New heaters coming to Gateway, but door is shut on windows for now

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BY SAM SPOKONY | It’s starting to look like Gateway Plaza residents won’t be left out in the cold again next winter.

After months of negotiations with elected officials, the Battery Park City Authority and the development’s tenant association, Gateway Plaza’s management announced Friday that it will install new heating and cooling units throughout the six-­building, 1,700-unit complex over the next four months. The management company, Gateway Residential Management L.L.C. — led by the LeFrak Organization, Gateway’s primary leaseholder under the B.P.C.A. — also committed to installing new electrical meters within every unit in the complex.

Those plans will require the installation of about 3,000 Frigidaire heating and cooling units (also known as packaged terminal air conditioners, or PTACs), on top of the several hundred that have already been installed. Many Gateway residents have been demanding the new units to replace their often­ shoddy, 13­-year­-old PTACs ever since management failed to keep last year’s promise to have them all installed by the end of 2013.

In its announcement, which was sent in a letter to all tenants, Gateway’s management said it expects to begin installing the units in June, and that the process will take “approximately 16 weeks” to complete.

“Upon completion, all PTACs and electrical sub meters in residents’ apartments at Gateway Plaza will have been replaced,” the letter stated.

Downtown Express previously reported that thousands of Gateway residents have suffered with frigid temperatures and absurdly high electric bills, especially this past winter, partially due to their poorly functioning PTACs and 33-­year­-old electrical meters. The current push for repairs came after a town hall meeting held by State Senator Daniel Squadron and the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association early in 2013.

However, aside from the new PTACs and electrical meters, an important third element of that push for repairs — new windows throughout the complex — was not a part of Friday’s commitment from Gateway’s management. As this newspaper has also reported, many residents have complained of leaky, unsealed windows that greatly contributed to the shockingly cold temperatures inside their apartments this past winter.

A spokesperson for Gateway’s management did not respond to a request for comment about the window replacements.

In a joint announcement Friday, the G.P.T.A., Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Councilmember Margaret Chin celebrated the management company’s new commitment, while acknowledging that there’s still work to be done.

“This is one very important step for the quality of life and comfort of Gateway residents, and we believe it’s the followup to the town hall we hosted last year,” Squadron told Downtown Express in a phone interview that same day. “We also know that windows remain an important piece of this, so we’re going to continue pushing on that front.”

In a statement released with the joint announcement, Silver also stressed that he is still “committed to ensuring that the windows at the complex are replaced.”

And when asked about his level of faith in this new commitment from Gateway’s management — considering last year’s broken promise — Squadron professed confidence.

“This is a clear definitive announcement, and I don’t see any caveats within it,” said the senator, while adding that he and his elected colleagues will stay on top of the installation process “until the last PTAC unit is installed.”

In a phone interview also on Friday, May 23, G.P.T.A. President Glenn Plaskin applauded the “collaborative result” reached through the long negotiations with management.

“This initiative is fantastic news for tenants, and were hopeful that new PTACs and new submeters will improve living conditions at Gateway,” said Plaskin. “As we know, tenants have suffered, both physically and financially, particularly this past winter, due to conditions that needed improvement. So we’re thankful to the management and to all of our elected representatives for working together on this.”

Meanwhile, there was no response Friday from the three law firms who are currently engaged in a $100 million class action lawsuit against LeFrak and the B.P.C.A., which seeks damages for the complaints of frigid living conditions and high electric bills at Gateway.

One of the lead attorneys on that suit — which was filed in April — is Jenifer Rajkumar, Lower Manhattan’s Democratic district leader and a Gateway resident.

Rajkumar declined to comment on Gateway management’s new commitment to replace the PTAC units and electrical meters, as did representatives of the other attorneys involved in the class action suit.

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6 Responses to New heaters coming to Gateway, but door is shut on windows for now

  1. Dr. Kim Lurie

    How nice….but it seems you've overlooked one of the precipitating factors for this sudden decision (after years of negotiations) to finally provide heat to the tenants of Gateway. On April 7, 2014, the city sued Gateway (DHPD vs Marina Towers Associates NYS Housing Court Index No. O646) as a result of violations for no heat which were issued in February and March of 2014. Based upon those violations, the City decided to sue and on the return court date of May 22, 2014( last Wednesday), a settlement was made, together with a fine implemented. Two days later, they were “pleased to announce” the decision to change all the heating units and electric meters for the 1,700 apartments.

  2. Dear Dr. Lurie:: All of Gateway owes you a big thank you, and not the sleazy politicians who enabled LeFrak to become the Gateway slumlord for the past 10+ years. I don't live in Gateway, but i can not understand why no one at Gateway thought to do what you did ? They just all sat around and complained and tolerated the slum-like conditions for years, when those conditions are clearly illegal. All it took was one person standing up for their legal rights.

  3. Gateway Neighbor

    Thank you to Dr. Lurie and also to Maureen Koetz, District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar (who lies in Gateway) and Rajkumar's law firm that brought a lawsuit against the landlord. We owe thanks to Lurie, Rajkumar, and the citizens who live in Gateway for putting the pressure on LeFrak to get the job done. Hopefully window repairs and electric meter changes to come. . .

  4. Dr. Kim Lurie

    Thank you for the kind words. The honest truth is after suffering homelessness, endless rebuilding and red tape after Sandy, the last thing I expected was to walk into a heatless apartment bereft with so many problems, including the railing of my 34th floor patio not attached to any structure. The railing was free to collapse with the slightest leaning and send either myself or any guests to certain death. You might also wish to know that a tenant who has been in gateway long before me and with whom I had spoken as Gateway decided (not suprisingly) not to renew my lease, also decided to call 311. It is as a result of not only of my individual call, but she too is named in the City's lawsuit. She was able to have the inspectors to view her situation within days and of course, they found the lack of heat. I honestly do not know what spurred the City to sue from just these two complaints but I'm very glad they did.

  5. Marybeth Hartly

    Citizens' lawsuits work, while the politicians let their constituents freeze.

  6. lawsuits are the ONLY thing that seems to get the politicians to do anything. Politicians view the residents as mere dollar signs. The only groups they actively support are real estate developers and anything that is good for tourism. Residents freezing in gateway is of absolutely no interest to any of them. Their actions (or inaction) spoke much louder than their words.

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