Via My Political Intervention and the Wall Street Journal comes the story of Occupy Wall Street being evicted yesterday from a Lower Manhattan loft space that had served as a headquarters and a squat for several of its members.
The property at 40 Exchange Place had been rented by George Weathers for his business, Artists Seminar Plus, which offered training for actors. However, Mr. Weathers stopped paying his $6,200 rent back in August 2011, and began renting the space, called “Magic Mountain”, out for meetings and events. Building management began sending him letters, but in NYC, eviction process can take months.
In October, Mr. Weathers invited Occupy Wall Street members to use the space. Occupy was never on any lease for the property and apparently no notification of their involvement was given to the building management. Since their arrival in October, Mr Weathers has managed to hold off the eviction three times. OWS members actually appeared with him at one court appearance, apparently identifying themselves as part of his business, Artists Seminar Plus.
Now OWS is claiming they shouldn’t be kicked out because each member staying there has not been served with an eviction notice; that only George Weathers had been served.
According to the WSJ:
Philip Katz, an attorney for the management at 40 Exchange Place, said he was surprised to hear members of Occupy Wall Street were living in the space. The eviction was motivated not just by the nonpayment of rent but by complaints from other tenants of raucous parties and unsavory behavior, he said.
“We could not permit these parties. Underage people were actually physically attacked,” he said. “No papers submitted to the court indicated that Occupy Wall Street was staying there. I’m very surprised to hear that.”
Lisabeth Rapp, 27, an OWS member who had been staying in the loft, claimed the eviction was illegal, claiming they had been “denied due process”. They intend to go back to court on Thursday to argue they were not properly served.
40 Exchange Place appears to be commercial real estate which in NYC, which would militate against allowing residential use of the space. Commercial space is treated differently than residential property, not to the benefit of squatters.