Grand Street Fire Victims Allowed to Enter Apartments

289 Grand Street.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the legal battle between the owner of 289 Grand Street and the building’s tenants, who were displaced by a devastating fire in April of last year.

The residents, represented by Asian Americans for Equality, argue that the building can and should be repaired, so they can move back into to their (mostly) rent regulated apartments. The landlord, Wong’s Grand Street Realty, contends the building is severely damaged and must be demolished.

It’s looking like a trial will take place later this summer. In the meantime, the tenants have been fighting for temporary access to their apartments, to retrieve personal possessions they’ve been doing without in the past year-and-a-half. Last week, we stopped by the building, at the corner of Grand and Eldridge streets, where some residents were being allowed inside for two hours.

Steven Vendola, who lived at 289 Grand for 45 years, was the first tenant to go inside. In the course of the afternoon, he packed up many boxes, which were carried downstairs and loaded into a car parked along Eldridge Street. His attorney, Helene Hartig, showed us some items that had been retrieved, including credit cards and a driver’s license.

More residents are being allowed inside this week.