[Updated Wednesday 12:58 p.m. with additional information from TF Cornerstone] Residents of 2 Gold Street are claiming that TF Cornerstone, the landlord at the 839-unit Financial District apartment tower, has failed to make a good enough effort to relocate tenants or provide them with accurate and consistent information in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, The Real Deal has learned.
More than 50 residents sent an open letter to TF Cornerstone calling on the developer to improve communication between management and residents, as well as improve support for the residents displaced by the storm. The building sustained serious damage from Sandy and may not reopen for a month or longer. Meanwhile, tenants have been displaced.
“The TF Cornerstone management team’s response has been marked by silence, incompetence and a complete lack of empathy,” the letter reads. “It’s unacceptable that it has been a week and we have yet to receive any communication — much less an apology for our inconvenience — from anyone other than the property managers.”
The group is seeking an immediate return of November rent payments, a detailed explanation of why an inspector found the property uninhabitable and under what conditions it will be declared habitable again, an open forum between residents and TF Cornerstone executives, and a “dramatic improvement” to an informational hotline the landlord set up to deal with the situation. (In a separate conversation on Wednesday, representatives for TF Cornerstone clarified that the landlord has waived November rents.)
Sofia Estevez, an executive vice president at TF Cornerstone, who had not yet read the letter, told TRD that “our priority has been our tenants.”
“I don’t even know how to respond to the accusation that we’ve been anything less than proactive,” she added. “It is shocking.”
The company itself had problems to deal with at its office space at 387 Park Avenue South: the power was out, and a number of employees were unable to come to work, Estevez said. TF Cornerstone began operating out of a temporary office at 505 West 37th Street last Friday, but Estevez said that they did not have computer access to tenant records, and the company’s website host was down until late last week.
Estevez said she has been posting updates for 2 Gold Street residents on the website, Twitter and Facebook on a regular basis, and staff members are taking calls from residents round-the-clock through the hotline, which she said has received positive feedback from other tenants. On Saturday, the company began relocating residents to other TF Cornerstone properties or directing them to competitors’ listings, representatives said Wednesday.
“I’ve done nothing but 2 Gold in the last week,” she said, adding that the building has never flooded before.
“We addressed every single situation,” she said, “and we will continue to do it.”
The 2 Gold Street electrical gear and fire safety systems were damaged, Estevez said, which largely makes the building uninhabitable. The last of the water was just pumped out today and, crews can enter to work tomorrow.