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Developer Accused of Harassment Lends Buildings for 'Public Art' Project

 A mural by street artist Jerkface at 402 E. 12th Street.
A mural by street artist Jerkface at 402 E. 12th Street.
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Icon Realty Management

EAST VILLAGE — Controversial developer Icon Realty Management will team up with a Ninth Street art gallery in the coming month to lend its properties as canvases to local artists.

Icon, which has previously faced accusations of harassment from East Village tenants, is working with the Dorian Grey Gallery to turn several of its buildings into large-scale murals crafted by local street artists.

The project is an effort to give back to the East Village community by creating public art to be enjoy by everyone, said a principal at Icon.

“Public art is so important to the character of neighborhoods, especially in the East Village,” said Icon's co-owner Terrence Lowenberg.

“As a lifelong New Yorker, art has always been a central part of our city. We are proud to do our part at Icon to continue that tradition.”

Artists Jeremy Penn and Lambros will work together in the coming weeks to create a collaborative mural on the side of 307 Mott St. in NoHo. Penn said it will evoke “vintage erotica” and will feature themes of female empowerment.

While Penn initially thought it was unusual to team up with a developer for a public art project, he said Icon’s offering of a sprawling outdoor canvas was too good to pass up.

“If I can get a wall and do it legally, I’m all for it,” he said. “So I’m totally game.”

Queens-based street artist Jerkface, who in the past teamed up with Icon to create a mural at 402 E. 12th St., will take over 128 Second Ave. The mural will be completed by June 15.

Icon recently halted construction on its embattled East Village properties following complaints of alleged “construction-as-harassment” techniques from tenants, advocates and elected officials. It has hired a “Building Safety Manager” to oversee tenants’ concerns.

The company in the past has been accused of cutting amenities in an effort to force out rent-stabilized tenants.

This is not the first time Icon has given up its spaces for a cause it deems worthy. Last month, Icon lent the interiors of several properties to an animal rescue organization for a handful of pro-adoption and fundraising events.