Thursday, April 2, 2015

Kingsbridge Ice Center said to cause rent hikes

By Maya Rajamani
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Jay Espy, a resident of 2800 University Ave. and member of the People Power Movement, speaks out against potential rent hikes at his building at a tenants’ association meeting on Aug. 14.

Kingsbridge Heights residents are pushing to reverse a proposed rent hike they believe to be caused by the imminent construction of a large new ice sports center at the Kingsbridge Armory. 

On the evening of Aug. 14, about 25 tenants and activists gathered in the lobby of a rent-controlled high-rise on University Ave. between Kingsbridge Road and 197th Street, a few blocks away from the Armory location, to discuss a potential increase of $11.69 per room for the building’s tenants. 

“People like us are getting kicked out of our homes because our rent is going up,” said Jay Espy, a member of People Power Movement (PPM), who requested the Press shorten his last name to avoid repercussions from the landlord.  

The group, which describes itself as a democratic people’s organization dedicated to social change, organized the meeting for the building’s tenants last Thursday night.

The landlord at the building., Jac Zadrima of the Bronx-based Genesis Realty Group, LLC, did not respond to multiple calls for comment. 

Mr. Espy joined PPM while he was advocating against raising tuition costs at SUNY and CUNY schools during college. 

But the group’s latest fight hits particularly close to home for the 23-year-old, who has lived with his family in a basement two-bedroom apartment on University Ave. for the past 22 years. 

“It’s going to change the neighborhood for the worse for us,” he said of the Armory development, which he believes is the impetus behind rent hikes and evictions in the neighborhood. 

The historic site is set to house the largest indoor ice rink complex in the world, after the city inked a $300 million deal with KNIC Partners to develop the center last November. 

His organization’s focus on the building, along with two other buildings on the same street, began after the former building’s landlord filed an application for a Major Capital Improvement (MCI) rent increase.

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Has anyone seen hard evidence that the landlord is raising rent because of the development project? It doesn't seem unbelievable that that's the reason for the MCI rent increase, especially since some if not all the planned improvements are for the building's exterior--I wasn't sure whether the plan for improved hallway windows will affect the way that the building looks from the outside--but it doesn't seem that anyone has put forward anything other than circumstantial proof so far.

Is there a way to determine the actual reason for the MCI rent increase, i.e. find documentation somewhere? That seems like the right next step for PPM to take.

If there is documentation or some other kind of hard evidence, what then? Do the residents a right to do anything other than ask for an extension on the rent hike?

Thursday, August 21, 2014 | Report this

Many neighborhoods in the Bronx DESPERATELY need rent increases to attract more affluent residents. How much affordable housing does the Bronx need? I think the Bronx has the highest concentration of housing projects in all of NYC. But yes, let's keep the rents low in the Bronx and watch more and more neighborhoods decline. Preposterous.

Monday, September 29, 2014 | Report this
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