Debate has gone rampant since the body of Menachem Stark, a prominent Jewish real estate developer was found in a smoking trash bin this past Friday.
Whilst many who turned up to Stark’s funeral, ostensibly the Hasidic community went on to praise the landlord as a pillar to his synagogue who was quick to donate and lend (at causes dear to his heart often within the Jewish community) others have gone on to vilify the man as an effective slumlord.
And this might offer some clues as to why Menachem Stark went on to be kidnapped from outside his office this past Thursday night before eventually being found the following day deceased, the probable cause of death being suffocation.
Other noted injuries on the developer included bruises on his neck and back, as well as burn marks on his torso and hands, all together suggesting little love lost for the developer.
Yet what may have afforded the developer the ability to come to the financial aid of his community may have been what rattled others as Stark, a 39 year old married man of eight went from strength to strength as he continued to assemble a dozen or so substantive real estate holdings in trending Brooklyn enclaves of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick.
In fact so tempestuous were Stark’s business dealings the NY Post unabashedly came out with a headline yesterday in regards to the landlord ‘Who didn’t want him dead?’
Two buildings in Greenpoint were, according to critics, typical of the way Menachem Stark worked.
The Greenpoint Hotel, which Mr. Stark owned with his frequent business partner Israel Perlmutter for several years beginning in 2003, was a single-room-occupancy residence where failing facilities and deaths from drug overdoses, drug dealing and prostitution had been part of everyday life before the pair took over. They raised the rent, but conditions remained just as bad, residents told in 2006.
Before and during Stark’s ownership, the S.R.O. incurred dozens of violations from the city’s Buildings Department.
At 239 Banker Street, a former factory Menachem Stark converted into lofts, the building racked up a series of serious violations, including lacking a certificate of occupancy and working without a construction permit. In September 2009, after an inspector found workers had plastered over fire sprinkler heads, the city ordered the building vacated. Residents tried to contact Menachem Stark to recover their security deposits, but lost them when he proved elusive, they told.
When the building reopened in 2012, violations continued to accrue. So did problems with wiring and heating.
Court records show that Stark and Perlmutter were sued several times after defaulting on major loans, including a $29 million loan for a Williamsburg property. In 2009, they declared bankruptcy.
Told one blogger Heather Letzkus: “It doesn’t matter who the tenants are, he doesn’t seem to have much respect for their safety,”
“He’s gotten away with it over and over and over.”
Tenants apparently weren’t the only ones getting hosed, other disgruntled individuals and entities included unpaid contractors and angry business associates as well as the institutions he never paid back large sums of borrowed money.
The nypost would also go on to tell how Stark would snap up real-estate holdings but quickly allow them to fall into foreclosure, allowing his family and business associates to snap them up on the cheap.
Contemplated Rabbi Moishe Indig, a religious leader in South Williamsburg: ‘Whatever the facts turn out to be and whatever the full story as established by the police, young children have lost their father and a wife is now a widow,’
‘To have a front-page story declaring ‘Who didn’t want this man dead?’ is an affront to all New Yorkers.’
Rabbi David Niederman, president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn also went on to offer the following: ‘It really hurts that such a heinous crime, instead of being condemned, is glorified.’
And then there was this comment on the web that made me to wonder as well:
It’s not character assassination if it’s facts. It’s a fact that he owned dozens of horrible slums that nobody reading this would ever want to live in. He took their rent and left them with barely any heat, rats, broken appliances, cracks in the ceilings and walls, nasty smells throughout the buildings, and complaints about the conditions of the buildings went ignored. Sounds like to me he did enough character assassination by himself. Did they expect the apost to run a fluff piece about this kind hearted man who helped everyone? Of course not. And now the ethnicity comes into play because he was Jewish. If he was a dirtbag, which public records show he was, then the Post had every right to write a piece that told the whole story, not just what the family wanted the public to hear.