On November 24, 2010, Willets Point Watchdog first published the news that, contrary to promises made by the New York City Economic Development Corporation ("EDC") and the stated intent of elected officials, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development ("HPD") had issued written notices requiring all persons to vacate certain City-owned Willets Point properties where tenant businesses are operating; and that HPD had done this, despite the tenant businesses receiving none of the promised relocation assistance from EDC.
Thereafter, the New York City news media aggressively pursued this story, contacting both HPD and EDC for explanations. Faced with very intense media scrutiny and questioning, HPD and EDC were compelled to release a joint statement on November 29, 2010, promising certain tenant businesses that – regardless of what HPD's written notices indicate – the businesses in fact shall not be required to depart the premises by November 30, 2010, and that no eviction proceedings will be forthcoming against them.
The tenant businesses have profusely thanked Willets Point Watchdog for accomplishing what no one else has been able to do: Forcing HPD and EDC to realize that HPD's written notices of eviction inappropriately encompassed certain tenant businesses, and forcing HPD and EDC to communicate accurate information to those affected tenant businesses. Although Willets Point Watchdog is pleased to have compelled HPD and EDC to deal fairly with tenant businesses in this instance, the disturbing fact remains that, when left to their own devices, HPD and EDC were content to issue inaccurate eviction notices and to refrain from communicating with affected tenant businesses.
"Waking A Sleeping Dragon"
This incident has not only emphasized the oft-spoken fundamental untrustworthiness of HPD and EDC, but has demonstrated that in the event of any mis-handling of a Willets Point tenant business by HPD or EDC, the tenant businesses certainly have the capability to attract and to leverage City-wide media attention. It should be clear to HPD, EDC and observers, that the Willets Point tenant businesses will not tolerate mistreatment.
WB11 News at 10 broadcast this report on November 29, 2010 by reporter Greg Mocker, which includes video material obtained directly from Willets Point Watchdog.
Unreported anywhere else: Willets Point Watchdog has learned that, in the wake of our reporting the eviction news and the subsequent intense media scrutiny, New York City Council Member Julissa Ferreras has received a commitment from HPD to meet individually with each and every Willets Point tenant business, to discuss concerns and issues regarding their tenancy, rent and other terms. The meetings are planned to take place at Ferreras' district office. Willets Point Watchdog will report further on the status of such meetings, if and when they occur.
Moreover, on November 29, 2010, HPD attorney Harold Weinberg (whose signature appears on the Notice to Terminate Month To Month Tenancy obtained and published by Willets Point Watchdog) spoke directly to one of the tenant business owners via telephone, and promised to send that business owner a new letter clarifying that HPD is not commencing any eviction proceeding against that tenant business; and that, to the contrary, HPD will offer a lease to that tenant business.
(Our two cents: Any lease offered by landlord HPD must not arbitrarily raise the amount of rent payable by a tenant business, which would be tantamount to inducing the tenant business to leave Willets Point without the City ever providing the promised relocation assistance. Instead, the lease should continue the rent amount that the tenant business had been paying to its prior landlord – or even reduce it. Especially considering the deteriorating physical conditions at Willets Point which the City shamelessly perpetuates, there is no justification for any rent increase by HPD.)
Although the letter promised by Weinberg is most welcome, we note that Weinberg had previously promised to provide such a letter, but never did so. This time, Weinberg has said that he requires a couple of weeks to provide the letter.
As soon as Willets Point Watchdog becomes aware that the tenant business owner has received Weinberg's promised letter, we will update this page accordingly. Until then, we will display this automatically-incrementing counter:
Number of days elapsed since HPD attorney Harold Weinberg's promise to provide a letter to a Willets Point tenant business (with no such letter received by the tenant business):