I.P.N. tenants say low-rent apartments get few repairs

BY SAM SPOKONY  |  New York’s may be a tale of two cities, but at Independence Plaza North in Tribeca, some residents say it’s a tale of two maintenance lists.

Angry low- and middle-income tenants at the three-building, 1,300-unit complex say their landlord places higher priority on apartment repairs for market rate renters, leaving them with sluggish service and worse living conditions.

“It’s unconscionable what they’re doing,” said one woman, who lives in I.P.N.’s 80 North Moore St. tower and who spoke anonymously to avoid angering the landlord. She explained that whole sections of her apartment’s floor tiling are constantly popping up out of place and are in desperate need of repair — but she said that whenever she makes maintenance requests, the response is slow and the job isn’t properly completed.

That woman, who is in her 50s, is one of many I.P.N. tenants who live there under the city-sponsored Landlord Assistance Program (LAP), which regulates yearly rent increases in a way similar to rent stabilization. Some others at the complex — often referred to as voucher tenants — receive federal subsidies through the Section 8 housing program.

“I don’t think I should have to get out of bed in the morning and trip over the tiles, and I’m just so disgusted to be living with a floor that looks like a junkyard,” said the LAP tenant, who added that some of her low- and middle-income neighbors are living with perpetually leaky radiators or cabinets falling off the wall. “ We just want this place to be decent and livable,” she added.

Shoddy floor tiling inside the apartment of a LAP tenant at Independence North Plaza, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I’m just so disgusted to be living with a floor that looks like a junkyard,” she said.

Shoddy floor tiling inside the apartment of a LAP tenant at Independence North Plaza, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I’m just so disgusted to be living with a floor that looks like a junkyard,” she said.

The distinct “classes” of I.P.N. tenants — voucher/LAP and market rate — emerged after the landlord, Laurence Gluck’s Stellar Management company, took the complex out of the state’s Mitchell-Lama middle income program in 2004.

A voucher tenant who also declined to give her name said that when she and other similar tenants report broken appliances, such as stoves or dishwashers, the landlord only allows them to be replaced with used equipment, while their market rate counterparts receive brand new versions.

That woman pointed out that, while she pays less out-of-pocket than a market rate tenant, her Section 8 subsidy pays the difference — meaning that the landlord doesn’t actually make any less money off her apartment.

“They’re getting the same rent from everyone,” she said, “so they should be putting in the same quality appliances for everyone.”

Another woman, a LAP tenant, even claimed that when she was calling management to request a repair, she was asked whether she was on a “Fair Market Renovated” list.

“They stop you and say, ‘Wait I have to check to see if you’re fair market,’ ” she said, adding that three other people she knows at the complex have had the same experience.

And after hearing those kinds of complaints from many other tenants, State Senator Daniel Squadron is now looking for answers from Gluck and his management staff.

In a Feb. 25 letter to the landlord, Squadron said the complaints “raise questions about whether repairs are handled differently for market-rate tenants than for LAP and Section 8 tenants,” and asked Gluck to provide information about how maintenance requests are handled, and whether or not repairs are in fact prioritized for market rate residents. Squadron also specifically asked the landlord: Does a “Fair Market Renovated List” exist?

Stellar Management declined to respond directly to Squadron’s letter. But a spokesperson for the landlord released a Feb. 14 statement in response to a previous request from Downtown Express.

“Stellar Management responds promptly to all complaints and has a strong record in working with its residents to provide clean, safe, quality affordable housing,” the spokesperson said. “Our long-term goal at Independence Plaza is to keep residents in place and the overwhelming majority of our renters are, in fact, long-term residents.”

And apparently, there are still some non-market rate tenants at I.P.N. who feel they are being treated fairly by the landlord.

“I think they do a good job fixing things when we ask them, so I don’t have any problems with the maintenance,” said Nathan Weber, a LAP tenant at the complex, when asked about the situation.

But aside from the current allegations, Gluck and many of his LAP and voucher tenants have had a stormy relationship in the past. Last year, I.P.N. opened a new gym facility and playroom that were initially only available to market rate tenants, although the landlord eventually yielded and allowed all residents of the complex to use them.

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19 Responses to I.P.N. tenants say low-rent apartments get few repairs

  1. I live in 40 Harrison Street, another of Gluck's 3 IPN towers. Maintenance is "sometimes" prompt regarding, for example, plumbing problems and backed up showers and sinks. However, when it comes to the cleanliness and maintenance of hallways, carpeting, and trash rooms almost next to nothing is ever repaired. For example, the fake wood molding in the hallways, only 2-3 years old is falling apartment due to shoddy installation and materials. And on our floor there is a hole in the wall of the trash room next to the garbage shoot that neighbors have called maintenance a dozen or more times about. Nothing has been done. The consequence is that the entire hallway often smells of sour garbage, on warm days the smell becomes overbearing. In addition, trash coming down the garbage shoot from other floors is blown into the trashroom on account of the hole. This situation has gone unaddressed by Gluck for the past six months. Next stop, the NYC Health Department!

    • I must agree i am a LAP tenant and i had a leak due to radiator leaking and my floors needed to be redone as a result, the floors are not buckling once again. My medicine cabinet is from 1970 and one side of it is broken and doesn't slide open, i work and it is difficult to have maintence come after hours. There is most certainly discrimination going on for LAP tenants as i have been a product of this. Call our management office, they immediately ask you what apartment you live in , and treat you like crap once you tell then you are a LAP tenant. I actually lied once and told them i was in a fair market apartment to get there reaction and their tone was different. We are treated sub par , and i don't care what Gluck states, i have been a product of his discrimination on many occasions.

  2. 40harrison renter

    Thanks Sen. Squadron. But why is council woman Margaret Chinnowhere silent in this story? Likely because she doesn't want to get Gluck upset at her, after him and his real estate buddies endorsed her and spent loads of money getting her elected last year.

  3. Although I was quoted accurately as saying I had no problem with maintenance at IPN, what I meant was that I appreciate the skill of the workers who do the repairs. I should have added that, like many tenants, I often get frustrated with management's 800 phone service. But most of my discussion with the reporter centered on other issues, none of which he included: the bitter cold lobby for months on end, making life miserable for the desk attendants and tenants; the disruption caused by the constant construction; the transformation of once-beautiful apartments into cramped units (studios into one-bedrooms, one-bedrooms into two bedrooms, etc.) to squeeze out yet more profit; the deliberate elmination of affordable housing in a city that is desperate for more. As a former journalist, I understand space limitations and the need to quote what is relevant to the author's focus. But most of my comments were critical of Gluck and his cohorts. This article essentially turns the message of my comments on its head.

  4. I agree with most of the comments here. I too am a long time resident at IPN and have seen this beautiful complex turn into the haves and have-nots. A month wait to get half of my living room floor re-tiled from a very bad and smelly, toxic radiator leak as the photo above shows, The bathroom plumbing which in the middle of your morning shower turns from a normal warm to ice cold then a brutal hot, so hot that you can't reach over to turn the damn thing off. My bathroom mirror fell on my head and it took 3 weeks for a tiny part replacement (which was taken from an old mirror from an empty apt.) which would have prevented it from falling on my head, waiting for a refrigerator replacement after my 30 year old one conked out and the replacement too broke. The clueless people at the 800 number "maintenance" line, the rude people in the management office who keep telling you that "all maintenance calls are returned in an hour", where on Mars?? I could go on but won't. I DO NOT blame our in-house maintenance personnel or the the supers, they are doing the best they can for what they have to work with, and are thankful for being employed, having less staff than in the past.

    As for "although the landlord eventually yielded and allowed all residents of the complex to use them". Not true, and here's the thing, yes for money and not free. This is what was in Stellar Mgmt's memo of June 13, 2013 "Please be advised that the IPN Amenity Center is officially open. Access to the fitness center and children's playroom will be provided for an annual fee of $1,200 per apartment. in addition, each tenant will be required to complete an amenity center form and pay a $100 key deposit". For this price, and for even less, I can go to NY Sports Clubs and have a real gym and steam and sauna to boot plus exercise classes.

    Anyway you look at it it smells foul for pre Gluck tenants.

  5. Scared Tenant

    Larry Gluck has and always had a hidden agenda. to eventually get everyone Lap or voucher out of the building to renovate each and every apartments. Original tenants who mad Tribeca what it is today live in fear of being evicted! Larry Gluck and HPD MADE HIDDEN DEALS. THE FIGHT THE TENANT ASSOCATION LOST AT IPN WAS A PAY OFF BY GLUCK. We fought for 7 years, we were suppose to be stabized. LARRY GLUCK IS CORRUPTION AT ITS BEST. i really wish there was an investigation into the corruption.

  6. The new tenants come and go and pay big time for an apartment. I witnessed new tenants making remarks about the voucher tenants in the building. What nerve!!! Tribeca would of never existed if it wasn't for the working class ORINGINAL Tenants who live at IPN. Larry Gluck had all the politians in his pocket thats why we lost the fight. We should have been stabilized a long time ago!!! Shame on you Mike Bloomberg!!

  7. Fear & Loathing

    Shame on Gluck and HPD too! Not just at IPN but other former Mitchell-Lama conmlexes now owned by Greedy Gluck! He/they should be investiged and sued.

    As far as "market tenants" are concerned, most don't stay beyond their lease expiration and some are not even allowed to renew their lease so Gluck can either do so called "renovations" or hog the empty apartments to either turn them into 1 or 2 bedrooms or connect several apartments into much bigger ones especially on upper floors. A majority are are young GenXes or Millennials who are single, not raising a family here, or have several roommates. When one roommate moves out they are stuck with the rent.

  8. What about the filthy dirty diseased laundry rooms ! That are used mostly by the LAP and Voucher tenants as most new fair market apartments are all equipped with washer and dryers in the units. Yet LAP and Voucher tenants are not allowed to have washer/dryer in their apartments and are forced to wash and dry in the ATROCIOUS conditions of building laundry room with 50% of the equipment not working properly. What about garage employees having access to all buildings to use bathrooms ? They are not employed by Stellar Management so why do they have keys and access to any part of the buildings at all ? What about the late night parties and vomiting and urinating in the hallways by the FAIR MARKET TENANTS who feel entitled to do as they want to. Many times I have tried to call Security when the party is out of control and they will not answer phones calls just pick up the receiver and hang up with out ever answering. The IPN Buildings are PIG STYS and have had BED BUGS in many apartments due to the non stop move in's of the new transient class. One other issue I hope HPD investigates is that many VOUCHER TENANTS have cars parked in the garage , If they can afford garage spots why are they receiving SEC 8 voucher.

  9. I don't understand why tenants don't go after Vornado Realty as well as Gluck. Vornado now owns so,etching like 59% of IPN. They are just as responsible for keeping IPN clean and well maintained. As far as Gluck goes, I don't understand why he's not in jail. The attorney general needs to thoroughly investigate his business dealings. And he must do it now! Gluck is now pulling his BS on the longtime tenants on the upper west side at the Windemere. Ltes pull together with other complexes and put Gluck behind bars.

  10. What about the overcrowding of the IPN / ICON Garages? Cars are packed so tight blocking all egress to emergency exits ! Overcrowded garages are a FIRE DANGER to all of IPN Residents. Garage workers enter the cars thru the windows because they can not open car doors because of the overcrowding. What will happen when a fire breaks out and the Fire Dept can not get in to extinguish it ? Will they need to climb over the hoods of the cars to fight the fire ? DOB and FDNY please come and inspect all IPN / ICON garages to insure that they are not over capacity.

  11. originial IPN

    Hey Tribeca 77, you are an idiot, first of all Voucher Tenants do not all pay low rent. so please get your story straight. they have every right to have a spot in the garage as long as they pay like everyone else. They started the neighborhood way back when. There rent is 30% of their gross income. I pay over $2,500 and I'm a voucher tenant.

  12. The tenant I refer too pays less then 300 rent and parks in the garage ultimately on your DIME !

  13. Tribeca 77 the tenant that pays 300 rent probably don't make much money since HPD investigates with a fine tooth comb every income that comes in with the sticky voucher program and the garage is 300 -400 a Month . It's none of your business what people pay rent or garage. Your Lap rent is probably less then our ( boy her tenants ) rent. Mind your damn business and move on.

  14. No one parks for nothing at IPN. Get the story straight . I pay almost 400 a month for my garage

  15. Exactly the point, can afford a car and a garage spot but you need voucher money ?

  16. Tribeca 77, if you were around moron when the deal was made you needed to show your income if was under the Lap Criteria it was Voucher. Sticky Vouchers are not neccessarily low incomes in our complex. so people who live in our complex and have stcky vouchers are paying WAY above a Lap tenant rent if they are making more money now. So of course they can afford the garage. What makes you think they like the program anyway! I don't know anyone other then seniors in the complex that benefit from that program. they can not get out of it! so Tribeca 77, i don't know how long you have been a resident but you need to get your facts right about the Voucher Tenants in our complex that are paying more then LAP!!!!

  17. Tribeca77 you definitely do not have your facts right.. Voucher tenants are not happy with their deal. Lap tenants have a better deal in the complex. Voucher tenants have to show every dollar they make and pay 30% gross income for rent. At the time when the deal was made maybe they made less and could not meet the criteria for LAP Program. So they are stuck in a horrible HPD Sticky voucher program that torments them every recert. They have every right to have all the benefits as anyone else in our complex. Get your facts straight and stop hating!

  18. Who is the GOON with the stupid look on his face that is always standing in the lobby of 80 N.Moore street. He is always distracting security and doormen and stays by the mailboxs when it is being delivered. Making lewd comments and ogleing all the woman who pass ?

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