Barnes Avenue tenants ponder building’s future

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While the NIDC is looking into solutions to issues at one Pelham Parkway building that range from a near wall collapse to repairs needed on individual apartments, it is ultimately its tenants that have to make decisions on how to proceed.

The Neighborhood Initiative Development Corporation sent two representatives for a follow-up meeting with tenants at 2194 Barnes Avenue after a June 23 inspection by the HPD and the Fire department found a retaining wall in the basement of the building nearing collapse, forcing the building to be evacuated and bringing a swarm of media attention.

The retaining wall was located next to gas meters in the basement of the building, and Con-Ed has yet to restore full service to all of the apartments because gas meters need to be installed at another location, and the building’s entire system checked for any leaks as a precaution.

After holding a meeting with more than half of the tenants of the building July 8, NIDC began working on contacting the management of the building, which said they will send out maintenance crews to fix problems in individual apartments once they find out what needed to be repaired. But aside from a lone porter on the job, no tenants said they had been contacted.

“The owner is saying is that there are only 30 violations,” Hazel Miura, of NIDC, told the tenants. “We have received much more complaints than are officially filed. So, we could have the Department of Housing Preservation and Development come in here and write up all of the violations in the buildings.”

Metal brace supports have already been put in place to shore up the retaining wall in the basement, which is next to the superinten­dent’s apartment. Tenants say that other than a porter, there is no super on duty in the building.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s staff attended the meetings, as have representatives from Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera,  and now Vacca has personally vowed to bring in HPD.

“I am going to ask them to intervene,” Vacca said. “I am going to write to the commissioner. This has gone on long enough.”   

The NIDC has collected general complaints from tenants in the building, logging which apartments have everything from falling ceiling materials to warped floors to leaking pipes. The extensive list includes most of the apartments in the building.

“When the management changed in this building about five years ago, services really started to go downhill,” said one long-time tenant of the building, who declined to be named. 

NIDC addressed a crowd of 20+ tenants on Tuesday, July 29, all of who said that although the organization submitted a list of needed repairs to management, going apartment by apartment, those complaints have not yet been addressed.

Despite the involvement of over 20 tenants, the meeting was smaller than previous ones.

“I was a little disappointed that we got a lower turnout than last time,” Miura said after the meeting. “We have to see what happens. We are hoping to take two tenants, as well as representatives from our elected officials to meet with the management and discuss the tenants’ concerns.”

The realty company owning the building, Nalea Realty Corp., of Englewood Cliffs, N.J. has seemingly turned a deaf ear to the tenant’s complaints and have also not returned calls for comment as of press time. 


Updated 5:29 pm, October 21, 2011
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