The condo conversion at 184 Kent Avenue, a.k.a. the Austin Nichols House, has been plagued by serious “hiccups” for months now, and a new report from Gothamist suggests that the situation at the high-end Williamsburg building is not improving. First it was alleged arson; now, it is reportedly rodents.
To recap the situation: Kushner Companies (owned by Jared Kushner, though he recently stepped down as CEO to take on a senior advisor role in his father-in-law’s White House team), in conjunction with LIVWRK and the Boston equity firm Rockpoint Group, picked up the century-old warehouse in April of 2015, with plans to turn the 338 existing rental units into the same number of luxury condos.
But by July, Curbed had received multiple tips that residents were less than happy with the situation in the building, citing dust, debris, and the developers’ repeated intrusions into occupied apartments, along with a series of mysterious fires.
No injuries were reported in any of the incidents, but the FDNY confirmed at the time that all four were under investigation. Lawyers for the management company told residents that they “appear to have been deliberately set” by “an obviously sick individual,” though, as Gothamist points out, the FDNY has neither officially declared the fires arson, nor identified a culprit.
Since then, the complaints have evolved. Now, residents say, they’re dealing with “lax security, gas-odor scares, construction dust infiltrating their apartments, and infestations of ants, mice, and rats.” Residents allege that mice, in particular, seem to be making themselves very comfortable in the building, and one was caught on camera “sniffing around near a baby sleeping in a crib.”
“It’s just disgusting,” an anonymous tenant told Gothamist, noting that—in addition to repeated surprise heat and hot water shutoffs—outside doors are being left propped open. “After all those fires and stuff, you’d think they’d be concerned about not letting people in.”
A spokesman for the building told Gothamist that while “all buildings in New York undergoing heavy construction activity experience certain issues during this process, including pest control,” they have apologized to the tenant and taken unnamed steps to remedy the situation going forward.