Tuesday, December 4, 2012

the c-word: the immaterial girl & zach vella

see the tiny building on the right, that's where i live. the big glass one on the left is imaginary but its already causing havoc.
typical nyc story - an ordinary person versus a real estate mogul. a developer (zach vella, who also ended becoming my next door neighbor), in the process of building a new property, damages a nearby property. i met zach because his little boy, with regal air, was telling all the other little kids on the sidewalk that HIS dad owned the whole building.

zach looks so nice, doesn't he?
zach apologized for his son and walked over and looked at my apartment. we even had a conversation about his possibly renting it as a sales office or buying the whole thing and attaching it to the new building.

it's difficult, on our cramped little island, to build. but when you are building apartments that sell for $6 million on the low end, you might be careful of your neighbors (especially single mothers recovering from cancer with already stretched incomes and tiny apartments).

on november 8, i came home to MY kids' room 6 inches' deep in muddy water, so i pulled on my big yellow boots and ran screaming into the building site next door.

the site supervisor and a bunch of guys came in and apologized and promised to pay for everything they destroyed.

they also promised to come and help clean up. i didn't realize how often this happens. (like the story of this photographer in chelsea), i believed them and i was still being nice.

rara's bedroom entrance and my famous yellow rubber boots

needless to say, two days' later, i was on my hands and knees with a bucket of hot water and some mold killing product, scraping the mud off the floor.  i basically spent an entire weekend, with some help from the housekeeper and the amazons, without seeing daylight. two laptops were totally submerged, one filled with college applications in-process.

this whole floor was replaced last january.

no one showed up.

a few days' later, i had a pleasant conversation with jim longson, at zach vella's company. he was kind, friendly and reassuring. he told me they would "make me whole." he suggested i hire mold remediators immediately and told me simply to send them all the bills.

i did. but after that, jim longson didn't take my calls. two weeks' later, he sent me an email suggesting i call my home owner's insurance. i called good old state farm. the adjuster came over and spoke to the site supervisor who told him he thought the water came in through the sidewalk. fortunately for me, my condo policy specifically says they do not cover water that comes in through the sidewalk. or the foundation of my building. the contractor, saif sumaida, whose company, foundations group, is doing the work had someone tell me that they had informed their insurance. charles iulo, a guy who worked for him, reiterated that they would do nothing, but he did say, "i urge you to contact your insurance."

here's family man, saif, who doesn't return my calls either.

in the meantime, the water shortcircuited the electricity downstairs which meant the pump died and the toilet waste emptied into the shower turning the entire downstairs into a giant, reeking cesspool.

in staten island, days after sandy, i walked past one home after the other with the mudsoaked contents spilling out on to the sidewalk, enormous piles of the stuff of 21st-century lives. wet clothes, plastic toys, dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, books, artwork. it slid down into the mud and channels of water mixed with sewage that filled the roads.

i was so grateful that i had escaped the storm, that i went to staten island to rip out drywall turned to putty by water, empty out bathrooms, pull off baseboard and wallpaper. the stench and the pervading damp seemed to permeate my body for days afterwards. and the mud seemed impossible to remove from my coat and boots.

helping people in staten island, coney island and rockaway made the transience of objects and the fragility of our lives so much clearer. i wanted to get rid of everything i owned.

so, of course, i was given an easy way to do that. three days after my electricity and internet was restored, my most precious things were destroyed.

all the beautiful indian clothes - the old brocades that my grandmother had bought back when my grandfather was indian ambassador to japan, that had made my wedding gharara, the lehngas and saris and ghararas that had been stored in a steamer trunk for safekeeping - were drenched and soaked in mud. the stuffed toys and mementos that i had saved from their infancy (you know, the baby clothes sasha came home from the hospital in, the leopard that zarina gave rara when her head was cracked) not to mention their current clothes and homework and shoes, and the floor was buckled.

all these clothes were destroyed. i can't afford to pick up the rest from the drycleaner.
what is worse, of course, is the mold. which makes the girls cough all night unless the air purifier is blasting into their bedrooms and the dehumidifier along with the allergen killing blue light is on 24-hours' a day.

even my doctor at memorial sloan kettering says i need to get out of there. mold is especially bad for people who've had chemotherapy.

i've called the department of buildings repeatedly, i've spoken to community board one, to the new state attorney general's office, julie menin who is running for manhattan borough president, and no one seems to be able to do anything.

i went to see a very impressive and reassuring lawyer, adam leitman bailey, who said, "it's an open-and-shut case. they admitted liability. they realize they don't have to do anything. you just need to show them, they can't ignore the little guy." he was happy to take on the case. unfortunately, he required a $10,000 retainer. gulp.

one kid in college, another one starting in september and two years' worth of bills a mile high.

i tried to hit up a client who hadn't paid me for a couple of years, no luck.

AUGH. in the meantime, in what seems like an anachronistic paradigm, the new york city real estate industry celebrates its moneymaking heroes, like zach vella. isn't conscious capitalism the new buzz word?

so here's what happened next: amazons of nyc: 11 N Moore St - Zach Vella and Saif Sumaida Update


  1. so sorry to read about this. And what a dreadful person you have to deal with, Zach Fella. Will post this and hope that more people will read and talk about this creep Zach Fella

  2. Knowing every party you mentioned above, none of them are honest people. Except maybe Jim - he's nice.

  3. Really unfortunate...you should definitely be compensated for your time, heartache and loss of possessions! Good luck!

  4. They are a low class developer use the worst General Contractors and trades. They build low quality buildings, everyone of their projects have problems.

  5. This guy Vella is a complete douche, he has no clue how to build,and could care less about the people around him. A real phony! To the person who wrote the comment above your comment is dead on his General Contractor is terrible very poor quality work. I live next door!!

  6. Zach vella & his so-called development co., even his mafia lenders will not be able to keep him out of jail.
    Good luck to you dealing with the ponzi schemer next door

  7. If statements are factually based, he cannot threaten to due you for defamation/slander.

  8. Ameena, Sue the bas2345*&s! Do not be afraid. Do it now, or your Statute of Limitations will run out- any good attorney will help you on a contingency basis (just to be safe have them copy everything to you, so you know they did not join hands with Vella for a price to squash your suit) - You always have the Media to go to as well - go for it! - these soul-dead people don't care who they hurt - if you see him on the Million Dollar listing you will see how this scum bag raises the price of a property with poor framing by 35% over the already high priced condos (550 feet - only rats live in that size hole and are so awed by it!) and the greed just comes through his dead eyes...down the road these million dollars POS will collapse and the 750 "interested" suckers in the 24 scummy units will pay the price when the condos lose value instantly! New York is just for the money hungry greedy soulless As(*&^s like Zach Vella - who came here to rob this country, not build it.

  9. You are a miserable person. No one cares about your petty nonsense and your attacking of Zach is disgusting. You might be poor, or not well off as I should say, but do not attack him because he is doing what you can't. It's not his fault that this happened to you and you are acting like a complete asshole about it.

  10. no wonder the #DOB #inspector always walked back from the construction site grinning from ear-to-ear and telling me that there was nothing he could do... http://manhattanda.org/press-release/manhattan-da%E2%80%99s-office-doi-nypd-announce-arrests-and-criminal-charges-widespread-briber

  11. Wow, watch out for the defamation law suit. Someone in your position where you feel you have to tell the world all your problems and expect people to feel sorry for you, sitting here giving him a defamation lawsuit to throw at you is not intelligent at all.
    *Seems to me that street beggars have modernized and got the internet to do their begging.

    You are ragging on a guy who has done something with his life and made something for himself. You know, you could of done the same thing if you did not try to bring others down. I can only think how excellent this story would be is now that you have recovered from cancer (diddumms for you) that he now turns around and sues you for everything you have left. Including your beggers pan. Zach is someone to be looked up to. VS you, who is someone to be looked down upon. Nobody cares about you, which is obviously why you turned to the internet to find some attention. Zach, sue this third world bytch

  12. ...The wealthiest and happiest people on earth are the ones who can be compassionate and give to others. That is why they receive a lot of positiveness in their life. Be a Shangri-la. Help people. Life is much more than your own pocket. Life is also about people. Give. That is what is the most rewarding thing in life. Why do you think many of the richest people on earth are involved in Foundations and charities.... because they can bring something to much more than few tenants....they can bring something positive to the entire World. Mr. Zak, Good luck with your projects and your businesses. Ms. Ameena Good luck with this situation and stay strong. Fortunately we tend to become stronger and better persons when we face difficult situations in life. Who is the real winner ? The person who is healthy. The person who is happy (in within). Life is short and the present is a gift. We should always try to make the most out of it. Suggestion to Ameena: Try to delegate this situation to a lawyer. Your time and your energy are precious. Bill ion man. ;)

  13. You're "poor" because you live in manhattan. You cry poor throughout your entire tirade yet you can afford to live in NY?

    Suggestion- MOVE!
    & please not to a small town where you're going to want to "change" everything about it the minute your entitled self arrives.

  14. OMG he is such a douchebag!

  15. I have my own Zach Vella story. He was married last year (may still be) but just tried to buy sex from me on SeekingArrangment.com. EW. I was on there looking for a boyfriend and he kept messaging me nasty things. I had to block him. I googled him and this blog came up.