(Harlem, New York)- Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, along with representatives from State Senate Minority Leader David Paterson’s Office and dozens of members of the Harlem Community, held a press conference today to bring to light the intolerable actions of ALDO Properties III and its owners. The owners of the development and management company, including Mr. Alex DiLorenzo III who was criminally charged in connection to the Happyland Club fire and who is a notorious slumlord in Northern Manhattan, refused to fix problems at Home Sweet Harlem Café.
The actions taken on behalf of ALDO Properties III led to a loss of revenue for Home Sweet Harlem Cafe, and an inability to pay rent due to this loss, after which ALDO Properties III began a proceeding of eviction and civil case for the unpaid rent. In addition to this negligence, ALDO Properties has charged Home Sweet Harlem Café for property tax increases, but only after the owner declined to give up her option to extend the lease. “All I am asking is that ALDO Properties sit down with the owner of Home Sweet Harlem Café and myself and try to work out an agreement that does not result in the closing of a community business and debt for a hard working small business owner,” said Assemblyman Wright.
Ms. Donna Lewis, owner of Home Sweet Harlem Café, sees her case as a microcosm of a much greater problem currently underway in Harlem. “Landlords are increasingly using legal tactics to push out community businesses all around Harlem, in order to make room for investors with deeper pockets. The most annoying thing about all of this is that there are still open code violations on my building, and on other buildings that ALDO Properties III owns, yet the city doesn’t use the legal tools at its disposal. The landlords use all of the legal tools at their disposal, and why shouldn’t the city use their tools to force problem landlords to shape up or ship out,” said Ms. Lewis.
“This is a landlord we in the Harlem community have been keeping our eye on for years, basically ever since the Happyland fire killed 87 people in the Bronx,” said Assemblyman Wright. He continued, “Mr. DiLorenzo has dozens of limited liability companies registered under his name and owns hundreds of buildings throughout New York City. In the past, some of Mr. DiLorenzo’s buildings have had as many as 2,000 housing code violations, so there is a record of gross negligence on his part. Even with this negative history, there still is an opportunity for Mr. DiLorenzo to do something positive, which in this case is to sit down with this small business owner and negotiate a deal which is in the best interests of the community.”