Members of the renowned arts and coworking space 3rd Ward who plunked down big bucks for access to classes won’t get their money back after the owners of the 30,000-square-foot workspace announced its closure last week. The space at 195 Morgan Ave., which opened in 2006 and drew countless would-be artisans alongside dozens of tenants subleasing from the company, will not offer refunds to anyone for their memberships, the company said in an email Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, you will not have an opportunity to use your membership after today at 6 p.m., and we will not be able to refund any payments made for membership services that have not been fully utilized before that time,” the email said. “With the costs of running and operating our space, we are sadly no longer able to remain in business.”
A tipster reminded us that 3rd Ward founders Jason Goodman and Jeremy Lovitt have a history of shady incompetence. Their 3rd Ward outpost on Metropolitan and Lorimer (573 Metropolitan Ave.) was forced to shut down in 2010 for operating illegally:
City inspectors ordered dozens of Williamsburg artists out of their decrepit loft building on Thursday — and now the tenants are suing their landlord, claiming that they had no idea they were living in an illegal warehouse space with hundreds of building code violations….
“[Inspectors] told us we can’t take a s—t, shower or use the kitchen — we just have to go before they padlock the doors,” said longtime resident Yubi Hoffmann, who lives with a handful of others on the fifth floor. “We’re young, we don’t have savings. We had no idea about the problems here.”
And the problems are actually worse than he could have imagined. The city has smacked the landlord with 64 structural violations — 63 of which were never resolved — since 1993, and the Environmental Control Board still has 94 open cases against the building, ranging from the building’s allegedly unsafe elevator and apparently blocked emergency exit, to reported structural dilapidation and illegally erected walls and rooms…
Hoffmann and a handful of other young artists, who were packing their bags on Thursday night, said that they signed leases years ago without any knowledge of problems or illegal studios. They said that they’d sue the owners — who have been unreachable — for the alleged fraud.
A former tenant and employee of Goodman’s had this to say about her experience with the shady entrepreneur and the closure of 573 Metropolitan Ave.:
This converted sweatshop was mostly a residential building that Goodman and Jeremy Lovitt (the other co-founder) managed; there was a practice space for bands in the basement and they hosted 3rd Ward classes on the first few floors as well.
That summer, Jason and Jeremy opened a “food truck” across the street from this building. The restaurant was called Goods and I worked as a dishwasher and fry/prep cook there from before… That’s right, not only were Jason and Jeremy my landlords, they were also my bosses. One day at work in August, I found out that both of them were moving out of my building, which suspiciously came shortly after we had been visited by the DOB. This was especially odd because both of them had the largest apartments I have ever seen in NYC–the kind you would have to be crazy to give up. To give you an idea, both of them sectioned off the top floor into just two separate huge loft spaces. I lived in the floor below, which was split into about 12 apartments. I asked both of them if I should be looking for a new place, but they just told me I had nothing to worry about. They said their particular apartments were subject to the new Loft Law, and I made the mistake of taking their word for it.
Soon after that, they sent everybody letters stating that they were no longer the landlords and they had handed over our leases to the real owner (all tenants were under the impression Lovitt and Goodman were the owners prior to this)… It was in the middle of October, a DOB inspector followed me into the building, took one look around and told me that everyone was going to have to move out by the end of the day, essentially making about 50 people homeless without warning. We were eventually allowed a few extra days to enter the building in order to remove our stuff, but we were warned that if we stayed past sunset, we would be arrested for trespassing. Mind you, this was around Oct. 15, the middle of the month–just as the temperatures outside start dropping, and we had already paid our rent. The DOB agent said he had come by in July and told the landlords that if they don’t make any progress in fixing the building’s many (150+) code violations, he would have to condemn the building. That is the real reason why Jason and Jeremy had vacated their sweet lofts. The question was, why didn’t they warn anybody? Moreover, why did they lie to my face?
The residents of 573 Metropolitan were talking class-action lawsuit, but that plan eventually fell through. Neither Jason nor Jeremy ever apologized or took responsibility for what happened to their former tenants. In fact, Jason even made a statement in one article (that is no longer available online) that any tenant who said they were unaware of the code violations was lying.
Around this same time in October, some of my old co-workers who were still working at Goods, were complaining that they were getting paid in IOU’s. Goods shut their doors for good not too long after that. I’m not sure if they ever got paid. I don’t know why, but shortly after all this happened, Jason bought out Jeremy and became sole owner of 3rd Ward, while Jeremy and his fiance moved to Hawaii.
I never unsubscribed from the 3rd Ward mailing list, and happened to have read Jason’s fundraising letter a couple of weeks ago. I could tell that it was more a desperate plea for money than an offer to “join [them] as shareholders.” To say the least, I was not even a little bit surprised when I found out that Jason had done it again. Actually, I was amazed that he is using the same unethical game plan he did three years ago and is once again, for the most part, getting away with it.
That is why I’m writing to you. Jason Goodman is a selfish, duplicitous crook disguised as a pioneering leader of the Brooklyn arts/hipster community. I have read articles venerating his being successful despite never creating a business plan. Now that the guy has three failed businesses under his belt, not including whatever he is/was doing in Pennsylvania, I think it’s the media’s responsibility to at least mention this guy’s track record. He has otherwise only been praised and his accomplishments revered in the press. It is my opinion that he knew fully well that 3rd Ward was going to have to shut down, and instead of doing the right thing by giving people their money back, he did some last-ditch fundraising for Jason Goodman, and for Jason Goodman alone. I believe he needs to be called out by name for the unethical entrepreneur that he is as justice for all the many unsuspecting members of this community he has screwed over through the years.
Previously: 3rd Ward is shutting down