Highbridge Horizon Exclusive
By Tony Richards
The owner of a maligned local building may now be planning to push out dozens of tenants prior to selling the property.
The Highbridge Horizon has obtained a copy of a notice sent from Manhattan-based broker Triad Realty Group LLC to prospective buyers informing them that the six-story building at 1055 University Avenue—whose current owner, Highbridge Apartments LLC, is being sued by the city for failure to fix thousands of building code violations— is up for sale. The selling price is listed as $9.5 million.
The following sentence, from the “comments” section of the notice, particularly raises eyebrows: “Currently there are 50 vacant apartments. The owner projects to deliver the building with an additional 30 units vacated.”
Local housing advocates interpreted the reference to “an additional 30 units vacated,” as an indication that Highbridge Apartments LLC plans to push tenants out of their apartments. Jackie Delvalle, lead housing organizer for New Settlement Apartments, suggested the landlord could use a variety of means to force these tenants out, including pressuring them to accept buyouts or simply continuing to neglect repairs to the degree that the conditions of their homes remain untenable.
“This is a really good reason why the tenant protection act needs to be passed very quickly,” Delvalle said, referring to the Comprehensive Tenant Harassment Bill—legislation introduced on October 17 by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn that would make landlord harassment of tenants illegal.
In October 2006, Highbridge Apartments LLC was issued a court order to repair more than 1500 violations. In the roughly 13 months since then, tenants have lived with water leaks, collapsed ceilings, peeling paint, non-working toilets, and a variety of other hazardous conditions. The trial in the city’s lawsuit against Highbridge Apartments LLC is ongoing.
Juan Martinez, identified on the HPD’s Web site as the head officer and managing agent of 1055 University Avenue, did not return several requests for comment. Hamid Khan, who previously served in this capacity, was removed from day-to-day involvement in the property by the owners and shareholders of the building, Khan’s lawyer Howard Fritz said in September; Fritz said Khan had been removed in an effort to appease the city. Fritz did not immediately return requests for comment for this story.
Gregory Lobo Jost, deputy director of the University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP) and a contributor to the West Bronx blog, said the language anticipating vacancy of 30 additional apartments is striking.
“We’ve never seen anything like that on a building for sale,” said Jost, adding he has been with UNHP for roughly 8 years.
When notified of the fax from Triad Realty LLC, a spokesperson for Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrión referred to the document as “extremely concerning and something that must be looked into further."
"Housing and affordable housing are major issues not only in the Bronx but throughout the entire city,” the spokesperson said in a statement emailed to the Horizon. “We must ensure that landlords and developers follow both the spirit and the letter of the law. People have both the right and the expectation to live in a safe and secure building without fear of unwarranted eviction."
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Highbridge Horizon Exclusive