Thursday, May 25, 2017
Tenants want overseer for torched building
From DNA Info:
Tenants of an apartment building destroyed in a five-alarm fire are going to court to force the appointment of an independent official to oversee rebuilding, saying letting the owners do it would be like the “fox guarding the hen house” after a contractor was arrested for starting the blaze.
More than a third of the tenants of the Martinique Plaza, at 56-11 94th St., have signed on to the suit, which will be filed in housing court this week by Legal Aid.
The petition asks that a judge appoint an independent administrator to oversee all capital improvements to the 111-unit building, which was destroyed on April 11.
While the fire scorched the sixth floor, the more than 100 apartments below were flooded as firefighters battled the fire.
And the now-homeless tenants say they don't trust management — and fear they'll be priced out of their units, which are below the median rent for the area.
“We don’t want someone like that in charge to fix this building up," Sateesh Nori, the Legal Aid lawyer representing the tenants, said.
“The fox is guarding the hen house. Someone is responsible for a fire, you don’t want them then responsible for repairing the damage to the fire."
Tenants — who met with city officials at a meeting on Tuesday in Elmhurst to discuss their options — said the management company has been reaching out to select tenants promising them a new apartment if they don't take any legal action against them, they said.
They also said the building's superintendent changed his story since the evening of the fire, when he said there wasn't any work being done on the roof, to the time the fire marshals came out with its cause.