Revolving doormen: Gateway residents demand return of beloved concierges

Dozens of Gateway Plaza residents gathered on Feb. 20 to protest the removal of beloved doormen Felipe Dominguez and Wilton Germosen from their posts at the joint entrance of 375 and 385 South End Ave.
Photo by Milo Hess

BY COLIN MIXSON

More than 700 residents of a Battery Park City residential complex have signed a petition protesting their landlord’s decision to separate them from two beloved concierges who between them have guarded their doors for more than half a century.

“These are people who have our overwhelming support,” said Jill Furillo, a five-year resident of the Gateway Plaza residential complex. “We love them, and everybody is really upset about this.”

Gateway’s management relocated doormen Felipe Dominguez and Wilton Germosen from their posts at the joint entrance of 375 and 385 South End Ave. — each more than 30 stories tall and together home to roughly 1,200 tenants — to a smaller, five-story building within the Gateway campus on Feb. 12, according Nancy Chambers, a Gateway resident who has tangled with her landlord over other issues in the past.

“Management is very mean towards tenants, we pay them and they treat us like we’re crap,” said Chambers.

And the pair of doormen’s combined 50 years experience helping with groceries, directing visitors, and keeping out the riff-raff makes them irreplaceable in the eyes of tenants, many of whom have formed strong relationships with their faithful servants, according to Furillo.

“Everyday there’s something they do for us,” she said. “The fact that they’re being removed, from our perspective, seems retaliatory to the residents.”

The separation may be hard on residents’ hearts, but it hits the doormen right in their wallets, according to another resident, who said the loss of tips from their move to the less populous building constitutes a substantial demotion.

“Besides the fact they have deep relationships going back decades with tenants, they’re going to lose a lot of money,” said Susan Davis, a Gateway resident, who also happens to work as a labor attorney. “The impact on their income in terms of Christmas bonuses from tenants is in excess of $10,000.”

It’s unclear what prompted the move on management’s part, and a spokeswoman for the LeFrak Organization, which owns the building, said the company would not comment regarding internal staffing decisions.

But there’s a common theory among residents that the landlord is diverting the blame for a poorly implemented package-management system on the two doormen, who struggled to accommodate the torrent of holiday deliveries that flooded in for residents last year, according to Davis.

“There was a massive influx of packages during the holidays, and they were completely understaffed to deal with this influx,” Davis said. “When package trucks would pull up with 60 to 100 packages, some residents were just pulling them off the dolly. It was crazy!”

But residents don’t really care what caused the breakup, they just want their doormen back, according to resident and petition signer Tom Goodkind, who said the real value of the concierges’ long years at the building lay in one simple service — gossip.

“These guys, seriously, are excellent at holding court,” Goodkind said. “They’re like bartenders. They know everything that’s going on!”

Dozens of gateway residents even held a rally in support of Dominguez and Germosen on Feb. 20, chanting a waving signs declaring “Reinstate our doormen now!”

Dominguez declined to comment, and Germosen could not be reached.

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