The Surreal Estate

Perspectives on Tenant Organizing from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board

Tag Archives: Milbank Real Estate

Spring Brings Relief to Tenants without Heat

As New Yorkers eagerly welcome the first glimpses of Spring, none can be more appreciative of the warmer weather than residents of 828 Courtlandt St in the Bronx who spent much of the winter without heat and hot water in their building. For the 16 families that live there, the only heat provided on Christmas and New Years was the metaphorical warmth of holiday cheer.

The building on Courtlandt Street was purchased in 2007 and poorly managed by Milbank Real Estate. Yes, that Milbank. The same Milbank that that purchased a group of 10 Bronx buildings for a ridiculous amount, did almost nothing to maintain them, and let them deteriorate until finally the buildings went into foreclosure.

Their plan for Courtlandt must have been equally dismal considering the fact that the building has also fallen into foreclosure. This time a private company bought the debt from Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg, and is pursuing foreclosure with the intention of owning the building. That company is called Bluestone; the same Bluestone that purchased the debt on another group of distressed Bronx properties last year. These soon-to-be Bluestone tenants are currently dealing with shoddy repairs, as well as facing eviction proceedings based on inaccurate records maintained by a management company that provided little-to-no services. At least the Courtlandt tenants know what they have to look forward to in the upcoming year.

The way these companies all seem to be connected makes you wonder if these Real Estate guys are all part of some “alliance to commit evil” and spend their time rubbing their hands together in a hollowed-out volcano like you would see in a comic book.  It’s easy to get lost in the fray and confusion of ownership, but what it remains clear is that residents from Courtlandt should have heat when the temperature highs are barely above freezing and be able to give their children a warm bath before they go to school.

“Foreclosed Bronx Buildings Have New Owner”: WNYC News Blog

Photo via WNYC News Blog

UHAB organizers and organizers from the North West Bronx Community Clergy Coalition have been working with the “Milbank 10″ for over a year. Public officials, including HPD, Speaker Christine Quinn, Boro President Diaz,and Mayor Bloomberg, have been great allies in the battle, coming to the Bronx to speak out for Milbank tenants multiple times.

Tuesday morning saw these allies in the Bronx again, praising the sale of these buildings, the tenacity of tenants, and the great value of investors like Finkelstein Timberger Real Estate . But if you ask organizers at The Surreal Estate, the jury is still out. We hope that Finkelstein Timberger Real Estate will rehabilitate these buildings. We hope that the agreement forged with tenants in February 2011 remains upheld.

Stay tuned with UHAB organizers and The Surreal Estate to see how this purchase plays out. Stay tuned to see what we think of Finkelstein. Not all of his tenants think he’s so great of a guy, and as of Tuesday morning, we were all standing together celebrating, well, nothing — yet. We stand – as ever – cautiously optimistic for the Milbank Tenants and hoping Finkelstein holds ALL his buildings to the same high standard, whether elected officials are looking over his shoulder or not.

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