West Side residents voice concerns of drugs, prostitution on Breckenridge near Grant St.

By Matt Ricchiazzi

Upper West Side residents are complaining of drug sales and rampant prostitution near the corner of Breckenridge and Grant Streets, a transitional neighborhood not far from the burgeoning Elmwood Village.

Neighbors are complaining of condoms and needles on the ground, as drug dealers and prostitutes ply their trades with impunity during daylight hours. Neighbors say they have called the mayor’s 311 hotline, contacted media and took to Facebook to enlist support.

Among complaints are that drug dealers and pimps sit on the stoops of houses near Grant Street along Breckenridge, watching over their illicit businesses.

There are three houses, neighbors say, which serve as an axis for the illicit businesses that occur on the street:

A “barber shop” at 304 Breckenridge near the corner of Grant and Breckenridge that neighbors think is headquarters.

A barber shop on Breckenridge, many neighbors say, is part of an axis of properties used for drug sales centralized on Breckenridge St. near Grant St.

A recent lawsuit filed in federal court on an unrelated matter lists an alleged associate/friend of Mayor Byron Brown as having connection to the house and associated drug dealing there, (We will be reporting more on that lawsuit in a future edition.)

322 breck
322 Breckenridge, a vacant house, seems to attract drug users and dealers alike.

Sellers, buyers and prostitutes, neighbors say, go to the “barber shop” then drift to 319 and 322 Breckenridge to hang out, consume drugs and conduct more business.

322 Breckenridge is an abandoned house where, neighbors say, drug sales occur in the narrow walkway which leads to a fence in the backyard. People come and go frequently from behind the house through the fence.

332 Breckenridge, city officials say, is slated for eventual demolition.
Directly across from 322, is 319 Breckenridge, where drug dealers, users, pimps, prostitutes are said to congregate.

As Johns drive by, prostitutes, sometimes indecently clad, step out to greet them. But it is not the silent plying of the trade that offends and frightens neighbors.

Santiago Santiago, who, with his wife, is raising his children in the neighborhood, posted his concerns on a Facebook Public Group called West Side Alive.

He writes, “Basically the entire block between Breckenridge and Boyd was filled with this crap. Guys sitting by the tree in front of San Bor drinking liquor and fiends trying to trade them stuff for drugs. I made a point to tell my daughter and niece to NEVER walk through there. That’s a shame, I was born and raised on the West Side. I’m not afraid of much, but I definitely fear for the safety of any girl/woman walking through there.”

[Name redacted], another neighborhood resident, said, “I walked by around 10:30 in the morning and it was already going on. Some girl was completely wasted on something and dancing at the corner. Another was coming out from behind the crack house and guys smoking pot and barbequing in front of the barber shop. I used to just feel slightly uncomfortable walking by there, now they make comments, ‘nice tan,’ ‘nice legs.’ I really don’t want to surrender the area by refusing to walk down that block but they are definitely becoming more and more brazen.”

Some noted that when school buses drop off high school girls at that corner, they are followed.

[Name redacted] says she calls the Mayor’s 311 line weekly since March, but so far the city hasn’t acted on her complaints. She doesn’t go shopping on Grant St. anymore because of the activity.

[Name redacted], another West Sider, says that she was approached when bicycling on the block.

“I had a guy jump in front of my bicycle and straddle my front tires all the while repeating, ‘I got what you want, I got what you want,’ as he pulled a baggie of drugs from his underpants,” she said. “I had to tell him, ‘I don’t want any drugs from the crack of your ass’ in broad daylight to get him to let go of my bike.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 8.53.15 PM
A quiet moment at 304 Breckenridge.

“We call and call. The last time I spoke to (Niagara District Councilman David) Rivera, he mentioned that he drives by it everyday. I think that a public shaming is in order,” she said. “That corner is a scourge… there have been stabbings at mid-day and beatings.”

Tory Popielinski lives on the next block of Breckenridge and has owned his house for 14 years. He says it has never been this bad.

“The house across the street just sold. They were asking $179,000, but this past week one morning I saw a hooker walk right before it and get into a car that parked on Hoyt St. in the middle of the block,” he said. “You can fill in the rest.”

Girl completely wasted dancing at the corner, topless prostitutes, drug users coming out from behind the crack house and guys smoking pot openly are just part of the scene.

[Redacted] wrote, “I had to tell a prostitute three weeks ago to put her damn shirt on.”

Some people claim that though they live nearby they never walk up Breckenridge to Grant even when it is the most direct route.

“I always go over a block to either Auburn or West Ferry. In fact, I avoid driving down that block between Grant and Parkdale. I was out with a friend recently who drove that way and got a firsthand experience of why I avoid the area” one neighbor said.

[Name redacted] owns a property on Breckenridge closer to Parkdale than Grant but the goings on is impacting the quiet enjoyment of her home.

“The street is not so bad closer to Parkdale, but I get so frustrated with all the open drug activity on the corner of Breckenridge and Grant,” she posted on Facebook.

The two and one half story homes, many of which are two family homes, on Breckenridge near Grant were built around 1900.


About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • All of these comments were made on an (at that time) open facebook group. It’s extremely unethical journalism to pass this off as original reporting, but no one quoted here had a reasonable expectation of privacy in their comments.

  • So I can put myself in danger the way that Matt put people in danger. Seriously? Just because something is on the internet and someone’s name is on their profile does not make it morally or ethically okay to do what he did. Done. Peace out.

  • No it was not a pseudonym for Matt Ricchiazzi. Unlike many others who hide behind pseudonyms and grow brave with their comments, Matt is out there, with his real name. You may not like it “Arm342” but he does what they thinks is right and uses his real name in doing so. Would you care to do the same?

  • That’s a real good excuse to put people in danger and make them feel unsafe. Is Villa09 a pseudonym for Matt Ricchiazzi?

  • That’s a real good excuse to put people in danger and make them feel unsafe. Is Villa09 a pseudonym for Matt Ricchiazzi?

  • If this was taken from the internet.. There is no need for papers needing to be signed.. Its already there for the public to see! Great article.. Bc its whats happening on breckenridge and grant st!!

  • It was on the internet!! The persons name is on their profile!! What in the workd was this person thinking.. Putting info out there with their names on their profiles!! Stating where they live on the internet! Lol you out it out on social media it can be used!

  • It was on the internet!! The persons name is on their profile!! What in the workd was this person thinking.. Putting info out there with their names on their profiles!! Stating where they live on the internet! Lol you out it out on social media it can be used!

  • I want to throw up after reading this. It’s a horrifying violation of my friends and neighbors that potentially puts them in danger. Ironically, I was quoted word-for-word but not identified. I will NEVER pick up ArtVoice again and will be sharing my distaste with everyone I know.

  • Jamie. Poor Jamie. First his wife tells him to fuck off, then his entire staff tells him to fuck off, now all his readers are telling him to fuck off. I think the common theme here Jamie…is that everyone wants you to fuck off. I don’t know. I could be wrong.

  • I can’t believe its possible to publish an “article” that is just 300 words of paraphrased Facebook comments, hearsay, and Google street views . . . not that I’m mentioned but I find it unbelievable (and dangerous!?) to name specific people whose quotes he stole . . . !? Don’t you have to sign a release after an interview before they can use it? (Not that anyone was “interviewed”). Artvoice as a whole has slid from interesting neighborhood events and thought provoking artistry, to worthless fluff and glowing reviews of all the identical hipster restaurants that open and shut like clams up and down Elmwood. But this article hits a whole new low – written at a 3rd grade level by someone that seems to have personal issues with the FB group he references, members of which he recklessly names!! How is this safe, legal, interesting, or subject matter that should be shared with anyone but the BPD!?

  • I can’t believe how unprofessional you have acted in this! You have put people in grave danger by naming them in this article… basically pointing them out to the dealers to be targeted. You did no interviews. You simply copied FB comments and added them to your article with NO forethought of the consequences to the people mentioned. This is the bottom of the barrel in journalism.

  • Why interview people and gather information for a story when you can just screenshot posts from a Facebook thread and quote them without permission? Nice journalism, Artvoice.

  • This is very dangerous naming people and where they live and then showing them pointing out who drug dealers are. These drug dealers will go after these people. They have done it before. This is very dangerous reporting that you are doing ArtVoice.

  • Do you think you may have wanted to ask any of the people you quoted if they were ok with being in the article? Or should I say did you?