HPD to inspect Millbank properties

Apartment houses in a portfolio that city officials said have troubled living conditions due to building code violations are now undergoing roof to cellar inspections.

Comprehensive inspections by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development at the 10 buildings that are part of the Millbank Portfolio, a group of buildings that were purchased by Millbank Real Estate in 2007, are now underway. Millbank defaulted on a $35 million mortgage on the 548 units of housing, and city officials have stated that conditions rapidly worsened during and after the foreclosure. As of press time, the buildings located in the northwest Bronx are carrying a total of 3,577 open violations.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn and HPD commissioner Rafael Cestero announced the comprehensive inspections on Thursday, October 28. Cestero says HPD has already inspected two of the buildings.

“The inspections of these buildings give us another set of data, to give us a sense of what work is really needed,” Quinn said. “This is going to make it harder for the LPR to sell it to an owner will not make the repairs to keep the buildings livable or does not have the financial wherewithal to make needed repairs.”

According to Quinn, LPR Partners, which is managing the building portfolio for the bank, believes that the buildings need between $5 million to $7 million worth of repairs. Quinn said the city has come to believe that between $20 million and $25 million may be needed to bring the buildings up to code. Both Quinn and Cestero want to make sure that the new owner is able to make repairs when the portfolio is sold. The inspections should document all of the violations the portfolio faces. Cestero said that the city has already made over $80,000 of emergency repairs to the portfolio in the last year.

“We are doing what the Speaker has said by being proactive and going into every unit,” Cestero said. “We are going apartment by apartment with proactive inspections in response to 311 complaints.”

HPD spokesman Eric Bederman said that the department expects the number of violations to increase substantially in response to the new inspections. Currently, about 79% of the HPD violations in the portfolio are class B and class C violations, the most serious.

The buildings are located at 3018 Heath Avenue, 2264 Grand Avenue, 2500 University Avenue, 75 West 190th Street, 2505 Aqueduct Avenue West, 2785 Sedgwick Avenue, 2770 Kingsbridge Terrace, 1576 Taylor Avenue, 686 Rosewood Street, and 3215 Holland Avenue.

At a tenant rally with Speaker Quinn and elected officials at 3018 Heath Avenue in April, tenants said that some of the issues included exposed wiring, pealing lead paint, broken locks on entrance doors, broken intercoms, rat and roach infestations, non-working boilers, and electrical issues.

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