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NPR: Defending Against Eviction

By: Jacki Lyden

September 6th, 2002

NANCY SOLOMON reporting: Candy World is on Chambers street, five blocks from ground zero. It’s a place where people come to sweeten who has been a bitter year.

Mr. C Y GOTTLIEB (Customer): Three of those plus one milk chocolate. That’s…oh. Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN # 1 : You’ve got it.

Mr. GOTTLIEB: Oh.God.Yes.

SOLOMON : C Y Gottlieb lives around the corner from this downtown shop, and he one of a stream of regulars who come here for hand-dipped chocolate. Freshly roasted nuts and conversations.

M r . GOTTLIEB : This place is a neighborhood institution. So its you know, very important for all of us. I mean, it used to be soda shops, but they’re long gone. And I hardly think McDonald’s is a replacement.

SOLOMON : Alan Silver has been making and selling candy in one of three storefronts in this neighborhood for almost 30 years, and it shows. His cheeks are the size of apples, and he has the girth of a man who’s tasted a few too many of his own caramels. After September 11th Silver wasn’t able to return to his shop for a month. By then, his merchandise and equipment was ruined. He quickly fell behind in his $5,000 a month rent, and then received a letter in May that his landlord would not be renewing his lease. Silver finds this galling, especially since his landlord is St.Peters Episcopal Church of the Bronx.

Mr.ALAN SILVER (CandyWorld): The reality is that this a church. It’s not a regular land- lord. And the church does represent God. And this is a horrible thing that’s happened down here. So if they’re representing God, they should be charitable and acting in a good, godly fashion.

SOLOMON : The church is referring all calls about Candy World to its attorney, Donald McKay. He says the church wants Silver out, because he now more than $26,000 behind his rent.

MR. DONALY McKAY (Attorney):If you enter into an agreement to do certain things then you’re supposed to keep your word as a businessman, and he does not do that or did not do that. And that’s the way it goes.

SOLOMON : Silver readily admits he’s been behind in his rent since September 11th. He says he asked the church to waive his payments for September and October, but it refused. Silver has been paying half the rent since. He also asked the church officials to help in obtaining rent vouchers from the Red Cross. He says they delayed until November and by then, the program was gone. Now he’s fighting the eviction with help from a volunteer attorney, Adam Bailey says he’s worked with dozens of businessmen and tenants since the attacks who have struggled to obtain grants of negotiate for reduced rents.

Mr. ADAM BAILEY (Attorney):Or if we felt that the landlord was being,what I would call, greedy. I came back in and I said, ‘I’m a real estate attorney and now you’re going to have to deal with me. So either we negotiate and we settle and make a fair deal, or I will be there every step of the way to help Candy World or the small shoe stores or the small companies, you know, defend themselves.’

SOLOMON : Silver is hoping his attorney can stop the eviction, and that he’ll eventually be able to raise enough money to pay his back rent. For now, he continues to sell candies a dollar here and 50 cents there – and enjoy the quirky moments of a New York candy store.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN # 3: I wonder how many there are of these strange flavors that your carrying in the Jelly Bellies are in existence only because Jelly Belly got the license from Bernie Botts in this country.

SOLOMON : Silver pauses for a moment and suppresses a smile. ‘I don’t know’ he says. ‘But that’s a good question.’ Nancy Solomon, NPR News, New York.

JACKI LYDEN: (Host): From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I’m Jacki Lyden.


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