Two Views of Kidnapped Williamsburg Developer Found Dead

364-bedford-avenue-010614

The body of prominent Hasidic developer and landlord Menachem Stark, who was kidnapped Thursday during the snowstorm, was found in a dumpster at a Long Island gas station; the funeral took place over the weekend in Williamsburg and was attended by more than 1,000 people.

Reports alleged Stark had a pattern of buying property, defaulting on the mortgage — and then relatives and business associates would purchase the property at a low price. He was a notorious slumlord in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. At one point he owned the Greenpoint Hotel, an SRO with a reputation for open drug dealing and overdoses, which was seized by the feds in 2005. He also owned the Sweater Factory at 239 Banker Street, an illegal conversion which continued to advertise and rent out units even after the city evicted the tenants for unsafe conditions and they lost their four-month security deposits. (“An inspector found workers had plastered over fire sprinkler heads,” said the Times.)

We had a memorably strange encounter with his organization in the fall of 2012, when a representative of a leasing agent described grandiose plans for some of his properties but gave us the wrong locations and addresses for the sites multiple times. In retrospect, perhaps they were trying to drum up investor interest but had little hope of following through on development. One of the properties, a stalled construction site at 364 Bedford Avenue, pictured above, was in default and another seemed to require extensive renovations.

In October of 2012, a man was found stabbed to death at 364 Bedford, Gothamist reported at the time.

Stark and his business partners were sued after defaulting on loans, including the one for 364 Bedford Avenue.

In the Hasidic community, he was a prominent philanthropist and known for his generosity, according to reports. Over the weekend, commenters debated his reputation and possible motives for the killing in the Post, Daily News, Failed Messiah, Gothamist and other publications. The Hasidic community and Councilman Stephen Levin condemned a Post headline for supposedly condoning the murder.

Stark’s main partner, Israel Perlmutter, also known as Sam, now fears he will be killed next, according to the Post.

15 Comment

  • No opinion about the murder itself but the NY Post headline was in very bad taste. That being said, it was in no way anti-Semitic. Frankly it sounds like the guy wasnt exactly a great human being

    • This man did not deserve to die. Obviously. But news flash slumlords, loads of people would kind of like it if you got hit by bus. Loads of people, wake up every day in there broken down homes thinking bad thoughts upon you. They lose sleep thinking of your charmed rich lives built on the backs of the folks you’ve deceived and denied basic rights to. In this society slumlords get away with…murder. There I said it. It sucks that this father was taken from his family. But the Post printed a headline that was utterly accurate, sorry.

    • I know people think one should not speak ill of the dead, but it’s not the place of a newspaper to ignore the bad or evil men have done. If the shoe fits …. Agreed, though, that the article was not anti-Semitic. His family may have loved him, but it appears that LOTS of people had reason to have markedly different feelings toward him.

  • It is obviously very sad & frightening that this man was murdered and hopefully the culprits will be caught & locked up for life. Many of the responses to this murder from the media and Brooklyn residents though are largely speaking to something else. There is a real anger from those who are tired of Brooklyn developers constantly fucking over tenants & buyers with their shitty construction, shitty maintenance & “take it or leave it” attitude. And so this guy is posthumously getting an earful from incredibly frustrated Brooklyn dwellers for a situation that he, reportedly, helped create.

    • As someone who used to rent from another shady Williamsburg landlord, I agree–people are frustrated. A great deal of the construction, especially the stuff done in the early oughts, is really pretty bad, and some of it is dangerous to live in.

      My sympathies to this man’s family.

  • Considering the rag that the New York Post has become, the headline, offensive as it is, is not surprising.

    Murdoch brought the Post down from the paper that it used to be and turned the Courrier Life publications that he bought into similiar rags with sensational headlines but no content. I understand that his string of Brooklyn papers are now up for sale. Good riddence – Murdoch.

  • guaranteed he borrowed money from the wrong guy.

  • My comment got deleted. Any particular reason, Son?

  • Personally I feel his death is tragic but I also take issue with the fact that the Hasidim and the news will try to paint a halo on a man that clearly had some questionable dealings and behaviors and when all is revealed it may show that he was not the upstading man of the community the jews wish him to be. Also, Brooklyn has lived under the scourge of the Hasidim who are well versed on how to manipulate a situation to favor their needs and desires. There is nothing wrong with that because they vote their conscience. However it is no secret they have held politicians in their pockets, they have abused development and landlord/tenant laws they are very exclusionary by nature of their faiths, they have a sub-culture of pedophilia, rape and abuse of children and women and are masters at creating great divides in neighborhoods where once they get a foothold they push other long time residents out. Bedford Avenue and many parts of Brooklyn visually deteriorate due to their presence and their inability to share the community. While I am moving off topic it just goes to point out that they are not saints and while the loss of any life is tragic and sad. Methinks his getting whacked was a long time coming.

    • Eric Adams/Letitia James said that when a LL doesn’t take care of their buildings they should be in Housing Court, not the morgue. Solid point.
      This was probably more than being a bad LL– funky finances, and probably defaulting from the wrong lender. This was a nasty, miserable, death, and someone sent a message.
      That aside,
      what isn’t mentioned is that some LLs have no fear of courts, judgements, violations, ECB/other. If there is no respect for these, and shell games and financial trickery /outright fraud are never exposed for what they are, how can this be stopped? Ultimately, who protects the tenant?
      There really ought to be stronger punishments, maybe criminal, penalties. Requiring LLs to live in their properties, should be only a start.
      Personally, I’m NOT a fan of pointing out Hasidim, or any group, and slamming them. He was Hasidic; but not all slumlords are.
      We do need better methods to stop this behavior from slum lords, of any background.
      Condolences to the family.

    • > “Personally I feel his death is tragic but… his getting whacked was a long time coming.”

      That’s quite a journey you took there from start to finish, with a big dollop of bigotry slopped in the middle.

  • That doesn’t make sense. You don’t kill someone for owing you money, because once they are dead you won’t get repaid!