Two years later, and no progress on Gateway Plaza freezing conditions

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Gateway PLaza February 2012 meetingUpdate December 5, 2014- Nothing has changed from the status described below. A few of the promised new heating units have been installed, but the windows remain the same. The BPCA could evict LeFrak and bring in a new operator, if it had the will.

Meanwhile, Glenn Plaskin, the bold leader of the GPTA who lives in a palatial warm Gateway apartment, is busy honoring the elected officials.  The GPTA will “honor” State Senator Squadron Sunday. Many believe that it is the local elected officials, which accept large campaign funds from billionaire LeFrak, who have enabled LeFrak to get away with this neglect of Gateway for decades.

Please post your comments. Has your Gateway apartment been improved this year?

Update January 3, 2014- It has been a year since the last big meeting with LeFrak. Nothing has improved. Read more about this scandal, below.

Is the GPTA and local elected officials really looking out for you, or are they happy in their warm large apartments? Are the elected officials in the pocket of real estate moguls?

PLaskin at 2013 LeFrak meetingFebruary 4, 2013 By Steven E. Greer

The Gateway Plaza Tenants Associate convened a meeting tonight at the Library on North End Avenue to discuss the status of various “green energy audits” performed on Gateway. The audits were initiated in 2011 to study the extent of the problems at the complex.

Two elected officials attended the meeting: Margaret Chin and Jennifer Rajkumar. Of note, both might be running for the same city council spot. Notably absent was State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senator Daniel Squadron. Also absent was senior LeFrak management who oversee Gateway.

Hughes and Galoway at LeFrak meeting

For nearly 30 years, tenants have complained of very high electric bills and of windows that leak water and air. In the winter, currents of cold air create frigid indoor temperatures. In the summer, the units are hot. The energy waste also causes exorbitant electric bills. A resident at the meeting told BatteryPark.TV that malfunctioning electric heaters were not being replaced in apartments with rent controlled status, and that only the market rate units have received any form of modernization.

The meeting began with a presentation from Greg Sherman of the energy audit company, Bright Power. He explained that it has been concluded that the current windows in Gateway need to be replaced. He also explained that buildings like Gateway Plaza must, by law, complete a “Level 3” energy audit, and rectify the shortcomings, by 2016, but that LeFrak has chosen to act now.IMG_0153

Next, a LeFrak employee, Nicole Montgomery, explained how the complex electric bills are created. In Gateway, tenants do not pay Consolidated Edison directly, but rather pay LeFrak acting as a middleman. Many residents suspect that LeFrak is making a profit on the bills since the monthly charges can be $500 or more. Montgomery addressed that, and denied that any profits were being taken, explaining that it would be illegal to do so. She also showed a slide with a bell curve graph that claimed the average monthly electric bill at Gateway was only $71, to which the room of 50 or more people exploded in laughter and disbelief.IMG_0157

A spokesperson for the state agency NYSERDA also spoke. He assured the room that state grants could be made available to IMG_0159help offset the cost of retrofitting Gateway Plaza, which are estimated to cost $10 million for the 1,700 apartments (or $6,000 per unit). It is unclear why the state and taxpayer would or should subsidize a private real estate developer like LeFrak.

Next to speak was another LeFrak employee, Michael Tynan, Chief Procurement Officer for LeFrak. He was unaware of basic problems in the apartments, suchIMG_0164 as the fact that the heaters do not have functioning thermostats. He was pressed on the timing of events that will happen next before windows are replaced. He explained that another energy audit must be performed, which would take three months. After that, “several” months will be required to find the contractor, determine whether to replace them from outside the building or within the apartments, etc. Once installations begin, he estimated that the total work would last for three years. Some of the resident in attendance whom have lived for decades in Gateway were very skeptical. One man explained that something similar took place after the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, and no work was ever commenced.

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18 Responses to Two years later, and no progress on Gateway Plaza freezing conditions

  1. fran says:

    i have lived here for over 30yrs….when i first came here we held back rent in order to get new windows….did we get them? if you knew how many meetings i have been to over the years about the same nonsense you would understand how pointless these things are…this will be forgotten…they try …but we all know….

  2. Ninfa Segarra says:

    No way average cost is $71. I live in my one bedroom apartment since january 2002. Never had a bill lower than 80and dont work at home and work a lot of eveneings

  3. chconkl says:

    We must be the exception. I would say that our bills, over the course of the year, average about $80. It’s a one bedroom and the highest bill I ever got was in the summer and that was about $180. Of course, we don’t face the water and, after an initial blast, don’t even keep the heat on in the bedroom in the winter. I have other issues with the building, like barking dogs, but heat isn’t one of them.

  4. margo says:

    RE: electric bills. We just got a $500 bill. I bet they are counting vacant apartments in their ‘average.’ Did anyone ask?

  5. chconkl says:

    Margo, how big is your apartment? I’m also wondering if some buildings have a worse problem with this than others.

  6. Amy says:

    It would also be interesting to see if those people who moved in recently (non rent controlled apartments) have a lower energy bill. I bet the mgmt company puts those new energy efficient units into the new apartments that are not rent controlled.

  7. amy greenberg says:

    It may be possible that a ration of studios to 2 BD might be 50:1 in which case a lower monthly rate might be possible. She barely kept the graph up long enough to review. The more interesting notion was that BPCA audits the system. Now we know that the BPCA has had issues with spending and fraud and it would not at all surprise me if we found out that the BPCA looked the other way (or didn’t notice) a 5% buffer on each bill. There is very limited transparency and a great deal of secrecy with that agency. Lefrak has been the largest developer in BPC for 30 years so of course they have some sort of favorable relation with BPCA. So if each month, you make $5 minimum on a bill to 1700 units, you can see how this would add up. I would never be satisfied that the BPCA is adequately policing Lefrak on this bills. If they really were not making money on the electric bills, they would just let ConEd provide the electricity, Why hassle with is unless it was worth your time. I bet it is enormously worthwhile.

  8. admin says:

    Tend to agree

    Editor

  9. Margo says:

    Can we all get a copy of the graph? It’s a reasonable request.

  10. New Tenant says:

    I will be moving into one of the newly renovated apts in Gateway. I’m a bit concerned about all the reports of receiving a high electric bill . Were any tenants successful in getting a meter reading for their apt? Or would we request one installed in the apt?

  11. Pfepher says:

    So, nearly a year later and I have heard no word on window and/or heating replacements.

    Anyone hear anything?

  12. Editor says:

    Your GPTA is run by inept complicit people who have large duplex apartments that are warm

  13. Editor says:

    Jonathan

    Sorry, just saw this. Are you sure some people don’t have two apartments that were allowed to be connected into one?

    Regarding whether GPTA is inept or not, it is has been many years and there has been no progress. What do you call that?

    You have lived in Gateway for 21 years so your perspective is skewed. You are used to tolerating this.

    Enough is enough. You need leaders unaffiliated with Sheldon Silver or the CB1.

  14. Caroline says:

    There are several “duplex” apartments
    Not vertical but horizontal duplex
    I know several people who combined apartments

  15. James Ludlam says:

    The ineffective in wall heating units, leaking windows and lack of insulation make it impossible to reach these minimum heat levels. Tenants should stop trying to work with Lefrak, CB1 or other politicians who promise but do not deliver. They should flood the housing court with complaints about Gateway. Perhaps a large penalty for each of the many apartments will get some action.

    https://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/tenants/heat-and-hot-water.shtml

    Heat and Hot Water

    The City Housing Maintenance Code and State Multiple Dwelling Law requires building owners to provide heat and hot water to all tenants. Building owners are required to provide hot water 365 days per year at a constant minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Between October 1st and May 31st, a period designated as “Heat Season,” building owners are also required to provide tenants with heat under the following conditions:

    • Between the hours of 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM, if the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit; and,
    • Between the hours of 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM, if the temperature outside falls below 40 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

    To see if there are any open heat and hot water violations on the property or to check the status of your heat and hot water complaint, click here.

    Tenants who are cold in their apartments should first attempt to notify the building owner, managing agent or superintendent. If heat is not restored, the tenant should call the City’s Customer Service Center at 311 (311 can be accessed outside of New York City by dialing (212) NEW YORK). For the hearing impaired, the TTY number is (212) 504-4115. The Center is open 24-hours a day, seven-days a week. (You may also file a complaint at 311ONLINE for heat and hot water conditions.)

    After the City’s Customer Service Center receives a complaint, HPD attempts to contact the building’s owner or managing agent to advise them that a complaint has been received. Before an HPD code inspector is dispatched to the building, HPD may also attempt to contact the tenant to determine whether service has been restored. If service has not been restored, an HPD inspector is sent to the building to verify the complaint and issue the appropriate violation. In cases where private owners fail to restore heat and hot water after the issuance of a violation HPD’s Emergency Repair Program (ERP) may contract with private companies to make the necessary repairs to restore essential services and bill the owner for the cost of the repairs to the property. The City is subject to laws governing procurement, contracting, wages, and other matters that may make such work significantly more expensive than the price the owner could obtain if he/she performed or contracted for the work. The City will bill for the cost of the emergency repair plus related fees. If the property owner fails to pay, the City will file a tax lien against the property. The tax lien will bear interest and may be sold and/or foreclosed to collect the amount the owner owes through the City’s Tax Lien Sale process, even if no other tax-related charges are unpaid.
    PENALTIES AND FEES
    Beginning in June 2012, pursuant to changes in the Housing Maintenance Code, there are some new provisions regarding the penalties for heat and hot water violations.
    Eligibility for payment in satisfaction of civil penalties
    If a heat violation is the first such violation issued during the current or prior heat season, or a hot water violation is the first such violation issued during the current or previous calendar year, an owner may be eligible to satisfy the penalty by submitting a $250 payment with a timely Notice of Correction. The Notice of Violation that the owner receives in the mail will clearly indicate whether the violation is eligible for payment in satisfaction of civil penalties. An owner who chooses to submit a Notice of Correction and payment in satisfaction may do so by submitting a paper Notice of Correction or by using eCertification. (You can find out more information on eCertification on HPD’s website, http://www.nyc/hpd.) The Notice of Correction indicates that the violation has been corrected by the owner or an agent or employee of the owner within 24 hours of the affixing of the notice of such violation (which is the same as the date of the inspection where the inspector identified the lack of heat and/or hot water). The payment of $250 must be submitted with the Notice of Correction to the department within 10 days of affixing the notice of such violation. Payment can be made via credit card or debit card on-line only (there is a 2.49% convenience fee for credit cards; Visa is not accepted at this time), or by certified check or money order if submitting the Notice of Correction by mail. Just because an owner is eligible to pay does not mean that the owner must take advantage of the option; owners may choose to not pay the $250. However, if the Notice of Correction and payment are not received within the 10 day period, then HPD may commence a proceeding for an order to correct and to recover civil penalties in Housing Court.
    Inspection Fee
    For a third or any subsequent inspection which results in a heat violation within the same heat season (October through May) or for a third or any subsequent inspection which results in a hot water violation within a calendar year, HPD will charge a fee of $200 for the inspection. In addition to this fee, the owner is still also subject to any civil penalties that may be imposed by the Housing Court. This fee is not paid directly to HPD, but will be billed to the owner though the Department of Finance; the owner will see the charge on the Statement of Account from DOF on the quarterly bill following the inspection. All fees that remain unpaid shall constitute a debt recoverable from the owner and a lien upon the premises. Should the lien exceed $1000 for more than 1 year, the liens may subject you to the New York City Tax Lien Sale. Through this process, the lien may be sold to a third party, who may foreclose on the property if the lien is not paid.
    Beginning in October 2012, pursuant to changes in the Housing Maintenance Code, the following changes to civil penalties become effective:

    Civil Penalties
    If HPD commences a proceeding, the agency can seek the following penalties, from and including the date that the Notice of Violation is posted at the building until the date that the violation is corrected:
    • $250-$500 dollars per day for each initial heat or hot water violation
    • $500-$1,000 per day for each subsequent violation at the same building during the same and/or the next calendar year from the initial violation or, in the case of § 27-2029(a), during the same and/or the next heat season
    If the owner fails to pay the Court ordered civil penalties, HPD will enter a judgment against the owner and the property and seek to enforce that judgment.
    Education
    If a property owner wants more information or needs some assistance understanding the laws governing heat and hot water, HPD offers an online class which provides information about the law governing heat and hot water provision and helpful hints about maintaining your heating system. HPD’s Public Outreach and Education Program offers courses for owners, managing agents, and superintendents on “Basic Property Management and Maintenance,” including caring for the building’s heating plant.
    To obtain a Frequently Asked Questions document on heat and hot water click here.
    Related Link
    Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions about Carbon Monoxide

  16. Mark Sullivan says:

    Gristedes – women harassed – The new manager bald, black glasses and several of the stockers esp a Hispanic male guy stocking refrigerated section are disrespectful to women. Several women have complained in my building of lewd remarks, whistling, stalking behavior. I have been generally positive about the gristedes as I think they gave tried but my neighbor was complaining about this one manager and I witnessed this myself. I have liked most of the managers esp the recent Asian male but this bald guy is super creepy. Women shouldn’t feel threatened at a grocery store. It’s the gristedes across from au Bon pain nearer gateway not the one down the block near rector. Gross

  17. I have been a tenant at Gateway exactly one year this weekend. I am not rent stabilized, but rather in a market rate tenant in a one bedroom “renovated apartment.”

    I refer to my apartment as my expensive tenement. The litany of problems with my apartment commenced on day 1 when I had NO HEAT at all and was forced to stay at the FEMA hotel I still had left for 2 days until the holiday weekend was over and this issue was addressed.

    In the 1 year, my living room unit was replaced 3 or 4 times. The bedroom unit is still the old version with neither of them operating correctly. I have detailed to management all of the problems and have been met with “that’s the way it works” to Rosanne’s telling me that I should have known to use a screw driver to turn off the heating unit if it had no dial.

    I have called 311 and HPD many times. FINALLY.. just a few days ago, they arrived at night to document the heating situation, and YES, they found violations…2, I’m told.

    The lovely gentlemen had no idea that this heating condition was systemic throughout the complex.

    So, more of you should contact them. Apparently, though management tells me the unit blowing cold air is fine “that’s how these units work” is not okay with HPD.

    In retaliation for my complaints, of course my expensive tenement lease was not renewed, but fortunately, there is a legal remedy for that. Having lost my Long Beach home and possessions due to SANDY moving to this place with the morally reprehensible lying management and brokers was enough. I agree with James posting and am utilizing all legal remedies.

    New tenant…BEWARE….Amy…non rent controlled no..I did not have one of those “new energy efficient models.” After my first 2 nights I wrote to the president of the tenants association and he managed to get them to give me one…but that did nothing but blow cold air. It takes some work, but HPD finally came through.

  18. Dr. Kim Lurie says:

    I am happy to report that the two (2) violations which HPD served upon Gateway for the lack of heat in my one bedroom, caused management to replace ( for the 4th time in one year) the heating unit in the living room and the bedroom. The models are GE.

    Finally, after over 1 year of tenancy in my expensive tenement, I have heat, ironically Spring is but days away.

    Unfortunately, having experienced already that the units turn themselves on, I questioned the installers -are these units going to do the same thing. Of course, the response I received was much like the response I’ve received for over a year….something unintelligible.

    True to form, this morning, having not had one unit on for the night to conserve what I have no doubt is now going to be an outrageous electric bill…the unit had turned on by itself and was blowing cold air!

    Now, I am forced each day before leaving my home to crawl on the floor and unplug each unit so it is not running (costing me money) by itself all day when I am not here! Had I not had this experience with the last unit, I would not have known to check that the units could be running (and costing money) even if you don’t turn them on!

    ‘So yet again, beware -if you are the recipient of these new units- ask but don’t take their word for it – watch if they turn on by themselves. ( I was told with the last unit, it is “set that way” so that if it is too cold outside, the “pipes” won’t freeze in your home!- Pipes????)

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