By Arthur Z. Schwartz
After nearly 25 years of litigation, which included a 1996 judgment against the owners of 95 Christopher Street worth over $100,000, and 16 separate holdover and non-payment petitions, peace has finally come for 93-year-old Ruth Berk (for whom I serve as a court-appointed guardian) and her daughter Jessica.
After a three-day negotiation involving me as guardian, our landlord and tenant lawyer (Tim Collins), supervised by Guardianship Judge Gerald Lebovits, the Berks agreed to give up their 15th-floor apartment in a deal worth over $520,000. Ruth, who is presently in an assisted living setting recovering from a heart attack, and Jessica, will have to vacate the apartment in 18 months. It is likely that Ruth will move to an assisted living setting permanently, and she will have the funds to do that comfortably.
In many ways, this is a small price for the landlord (billionaire and Trump buddy Lloyd Goldman) to pay to recover a two- bedroom rental apartment in a luxury building, but it will allow Ruth to comfortably live the rest of her life without the turmoil of constant litigation, surveillance cameras, and landlord staff intrusions into her living space.
The corporate owner of 95 Christopher Street, BLDG Management, Inc., is known City-wide for pushing elderly tenants out of rent-controlled and rent-stabilized apartments so that they can be rented at luxury rates. The owner of BLDG, Lloyd Goldman, was a co-investor with Larry Silverstein in the World Trade Center.
Jessica Berk told WestView that she still plans to expose BLDG and Goldman. “They made my life miserable for 30 years, and getting a buyout won’t keep me from helping others seeking justice from BLDG harassment.”
Arthur Z. Schwartz is the Democratic District Leader for Greenwich Village, and represents Ruth Berk under the auspices of the Advocates for Justice Legal Foundation.