturing properties that converted to residences in the ’80s), the folks at Clementine were given the green light. Landlord Josh Greenberg said they would have an opening date to aim for after a few weeks more of work.
But Chip City, which has leased the space next door, has now been denied a construction permit for the same reasons that Clementine was denied, yet ultimately approved.
“Now they’ve moved the goal post and want more from me,” said Greenberg. “It’s very unfair and I feel for the Chip City CHECK guys but I’m going to try and placate the Loft Board again.”
I contacted the Department of Buildings on this, and they explained that in order to get a go-ahead from the department for construction in a Loft Board building — called a Letter of No Objection — “a property owner needs to demonstrate progress towards legalizing the residential units in the building. The Loft Board has been in contact with the property owner about the steps they need to take in order to receive a LONO in this instance.”
Greenberg got a LOMO for Clementine, and assumed he could then get a similar letter for Chip City. But no go. The Loft Board denied the request in April and he’s been going back and forth with them ever since. The fact that Clementine got its permits has no bearing.
“One portion of a building receiving a LONO from the Loft Board to perform construction work does not necessarily have any relevance on the ability for an owner to receive a LONO for construction work in another portion of the building>” the DOB explained to me.
And they went a bit further with Greenberg, saying that in the six months since Clementine received their permits, he should have been able to renovate the two remaining apartments — but the tenants refuse to give him access.
“It has been six months since you submitted your affidavit and the letter from your architect. As indicated in your email dated April 25, 2022, not much has been done to further the legalization of the residential IMD spaces in the building. Please note that there are certain obligations which owners of IMD buildings must fulfill pursuant to the Loft Law and the Loft Board’s rules.”
In response, Greenberg summed up the experience for the tenant and landlord, and frankly, for all of us neighbors as well: ”We both know there’s hundreds of properties that have been in process of legalization for 20-30+ years. And to ask for a full alteration … is a very big benchmark that will take me many many many months, and you know that well. My incoming tenant can’t spare that time and frankly neither can I, my property is bleeding money without tenants. I don’t see who is served well by any of this.
“You are essentially telling my retail tenant who signed a lease here that you could care less about their business and would prefer to have my retail spaces sit empty. I think all residents in this city have had enough of vacancies and I intend to prove that to you once again.”