Tenants in an Allerton building are relieved that repairs were finally made to the elevator in their building.
Councilman James Vacca and a group of tenants at 2714 Wallace Avenue were savoring victory as the apartment building’s only elevator was certified operational in time for the new year.
This long-fought battle came to an end after a roughly six-month outage, and months of discourse between city agencies and the landlord.
Vacca was the first person to ride in the rehabilitated elevator, a tenant said.
“We battled with the landlord for a longtime,” said Councilman Vacca. “This is an instance where (the elevator) took so long to fix.”
The councilman said that initially they believed the elevator would be repaired by Christmas, but that it did not pass inspection by the Department of Buildings. Instead, the councilman said, it was ready for the New Year, which was good news for the tenants.
Vacca was lead sponsor in the city council of a new law taking effect in July that would allow the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to make elevator repairs in an apartment building and then bill the landlord, if the Department of Buildings issues a violation and certain other conditions are met.
The elevator repair program would work in a similar way as an existing HPD building repair program dealing with other issues not rectified by landlords, such as removing mold, repairing water leaks, and dealing with boiler repair,
Councilman Vacca believes the situation at Wallace Avenue clearly illustrates the need for the new law he pushed through the city council and which was signed by the mayor.
“It will finally give the city the power to make emergency repairs on elevators where they have been out for an inordinate amount of time,” Vacca said.
“This was the case at Wallace Avenue. The elevator was out for an inordinate amount of time, and the city did not have the wherewithal or the mechanism to fix it.”
The landlord has hired a new superintendent at the building, and the councilman hopes that these and other changes will be the beginning of a turnaround for the six-story building.
The tenants have filed for a rent reduction for lack of elevator service.
Resident Ramona Lopez, who has lived in the building since 1997, said that two elderly tenants in their 80s on the fourth and sixth floor faced major difficulties because of the elevator outage.
The fifth floor tenant said she faced inconvenience when she walked her dog and grocery shopped.
“I had to do it little by little,” said Lopez of her food shopping. “It is good to know that the elevator is working right now, and I hope that it does not get messed up again.”
She would like to see a functional security cameras in the building to deter crime, she said.
Fernando Colon, another tenant, said that having the elevator working is a tremendous help.
“The building is now clean, and it is going back to what it used to be” said Colon, adding that the new super is taking care of essential maintenance like making sure the garbage is collected properly and the floors shine in common areas.