It’s a story worthy of five-time Emmy-Award-winning anchor Ron Burgundy and Tits McGee. An investor who teamed up with the owners of Will Ferrell-themed bar Stay Classy New York claims he’s owed $120,000. By the beard of Zeus!
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Michael Galkovich alleges that the owners of the Lower East Side bar, Zachary Hosier and Brian Link, agreed to make him a managing partner and a 70-percent owner of the bar’s parent company if he paid them $120,000 and won approval from the State Liquor Authority. Galkovich put in $60,000 up front, but he never got the chance to become an owner, the suit alleges.
The Home of the Sages property on Bialystoker Place. Photograph: J. Oliver Conroy.
A new lawsuit is only the latest sign of an epic power struggle within the Home of the Sages of Israel, a tiny Lower East Side synagogue. The house of worship’s nondescript and rundown building on Bialystoker Place has become the subject of a ferocious real estate battle between different factions, each claiming to be the synagogue’s lawful representative.
In a suit filed two weeks ago – only the latest in a mounting pile of litigation – members of the Orthodox Jewish synagogue’s small congregation allege that Rabbi Samuel Aschkenazi, “who despite his title, is not the rabbi for Home of the Sages,” is attempting to sell the property out from under them to real estate developer Peter Fine – and then split the $13 million profit with Friends of Mosdot Goor, a Gerer Hasidic group unconnected to the synagogue.
Jesenia and her daughter outside their apartment building. (Photo Credit: Sam Gillette)
The two-bedroom apartment that Jesenia Ventura shares with her three young children, her sister, and her mother Amalia Martinez is so run-down that some windows will stay open only long enough to smash fingers, while others are stuck open even in winter. Frames of doors are ripped off, floor tiles are pulled up, and there is no running water in the bathroom sink, Jesenia says. There is green and black mold, drooping ceilings and a floor that is so warped that Jesenia’s son once tripped and cut his forehead. Jesenia worries that if she takes her kids to daycare, she’ll be reported to Child Protective Services. She says they regularly wake up in the middle of the night itching from painful-looking bedbug bites, and cockroaches crawl across their beds.
The conditions at 501-505 Grand Street, in Williamsburg, are so poor that in the summer of 2014, Amalia, Jesenia and four others organized a tenant association and filed official complaints to NYC Housing Preservation and Development. They hoped to persuade the building’s new owners, Manny and Eden Ashourzadeh of 501 EMR LLC, to make critical repairs. More →