talk about constantly shifting identities - the personality-types involved in multimillion dollar deals are the most bizarre in nyc.
admittedly, i'm one of the 99%. don't know lots of those people. except zach vella.
last summer, zach's a friendly new neighbor i meet on the sidewalk. here's the email he sent me.
From: Zach Vella
Date: June 8, 2012 7:57:44 PM EDT
Good meeting you. If you are interested in speaking about your ground floor space please let me know.
212 686 2500
after sandy, after his development floods my apartment, he's the invisible man. not returning my phone calls, emails, not even the notes i leave with his doorman when i see him encased in black spandex, heading off for a run.
a freezing winter morning, after i write a blogpost about what a nightmare my life is - he's bristling mad that i had dared to write about him. i figure, he's on the million dollar listing on bravo, he isn't publicity-shy. (on the street, he keeps murmuring about a woman whose wall he put a nail through. he offered to repair the wall but she sued him for all this money and, of course, she lost everything. he looks at me pointedly as he says this, though i miss the implication.)
a month later, i get a phone call, "hey, it's zach!" like we are best friends and i've been expecting his call all day. "are you still interested in renting your place? i just wanted to let you know i spoke to the partners and we are serious."
april 2 (day AFTER april fool's day, when i should have been wiser), zach came to the storefront to talk about how bad he felt about everything that happened. he was so sorry, he really just wanted to help me. the chain of command being what it was, he couldn't pay me himself, but he would be willing to give me a personal loan, out of his own pocket, until the insurance paid for the repairs. (i had actually emailed him the claim denials of all three insurance companies already.)
then, he said he had an idea that would be great for both of us. the development company would rent the entire space for a year, do a renovation that would repair all the apartment damage and pay me upfront for the stuff i lost. then they could use my space as a sales office and model apartment for their new development.
i am blown away. a perfect solution. "that is so kind of you, i would happy to do that," i said. "just so i can figure out my kids and my adjust my schedule - what's your time frame for that?"
zach said, "a month, a month-and-a-half at most."
i changed my mind about him. he was trying to do his best in a difficult situation.
a couple of artists planned a show of paintings and sculptures in the storefront in may. we'd been discussing it since last year. i cancelled the show.
out of courtesy, i didn't write any more blogposts because i knew it made him uncomfortable. i would wait til it was resolved and write something kind. (though the one about zach got over 1500 hits).
From: Ameena Meer [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 08:20 PM
To: Zach Vella
Subject: thank you
it was great talking to you tonight.
i really appreciate your taking the time to address the issue.
i'm looking at the options - can you give me an idea of what you think the rent would be for a space like this?
On Apr 3, 2013, at 8:51 AM, Zach Vella wrote:
I will ask our broker but I think you should ask a couple yourself so we you are comfortable with the number
april 17: i put my apartment on the market to give him a number to work with.
may: he finally contacted my broker. he was traveling in africa. obviously doing good works in the developing world, he just wanted to be sure i wasn't going to write anything about him. in the meantime, no further offer of the loan either.
june 6, i'm fed up. nice and patient isn't working. send him a text saying that if he doesn't want me to write about his presence in my life, he needs to get this over with. (don't want to talk because obviously he's only good for what he puts in writing - plus my life is insane.)
at this point, i don't care what he thinks. also, i cannot remove my blog as it provides important information for people with cancer.
he says: send me the damages.
for the 10th time, i send him the list - it consists of the destroyed stuff, the plumbing and electrical repairs, and last year's bills for the mold clean-up (subtracting the cost of the upstairs) and the re-build. being a good neighbor, i don't ask him for relocation costs while the work is done.
On Jun 10, 2013, at 11:17 AM, "Ameena Meer"
hi zach -
as per our conversation on saturday, here is the cost of the repairs.
as we spoke at the beginning of april, the flood happened in november of last year, i feel i've been quite patient.
i would appreciate some response within 24 hours.
i am forwarding you the same email my real estate sent you last week.
On Jun 10, 2013, at 12:23 PM, Zach Vella
24 hours x 4, no response. i text again.
bizarrely, he forwards a release. it holds him and his company blameless for everything and i can never write about him or them again. the place for the number is left blank.
this morning, he calls the broker to tell him that his own basement flooded, it was cheap and easy to have it all repaired - my costs are way too high. zach offers me "a loan" for $14,000 - a little over a quarter of the cost of the damages. (in return, i have to delete my blog - which is usually used as an clearing house for alternative cancer information).
i should add that given this drama - my second major flood in two years - means that no insurance carrier will give me coverage for the next three years.
oh, one of the brokers on the million dollar listing is being investigated by the f.b.i. and had been photoshopping new kitchens and floors into his apartment listings.
oh so that's how it works.
want a writer to stop writing? you have to take off the costume.
UPDATE: for everyone who's asking. i decided to stop trying to mr. vella and his business to court. it wasn't worth the time, attention or the money. i sold my place and moved away from rat-infested tribeca. now it's his karma to live with. i wish him all the best.