WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn — A rat crawling next to a sleeping baby. Toxic dust tracked into people’s apartments. Construction noise all day, every day — even weekends — so loud that people can’t have conversations in their apartments without shouting.
Those are some of the conditions seen, and heard, in a video recorded at a building as it was being developed by Jared Kushner. The difficult living conditions were the subject of a lawsuit against the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Monday.
“Nobody can talk under these conditions,” says the videographer, Sabine Anton, in the video. Anton is a German journalist and documentary filmmaker who lived in the building while it was being gut renovated by the Kushner Companies, prior to Jared Kushner becoming a special advisor to President Trump in 2017. Anton is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“Nobody told us it would be so loud,” she says in the video, as she tries to speak over sounds of drilling, hammering and banging from construction crews.
The 9-minute video also captures some of the other conditions listed in the legal action filed Monday morning. It shows various images of rats and mice that have appeared in the building at 184 Kent Avenue since renovations began three years ago.
One of the images showing rodents is video from a neighbor’s baby cam that shows a rat on a bed, next to a sleeping baby.
Anton’s video also shows where construction dust has been tracked into her home and those of her neighbors. The lawsuit claims that their independent testing shows lead and a type of toxic silica in the dust.
It’s all part of the plaintiffs’ argument that Kushner used extreme conditions to force rent-stabilized tenants out of the building, as his workers renovated most of the 338-unit structure and converted it into a luxury condominium.
The 20 plaintiffs in the suit seek $10 million in damages from Kushner Companies, LLC, as well as from the property management company.
For its part, Kushner Cos. issued this statement:
The lawsuit filed today by certain current and former tenants of Austin Nichols House is totally without merit and we intend to defend it vigorously. The residents of Austin Nichols House were fully informed about the planned renovation and all work was completed under the full supervision by the New York City Department of Buildings and other regulatory agencies, with full permits and with no violations for these claims. Tenants were never pressured to leave their apartments and the market-rate rent stabilization was – and continues to be – complied with under applicable rent guidelines. Any complaints during construction (which was completed in 2017) were evaluated and addressed promptly by the property management team. The property management team is committed to continuing to meet the needs of all residents.