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As the Apthorp Turns: Elevator Operators Grounded!

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According to an e-mail from the Apthorp Tenants Association forwarded along by a Curbed tipster, the latest controversy to befall the iconic Upper West Side landmark?which has been undergoing a long and arduous journey from rentals to wildly expensive condos and still retains some rent-stabilized tenants?is the elimination of certain tenant services. Chief among the complaints is the reassignment of the building's elevator operators to...well, it's not quite clear. An attached letter sent to the Apthorp's management says that, without warning, the elevator operators now "remain on the ground floor lobbies of the 4 wings and the elevators are on automatic." Is this a big deal? Yes, says the Tenants Association, especially when the situation is put in the context of the building's history.

Here's the text of the letter:

On Wednesday, April 22, 2009, without any kind of notification to tenants, the owners and managers of the Apthorp instituted new changes that severely reduce the services provided to and the security of the tenants of The Apthorp. We no longer have elevator operators who operate the elevators. Instead, these employees remain on the ground floor lobbies of the 4 wings and the elevators are on automatic. Formerly, these staff members not only operated the elevators but helped tenants to their apartments with packages or luggage. Now, they apparently have no duties or responsibilities – certainly none that either serve the tenants or enhance and support security in the building. (They are not even a constant presence on the ground floor lobbies of the building ) The current owners of the Apthorp acquired a building whose previous owners tried a similar ploy some forty years ago. They were compelled to sign a stipulation that the Apthorp would have elevator operators in perpetuity. The only thing that has changed is that new ownership is attempting to flout the stipulation. Suddenly, without notice and with no explanation, one of the basic amenities, in place for 100 years, has been removed. This change comes within days of a change in the mail delivery system, in which the elevator operators sorted the mail for each wing of the building and delivered the mail to each apartment. The result is that mail is delivery is now delayed. Again, this change in service also occurred with no notice or explanation to the tenants.

We expect these employees to be put back in the elevators and that our services be restored. We would appreciate hearing from you in writing when this will occur.

If previous Apthorp disputes are any indication, this will be settled in rabbinical court or by a madman with a gun. Either should make for a fairly interesting new chapter in the Apthorp saga.
· Apthord coverage [Curbed]

Apthorp Building

390 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023