Landlord of beloved Brooklyn senior center rejects $8.8M buyout, files for bankruptcy

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn — The Seniors at the Swinging Sixties Senior Center in Williamsburg love their bingo.

But for more than two years now they've been the ones bounced around.

"It was upsetting, very upsetting because this is home to all of us," said Roseann Frank.

Frank visits the Ainslie Street center three times a week.

But, since Christmas Eve 2013 building owner Harry Einhorn has threatened to kick them out.

"This cannot be a place where we worry that our home is going to be taken from us.  I want this concluded.  The seniors want this concluded," said John Pelle who runs the Senior Program for community group St. Nick's Alliance.

Last week Pelle and the other seniors thought the end was insight, agreeing to buy the building for $8.8-million. But at the last minute Einhorn filed for bankruptcy, delaying the sale and asking for more money.

"We thought the owner was very disingenuous, never mentioned anything about bankruptcy," said St. Nick's Executive Director Michael Rochford.  "Clearly the property is not bankrupt.  He's pocketed $600,000 in the last two years alone."

In a statement an attorney for Einhorn told PIX11:

"The LLC has approvals to erect 31 residential units on the premises which would generate annually $1.4 million and it has a selling value of at least $14 million. The LLC was willing to settle at $9.5 million to avoid litigation and avoid evicting the seniors."

But Einhorn may not even legally own the building.

A clause with the previous owner required that the city be given first right of refusal to buy if the building ever went on the market, a point currently being argued in court.

In the meantime, seniors like Vicki Roldan say they'll continue to fight for their second home.

"Because this is the only place that we could come," said Roldan. "We got a lot of friends here, like family. We're like family."

Which is why Roseann Frank says she'll keep going to court for as long as it takes.

"We gotta win.  That's it."

The bankruptcy means the court case over ownership of the building is put on hold until the chapter 11 filing is resolved.

In the meantime Assemblyman Joe Lentol is trying to get the owner to sell via eminent domain.

The last attempt was vetoed by Governor Cuomo, but Lentol says he's committed to trying again.