Owner Revitalizes Nine of NYC's Worst Buildings
An owner who bought nine of the most run-down apartment buildings in the Bronx in April 2011, promising to revitalize them, has made approximately $10 million in repairs since buying them for approximately $28 million. Tenant advocates worry that the new debt total of $45.5 million—$10 million more than the mortgage that forced the previous owner, Los Angeles-based Milbank Real Estate, into foreclosure—is unsustainable. They're concerned that such a burden will force the owner to skimp on maintenance and repairs.
The owner insists that the problem with the 1920s-era buildings was never their debt level, but successive owners who failed to take good care of the properties. Since buying the buildings, the owner has switched most of them over to gas from oil; installed new hot water heaters, windows, and roofs; and fixed up courtyards and lobbies. Violations on the buildings, which totaled nearly 5,000 when he bought them, are now down to under 1,000. The owner has promised that more will be erased once city inspectors have a chance to get into the buildings to review work that has been done. Six of the buildings that were in the city's Alternative Enforcement Program, reserved for New York's worst properties, have exited the program.