Many Zone A buildings have managed to maintain good relationships with residents while recovering from the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy, offering things like rent abatements and realistic timeframes for when apartments would be habitable again. 1 West Street is not one of those buildings. Community Board 1's FiDi committee gave residents from the Moinian Group-owned building a chance to air their grievances directly to property manager Ben Shuman at last night's meeting, and, while it might not have been a particularly productive discussion—it mostly consisted of the residents listing things they were legitimately upset about—the complaints are probably worth looking at.
The elevators are working. Sort of. Sometimes they get stuck for 20 minutes or suddenly drop multiple floors. But the building is only 31 stories, so, you know, no big deal. Seemingly every other resident has a horror story like this one from the Curbed inbox:
Tonight 12/3 around 9:15pm we got stuck with a group of people. Women started panicking and crying and it was just a bad situation. Jose was working the shift and tried his best to help us but the elevator kept resetting, showing different things on the screen but going nowhere. Jose also told us that resetting the switch on the 36th floor wasn't working. After about 20 minutes, and luckily for us, there was an RCN tech in the elevator with us and he let me use his screwdriver to pry the door open. With the assistance of another gentlemen we were able to pull the door open. This is unacceptable. My girlfriend is distraught and is in fear of taking elevators now. What is going on here? Toxic Smells:
Many residents are reporting terrible smells in their apartments, which are causing headaches, eye-burning, congestion, and other such symptoms. Here's one account, also sent to the Curbed inbox:
I called 311 because my eyes were burning and within 20 min of being in my apt my nose became completely congested. I called 311 and they connected me to 911 even though I said not to. Then 911 felt the smell could be dangerous possibly some sort of leak. They sent the NYFD and they came in an also smelled it. Said it might be coming from elevators. They checked the basement but did not report back to me. Anyway, Ben was furious with me. Told me i filed a false report ... I had asked Ben for an air purifier before I called 311 but he never responded to my emails. Generators:
The building is currently being run on generators, which need to be shut down and reset every 300 hours. Some residents also have concerns about the placement of the generators, one of which is right in front of the building on West.
All of these problems are obviously not ideal for anyone involved, residents or management. What has residents more riled up than any one problem, though, is what they perceive to be bullying tactics on the part of Shuman the Moinian Group. Flyers for a tenants coalition were allegedly removed, and residents who moved back in after they were told the building was habitable—just before the end of 30 day period that would have legally allowed them to break their leases—say they've been told they surrendered that right when they reentered the building. The residents believe that Moinian has not been honest or forthcoming with any information regarding a realistic time period for the building to become truly habitable again, trying to trick them into staying and paying rent.
In lieu of elevators/information/non-toxic smells/fire safety/heat for the whole building/etc., residents were offered free hot chocolate! So who really knows what anybody is complaining about.
Although the community board didn't actually have any power to do anything about the situation, they did have some advice for steps the residents could take, including consulting the Realty Advisory Board. Currently, 130 of the buildings 500 tenants have managed to unite at www.1westresidents.com.
· Curbed's Up-to-the-Second Guide to Zone A Building Rebirth [Curbed]