The Public Advocate’s office has been criticized for what some have deemed a lackluster fact-checking effort before publishing its annual “worst landlords of NYC” list earlier this week. This probably won’t help.
One of the landlords who appeared on the list — designed to shame landlords into making repairs — says his building is under renovation and he doesn’t have any unhappy tenants … because there aren’t any.
“There’s been no one living there for years,” said Mark Tress, who bought The Windermere for $13 million in 2009, a full year after the last of the 649 violations had been issued by city inspectors. “They compiled a list without doing proper research.”
Public Advocate Letitia James’ office didn’t back down.
“Even if there might not be tenants living there it still could be putting people at risk,” Anna Brower, a spokesperson, told DNAinfo. “The truth is there are a lot of landlords that should be on this list. We can’t go personally examine every single building. That’s what HPD and DOB are for.”
Tress, who is turning the Windermere into a boutique hotel with 175 rooms, declined to comment on why inherited violations hadn’t yet been cleared.
The landmarked building at 400 West 57th Street has a long history of neglect.
A former building manager, Jerome Garland, was imprisoned for threatening to kill tenants if they didn’t vacate. Then-owner Alan B. Weissman was also jailed for mistreating tenants. In 1986, Toa, a Japanese company, bought the Windemere. It never redeveloped the property, and in 2008 a judgement was entered against Toa for willfully failing to maintain the building.
James’ office admitted earlier this week that it erred when — for the second consecutive year — it added landlord David Behin to the list. Behin has been fixing up a Bushwick property he bought through a state program that transfers derelict properties to more reputable landlords. [DNAinfo] — James Kleimann