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Willets Point Business Owners: We Are Being Evicted By NYC For No Reason

Claiming Unsafe Conditions, The City Is Trying To Close Auto Body Shops

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A lot of workers are about to lose their jobs. They got kicked out of their auto body shops by the landlord.

The landlord … is New York City.

As CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday, business owners are calling it harassment.

The mayor known in some circles as “El Bloombito” has struck again, imperiously closing more than a dozen auto body shops in the Willets Point area of Queens across from Citi Field, an area that he wants to gentrify. The Department of Buildings order to vacate says there are unsafe conditions. The landlord is none other than the city, so you do the math.

“If there was an issue of safety the first thing who would know? The city, because they are the landlord,” auto body shop owner Akram Mohibi said.

The business owners said they are furious.

“They have no reason to shut people down like that. The only reason I can see is they’re trying to find some kind of excuse,” shop owner Jaimee Saverti said.

“This is totally harassment, Marcia. This is not the first time and we have always been saying if we are doing anything illegal let us know,” Mohibi said. “They come up with any kind of excuses to just get us out of here. Do it by law. This is not a third world country.”

There appear to be some, shall we say, discrepancies in the city actions. The Department of Buildings said it issued a “partial” vacate order for five businesses at 38-01 126th St. But the businesses that were  closed down are at 37-03 126th St., and 38-05 126th St.

What really upsets the business owners is that all of the people are going to be without jobs. They said it’s like being fired for no reason.

“None of us are going to have a job because all the shops are closed,” Mohibi said. “We all have family to feed.”

And there’s another issue: the inspectors arrived to shut them down with no warning, and apparently without a prior inspection.

“All these years there was no safety issues, how do you say to me that one is safe but this is no safe. Then why did you give it to me to rent?” Mohibi said.

The city said the inspectors did an on-the-spot inspection before issuing the vacate order. But when CBS 2’s Kramer asked what prompted the sudden visit, there was no answer.

Calls to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which is the actual landlord, were not returned.

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