NYC luxury tower accused piling up trash in front of West End supermarket

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A grocer on Manhattan’s West Side is raising a stink over massive piles of garbage that are being dumped outside its store — and it’s pointing the finger at the luxury tower across the street.

Three times a week, hundreds of garbage bags get stacked in front of the Morton Williams supermarket at West End Avenue and 60th Street, gripes Avi Kaner, co-owner of the New York-area chain. A pile-up from last week appeared to stretch 75 feet, rising higher in some places than the heads of passersby, according to photos taken by Kaner.

“It averages around waist-high with variances,” Kaner told The Post.

The culprits: porters from 21 West End Ave., a 48-story, glass-and-steel skyscraper whose well-heeled residents enjoy amenities including a lap pool and spa, a wine-tasting room, a golf simulator and indoor dog park. On Friday, 21 West End was advertising a 1-bedroom apartment for $5,200 a month and a 3-bedroom for $10,000 a month.

“In my decades as a business owner in New York City, I’ve never seen such reckless disregard for neighborly relations,” Kaner fumed, noting that the garbage piles have typically lingered for a full 24 hours before they’re hauled off. “People think it’s our garbage. It stinks and it’s unsightly.”

In an unusual twist, the dispute appears to stem partly from the fact that the street itself has been designated as private property — a quirk of the residential tower developments that increasingly dominate the West Fifties and Sixties, sources said. As such, the tenant owners have more say so over where their garbage is picked up — even though the Department of Sanitation of New York still has to approve the location.

An NYC sanitation worker picks up a garbage can behind a garbage truck
The city’s Department of Sanitation must approve the location of garbage pickups even though tenant owners at 21 West End have more say over where that location is.
Getty Images

“My client owns the street,” said Jay Itkowitz, an attorney for Dermot Co, the real estate firm that owns 21 West End. “It’s a private street and they can put the garbage wherever on the street they want, subject to DSNY approval. Obviously, my client has not put an application in [to DSNY] to put the waste material in front of their own building.” 

Avi Kaner
Morton Williams co-owner Avi Kaner said the offending garbage piles typically linger for a full 24 hours before they’re hauled off.
Avi Kaner

When Morton Williams opened its store in August 2019, it complained about the remote dumping to its landlord, Elad Group, which developed the condo building anchored by the Morton Williams store as part of One West End, a massive luxury residential complex it built with Silverstein Properties. Elad tried to resolve the situation. 

“We had discussions with the building owners about the trash before and after Morton Williams moved in,” Elad chief executive Yoel Shargian told The Post. “They dismissed me, but the amount of trash is now overwhelming. It’s not pleasant.”

Shargian, added, “In my opinion, the fact that this is a private street does not allow [Dermot] more than other tenants in the area.” 

After getting complaints from Morton Williams last week, Dermot Co. said it has requested a new “designated” area for its garbage from the New York Department of Sanitation, according to Itkowitz.

In the meantime, however, Kaner says Dermot this week proposed an unsavory “compromise” — namely, that it move its garbage away from Morton Williams’ front entrance and place it on the corner of West End Avenue and Freedom Place — near a second entrance to the supermarket. It has also agreed to dump the garbage after 4 pm before the day of pickup instead of in the morning.

Garbage bags lined along the curb across the street from a residential tower
Garbage bags from 21 West End lined along the curb across the street from the high-end residence.
Avi Kaner

“Dermot has tried to accommodate the store to be a good neighbor,” Itkowitz said. “They would take the garbage away from the store’s main entrance. It may not be perfect, but they don’t have to do it.”

On Friday, a spokeswoman for the DSNY, Belinda Magers, said she wasn’t immediately able to comment on the specifics of the situation. Generally, she said DSNY performs site visits with building reps to identify proper set-out and collection locations, whether on public or private streets.

“If it’s a private street, that could lead to special conditions,” Magers said. “The private streets are not too common, especially in Manhattan, but they do exist, especially in the outer boroughs.”

NYC sanitation department trucks parked along a street
Jay Itkowitz, an attorney for the owner of 21 West End, said his client has tried to be a “good neighbor” to Morton Williams and help resolve the trash dispute.
Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The situation flared up two weeks ago when Kaner began visiting West End Ave. more frequently to study whether a new competitor was hurting business.

“I’ve been spending more time at that location and it got to me,” Kaner said of the garbage piles. “I realized that this is egregious.”

Last week, he began sending a series of texts and emails to Dermot management, demanding changes.

“You guys are destroying my business,” Kaner wrote on Thursday.

“Please refrain from emailing Dermot regarding any issues that pertain to location or pick-up times of the garbage,” Dermot vice president Sara Getlin replied, “and direct your frustration to the appropriate party, as Dermot is now spending an inordinate amount of time replying to your complaints regarding issues over which we have no control.”



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