A notorious Van Nest building may be heading towards redemption.
For years, 1663 Garfield Street has been a public nuisance to the area’s residents.
Local residents refer to the building as a crime den where trespassers have unrestricted access.
In late 2012, a male teenager armed with a loaded semi-automatic pistol was apprehended on its rooftop.
The building has been neglected by its owner and property manager, Erik Clayton, since ownership changed hands in 2011, according to Councilman Ritchie Torres.
That same year, the NYC Housing Preservation and Development placed the program in a protective housing code enforcement program.
Councilman Torres and his office convinced HPD to continue inspecting 1663 Garfield Street and pursue an Article 7A proceeding, which would have placed the property in the hands of a court-appointed administrator.
“I am proud to have successfully persuaded the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to pursue a 7A administrative proceeding against the most notorious slumlord in Van Nest. The appointment of an administrator shows that city government can successfully advocate for tenants when landlords abandon their responsibilities,” the councilman said.
The Article 7A program aims to repair buildings in such catastrophic disrepair that its condition is deemed dangerous to tenant’s lives, health or safety.
All restorative responsibilities are transferred from the owner to a court-appointed overseer.
A building can be nominated for a 7A by HPD recommendation or tenant petition. To qualify, every apartment must have at least two serious violations.
Upon nomination, a housing court judge may appoint private administrators to manage the property if it meets the ‘abandoned’ and ‘dangerous’ criterion.
Exempting constant recorded instances of maintenance failure, housing judges may allow the owner a final chance to make the necessary repairs.
Once assigned, the 7A administrator is required to utilize all rent rolls to make repairs. The administrator is also permitted to raise rents to cover the cost of the improvements.
The Garfield Street building has only six units.
According to HPD, there are 89 open violations on the property, approximately 15 violations per unit.
The court case’s success marks a clear victory in protecting the rights of 1663 Garfield Street’s residents.
Bernadette Ferrara, Van Nest Neighborhood Association vice president and longtime Van Nest resident, explained that VNNA had the councilman visit this building during a community tour.
“His speciality is in housing and we made it a point for him to visit this building. We have children that live on that block, “ Ferrara said.
Ferrara, a Community Board 11 board member representing Van Nest, added that the community is receptive to the administrator, who is welcome to attend VNNA’s monthly meetings at the Monsignor Fiorentino Apartments.
“We would like to see this administrator be more proactive with the community and help raise the quality of life here in Van Nest,” she expressed.