Meet the little Williamsburg building that’s home to over 1,000 LLCs
At first glance it seems like one nondescript building among scores in South Williamsburg, a three-story brown-brick property housing a small retail store and a couple of apartments above.
But in Hasidic real estate circles, the 3,500-square-foot structure at 199 Lee Avenue is legendary. Hundreds of landlords from the Orthodox community, who collectively own thousands of apartments in Brooklyn’s fastest-growing neighborhoods, have mailboxes there. Every month, these mailboxes are used to collect rent checks and help cloak the identities of some of the city’s most mysterious property owners.
Since 1973, a grand total of 1,391 companies were registered to 199 Lee Avenue, according to The Real Deal’s analysis of Active Corporations records at the New York Department of State.
Thirteen companies registered there last month alone. Not all these are real estate firms, of course, but hundreds are, including entities tied to Yoel Goldman’s All Year Management, Joel Gluck’s Spencer Equity Group, slain landlord Menachem Stark, his brother-in-law Abraham Bernat and his former business partner Israel Perlmutter.
“A lot of people don’t want the tenants or other people to know exactly where they are,” a source familiar with the building told TRD. “They want to hide themselves or their identities.”
On average, 199 Lee has one LLC for every 2.5 square feet of space. Many have nearly-ungoogleable names such as PS John LLC, Owners Solution, Inc and Italian Bambinos, Inc, the last of which was registered just two weeks ago at the building’s “Suite 192.”
“When I was brand-new as a lawyer, I would see 199 Lee on every paper I got,” said Michael Grinthal, a tenant’s attorney at MFY Legal Services. “I thought this must be a gigantic office building, until I saw it and just realized it was this corner mailbox store.”
The property is currently owned by Henny Katz, according to public records. Katz, who also owns a three-family home at 930 East 22nd Street in Midwood and a two-family home at 84 Penn Street in Williamsburg, couldn’t be reached for comment.