Earlier this year, when the East Village’s beloved Stage Restaurant closed in the wake of a dispute with its landlord Icon Realty Management, Brooklyn-based artist Gilf! plastered the diner’s former home with caution tape reading “Gentrification in Progress.” It wasn’t the first time one of the company’s properties was the site of artistic protest: Karen Platt, a resident of an Icon-owned building on East 5th Street, has been known to chalk up the sidewalk with messages like “Enough Is Enough,” and over July 4th weekend, someone spray-painted a message on the sidewalk in front of the now for-rent Stage space that advised, “DO NOT RENT HERE. DO NOT BUY HERE. BOYCOTT IN EFFECT.”
St. Marks is now bereft of the Sock Man and soon Trash and Vaudeville, and now it looks like the Chase bank building at 130 Second Avenue will also be a goner. The branch was cleared for demolition Friday, leaving us to wonder what will replace it.
Karen Platt has been channeling her frustrations through the satisfying scrape of chalk across concrete. After years of living with dust, noise, and health hazards caused by construction, repeated and seemingly relentless service cut-offs, and what she says are intentional moves by her landlord to clear her (and other rent-regulated tenants like her) out of her longtime home at 522 East 5th Street in the East Village, Platt’s sidewalk messages reveal she has reached a breaking point: “Lack of services is harassment” and “Enough is Enough.”
As Platt explained to B+B, since Icon Realty Management bought her building, things took a turn for the miserable. “I’ve lived in New York my whole life and I’ve never, ever been treated like this,” she said.