Apartment sidewalk collapse

Seven On Your Side
August 24, 2009 4:21:53 PM PDT
It was more than inconvenient, it was actually dangerous for the residents of the Bronx building. They could not use the front entrance to their building and had to come and go through a dimly-lit trash room.

"We are prisoners in this building. Our landlord does not care." Julia Gibbs is talking about the entrance to her Bronx apartment building that literally collapsed, seven weeks earlier. "All the debris that fell, it was a lot, so much. The building actually shook."

"And going up and down those stairs, it's really frustrating because the stairs aren't even." John Fielder recently had a back operation and walks with a cane. He has to take a shaky trip down the back stairs, the only way in and out of the building. Now they spend their days demonstrating out front.

"And it's really frustrating," says John. "Because we call the office and all we get is answering machines."

The management company, Residential Management, told us repeatedly they have been busy obtaining the permit for the work.

"It's absolutely horrible," says Julia. "We get promises that things are gonna get done and they never get done."

After we got involved, demolition began, but came to a sudden stop when it was discovered the permit was approved, but not yet formally issued.

The New York City Department of Buildings told us Residential Management had not submitted the proper documents to get the approved permit.

They were cited with several violations for the entrance condition. And there was another outstanding violation for an illegal number of occupants with an unpaid fine.

But finally, after weeks of delays, the job was again under way. And that made John and Julia very relieved, "I have to thank Channel 7 for really getting on their case for that. Because if it wasn't for ya'll we wouldn't have had this done now."

Why did it take so long to start construction? The building's management company said it just took time to get insurance and finish the permit process. They expect renovations will be done by the end of next week and are considering a rent reduction for tenants for the inconvenience.

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Story by: Tappy Phillips


Produced by: Steve Livingstone

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