TA blasts CW for short or no notice on work in apts.

Garodnick drafting bill to protect tenants from unauthorized entry

By Sabina Mollot

In CWCapital’s ongoing effort to renovate as many apartments as possible, tenants in neighboring units have also been made to allow work to get done in their own apartments to replace pipes in support of the work on the adjoining renovation projects. In the process, some of those neighbors have been getting inconvenienced in ways that have, in at least a couple of instances, been disturbing, according to the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

In a notice that will soon be shared with neighbors on the TA’s website, the TA noted how management hasn’t been giving tenants sufficient notice before breezing on in, in several cases. In one complaint, the TA heard how a teenage girl, alone at home, got scared when maintenance workers unexpectedly banged on and then opened her apartment door.

In another case, a tenant, who gave no authorization for her apartment to be entered, recently returned from a vacation to find her cabinets emptied. The cabinets’ contents were left strewn on the counters, with no explanation. Meanwhile, the work takes one to two days to complete, leaving the kitchen unusable.

“Despite the gross inconvenience, management has not offered to compensate affected tenants for the loss of use of the kitchen and the disruption to the tenants’ right to quiet enjoyment of their homes,” the TA said.

In a case of short notice, the TA said, a tenant was given notice on a Thursday that workers would be entering the apartment on the following Monday. “That’s just four calendar days; the city requires seven calendar days,” the TA said. Additionally, the TA said, management is only supposed to be entering apartments for non-emergency work if tenants’ have given their explicit permission, “and these renovations are not emergencies.”

In response to the TA’s concerns, Council Member Dan Garodnick is drafting legislation that would protect tenants from unauthorized entry or entry with very short notice.

The legislation would include provisions that in notices requesting apartment access, management would have to provide, along with a callback phone number, an email address or another electronic option for tenants to use if requesting a schedule change. Additionally, notices would have to be dated and sent to the tenants’ email address if the owner has one on file. Lastly, consent would not be assumed if the tenant doesn’t respond. However, if after 14 days there is no response, then an owner could enter the apartment.

“There has long been a feeling that people are finding themselves with unwanted visitors,” Garodnick told T&V, “just because they did not see a note or did not have time to respond. This has picked up recently where there are non-emergency improvements being made to neighboring apartments. In that context, we need to protect the sanctity of individual units.”

A spokesperson for CWCapital declined to comment on apartment access or the planned legislation. However, the owner and the TA have clashed on this issue in the past, like last year when management was conducting a round of apartment inspections on safety issues and lease policy compliance. At that time, the TA advised residents to consent to the inspection but be present for it to a recent spate of apartment burglaries that may have been committed by a contractor doing work for CW.

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CW asks court to toss lenders’ lawsuit

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, CWCapital tried to get a lawsuit that had been filed by representatives of a group of junior lenders last month tossed on the grounds that it was “a story-book portrayal of events.” In this latest court action, CWCapital and co-defendant Wachovia also accused hedge fund Centerbridge Partners, who is representing the lenders, of forming “shell entities” in order to buy into junior loans two months ago, for the sole purpose of suing the owner, the website law360.com first reported.

At that time, CWCapital had taken ownership of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village through a deed instead of holding a previously planned auction sale on some of the property’s mezzanine debt. The lenders, once unable to purchase a key piece of mezzanine debt, filed suit in which the company also accused CW of giving themselves a near $1 billion windfall while junior lenders received nothing. Centerbridge had called CWCapital’s takeover “executed on the flawed premise that the amount owed on the senior loan was greater than the value of the property.” CW represented that $4.4 billion was owed on the mortgage when the amount was really $3.45 billion, the lenders said.

But on Monday, CW and Wachovia countered that the plaintiffs were not junior lenders “at any relevant time,” Law 360 quoted the companies as saying in their brief. “Rather, plaintiffs are shell entities that acquired their junior loan positions after, and with full knowledge that, the senior lender had pursued the DIL [deed in lieu transaction], which automatically terminated the ICA (inter-creditor agreement).”

Further, CW argued, “Through this litigation, Centerbridge does not seek to recoup any alleged loss, but rather to earn more than $1 billion in profit on a highly speculative investment in litigation that it made with eyes wide open after the DIL and the termination of the ICA. New York disdains the commercialization of litigation, and its champerty statute is a full stop to what Centerbridge is trying to do here.”

When canceling the mezzanine auction that had been set for June 13, CW also entered into talks with the ST-PCV Tenants Association and the de Blasio administration on a plan that would preserve affordability at around 6,000 apartments. Although the 60-day deadline on those talks has since passed, all parties have agreed that the conversation would continue.

In a mid-July meeting between Mayor de Blasio, the Tenants Association and local elected officials, de Blasio said the TA’s idea of maintaining affordability by going condo would be considered. However, the TA also said it was told by the mayor at that time that his “main thrust is affordable rentals.”

A spokesperson for CWCapital and a spokesperson for Centerbridge did not respond to a request for comment by Town & Village’s press time.

Update: In response to the court action, the Tenants Association issued the following statement.

“We are carefully monitoring this lawsuit because its outcome may affect the stability and long-term affordability of thousands of apartments people call home. Of course the elephant in the room is the multibillion-dollar debt saddled on this great community by speculators and predatory equity. We remain determined to prevent that from happening again.”

Police Watch: Rogue food cart, masseuses arrested

NYU MED GRAD COMMITS SUICIDE
An NYU medical school graduate who completed his residency recently jumped off the roof of his dorm at 334 East 25th Street on Monday around 2 p.m., police said. Gothamist reported that the man, 26-year-old Sean O’Rourke, plunged 26 stories to his death and was found in the dorm’s parking lot. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

ROGUE FOOD CART PLOWS INTO CROWDED BUS STOP
Police arrested a food cart operator on Monday after his cart, which was being towed by the car he was driving, came loose and crashed into the sidewalk and flipped over into a crowded bus stop.
Arturo Garcia, 32, allegedly left the scene at Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street at 12:58 p.m. However, police said he returned 20 minutes later and admitted that the food cart was his. He was arrested for reckless endangerment.

ALPHABET CITY WOMAN MISSING

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Melissa Morales

The NYPD is seeking the public’s assistance in locating a woman who was reported missing last Wednesday. Melissa Morales, 31, was last seen on Tuesday, July 7 around 7 p.m. near her apartment at 99 Avenue C at East 7th Street. She is described as 5’7”, approximately 200 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. She was last seen wearing multi-colored slacks and a t-shirt.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting TIP577 and their tips to 274637 (CRIMES).

KIDS BUSTED IN PHONE THEFT
Police arrested a 12-year-old and 17-year-old for grand larceny in front of 344 East 28th Street last Wednesday at 8:05 p.m. The two stole a cell phone, credit card, money and other items from a woman and the teen was found in possession of the cell phone by using the Find My iPhone application. The names of the two perps are being withheld due to their age.

MONEY ‘FORGER’ NABBED
Police arrested 19-year-old Kelith Appolon for forgery last Monday at Union Square West and East 15th Street at 6:58 p.m. Appolon allegedly attempted to use a fraudulent $100 bill to purchase items. After he was arrested, he was found to be in possession of 11 counterfeit $100 bills.

MASSEUSES RUB COPS THE WRONG WAY
Police arrested multiple masseuses this week for offering rubdowns without a license.
Xiaoli Xu, 52, was arrested in 101 West 17th Street at Pine Tree Health Improvement last Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Xiu Ling Fu, 37, Jian Yi Gao, 26, and Qingling Chai, 36, were arrested inside Qin Spa at 132 East 23rd Street last Thursday at 5:45 p.m. The three masseuses allegedly massaged customers for one hour in exchange for money and could not produce a valid New York State massage license.

MEN ARRESTED FOR SELLING FAKE PHONES
Police arrested two men for fraudulent accosting last Wednesday at 4:31 p.m. in front of 246 Fifth Avenue. Jose Fernandez and Kelvin Dunbar, both 54, allegedly approached pedestrians and attempted to sell them fake cell phones.

HOTEL SECURITY NABS RADIO ‘THIEF’
Police arrested 24-year-old Benjamin Pitman for grand larceny in front of the NoMad Hotel at 1170 Broadway last Saturday at 3:56 a.m. The victim told police he was working security at the hotel when Pitman allegedly grabbed his portable radio from him and fled. The victim then chased him outside and held him until police arrived.

WOULD-BE ‘PICKPOCKETER’ ARRESTED
Tory Lugo, 18, was arrested for robbery on East 20th Street last Saturday at 9:05 p.m. Lugo allegedly grabbed the victim around the neck from behind, went into his pockets and tried to take his property.

BELLIGERENT BAR-GOER ARRESTED
Police arrested 27-year-old Kevin Vallejo for criminal mischief last Sunday at 3:21 a.m. in front of Tonic at 411 Third Avenue. A security guard told police that he saw Vallejo being removed from the bar by two other guards when Vallejo allegedly grabbed a metal garbage can and threw it at the front window of the bar, causing the glass to break. The manager of the bar said that the damage is about $800 to fix the window.

FIGHT AT L’EXPRESS
Police arrested Timothe Fitzgerald, 30, for criminal mischief inside L’express at 249 Park Avenue South last Sunday at 7:12 a.m. Fitzgerald got into an argument with another patron, which allegedly led to him throwing things all over the restaurant, causing damage.

‘POT SMOKER’ BUSTED IN UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 18-year-old Heidi Merk for possession of marijuana in front of 5 Union Square West last Sunday at 12:52 p.m. Merk was allegedly smoking a joint inside the park in public view.

‘FAKE’ GUCCI VENDOR ARRESTED
Police arrested Alhassane Dieng in front of 1201 Broadway last Sunday at 4:05 p.m. for forgery. Dieng allegedly displaying seven watches for sale that had a counterfeit trademark for Gucci. A representative for Gucci confirmed that the trademark on the watches was counterfeit.