Garodnick asks for timetable,
CW says approvals from city take time
By Sabina Mollot
Nearly eleven months after Hurricane Sandy, Council Member Dan Garodnick has called on CWCapital to finish the repairs in hard hit buildings in Peter Cooper — especially since they were supposed to have been completed this month.
This was a timeline given by management, and noted Garodnick in a letter to CWCapital Asset Management Vice President Andrew MacArthur, was last mentioned in an official property update to residents in August.
“It is now September, and as far as the residents can tell, none of those basements appear close to opening,” said Garodnick, in the letter, which is dated September 4.
He added that residents deserve at least an update with some sort of explanation since residents in 15 PCV buildings have had to do without bike storage or laundry rooms. (Those buildings have had temporary washers and dryers.) Residents have also been unable to access the basement to get in and out of their buildings. Meanwhile, instead, Garodnick said, the only updates residents do get are for things management wants to promote.
“The updates being sent out give information about more whimsical matters like last week’s photo contest — with no word about these basic services,” said Garodnick. Though he was the one to push CW to give residents a timetable for the completion of the work, Garodnick said he never expected that the September date wouldn’t be enough time. “This has taken far longer than anyone could have reasonably expected,” he told T&V, “and residents deserve an explanation and compensation.”
Following the loss of Sandy-related services in 15 Peter Cooper buildings and two Stuyvesant Town buildings, the Tenants Association filed an application for rent reductions with the state housing agency. However, there has still been no decision on that, the Tenants Association said this week, and in his letter, Garodnick called on CW not to wait for that claim to be resolved before paying up.
“We’re getting close to the one-year mark here,” he said.
Garodnick said that as of Tuesday he has not gotten a response from CW, but on Wednesday, after being asked for comment from T&V, Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for CWCapital said that the delay is due to the slow process of getting city approval for the various aspects of the work.
“As we’ve said, rebuilding the 17 basements that were damaged during Hurricane Sandy is a complex project that, beyond the physical work and procurement of materials with long lead times, involves numerous agencies that must review and approve plans for every aspect of each basement’s infrastructure and careful scheduling and staging of contractors to ensure the work is completed as quickly and safely as possible with the minimum disruption for our residents,” Moriarty said.
“As such, it is not uncommon for construction projects of this scale to take a long time. Although some residents may not yet see physical work being done in their basement, we assure you that significant progress has been made in all basements. We are making every effort to finish this work as soon as possible, and expect it will be done later this fall.”
Moriarty said that as far as the rent rebates are concerned, the Tenants Association’s application, previously slammed by CW in a court document as “petty” and “mean-spirited,” was also helping to slow things down.
“We offered to sit down with the TA in January to negotiate exactly that,” said Moriarty. “However, they declined to meet and elected to file a diminution of services claim instead. It is disappointing as many of the steps the TA has taken have actually prolonged our ability to get the required approvals. It seems that this could have been more easily resolved.”
In response, Garodnick said, “Rather than get into a he said, she said about TA management negotiating, CW should just do the right thing and compensate tenants.”
Though we were unable to reach the Tenants Association by press time for the print edition, TA Chair Susan Steinberg and President John Marsh later responded to say that the application for a rent reduction doesn’t affect management’s ability to restore the laundry rooms. They added that filing the application strengthened their ability to negotiate.