It’s more than 12 months since beleaguered Hell’s Kitchen residents and local leaders gathered at 410-412 W46th Street to demand a permanent solution to the nightmare living conditions in the building owned by infamous slum landlord Daniel Ohebshalom — and little has been done, while conditions have got progressively worse.
On Saturday, tenants from 410-412 W46th Street, with residents from six other Daniel Ohebshalom (also known as Daniel Shalom) buildings gathered to once again make their voices heard. They were joined by Housing Conservation Coordinators, West Side Neighborhood Alliance, Cooper Square Committee, Met Council on Housing, Woodside on the Move and Assembly Member Tony Simone and State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, along with other local representatives.
The protestors called out owner Ohebshalom and property manager Robin Ignico as a dangerously negligent landlord and management who would rather warehouse apartments and drive residents out than make repairs.
Assembly Member Simone told the gathering: “Daniel Ohebshalom and his accomplice Robin Ignico are criminals. Without a doubt, they should be held accountable. They should never be allowed to own or run any property anywhere in this country again. It’s taken way too long. It should move way faster than it has. No human being, no New Yorker, should live like this.”
The previous rally held back in March of 2022 organized by Housing Conservation Coordinators was attended by Borough President Mark Levine, City Council Member Erik Bottcher and Paul Devlin, co-chair of the Land Use Committee at Manhattan Community Board 4. Tenants from Obeshalom’s buildings throughout New York have echoed similar issues in public protests over the past year — but it appears that their complaints have gone unresolved.
“I knew I wasn’t moving into a fancy doorman building, but I did expect basic safety and sanitation,” said former 412 resident, and now 410 W46th resident, John Reeds, who cataloged a range of issues, including trespassers living in unsecured vacant apartments and terrorizing the tenants; no locking doors; mold; cocaine use in the public halls; floors on the brink of caving in; ongoing and blatant prostitution; gas fumes from a broken boiler; and no water at all over this past Christmas.
“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. “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.”
Rent-stabilized residents of 410 W46th Street, like Marc McBarron Kessler and Reeds, have suffered years of deteriorating conditions in their homes, 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 managers at Highpoint Associates, part of Ohebshalom’s network of property LLCs.
“Last summer, as I fought to save this building and our right to occupy it, I also fought to hold onto my personal dignity as I was called everything from ‘unhinged’ to ‘shrill’ to ‘difficult’ for simply telling the truth of the hell we were living through,” said McBarron Kessler. “I am not difficult, my work is difficult. Making at least three to four 311 complaints a day is not why I moved to New York City. It is not my job to be a professional tenant. I just want a home with locking doors and a roof and a real building super that treats us with respect instead of harassing us.”
After 412 W46th Street was condemned by the city, the building, as well as its counterpart 410 W46th Street, were put into the 7A housing program, which relinquishes control to public administrators to manage their maintenance. In the midst of the 7A case, the properties were also listed by realtor Cushman Wakefield for $11,700,000 as an “investment opportunity”. A decision on the case is expected later this month.
The 7A case was not the first of Ohebshalom’s legal troubles. In 2019, the city sued him for illegally renting out rent stabilized apartments in the buildings as Airbnbs. In December, Johnathan Santana — one of Shalom’s agents and the head of the LLC that operates 410 and 412 W46th Street, as well as other properties in Hell’s Kitchen at 438-440 W45th Street and 452 W36th Street — was named the city’s Worst Landlord of 2022 by New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams.
His list named Santana as having the highest total number of Housing Preservation Department (HPD) and Department of Buildings (DOB) violations in the city, while Ohebsalom owns more than 15 buildings in New York City with an average of 2,980 open HPD violations, and 523 open HPD and DOB violations between 410 and 412 W46th Street alone. Most recently, four of Ohebshalom’s other properties have been foreclosed on (according to a report in The Real Deal), as Maguire Capital accused their lender of defaulting on loans at 438-440 W45th Street, 1587 3rd Avenue, and 331 E14th Street in Manhattan, as well as 84-53 Dana Court in Queens. An auction is set for June 7.
“Buildings can’t make speeches, but if they could, they might be angrier than I am. After all, what kind of speech would you make if you survived attempted murder over and over again as your perpetrators go free?” said McBarron Kessler. “And those perpetrators are New York City’s number one slumlords, The Shalom Brothers.”
Regardless of a lengthy legal procedure, tenants said that the time for accountability for Ohebshalom was long overdue.
Local activist Marisa Redanty shared the frustrations of many on the minimal effect that fines and violations have on bad landlords, saying: “The tactics this landlord uses are decades old. Slum lords…let’s call them what they are… let’s call them SCUM Lords, do not react to the hundreds of fines and violations piled up outside their doors. They do not care. It has no impact.”
Marc McBarron Kessler agreed: “Slumlords will never stop unless they are forced to stop. I want promises and results that benefit the tenants and not slumlords or potential buyers or the city. If 311 works, then why do 412 and 410 and all the other Shalom properties throughout the city look like they do? These crimes are not exclusive to 410 and 412. They are happening, right now, in broad daylight, to my brothers and sisters in Chelsea, in Harlem and all across New York City. Don’t make promises, make laws!”