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Chelsea Renters Hopeful About Pool Access After State Ruling

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The renters of London Terrace Gardens and the co-op owners of London Terrace Towers have been at odds over pool access for a year, but a recent ruling by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal has given hope to renters of the Gardens' 921 apartments. A renter sent the ruling to Curbed, which says that pool access can only be taken away if renters are given a $165 per month rent reduction—equal to about $2 million a year. Last year, the co-op board owners filed with the DHCR to increase the payment from Rose Associates, the management company of the Gardens, for pool access from $250,000 to $750,000. The agreement also banned access to the sundeck, and asked the DHCR to enact an order from 1997 that would allow the co-op board to take away pool access if tenants were given a 2 percent rent reduction.

Andy Humm, the president of the London Terrace Gardens Tenants Association called the recent ruling a "tremendous improvement," as the rent reduction is much more than 2 percent. "Now there is economic pressure for [Rose Associates] to go back to the table," said Humm. "They have to decide if they want to pay us or pay them."

The conflict over the pool dates back to 1992, when the co-op board first moved to take away access. Tenants organized a rent strike, and a 20-year agreement was made that gave the tenants pool and sundeck access for a fee while the co-op owners were given access to the gardens. That agreement expired in February, thus the resurgence of the conflict.

In the recent ruling, the DHCR decided that pool access should only be taken away if the tenants are given a rent reduction that would allow them to pay for pool access elsewhere. The McBurney YMCA on 14th charges $160 per month for a pool, and Chelsea Piers charges $165 per month and has a pool as well as a sundeck. William Gribben, the attorney for the London Terrace Tenants Association told the Real Deal that the association "has taken the position that the elimination of the services should result in a rent reduction that is commensurate with the cost of replacing the services," and noted that the DHCR order reflects this same position.

Representatives for Rose Associates have not yet replied to requests for comment, but the ball is in their court in terms of what comes next. Humm said that tenants "absolutely want to stay in the pool," and the recently ruling has made him hopeful that will happen, though he acknowledged that the co-op board will likely keep fighting them. "They know that the value of their apartments will shoot up if these amenities are exclusive."

The DHCR order is in effect for 24 months. If the service is not lost and the rebate implemented within that timeframe, Rose would need to re-file.
· All London Terrace Garden coverage [Curbed]
· Tenants gain in heated battle over pool at London Terrace [TRD]