Milbank Portfolio buyer pledges repairs

Apartment buildings that have suffered neglect for years will be getting a new lease on life, a new landlord, and $7 million in renovations.

The troubled group of 10 Bronx apartment buildings have suffered from neglect after former owner Milbank defaulted on its $35 million mortgage.

The tenants at the 548-units are struggling with disruptions in heat and hot water service, as well as security and health hazards like mold or windows with broken locks.

Mayor Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Senator Gustavo Rivera, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Department of Housing Preservation and Development president Mathew Wambua, and tenants association president Maggie Maldonado stood on the steps of one of the buildings, 3018 Heath Avenue, on Tuesday, April 26 to announce the sale of the distressed portfolio.

The sale was made to established landlord Steven Finkelstein in a $27,750,000 transaction. Finkelstein, of Finkelstein Timberger LLC, owns over 30 other buildings in the Bronx.

The hard work of rehabilitating the buildings has already begun, and the tenants who have suffered through deplorable conditions for too long can look forward to seeing real improvements, Bloomberg stated.

At the press conference, flanked by a group of some of the properties’ 1,000 tenants, Finkelstein pledged to invest at least $7 million into the portfolio, and at 3018 Heath Avenue, new windows have already been installed.

The group of buildings were the first identified by the Predatory Equity task force launched by Quinn in 2009. The task force monitors problems related to the continued fallout from the national housing crisis.

The city also found dealing with the receiver of the foreclosed properties, LNR, difficult in terms of securing the needed repairs, Quinn said.

“The tenants have fought Milbank and have fought LNR, and now it is nice to see that their tenacity has paid off,” Quinn stated. According to reports, Finkelstein has signed an agreement with HPD that stipulates the agency has the authority to approve the scope of work at all 10 buildings in the portfolio.

There were 4031 building code violations, Quinn said, and the city will continue monitoring the situation until the housing is brought up to code.

The additional buildings in the sale are: 2264 Grand Avenue, 2500 University Avenue, 75 W. 190 Street, 2505 Aqueduct Avenue, 2785 Sedgwick Avenue, 2770 Kingsbridge Terrace, 1576 Taylor Avenue, 686 Rosewood Street, and 3215 Holland Avenue.

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