TRIBECA — Hudson River Park Trust president and CEO Madelyn Wils is suing a longtime rent-stabilized tenant in a bid to evict her and her children, get $30,000 in back rent and legal fees, DNAinfo New York has learned.
Wils, former chairwoman of Community Board 1, and her husband Steven refused to renew tenant Marla Mase's 30-year-old lease at 180 Duane St. in July — saying they needed the apartment for their adult son, according to lawyers for both sides.
“I built this home and my business when there was nothing down here," said Mase, 49, a singer/poet and owner of event planning company "Party Poopers." She pays $1,000 per month for her third-floor loft, which the Wilses say is worth at least $7,000 a month.
“They have always wanted to get me out, especially now that the market rate for rents down here is in the thousands," added Mase, who paid $500 a month for the unit when she moved in in 1983.
Mase lives in the unit with her son, now 17, and daughter, now 21, who grew up there before TriBeCa morphed into today’s hotbed of high-end luxury designer clothing and furniture boutiques, she said.
She added that the refusal to renew her lease is the latest in a string of legal battles she has had to endure from the Wilses. She said they also filed a complaint against her when she renovated the kitchen and put up walls to give her children their own rooms.
The Wilses denied through their lawyer that they were trying to drive Mase out because her apartment is rent-stabilized.
The Wilses’ lawyer, Joe Burden, said the couple wants Mase’s apartment for their son, Jesse Wils, who recently graduated from college and moved back in with his parents.
The Wilses live on the fourth and fifth floors of the building, and they also have their business address at the building next door, 182 Duane St., according to legal papers.
“This is not against Ms. Mase," said Burden.“Their son would like his own residence."
Under rent-stabilization laws, the Wilses have a right to ask Mase to leave in order to give their son an apartment, said Burden.
Madelyn Wils did not return a call for comment this week.
Burden said the Wilses even offered Mase $60,000 to move out.
“She rejected that offer and asked for $750,000," he said.
Mase said she only made that counteroffer because, “I knew they wouldn’t accept it."
Mase’s lawyer, Darryl Vernon, said he has helped his client fight to stay put.
“It’s not right to dislocate a rent-stabilized tenant. We see this all over the city where landlords want to get rid of their rent-stabilized tenants to either sell their properties or get more rent," Vernon said.
After 30 years, Mase said, "I know I’m very fortunate to have this apartment," but she added that the battle to keep her home has been dispiriting.
“Is this what it comes down to?" she said. "You live in a community. Help build it up and then get chased out.
"I walk out of my home and I see people I know for years. Isn’t that what a community is all about?"