Slumlord trying to blow up buildings?

rentlogo.jpgThe office of Assemblyman Keith Wright informed us about a press conference that will take place on Friday, May 18 at 9:45 a.m. in front of 235 West 146th Street.

The scene reads like something from an episode of “Law & Order”. The landlord of three buildings in the area has been accused of trying to blow up the buildings while tenants are still living there. “These buildings, which have thousands of HPD violations, have recently been subject to an arson investigation and multiple instances of suspicious gas leaks in vacant apartments.”

These are buildings that I have passed on a number of occasions and it is obvious from the exterior that they are in serious disrepair. Many of the tenants have Rent Strike signs affixed to their front windows. I will try to get pictures of it if I can.

Read the details after the jump.

This Friday, May 18th, Assemblyman Keith Wright
(70th A.D.-Harlem) and Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell, Jr. (71st
A.D.-Harlem/Washington Heights), will be holding a press conference to
call on the New York City Housing Court to appoint a 7A administrator
for three buildings in Harlem, in order to both protect the residents
from their management company and ensure that HPD-mandated repairs are
being done. These buildings, which have thousands of HPD violations,
have recently been subject to an arson investigation and multiple
instances of suspicious gas leaks in vacant apartments.

“What blows my mind is that despite all of the attention now being paid
to our buildings, a large majority of the most necessary repairs have
still not begun. For a while things were looking up, as HPD was making
the repairs that the landlord refused to do. Due to a new court order in
favor of the landlord, repairs have stopped,” said Elsia Vasquez,
President of the Tenants Association. She continued, “These two separate
gas leaks in vacant apartments have put us on edge and are making us
wonder if someone is trying to burn down the buildings. The only people
with access to these units are the landlord and the management company,
who in addition, have failed to provide a majority of the tenants with
the mandated smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.”

This PRESS CONFERENCE is to take place at 235 West 146th Street (between
7th Avenue and 8th Avenue), at 9:45 AM, on FRIDAY, MAY 18TH, 2007.

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13 thoughts on “Slumlord trying to blow up buildings?

  1. After a long trial, an administrator of rents was appointed. The landlord lost control of the buildings. Shortly thereafter, the owner “sold” the buildings to a new owner — the tenants believe that the sale was a sham. It is the kind of thing that is often done because courts sometimes feel a new owner should be given a chance to correct the violations. Right now there are motions pending in court, but it looks like the administrator is going to stay. The tenants are much happier now. Take a look at http://www.palanteharlem.org for some updates.

  2. Wow…has it almost been a year already? Well guys,I am here to provide a “where are they now” piece to this posting. On December 18, the three buildings we were fighting for were placed under 7A administration. This means that the landlord has been stripped of all management powers. Basically, a third party person is selected by the court to bring to fruition the repairs that the landlord so vehemently fought (and lost) to walk away from. These are essential repairs in the millions of dollars!

    As to be expected the tenants are ecstatic over the victory! Out of this struggle we decided to create a group called Pa’lante, which is spanish for “go, forward!” We also created a website to chronicle all the events so far at: http://www.palanteharlem.org

    Thanks to everyone for their support!!!

  3. Wow… thanks for the support!

    My brother Hugo told me about the site and now, after the press conference, I have the time to share some light.

    Basically- these are rent stabilized buildings; the tenants have over $200k in escrow, retained Grimble & LoGuidice, and started this battle in September 19 2006. There are 3 buildings. In addition, 2 rent stabilized buildings in the east village, owned by the same landlord, have joined our struggle. The problem stem from 111 Centre Street. Judges are afraid and are not responding. HPD, NYPD, and FDNY however, have done a great job!

    Everyday, our lives are at risk. Senior Citizens and children are harassed by the workers, hired by the mgmt company Citadel and are a bunch of drug addicts or alcoholic thugs. The President of the mgmt firm (Stephen Shapiro) went as far of doing the “I will cut your throat” sign in front of Judge Badillo (2/14/06) and yet the court did NOTHING to stop this maniac. Did I mention that he did this the same day of the fire?

    February 13, 2006 HPD contractor came by to ‘fix’ our boiler due to the fact that we didn’t have any heat for over a week. 8 children and 2 adults ended up in local hospitals, including a premature baby. This was Shapiro’s way to give us a Happy Valentine’s Day.

    By the way, the HPD Contractors found out that the boiler was simply turned-off. To get heat, we had to call the 911 so that they can give HPD access to the boiler room. Kudos to Officer Helly & Co. who made the workers give access to the boiler room. A member of the Councilman’s office is witness to this. Unfortunately, the cost for being warm 1 night was horrible, I was awakened by one of the tenants informing me of the fire. She called 911. She heard one of the workers on his cell phone saying “Okay, the fire has reached both sides of the buildings (225-235)…you should call the cops”. This is pure malice- do you agree? He dialed 10 digits instead of 3.

    Most recently, last Wednesday, we called the fire dept. due to a 3-day old gas leak. The tenants are afraid of repercussion, so for 3 days, they informed the superintendent of the leak. The result for calling FDNY: the Super scolded the tenant and has left another tenant without a toilet, bathtub, or sink for 3 days. (I was out of town then but I can tell you that this is 1 out of 3 tenants that experienced the same thing.)

    This tenant (out of 5) received a mandate from the Judge to give unfettered access to the mgmt. company for 5 weeks. Note that the Judge visited our buildings and after the first 5 weeks, visited these apartments and stated that the repairs where inadequate- including the tub that would sink. Citadel and Ilan Zinner had to do the same repairs again- this time in 6 weeks. Our tenants are required to be home from 9-5 M-F. (It is important to note that the Judge is focusing on 5 apartments out of 55 apartments that are in the Association.)

    If anyone can help us… we are here need all the help that we can get.

    We also have him in the Supreme Court for rent overcharges, fakes leases, and refusal to supply leases. Rents range from $150-$1700. It all depends if you rented an apartment from Ilan Zinner. He has been taking to court by HPD Anti-Abandonment, the Dept. of Buildings, The Department of Sanitation, The Department of Health, and by us.

  4. Doug, I wish “just moving” were as simple as you make it sound. Hugo is correct. What landlords such as this rely on is fear and division umong the tenants. When all those affected come together and present a united front there is not much they can’t accomplish. I commend Ms. Vasquez and all the other members of the tenants association for standing up and making their voices heard.

  5. i wish it were that simple to just get up and move.not everyone posseses craigslist-like mobility where they just pick up and go with a duffle bag.there are many folks who have built their families on this block.we have eldrely folks who have been living here since the 60’s as well.aside from the conditions mentioned by fernando above, the landlord also exploited those who were non-english speakers by requiring cash-only payments from a good number of them and providing no valid receipts, kids that have tested positive positive for lead and mold infections, unexplained arson…it’s gone too far really. folks with gaping holes and cascading water leaks in their ceilings paying upwards of $1300 rents.we’re not asking for marbles floors and concierge here. just safe and habitable conditions. what they did not count on is that we were to unite salvadorians, mexicans, dominicans, blacks, and whites all under the same banner. it’s our unity across the barriers that has given us the wherewithal to continue this.

    and to address #4, i couldn’t care less if the landlord were jewish, chinese, or dominican. no one has the right to allow these deplorable conditions.

  6. As a previous tenant of 225 W 146th St., I can attest to the deproable conditions the landlord kept this buildings in. Whether it was urine soaked stairwells, garbage in front of the building, crack vials throughout the building or the noticable drug activity, the landlord never took action. I hope that the judge grants the tenants association the 7A so that repairs can begin and all occupants can live in humane conditions.

  7. anon #4 whoever you are—this isnt the place for you. i think you’ll find yourself pretty much alone on these boards if you’re looking to take the discussion in that direction.

  8. Let me just toss this out there. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’ the name of that landlord looked pretty Jewish to me. Surprise, surprise.

    Need I say any more?

  9. That landlord should be ashamed of himself — and should get ready to start wearing an orange jumpsuit if he plans to commit arson.

  10. Thanks for posting the info, fam. The President of the Tenants Association, Elsia Vasquez, is my sister. I’ve been helping alongside her in this battle since september of last year when the rent strikes began. It’s two buildings on 146th Street and another on 141st Street owned by the same landlord. It’s appalling how with all the “new harlem renaissance” sound bites and luxury condo’s that the people who have been here through the rougher patches in Harlem’s history are getting such nasty treatment.

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