VN mattress battle keeps residents awake at night

Front of mattress store on Van Buren Street.
Photo Courtesy of Robert Christie

Community members are once again battling a mattress store in Van Nest that they thought was forced to close in 2013.

Benny Mattress is still up and running despite being the subject of multiple violations and complaints.

Residents are now awaiting a Wednesday, November 9 court hearing which will determine the business’ fate.

Jeremy Warneke, district manager for Community Board 11, is working with city agencies and the residents to close the mattress retailer, located at 1609 Van Buren Street.

Warneke said he has been battling with Benny Mattress for more than two years.

He added he has received complaints from many residents on Van Buren Street about its sloppy appearance.

The location was formerly SM Bedding which the Department of Consumer Affairs shut in 2013 for operating without a secondhand dealer license.

At the time neighbors claimed the store was extremely filthy.

Two months later the business obtained the secondhand license and reopened under a new name.

According to Warneke, in July he told a gentlemen at Benny Mattress the community board had received complaints about cleanliness.

He also filed a complaint with the NYC Department of Buildings in March about the business, which occupies a garage-like structure, at the street’s southern dead end.

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted an inspection in May of the location and issued violations for three discarded refrigerators, one stove, and some light rubbish “creating harborage conditions.”

In addition there were mattresses stacked to a height of approximately six feet that were partially covered by a tarp.

Also, a 311 complaint was issued because there were used car tires filled up with sitting water in front of the store.

The owner of Benny Mattress currently owes Church of Pentecost, it’s landlord, $80,000 in rent arrears, said Warneke.

The store is located behind the church.

“Who would want to live next to that,” said Warneke.

Warneke and Bernadette Ferrara, president of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance don’t understand how the business is allowed to keep operating.

Benny Mattress continues to do business eventhough DOB threatened to padlock the premises. A court hearing will determine the agency’s next step.

Despite the court date, the store remains open for business.

Ferrara asked in one email to DOB how the mattress store is able “to still operate and make money for four more months?!”

Warneke said he has filed another complaint with the DOB.

However, he was told DOB is still dealing with previous complaints and won’t be able to address Warneke’s latest complaint.

The Bronx Times called the number listed for Benny Mattress but was not able to reach anyone for comment.

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchristie@cnglocal.com.

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