According to various sources, residents of South Williamsburg’s 475 Kent, a loft building housing more than 150 people that has something of a history of code violations — and an eviction due to such in 2008 — woke to FDNY and NYPD officers in and around the building yet again. One source told us there were “maybe 30 firemen downstairs,” and that an anonymous tip may have been sent in from a tenant getting kicked out of the building. The officers have apparently been going through the building knocking on doors and going into apartments, “looking at sprinklers and smoke detectors.”
There are unverified rumors that they do not have a warrant and snuck onto the floor. Meanwhile, a smoke smell in the building may have come from officers busting the lock from the door, one tenant explained.
According to another resident,
“We got woken up at 7 a.m. to firemen who kept coming back to look at our sprinklers and smoke detectors, and made my roommate’s boyfriend sign something. People are saying they claim to have warrants but are refusing to show anyone anything. When I left this morning, the firemen were poised outside the (locked) door to my floor, and pushed past me as soon as I opened it. Leaving the building there was a huge crowd of maybe 30 or so NYPD, DOB people, and firemen all standing around, and all throughout the building there were firemen everywhere. It’s just fucking scary — no one will tell us what’s going on. This is our home — we don’t have anywhere else to go if they kick us out.”
When we called, the FDNY had no information on the incident, which, they told us, means it’s “not an emergency.” We’ve put in a call to the NYPD and will update when we have more information. Any tips? Send them our way.
Update: According to another resident, the DOB has been inspecting apartments, checking plumbing, outlets, and the like, and said that “no one was under any threat of eviction” but that Nachman Brach (the building’s owner) had not dealt with prior violations. The Fire Department was there to inspect sprinklers, which according to that resident, “had been found up to code.”
Update 2: According to sources within the building, there is speculation that this recent activity could be due to a criminal investigation of Brach, possibly for tax evasion.
Here’s footage of firefighters inside and outside the building.
We’re awaiting comment from the Department of Buildings.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 20, 2011