Con Ed threatens to pull plug on four Dawnay Day buildings

After utility warns tenants that power could be cut, landlord Isaac Kassirer says bills have been paid

Feb.February 13, 2020 04:15 PM
 Isaac Kassirer with the apartments at East 117th Street (Credit: iStock, Google Maps)

Isaac Kassirer with the apartments at East 117th Street (Credit: iStock, Google Maps)

Citing unpaid bills, Con Edison warned it would cut power to at least four rent-stabilized buildings in Emerald Equity’s troubled Dawnay Day portfolio.

The utility posted notices this week alerting tenants that Emerald Equity missed payments totaling $10,394 at 124 East 117th Street and had until March 4 until the lights go off.

Emerald only owed $658 at 244 East 117th Street, according to a February 10 email from Con Edison, which nonetheless gave the landlord until March 11 before it would pull the plug.

Similar notices were posted at 231 East 117th Street and 235 East 117th Street in recent days, according to Rebecca Milberg, a tenant organizer from Community Voices Heard.

The landlord said a glitch might have delayed payment of the bills.

“These are NOT unpaid,” said Isaac Kassirer, president and CEO of Emerald Equity, in a statement, adding that a payment due in January might have been paid late because of a restructured agreement with a lender, LoanCore.

The statement said Emerald is now current on its Con Ed and debt service. A spokesperson for Con Edison said the company does not comment on customer accounts.

The notices from Con Edison state that tenants may keep the lights on by paying the utility company directly. They could then deduct those payments from their rent.

Emerald has struggled lately to pay the debt service on the highly leveraged portfolio. The value of rent-regulated buildings sank when the state passed a tenant-friendly rent law in June.

Emerald Equity bought the collection of 47 walk-up buildings in late 2016 with a plan to renovate rent-stabilized apartments and convert them to market rate. That plan was disrupted by the new law, which blocked nearly all pathways to deregulation and severely curtailed rent increases to stabilized units.

The firm is reportedly seeking a tax abatement from the de Blasio administration to shore up the beleaguered investment. Known as an Article XI agreement, it depends on an audit by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to assess the net operating income and determine the level of need. The local City Council member, which in Dawnay Day’s case is Diana Ayala, must also sign off.

Emerald Equity made a series of acquisitions of rent-regulated portfolios in the Bronx and northern Manhattan in 2016 and 2017, amassing a sizable multifamily portfolio before the law was changed.

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