FDNY Finds Hydroponic Pot Farm in Lower East Side Basement
Oh dear. Lower East Side blog Bowery Boogie reports some drug-fueled drama that went down in a tenement on Rivington Street Monday night when a resident's 911 call led to 10 evictions and the discovery of a hydroponic marijuana farm in the basement of a local Mexican eatery.
Via Bowery Boogie:
Some pretty interesting stuff went down on Monday night, all of it taking place at 127 Rivington. I live next door and watched most of the scene unfold. There was a fire call around 9:30 pm or so and several ladder trucks and the suburban type vehicles all showed up. After getting into the building, they discovered it was some sort of steam leak from the boiler that caused a resident to call in a fire. Once that was straightened out, the FDNY started looking for basement access and in the process discovered that the back half of the building was considered uninhabitable due to no means of egress. There is no fire escape on the back of the building and apparently the stairs out the ground floor of the back of the building have been ripped out.
This meant that half of the building had to be kicked out of their apartments. I listened on the sidewalk while FDNY spoke to the landlord on the phone and she was apparently arguing like mad, telling them that she wasn't responsible for that, etc.
Then things got really interesting....The FDNY was inspecting the building and went into the basement below Neighburrito. They opened a door down there and found a full-on pot farm. I heard them saying there was 150-200 plants down there. They of course, called the Po-Po. The next couple of hours seemed to be a combination of police and fire action as the police were cuffing and interrogating the owner of Neighburrito and the FDNY was busy handing out vacate notices to half of the building.
In the end, the Red Cross showed (at about 2am) and helped some of the residents find another place to stay until the building violations are fixed and people were arrested for what i would assume would have to be one of the bigger pot operations going on in the neighborhood. I would love to know more of how this whole thing played out (or is playing out), as the store seems to be open. But i did hear from a tenant that it's going to be a while before anyone can return to those vacated apartments.
An FDNY spokesman told Runnin' Scared that fire fighters actually responded to a call around 11:20 p.m. about a steam leak in a third-floor apartment. FDNY confirms that they identified a fire escape issue but discovered the marijuana (along with "some type of a hydroponic system") in the basement when they went down to shut off the pipe that was feeding the steam leak.
According to city property records, the building was purchased in 1985 by a Shih-Chieh Lin. Department of Buildings records show that Lin owes $650 for two open violations (including illegally converting an apartment and conducting renovation work without a permit) and has several open complaints involving the building's boilers and denying access to a buildings inspector.
A lawyer for Neighburrito, the Mexican restaurant that occupies the building's storefront, told Eater that the owners "had no knowledge" of the "marijuana growing facility" beneath the restaurant or the building's "multitude of code violations."
The lawyer also said that while police questioned his client, "he was released and no charges were ever filed" but that "police did in fact arrest and charge the actual operator of the facility."
Incidentally, Christine Bell Currence -- who owns Neighburrito through "Bellcurrence LLC" -- is also listed as an owner for Badgley Mischka's platinum label, per her Linkedin profile.
The NYPD has not yet responded to an inquiry for comment about how much of the drug was found or whether anyone's been charged or arrested.