The assault began shortly after a new owner bought the building at 25 Grove Street in June 2015. Surveillance cameras arrived first, pointed at the doors to rent-regulated apartments. Then came the construction workers, who gutted empty units and sent a dust cocktail of lead-based paint, brick and who knows what else throughout the building.
Worried, a pregnant woman and her husband left, dooming their apartment to the demolition derby. Violations were issued; violations were dismissed. And on a Friday morning in early August 2016, Temma Tainow, who had lived in the West Village building for 34 years, was jarred awake by what sounded like an explosion. She stumbled into her kitchen and screamed. A leg dangled from a hole punched through her ceiling.