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.