East Village fire victims demand help from their landlord

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The residents of a burned out East Village building are hopping mad at their landlord over where they will live now.

Faith Popcorn, a famed “futurist” once described as the “Nostradamus of Marketing,” owns 48 East 7th St., which was destroyed in a Dec. 5, 2020, fire that also decimated Middle Collegiate Church next door.

Tenants recently rallied calling upon Popcorn to put them up in one of her two other East Village buildings. Popcorn — born Faith Plotkin — inherited the properties from her family.

Popcorn, who coined the term “cocooning” for staying comfortably at home, also owns an $8.7 million Upper East Side townhouse and two East Hampton abodes on Georgica Pond near the residence of Beyoncé and Jay-Z. She put the smaller cottage up for sale for $4.99 million in 2019.

Meanwhile, two of Popcorn’s tenants, mother and daughter Zwenyslawa and Chrysanna Woroch, are living in a former hotel turned homeless shelter, their lawyer, James Fishman, said.

Faith Popcorn at LongHouse Reserve's Summer Benefit "On Gossamer Wings", on July 18, 2015 in East Hampton, New York.
Tenants are suing Faith Popcorn’s LLC’s to pressure the landlord into restoring their East Village apartment building burned by a devastating fire.
Getty Images

“They had no place else to go,” Fishman said.

The Worochs paid $617 a month for their rent-controlled apartment, which had been in the family since 1957.

The pair filed suit in April against Popcorn’s LLC, which owned the property, seeking to have Popcorn, or a subsequent owner, “take any and all actions necessary” to restore their occupancy of the apartment and maintain their rent-regulated status.

Popcorn argued in legal papers that since there is no building, she had no obligation to do so.

“If that were true, then any landlord that wanted to terminate rent-controlled or rent-stabilized tenancies could just simply allow the building to either be burned down or not repair it or whatever,” Fishman said. “That can’t be right.”

The insurance company for four other tenants is also suing Popcorn’s LLC, seeking $186,301 in damages.

The occupants were all forced to move out after a smaller fire in February 2020.

The building was under repair and, in early December 2020, tenants were offered $200,000 each to give up their rights to their apartments, legal papers say.

On Saturday December 5th 2020 at approx. 4:53AM a fire broke out in a four story vacant building located at 48 E 7th Street in Manhattan. The fire quickly spread to a church next door requiring a multiple alarm response from FD.Faith Popcorn insists she has no obligation to return her tenants to the 48 East 7th St. apartment in the East Village.Seth Gottfried

Then the blaze broke out in an empty restaurant space on the first floor, and was believed to be electrical. No definitive cause was found.

The six-alarm inferno raced through the empty apartment house to the adjoining church. The fire spared the steeple that housed the New York Liberty Bell, which dates to 1729. The bell was recently removed to the New-York Historical Society.

Neither Popcorn nor her lawyer responded to requests for comment.

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