2712/2714 Penn Ave N – Will Anyone Save Us?

After watching the police visit the duplex for the sixth time in just a few weeks and hearing from the landlord of the property next door (Donny Petros who is the third generation in his family to run the Butter Roll Bakery on W. Broadway), I sent the following e-mail to our City Council representatives and the 4th Precinct’s office.  I’ll let you know when (or if) I hear a response.

We are in desperate need of help here on Penn Ave…. I have written about this so many times to City Council members, to the police, to licensing, to 3-1-1 but nothing changes.

Tonight, Donny Petros (owner of the Butter Roll Bakery on Broadway and owner of the fourplex at 2710 Penn Ave) told me he is going to put the fourplex up for sale.  He simply cannot keep losing tenants because of 2712/2714 Penn Ave.  Donny has owned his property for 30 years!  Are we going to lose him, one of our finest landlords, in order to allow a really slimy landlord to stay in business?  If Donny goes, I won’t be far behind him.  My next door neighbor is planning to move out in the next few months, and the [family] at 2743 Penn have moved out.  This block is giving up.  We are tired of fighting Ben Coleman and Bob Zeman (2707 Penn).  Without support from the city, it is just too hard to keep going.

To recap the history:  2712/2714 was owned by Ben Coleman.  When I called a couple of years ago and told his wife that someone was dealing drugs out of their empty (at that time) duplex, there was one last drug sale made, and the property was suddenly “sold” to David Coleman.  It went up for sale occasionally, but the name on the sign was always Ben Coleman (who is a realtor).  The rental license was up for renewal in January 2009, and I complained to the city, including Don Samuels’ office, and begged them to block the renewal.  I have personally made over 20 police calls about the property over the past few years, [neighbors and I] have hours of video showing people sitting on the front steps doing drugs, prostitutes coming and going out of the property, wild parties, etc.  Much to the amazement of my neighbors and me, the rental license was renewed by the city.  They said there was not enough negative feedback on the property to revoke the license.  Then, about February, the property was suddenly “sold” to a Ray Bolden in Bronx, NY.  Nothing has changed.  Drug deals still go down several times a day.  Prostitutes still come and go from the property.  In addition, since the city removed the concrete barriers that prevented people from using the driveway next door (what used to be 2718 Penn), the tenants at 2712/2714 drive their cars between Penn and the alley, stopping traffic on Penn while they turn.  One day, I even saw someone drive into the on-coming traffic lane and hold up traffic there so he could back into the driveway that isn’t supposed to be a driveway any longer.

Donny Petros talked to Ben Coleman recently.  Ben told him that he had sold the property to a woman in New York (it was sold, according to city records, to a man, not a woman).  Coleman is still managing the property.  He said the woman doesn’t want it any longer and has asked him to sell it for her.  If this isn’t some kind of paper scan, I don’t know what is.  Clearly Coleman still has control of the property.  [It is said that Coleman] has always rented to his relatives or friends.  This seems to be the case.  Just a few weeks ago, the 4th Precinct’s weekly highlight reported that they arrested a Joe Coleman at the corner of 27th and Penn because he was drunk and carrying a pistol-grip shotgun.

Tonight, the police were at the property for at least the sixth time in 3-4 weeks (they were there yesterday, too, and a car was impounded).  Tonight I understand they fired a tear gas canister into a back window before they went in.  I filed a complaint with rental licensing because there are no screens on the second story windows and the tenants are always hanging out the window talking with people below on the lawn.  In fact, that’s how the drug deals go down.  Someone drives up and stands on the front lawn yelling up to the open window until the tenant comes down and lets them into the building.  Then they leave a few minutes later.

If the city doesn’t want to see Penn Ave revert to what it was two years ago, please take steps now to revoke Coleman’s rental license.  The number of police calls alone should be sufficient. …  In fact, as a realtor, isn’t Coleman held to some kind of standard for properties that he manages?

Please get us some help!  We’ve worked hard to clean up this block for three years.  We only need to clean up two more properties to have the job done.  Please help us get it done before we lose the rest of the good people who are still living here.
I would like to add a note here.  This particular part of the Jordan neighborhood has a lot of older adults, often living alone.  They deserve to feel safe in their homes.  Their families deserve the peace of mind of knowing their parents live in a safe place.  As the city looks to develop this cluster area (Penn Ave between 29th and 26th), it needs to keep in mind the unique needs of older residents.  But first, it needs to help us clean up the two remaining properties that are causing 90% of the trouble in this area.


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