A&E grants Sunnyside fire victims housing extension at 11th hour

Firm extends temporary living arrangements for displaced Queens tenants

A&E Real Estate Extends Housing Deal for Queens Fire Victims

From left: Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and A&E Real Estate’s Douglas Eisenberg along with 43-09 47th Avenue in Sunnyside (Getty, A&E Real Estate, Google Maps)

A&E Real Estate has reached an agreement on living arrangements with Sunnyside tenants pushed out by a fire late last year, with help from a Queens elected official.

Residents of 43-09 47th Avenue were displaced by a devastating fire sparked in late December by a contractor working with a blowtorch. Some tenants at the time took A&E’s offer of housing for six months, which expired today.

The deal, announced yesterday by Borough President Donovan Richards, extends relocation for 22 households for another six months.

The agreement came just six days after tenants sued A&E, founded and run by Douglas Eisenberg, alleging the firm’s negligence led to the fire. The contractor’s use of the blowtorch to remove lead from a door frame violated regulations.

A spokesperson for A&E said Richards approached them about doing more for the residents, and over the weekend made a plan to offer housing for another six months.

“Ultimately, it’s the insurance settlement that will compensate all parties for their losses in the fire,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We appreciate Borough President Richards’ partnership in finding an approach that we can sustain for several months more.”

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After the fire, some tenants took a deal from the firm to relocate to other A&E buildings across the city. About half of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were rent-stabilized. Relocated residents continued to pay their previous rent in the new units, some of which are free-market.

With the extension, they can remain in those homes through Jan. 15, with the expectation that they will use the time to look for permanent housing.

In a joint statement released yesterday, Richards celebrated the deal. “I’m thankful to A&E Real Estate for its partnership and for its support of these families by offering additional temporary lease agreements,” he said.

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It is unclear whether the agreement will affect the lawsuit which accuses A&E of failing to provide adequate support and compensation to the displaced tenants. Some tenants fear being pushed out of their rent-stabilized apartments for good, if repairs are prolonged, but the A&E spokesperson said that is not possible, “full stop.”

The spokesperson provided The Real Deal with a “non-exhaustive” list of work done since the fire, including installing a temporary roof and drains, shoring up a structurally compromised column, adding temporary electrical service and doing structural testing.

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