tenants complain about construction at former Mitchell-Lama New Management building
Residents of what used to be a middle-income apartment building on the Upper West Side are crying foul against the new landlords as they renovate the apartment tower for future wealthier tenants.
THE CITY spoke to several residents of Glenn Gardens at 175 W. 87th St. who said the reconstruction of the building’s facade — and the noise that comes with it — is taking a toll on their well-being. be mental and physical.
Residents of the property, built in 1975 as part of the state’s Mitchell-Lama Affordable Housing Program, have complained of persistent construction noise, dust buildup, lack of air circulation and adequate ventilation inside apartments, and fumes from construction, they told THE CITY. .
A&E Real Estate Holdings bought the property for $220 million in late 2018, the Commercial Observer reported at the time.
Jan Kraus, long-time resident of Glenn Gardens, believes it’s ‘renovation at work’ – making a building sufficiently inconvenient through renovations that long-time residents are forced to move in order for owners can charge more rent to the next tenant.
“The noise has been excruciating for anyone at home during the day and there has been no awareness of the increased number of us working from home,” she said. “The building’s structure is concrete and steel, so noise reverberates at least 10 to 15 floors above and below where the work is taking place.”
Kraus said the windows and metal installed in his room on the 26th floor prevent his air conditioning unit from doing its job. Instead, cold air descends the shaft created by the space between new and old windows installed in the building, keeping the heat inside.
A&E senior property manager Louis Cutri called the latest accusation nonsense.
“This is just categorically untrue. We respond to any in-unit repair requests within 24 hours, and we know from first-hand interactions that these views do not represent the vast majority of residents in the building. “Cutri said in an email to THE CITY. “Across all of our properties, our business is built on keeping tenants in their homes and ensuring that working-class and upper-class New Yorkers average have quality housing that they can afford.”
Tuck Milligan, who co-chairs the Glenn Gardens Tenants’ Alliance Renovations Committee, said A&E changed its tune once THE CITY reached out to them on Thursday to resolve issues with the renovation.
A&E has now promised tenants they will be housed while the interior walls are demolished. The request was one of 11 sent to the company by tenants in a letter, Milligan said.
Residents had planned a rally for Aug. 13 with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s district office and handed out flyers to tenants promoting the rally.
Shortly after, A&E officials wrote a letter to the tenants saying the rally was unnecessary since they had finished working on the facade and the worst was over.
“We are pleased to inform all residents that as of Friday August 5, all demolition and waterproofing work has been completed on the property,” the letter reads. “While we regrettably recognize that the construction of the building may be inherently disruptive, the next phase of the project should result in significantly less noise.”
Mulligan called A&E’s actions “the typical appeasement we’ve received from the start.” But he acknowledged it was a step in the right direction.
After calling off this weekend’s rally, Milligan said: “We are cautiously optimistic.”
A&E “originally told us that this would be a two-week process where tenants would continue to live in their apartments while (the) work crew moved in and out for two weeks. They claim they reduce it to five days,” Milligan said. “We’ll see, but it’s just the beginning.
“Trying to transform the building”
Glenn Gardens, which opened in 1974, began as a Mitchell-Lama building, part of the 1950s housing program designed for landlords to provide New Yorkers with low-cost, middle-income housing for at least 20 years. After almost three decades, the owner of Glenn Gardens bought out the scheme in the mid-1990s. Those who did not have low enough incomes to qualify for the Section 8 subsidy were offered rent-regulated leases.
The complex includes a 32-story apartment tower as well as a five-story walk-up building and parking garage. It was the first time the property had changed hands since it opened.
Tony Riccardi, co-chairman of the tenant renovation committee, said Glenn Gardens was not designed for “luxury”.
“They put in quality gear, good high-end devices,” he said. “They are premium. So, you know, it feels like they’re trying to turn the building into something it was never meant to be.
In a letter to Mulligan and Riccardi, A&E officials refuted the claim that the “liveability guarantee for the residence has been breached by construction.” The company spokesperson states that they have addressed the dust and noise issues appropriately. They claim to have used vacuum cleaners and water sprayers to dampen the dust, used acoustic blankets when possible, and muffled drilling equipment. If none of this worked, A&E recommended requesting foam earplugs, available to all residents at reception.
Management said it expects all renovations to be completed by early 2023 and assured residents the worst was over.
A&E has put up artist renderings of what the building will look like once the renovations are complete. The one showing the outside of the building had cars on the street with European license plates. Kraus, Milligan and Riccardi found them ridiculous. Kraus claimed that A&E officials spoke to them in Trump language.
“Oh, it’s going to be beautiful,” A&E officials reportedly told Kraus. “You will love it.”