Tenants sue Ponte Equities over state of Tribeca building

July 30, 2013 09:00AM

Residents of a rent-stabilized Tribeca building have sued landlord Ponte Equities for failing to administer appropriate repairs following Hurricane Sandy, the New York Times reported.

The storm sent 28 inches of water into the ground floor of the building, located at 31 Desbrosses Street in Tribeca. The city’s Department of Buildings deemed the property unsafe – on account of both regular wear-and-tear as well as storm damage — and placed a red sticker on it, one of only eight buildings in Manhattan that currently have this marker.

The landlord has argued that repairs would cost more than the six-story building is worth, while the tenants have moved to force repairs so they can move back in.

An appraiser recently found the value of the building to be $3 million based on comparable sales, Jeffrey Ween, a lawyer representing the tenants, told the Times. But court documents filed by Ponte Equities cite a 2009 city valuation of $324,000.

“They have used Sandy as an excuse,” Ween said. “For a couple of years now, they’ve tried to take advantage of whatever they could in the hopes that people would either have to suffer through it or leave.”

Representatives for Ponte Equities did not respond to the Times’ requests for comment.

A fortnight ago, a lawyer for Ponte Equities hinted at possible development plans for the block on which the building stands, according to the Times. The Pontes have recently shown a willingness to develop their large portfolio in the area, as The Real Deal reported. [NYT]  – Hiten Samtani