The Mayor’s press release proclaimed a $4.2 million win against “notoriously vile, cruel landlord” Daniel Ohebshalom — but the detail shows a settlement of just $1.1 million in payments of penalties and outstanding fines for three Hell’s Kitchen apartment buildings.
One resident on W46th Street, Marc McBarron Kessler, who has suffered through years of neglect and misery, told us after the announcement: “How are the tenants going to benefit from this money? There’s still no roof on the building. We face another winter of no heat and hot water.”
Four years ago, in August 2019, following numerous complaints of illegal hotel activities, the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) sued to shut down unlawful operation and harassment at 452 W36th Street, 410 W46th Street and 412 W46th Street in Hell’s Kitchen — leading to at least 15 inspections and approximately 100 administrative violations, according to officials.
The OSE lawsuit outlined that the landlords — Ohebshalom, aka Daniel Shalom, and his affiliates Richard Lagana and Robin Ignico — permitted multiple apartments across the three buildings to be converted into illegal short-term rentals, generating over $300,000 in revenue and leading to the abandonment of lawful permanent rent-stabilized tenants. The tenants suffered deficient conditions in the buildings, including extensive fire damage; large cracks in exterior walls; broken or defective common area floors; unsafe wiring; inadequate lighting at entranceways; and people breaking in, trespassing, sleeping, urinating and using narcotics in the buildings.
The announcement by the Mayor’s office on Thursday said that the lawsuit reached a total settlement value of $1,115,000, representing $990,000 in penalties to resolve the city’s claims and $125,000 in payments on outstanding fines for the three buildings. The headline figure of $4.2million included a settlement with Ohebshalom and his affiliates for a further $3m for properties in Washington Heights.
Hell’s Kitchen elected officials have been involved for many years in trying to help residents of these buildings on W36th Street and W46th Street owned and managed by Ohebshalom. In March 2022 and June 2023, local pols and activists gathered to protest about the issues residents were facing — particularly focused on the plight of John Reeds and Marc McBarron Kessler.
Rent-stabilized residents of 410 W46th Street, McBarron Kessler and Reeds, have suffered years of deteriorating conditions in their home, including crumbling ceilings, broken doors and windows, prolific trash and debris, as well as a lack of heat and hot water over the coldest months — not to mention harassment and threats from Ohebshalom’s associates and network of property LLCs.
“The only solution that anyone ever gave me for any of these incredibly serious and life-threatening problems was ‘Call 311’ or move,” said Reeds at the June protest. “Well, we didn’t move, but we did call 311 — a lot! And I am here to tell you that calling 311 didn’t work. The system is as broken as our front door locks.”
While welcoming the “beginning of justice,” Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal recognized more needed to be done for tenants. Hoylman-Sigal is currently focused on getting Governor Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that will give transparency to Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), that often shield bad landlords. “Next, the courts must appoint an administrator to take over these buildings and improve living conditions for these long-suffering tenants,” he said.
Despite their condition and the ongoing litigation, the two buildings are for sale at a price of $11,700,000. The properties have also been listed by realtor Cushman Wakefield as “an excellent opportunity for an investor to add value through both substantial rehabilitation and renovation to two adjacent five-story walk up apartment buildings in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood” and re-list them at market rate prices.
The Mayor’s Office said there had been “persistent problems and thousands of housing code violations across Ohebshalom’s portfolio in Manhattan and Queens.” The Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Anti-Harassment Unit, and tenant attorneys including Manhattan Legal Services, continue to pursue legal action against the owner, property managers, and management companies — with a trial in November expected to determine remedies for the court’s contempt findings.
“Our administration has a clear message to those who harass tenants: You are breaking the law, and we will hold you accountable,” said Mayor Adams.
More News on 410-412 W46th Street
“Daniel Shalom is a notoriously vile, cruel landlord who has been harassing and neglecting tenants throughout New York City for years,” said local Assemblymember Tony Simone. “Justice is being served today by penalizing his criminal actions.”
Councilmember Erik Bottcher said: “Daniel Ohebshalom, Richard Lagana and Robin Ignico callously and maliciously subject their tenants to substandard conditions that defy the basic principles of human decency, and I hope this is just the beginning of accountability for their actions.”
”Our community has been witness to the unjust and appalling treatment inflicted upon our neighbors. While no dollar amount will ever make up for the pain these landlords are causing, I hope this will send a message to property owners everywhere that if you mistreat your tenants, or operate illegal hotel rooms, you will be held accountable,” he added.
When we spoke to McBarron Kessler this evening, he was out of town. “I’m not afraid to be mugged on the street. I’m afraid to go home to my building. It’s like a nightmare. John’s been there holding down the fort and it’s been horrible. We face another winter of no heat and hot water.”
He told us about his feelings on the settlement today: “In one regard, they’re being held accountable, but in another, that’s peanuts to these slumlords. The city should take their buildings and give them to people that will take care of them. This is our home.”