Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mosaic Man and Other E.Vil. Squatters Evicted

A few minutes ago, I stumbled upon a breaking story. Most regular East Villagers know the white-haired Mosaic Man and his constant companion, a yellow Labrador. (Mosaic Man, aka Jim Power, has done all the mosaic tiling around St. Marks Pl. and other streets and he also owns the website EastVillage.com.) Apparently he is now homeless after having been kicked out of his squat at 120 St. Marks Pl. by the soon-to-be owner Benjamin Shaoul, who has allegedly harassed tenants in a Chinatown building he owned, according to AsianWeek.com.

All the above information is according to Craig Lopez, who owns Accidental CDs, and has been living and working in the building for the past five months as well after he lost his retail space on Avenue A, where he had been for ten years. He said four regular squatters and others who come and go were all harassed out of the St. Marks building, and that he personally was threatened by guys wielding sledge hammers. Lopez eventually worked out a deal with Mr. Shaoul, who apparently doesn't own the building yet, but has an option to buy it from Jim Crowley, who inherited the rundown building but did nothing to fix it up, and looked the other way while squatters came and went. Rachel Allen, who also lives in a third floor apartment in 120 St. Marks, said Benjamin Shaoul himself kicked down her apartment door and verbally abused her.

I stumbled into this as I was walking down the street and stopped to take a picture of the ground floor retail space where I had seen Mosaic Man go in and out of; I noticed that everything inside was being removed. One of the demolition guys tried to grab my camera, at which point I got pretty curious, needless to say. I haven't checked on much of the above story yet, but I can say that Craig Lopez seems to be a credible guy and I'll be following up on this as I confirm more of the story. The above photo is of Craig Lopez in his Accidental CD store, which he will be vacating in a week.

UPDATE: It looks like Irene and James Crowley owned the lot and building as of March 20, 1997, when it fell into tax arrears and had a tax lien placed on the property. The current owner is listed on one NYC website as St. Marks Apartments, which was the name that the Crowley's operated the building under, but it also looks like it was put up for sale due to the tax liens. Haven't totally sorted it out. But Mr. Shaoul is not the current owner, although there is a permit on file as of today for demolition.

UPDATE 2.0: The building was put up for sale for tax arrears and it was owned for awhile by Bank of New York, but it was settled by Jim Crowley and he managed to hold onto the building, although there is almost $30,000 still owed in taxes. More importantly, Jesse Jane is the name of Mosaic Man's dog. Their whereabouts are unknown, but supposedly The Villager is working on a story about Mosaic Man and Jesse Jane getting evicted, which I'll link to when it goes up. There's also a better piece on Benjamin Shaoul's dealings in Chinatown by the Village Voice.