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For every “Best of 2022” list, there are also the “Worst of” rankings. This year’s “Worst Landlords” list, compiled by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is topped by the landlord of the neighborhood’s most notoriously neglected properties — 410 and 412 W46th Street. Williams named the owner as Johnathan Santana, and called him the worst landlord in New York City for a string of violations at properties in Manhattan and Queens.
Santana is at the head of the LLC which owns the infamous 410 and 412 W46th Street properties, where residents have suffered without heat, hot water, building security and safe infrastructure for years. He also owns other properties in Hell’s Kitchen: 438 W45th Street, 440 W45th Street and 452 W36th Street. Williams’ list names him as having the highest total number of Housing Preservation Department (HPD) and Department of Buildings (DOB) violations in the city.
Santana’s 15 properties have an average of 2,980 open HPD violations and 32 DOB violations at any given time. He also appears to operate a confusing web of liability limited companies, or LLCs, with overlapping names, which makes it difficult to track ownership and hold rogue owners accountable.
Santana was named by Williams as the owner of Highpoint Associates XII, which mortgage documents confirm is the owner of 410 and 412. Litigation brought by the city under its 7A program, which would seize control of the building from the rogue landlord, is directed at Keystone Management and names Robin Ignico as the Tenant Relations and Leasing Manager of that company.
The two are closely linked. Highpoint and Keystone share an address in Sherman Oaks, CA, and Ignico has also listed rental properties under “Highpoint Associates”. Both were listed as co-defendants in a previous property lawsuit. W42ST has reached out to Ignico for comment and will update if we hear back. Santana could not be located.
A previous court case named the president of Highpoint Associates XII as Daniel Ohebshalom. Highpoint became the owners of the property in 1999. Legal documents show the previous owner was a company run by Fred Ohebshalom, a large-scale New York property developer.
410 W46th Street resident Marc McBarron Kessler said: “The whole situation feels very Wizard of Oz as we struggle to learn who the man (or woman) behind the curtain actually is. Knowing the true identity of your landlord shouldn’t be such a mystery, especially when they’re number one on the list of New York City’s worst landlords and you are involved in a 7A trial. We can’t even protest outside their home because we have no idea where they live.”
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.”
Some of the tenants in 410 W46th Street previously interviewed by W42ST are on rent-stabilized leases and despite the realtor’s claim that a Certificate of Non-Harassment — a verification that owners have not pressured rent stabilized tenants to leave in favor of delisting units at market rates — is in place, many have repeatedly told W42ST that the building’s current conditions and neglect by landlords are proof that they are being harassed to move out.
“In putting together the Worst Landlord Watchlist, we found far too many instances of landlords failing to live up to their most basic responsibilities of being a steward for the housing of renters who call New York home,” said Public Advocate Williams in a statement announcing proposed legislation ensuring greater landlord accountability for fixing violations.
read more about hellish w46th street building
In addition to violations by private landlords, Williams cited the city’s own housekeeping through NYCHA as unacceptable, with 668,000 open work orders at properties around the city up from 600,000 in 2021. That put him at odds with the HPD, which oversees NYCHA.
A HPD spokesperson told W42ST: “As New York City’s frontline defense against unsafe housing conditions, HPD is pursuing enforcement action against many of the properties on this list. All New Yorkers deserve safe housing, and we will continue to use every tool in our arsenal to enforce the city’s housing maintenance code. We appreciate the Public Advocate and all of our partners who help hold the worst actors accountable.”
In Hell’s Kitchen, accountability for repairs needed at 410 W46th Street is desperately needed. This month W42ST found open doors, windows and abandoned apartments which have allowed squatters to take root in the buildings hallways, stairwells and empty units. While the building is currently under litigation to be reclaimed by the city under the 7A housing program, the current ownership and management of Santana and Ignico is still at the helm.
“In case after case, violation after unchecked violation, bad actors demonstrated an inability or an unwillingness to live up to their end of the bargain – and it’s past time to put in place meaningful reforms to not just call out these actions, but to put a stop to them,” Williams said. “This legislation is about preventing landlords from evading accountability and protecting their tenants from conditions which are physically unsafe or otherwise insecure.”
In a previous version of this story, we stated that Robin Ignico was an owner of the buildings mentioned. Because of the lack of transparency of ownership of the LLCs involved, it is impossible to determine individual ownership. Ignico is Tenant Relations and Leasing Manager for the properties and in a court affidavit in September 2019 said “I am responsible for handling all matters relating to tenants, including leasing, tenant complaints, and compliance with Code and other regulations.”
We need laws with teeth to prosecute these slum-lords who have documented, verified housing violations. Tenants are left to suffer under deplorable conditions, while these scoff-laws go Scott free!
NYC is a gold mine for realtors and a land mine for tenants! Prosecute and jail these criminals!
Thank you, Sarah, for your courageous and necessary reporting.
Cushman & Wakefield was inside of our building as we endured horrendous leaks and blackouts in our halls. We begged them for assistance and they basically went to our elected officials hoping to silence our outrage. The line between perpetrators and victims here has become inexcusably blurred. Our elected officials need to clearly choose sides and do so publicly. I found out this morning that there is another potential buyer for our buildings in the midst of a 7A which elected officials tried to terminate as it was already underway, for the benefit of a real estate deal. While new landlords might improve living conditions in my building after rightful rent-stabilized tenants were already burned, flooded, and harassed out of their apartments, this does nothing to ensure improvements for all the other properties that these landlords continue to own and neglect and abandon and empty out for future sales and profits. A sale is not a cure. I stand for all the victims of these slumlords, not just for myself.
It is no secret that our landlords let 412 West 46th St. sit for sixteen months without a roof so that the tenants would leave and the building would be thoroughly empty, a gift to any buyer. I begged elected officials to pay attention, with no success. That landlords are allowed to turn a profit on other people’s pain is a black eye to our entire beautiful and diverse city. I have fought for my basic rights as a productive, creative New Yorker, defending myself against the very people who have taken an oath of office to support me and uphold laws. Too often the true victims are criminalized. To be asked, behind our backs, “Why don’t they just move?” is elitist and insensitive and exposes a huge flaw in our system, especially disgraceful during a housing crisis. New York City is not just a playground for the wealthy. It is still a place for artists who consider their greatest payment the simple ability to create and live here, in this amazing city.
Criminals are only criminals when their crimes are enabled. If someone can’t safely operate a car, they have their driver’s license revoked. Our homes have been weaponized against us. What happened to 412 is happening to 410, my current domicile. Take these buildings out of the hands of sadistic, abusive people that have proven, time and again, their criminal and premeditated intent to endanger our lives. And elected officials, stop treating these perpetrators, including Cushman & Wakefield, with dignity. They are all responsible for our life-threatening living conditions.
One final note to elected officials:
I have to call the police every day on trespassers living and smoking and drinking and doing drugs in the hall outside my apartment door. We still have no building super or mailboxes or front doors that conssistently lock. We still have leaks in our roof that DOB promised would be tended to last August. We still need help. I am not a professional tenant, I am an artist and I have work to do. That’s why I live in New York City, my home. That’s why I’m not moving or leaving.
-Marc McBarron Kessler
The Hell’s Kitchen community stands with Marc and his remaining neighbors. What has been happening at 410 & 412 W46th Street for years shows that our system is broken. How many other buildings in our neighborhood are owned by faceless LLCs? This can happen to anyone of us. Our politicians have a duty to speak out and protect us from the greed of real estate interests. We all understand that deals need to be made, but there are non-negotiables. 410 MUST be secured against trespassing and continued deterioration. That is the BARE MINIMUM.
It has been over 9 months since a highly publicized press conference where politicians stood in front of news cameras claiming how awful this was and that they were going to do something. How come we can’t get that same level of commitment when the news cameras are off? Is it all for show?
Bravo, Marc McBarron Kessler. As usual, your comment is suffused with the dignity, truthfulness, and awareness that those who are charged with protecting their communities so often lack.
What’s clear is that profits over people is the new New York City political power ballad.
Thank you for your courage, as I have no doubt you are getting “heat” as you fight — and not the kind NYC tenants deserve.
I believe that Fred ohbedshalom lived or lived in King’s point long island.
I have two listings for Fred Ohebshalom.
Why aren’t these people arrested ? They belong in jail.
Update: We have no running water and no heat in our building due to another major leak.
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