One of the oldest residential co-ops in the Bronx is in disarray, leaving the shareholders searching for answers.
According to many residents, the Matthews Building, containing 124 co-op apartments and located at 2925 Matthews Avenue, as well as the Barnes Building, located at 2922 Barnes Avenue, are in dire straits due to an expired ‘provisional board’.
Both buildings, which have been self-owned and self-managed since the mid-1920s, are experiencing numerous issues and difficulties.
Among them is an issue concerning three individuals who are acting as members of the buildings’ provisional board, all of whom were either not elected into the position or continue to hold the position after their term expired, according to certain a lawsuit filed last July.
Duncan Campbell, who is currently acting as the provisional board’s president, saw his term expire six months ago, according to the lawsuit. Besides Duncan the suit also includes the two other board members, Catherine Rogan and Efrain Salinas.
Over the past year and a half, the three acting members of the provisional board, which according to the co-op by-laws should consist of nine members, have made numerous decisions without the approval of the other shareholders, the court document alledges.
According to residents in both buildings, the members of the provisional board have not held any board meetings or elections.
The lawsuit further alledges that there have been no recorded meeting minutes.
In addition, social services organization Farband Housing Corporation, which should provide shareholders with financial files and records, have not done so, according to some residents
“Both of these buildings are experiencing absolute chaos,” said Lynn Narvaez, a shareholder at the Matthews Building. “These buildings don’t have a (permanent) board – we have three individuals controlling everything that takes place in the buildings without taking the shareholders’ needs into consideration, without any votes, nothing. It’s corruption.”
Other issues have arose in the Matthews Building, including broken lights, locked garbage chutes, resulting in garbage overflowing and spilling out into the hallways and mice in the elevator fan duct, among other unexplained incidents.
Nearly a half million dollars from HPD, acquired to address various building improvements, was spent by the board for unknown expenses, they claim.
Shareholders have tried to contact various agencies for assistance, such as the State Authority General’s Office and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, to no avail, as many agencies won’t investigate fraud in a co-op.
According to some residents, Stillman Management and Farband Housing Corporation are aware of the co-op’s issues, including the three-person provisional board.
When Stillman Management was questioned, they said that they are doing everything in their power to handle these issues.
However, they blamed part of the problem on the co-op’s financial difficulties due to some residents not paying common charges.
The co-op now finds itself $300,000 in debt, from the carrying charge shortfall and previous board mismanagement, Stillman claims.
“We can only do the best we can,” said Roy Stillman, president of Stillman Management. “Not everything that is going wrong in this co-op is in our control, but we are doing everything possible to help this building move forward in a positive way.”
The lawsuit that was filed five months ago names the acting provisional board, Stillman Management and Farband Housing Corporation.
“My attempt in this lawsuit is to get this co-op to operate correctly,” said attorney Karen Takash, representing the co-op’s shareholders. “This co-op needs a real board, by-laws, board meetings, minutes, regulations on selling co-ops, etc. There is no structure – the acting board won’t even let the shareholders host a meeting.”
Farband Housing Corporation and acting provisional board president Duncan Campbell were not able to be reached for comment.