Here’s Your First Look at Grand Street Guild’s New 100% Affordable Project

Rendering by Handel Architects.

Rendering by Handel Architects.

Back in 2018, we first told you about plans for two new 100% affordable buildings on land owned by the Grand Street Guild. Now renderings have emerged showing what the 15 and 16 story towers will look like.

The drawings are a part of an Environmental Assessment Statement submitted to the Department of City Planning. The project is now in public review, which will include a stop at Community Board 3 later this year.  The developers are seeking modifications to the Seward Park Extension East Large‐Scale Residential Development Area.

The first building at 165 Broome St. (corner of Clinton and Broome streets) will cover 235,235 square feet and include 235 apartments. The second building, at 151 Broome (at Pitt Street), will be 174,000 square feet and include 245 apartments, as well as community space.

Grand Street Guild is a not-for-profit organization formed by the Archdiocese of New York. The residential complex currently includes three 26-story towers with 600 apartments.

You can read the full Environmental Assessment Statement here.

Documents Filed For New Large-Scale Residential Project at 161 Broome St.


Get ready for more large-scale construction in the area between Delancey and Grand streets.

Developers have filed plans for a new 15-story mixed-use building at 161 Broome St. That’s a site owned by the Grand Street Guild, a nonprofit corporation formed by the Archdiocese of New York.  According to documents filed with the Department of Buildings, the 770,000 square foot project will include 232 apartments, as well as retail and community spaces. The Real Deal posted a rendering of the building, designed by Handel Architects.

The Lo-Down first reported on the project back in January of 2018. Two towers are actually in the works, one on the site of an existing parking garage, and the other on the site of a daycare center one block to the east on Broome Street. In the past, the Grand Street Guild has detailed plans for more than 400 affordable rental units in the two new buildings. No market rate housing was planned.

According to the city filings, the building at 161 Broome will include 15,000 square feet of retail space and 11,200 square feet of community facility space. There is also indoor parking for 126 vehicles. There are 18 apartments per floor.

This area has, of course, seen unprecedented development in recent years. The new sites are located in the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. Essex Crossing developers have already put up three buildings on adjacent sites, with two more now under construction. The Gotham Organization is also moving ahead with two new towers on the site of the fire-ravaged Beth Hamedrash Hagadol. The Chinese American Planning Council, which owns part of the development parcel, recently began publicizing its “vision of a new mixed-use development in the Lower East Side.

The Grand Street Guild built three 26-story towers with 600 apartments in 1973 on property surrounding St. Mary’s Church.

Grand Street Guild Announces Plans For Two New 15-Story Towers

The parking garage at the Grand Street Guild one of two development sites.

The parking garage at the Grand Street Guild is one of two development sites.

The owners of he Grand Street Guild apartment complex announced tonight their plans to build two new 15-story residential towers. According to a press release, there will be more than 400 new rental units in a 100% affordable project.

Grand Street Guild is a not-for-profit organization formed by the Archdiocese of New York. Under its auspices, three 26-story towers with 600 apartments were put in 1973 on property surrounding St. Mary’s Church. Rumors about the new plans have been hotly debated by the Section 8 tenants of Grand Street Guild during the past few years.

The press release stated that the new buildings will be “as-of-right” towers, meaning that no special city approval is required beyond routine Department of Buildings permits.

Here’s more from the press release:

Working closely on this new project with New York City Housing Preservation and Development and the New York City Housing Development Corporation, as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Grand Street Guild is proposing that one of the two new buildings be designed specifically for the needs of seniors and the other towards families and individuals. The Grand Street Guild team has begun discussing the details of the new project by reaching out for broad input, including holding meetings with elected and government officials, the Grand Street Guild Residents Association and current residents, Community Board 3, and many others.

Handel Architects has been hired to come up with, a “creative plan to utilize existing space in our complex.”  The press release did not indicate where the new towers would be built. But local District Leader Paez (a Grand Street Guild resident) tells us the proposed sites are a parking garage located at Broome and Clinton streets and a site currently housing the Little Star Daycare Center at 151 Broome St. Paez was among those briefed today on the plans.

A few more details from a letter delivered to residents today:

–Tenants who currently park in the Clinton Street garage will be accommodated in a new garage that will be part of the new project.

–The new buildings will have no impact on the Section 8 subsidy guaranteed to current tenants, according to management. Subsidies through the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development are locked in through 2035.

–Construction is currently expected to begin in the summer of 2019.

At a tenant meeting in February of last year, representatives of Grand Street Guild refused to comment about their development plans, saying it would be premature. Residents expressed many concerns, saying that management had failed to maintain the existing buildings. They cited various problems with malfunctioning elevators (including a widely publicized fatal accident), gas outages and rodent infestations.

Today, Grand Street Guild is talking up its dedication to affordable housing and its long-term commitment to the Lower East Side. In a statement, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, said:

Day in and day out New Yorkers struggle to meet a basic human need and right – a decent place to live. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York is proud that Grand Street Guild has been meeting this need for quality affordable housing for almost fifty years, and within the past five years has substantially rehabbed and upgraded the existing 600 apartments and their systems. This year will bring the installation of new windows and door frames in the three buildings, as well as security cameras in all stairwells. Now Grand Street Guild’s plan to add 400 new affordable apartments for individuals, families and seniors will continue, and add to this legacy for the betterment of the Lower East Side community.

More to come…


Tenants Call the Cops After Drilling Begins on Grand Street Guild Property

Photo by Dashia Imperiale.

Photo by Dashia Imperiale.

In this era of rampant real estate development, locals are becoming a lot more aware of the comings and goings of construction crews. When a few guys showed up yesterday morning to begin geotechnical tests at the Grand Street Guild apartments, tenant leaders were on the case. In fact, they called the police — and a short time later the team from Craig Drilling (a New Jersey-based firm) picked up and went home.

As we reported back in February, members of the tenant association strongly suspect that the property owner, the Archdiocese of New York, has big plans for their Section 8 complex. While the owners’ management company has insisted that no decisions have been made about future development, the tenants are convinced that at least one new residential tower is is in-the-works. Geotechnical testing is often one of the first signs that a big new project is on the way.

After a notice about the drilling went up over the weekend in building lobbies, tenant activist Dashia Imperiale fired off an email to other tenant leaders and local elected officials.  She renewed calls made months ago for more transparency from the Archdiocese about its plans.

Imperiale and newly elected District Leader Daisy Paez (until recently tenant president) were on the scene yesterday morning, asking workers to see Buildings Department permits. We showed up a few minutes later to talk with Imperiale, Paez and tenant association president Sandra Strother. The police officers were gone, and the crew from Craig Drilling had stopped their work.

Last night, we spoke with Mark Benoit of Geto & de Milly, a PR and lobbying firm working for the property owner. He said no work permit was required for the testing that was being undertaken. Benoit added, however, that the owners were committed to communicating more effectively with residents about what’s happening. He said there’s nothing new to report regarding the owners’ plans for possible future development at Grand Street Guild. The testing, Benoit explained, would be rescheduled for a later date.

Paez plans to speak today with Benoit and Samuel Ortiz, community and social services manager of Catholic Charities/Grand Street Guild. Staff members in the offices of State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou and City Council member Margaret Chin tell us they are continuing to press local and federal agencies for details about any possible Grand Street Guild plans.

Imperiale and Paez speak with police officers.

Imperiale and Paez speak with police officers.


Grand Street Guild Residents Suspect Their Owners Are Planning Two New Towers

The parking garage at the Grand Street Guild is a possible development site.

The parking garage at the Grand Street Guild is a possible development site.

The Lower East Side is in the midst of its biggest construction boom in decades.  Several projects now underway are reshaping the neighborhood. Now residents fear another large-scale residential development is about to be unleashed on a community weary of pile driving, barricaded sidewalks and cranes.

For many years, the owners of the Grand Street Guild apartment complex have been thinking of building one or two more buildings on their property. Three 26-story towers were put up in 1974 on the land surrounding St. Mary’s Church, between Clinton and Pitt streets. The project was sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York, which still controls the Project-Based Section 8 complex through a not-for-profit board.

During the past few months, many tenants have been convinced that Grand Street Guild is already making plans for new buildings. At a meeting held Feb. 22 to discuss maintenance issues, an owner’s representative was quizzed by both residents and elected officials in attendance about the guild’s intentions.

Friday, March 3. A crew from a geotechnical firm was at work on Clinton Street, between Broome and Grand Street.

Friday, March 3. A crew from a geotechnical firm was at work on Clinton Street, between Broome and Grand streets.

grand street guild meeting

Owner rep Tony Savarese affresses residents at a Feb. 22 meeting.

The questions were prompted by a Jan. 31 letter to tenants from Wavecrest Management, which operates the buildings. It read, in part, “You may soon notice some activity involving drilling equipment within the Grand Street Guild Property. This activity… is necessary to provide geotechnical analysis for future site improvements.”

The residents, of course, wanted to know what “site improvements” might be in store and asked Tony Savarese, who represents the Grand Street Guild Housing Development Fund Company (HDFC), for an explanation. He would say only that no plans have been submitted or approved but that, “if we proceed, our priority is to build affordable housing. We believe there is a need for affordable housing.”

State Sen. Daniel Squadron was one of several elected officials on hand for the meeting. He tried, unsuccessfully, to draw out a more illuminating response from Savarese. Squadron asked for a commitment from the owners to come back to the tenant association by June to update their plans. Following the tenant association gathering, Squadron told The Lo-Down, “Residents spoke loud and clear that a lack of clarity regarding development plans — and the idea that development is a done deal — is not acceptable. It’s important that management come back to the community before any decisions are made, as they committed to me at the meeting.”

Original site plan: Grand Street Guild.

Original site plan: Grand Street Guild.

There’s obviously no way of knowing what exactly the owners intend to build until Department of Buildings permits are filed. When the three existing towers were constructed in the 1970s, a lot of available floor area was left unused (more than 600,000 square feet according to our calculations).

In October of 2015, according to documents filed with the state, the HDFC created a separate company called “Clinton Broome Development LLC.” Development rights were shifted to a merged zoning lot now held by the new development firm.

Speculation regarding proposed building sites has centered on two parcels. One is the current parking garage used by Grand Street Guild tenants, located on the southeast corner of Clinton and Broome streets. The other is a parcel currently housing the Little Star Daycare Center at 151 Broome St. Public records also show that Clinton Broome Development LLC has hired the lobbying firm, Geto & de Milly, to represent its interests before the City Council.

Both lots are adjacent to the Essex Crossing development project, now under construction in the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. Two out of four buildings in Essex Crossing’s first phase border Grand Street Guild’s property.

grand street garage

This single story parking garage is one possible development site controlled by the Grand Street Guild.

broome street daycare site

Little Star Daycare Center at 151 Broome St.

At the recent meeting, residents made it clear they will fight any new development.

The tenant association organized the question and answer session to address several ongoing maintenance and safety issues. Earlier this year, the elevators in one building, 460 Grand St., were out of commission for several days. In January of 2016, a 25-year-old man was killed in an elevator accident at the complex. Last fall, residents went for weeks without cooking gas.

Tenants say management should get a handle on the existing buildings before undertaking any new projects.

In October, City Council member Margaret Chin and other elected officials wrote to the regional administrator of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about the ongoing troubles at Grand Street Guild. The issues, Chin wrote, call “into question the quality of recent renovations, and merit a full and timely investigation…” In 2010, the federal government helped finance a $60 million renovation at the Grand Street complex. The administrator, Holly Leight, agreed to meet with Chin, but that meeting has not yet occurred (the changeover from the Obama to the Trump administration is apparently a factor).

During the February meeting, Chin told the residents that they (and the broader community). “need to be vigilant and to organize” in order to protect a valuable source of affordable housing on the Lower East Side. Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou told the management team, “I hope you’re listening” (to the tenants)… I’m watching.” She added that there’s a clear need for more transparency in the operations of the housing complex. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Public Advocate Letitia James also spoke on behalf of the residents. James said there’s obviously a need for a “binding legal document” protecting the tenants.

Daisy Paez, tenant association president, said, “We need to make sure those buildings don’t go up.” In an email message sent to the owners last week, she added, “How can you even consider (the new buildings) you are describing as ‘affordable housing’ when the the existing buildings are not being maintained?”

Other residents have questioned recent transactions by the HDFC. Last year, the organization secured new loans for the Grand Street properties from Red Mortgage Capital for nearly $170 million. Tenants worry that the owners are using their buildings as financial leverage for new construction and that their Section 8 contract could potentially be at risk.

For the moment, however, there’s little they can do but wait for management’s next move.

One Year After Deadly Accident, Elevators Once Again Malfunction at Grand Street Complex

460 Grand St., Jan. 6, 2017.

460 Grand St., Jan. 6, 2017.

The residents of a Lower East Side housing complex plagued with serious maintenance problems are once again without elevator service.

Last night, tenants gathered in the lobby of the Grand Street Guild apartments at 460 Grand St., waiting for limited service to be restored. The three elevators in the building have been malfunctioning, off and on, for the past week. Among those stranded was 10th floor resident Lilly Quinones, the mother of two young children, ages one year and 7-months. She’s been forced to trudge up the stairs with the kids and two strollers this week.

Another building in the complex was the scene of a tragic elevator accident in January of 2016 that took the life of 25-year-old Stephen Hewett-Brown. Since the accident, residents say, stalled elevators have been commonplace in the buildings. This past fall, gas service was shut off to hundreds of apartments for a two month period.

elevators 3

Tenant Association President Daisy Paez said the elevator situation has been stressful for residents. “The seniors can’t go up the stairs, so they become hostages in their own homes,” she told us. “Living like this is totally unacceptable.”

City Council member Margaret Chin contacted the city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD). The agency is sending a crew over to investigate the situation at Grand Street Guild. She’s also been in touch with the Department of Buildings, which oversees elevator safety at the complex.

One elevator is now being operated manually by a building staff member, but it only goes up to the 10th floor of the 26 story building. “I want to help fix this problem,” Chin said in a phone interview today. “It’s unacceptable, especially considering that the elevators were supposedly renovated” during a $60 million, federally-funded face lift the complex underwent in 2012. “The building has all of these problems after an expensive renovation,” said Chin. “Government invested a lot of money. We want to know what’s going on.”

During the gas shutdown this past October, Chin and other elected officials wrote to the regional administrator of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development about “persistent safety concerns” at the complex. The property is a Section 8 development and, therefore, under HUD’s purview. The elevator and gas issues, they wrote, have “called into question the quality of recent renovations at the complex, and merit a full and timely investigation…”

In a reply, Holly Leight, the regional administrator, said, “HUD shares your concerns about the maintenance and safety issues at the development, and our staff is working closely with Wavecrest Management (which runs the complex) to ensure that problems are addressed quickly and thoroughly.” Leight also said that a HUD inspector reviewed the elevators in the complex and found them all to be in working order. Chin told us today that she hopes to set up a meeting with HUD to discuss the problems at Grand Street Guild.

Daisy Paez, the tenant association president, is calling on Wavecrest to replace its contractor, North American Elevator. “With all of the elevator problems we have had,” she said, they’ve got to be replaced… If management keeps this company, they are doing absolutely nothing (to remedy the situation).”

We have put a call in to Wavecrest Management. We’ll let you know if the company responds.

The three 26-story towers that make up the apartment complex were built by the Archdiocese of New York (under the auspices of St. Mary’s Church) in the early 1970s. The properties are controlled by a not-for-profit organization known as the Grand Street Guild Housing Development Fund Corp.

UPDATE 5:04 p.m. HPD has informed Council member Chin that one elevator has now been returned to normal service. The remaining two elevators are expected to be working in next 90 minutes. Management is saying staff will be available during the weekend to make sure the elevators are operating properly. According to a spokesperson for Chin, the Department of Buildings has an inspection team on site. Elected officials and building representatives are planning to meet next week to discuss repair issues.

UPDATE 5:41 p.m. Here’s the latest from the Department of Buildings. All three elevators are now working. DOB inspectors are on the scene to make sure they’re operating properly. The elevators were last inspected April 19, 2016 and no violations were found. Following today’s inspection, a spokesperson said, it will be determined whether enforcement actions are warranted against the property owner.


Grand Street Guild Residents Have Gone Without Cooking Gas For 39 Days

gas outage 1

Lucy Lopez has not been able to cook in her apartment for 39 days. Like the other residents of 200 apartments at 131 Broome St., she’s been without gas service all that time. The stove-top is out of commission and hot plates handed out by building management are no substitute.

Last night, exasperated tenants of the Grand Street Guild Apartments, a Section 8 complex, met with a representative from the management company.  Liaisons from the offices of several elected representatives were also in attendance.

The gas was shut off in August, after a leak was detected during an inspection in the building’s laundry room. According to tenants, management has said the repairs are taking so long because workers have had trouble gaining access to some apartments. Three of six gas lines have finally been repaired, but it’s anyone’s guess how long it will take to restore service to the entire building.

gas outage 4

131 Broome St. is the tower on the left.

Mechanical room at 131 Broome St.

Mechanical room at 131 Broome St.

In an interview today, Tenant Association President Daisy Paez told us that residents, “have nowhere to cook. They’re of a culture that likes to cook big pots of rice and beans, have food cooking all day.” Without use of their stoves, a lot of people in the building are ordering takeout and eating in restaurants. “It’s costing them a lot of money,” she said.

After Paez asked the building owner (a not-for-profit controlled by the Archdiocese of New York) to compensate tenants, $200 rebates were offered. Residents last night made it clear the offer is inadequate. Many of them are thinking of filing lawsuits.

During the meeting, Paez said the landlord could be doing a lot more to coordinate with tenants and to expedite the repairs. “If this was a non-minority complex,” she told tenants, “you people would not have to put up with this. The co-ops  across the street (meaning the market-rate Seward Park Cooperative) would never put up with this. I’m sorry to say it.”

The elected officials wrote an Oct. 4 letter to Wavecrest Management, which operates the complex, urging speedier repairs and more financial assistance for tenants. The letter was signed by State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Alice Cancel, City Council member Margaret Chin, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

One resident last night, Dashia Imperiale, called on the elected representatives to do more. “How are you going to follow up on this letter?,” she asked. Imperiale said Maloney in particular should be putting pressure on the owner, since the building receives federal subsidies. Cancel’s representative, Monica Guardiola, told tenants that her office has made several attempts to contact the Archdiocese. There has been no response.

This building, 131 Broome St., has a checkered past. Last New Year’s Eve, 25-year-old Stephen Hewett-Brown was crushed by a malfunctioning elevator. Residents say it’s still common for elevators to break down and that, months after the tragedy, repairs are still being made.

We have reached out to Wavecrest Management for comment. This story will be updated if a representative from the company responds.


Report: Residents Trapped Again in Elevator That Took Young Man’s Life

The Daily News reports that the Lower East Side elevator which malfunctioned New Year’s Eve, killing a 25-year-old man, is still not working:

The elevator where a Bronx man was crushed on New Year’s Eve was supposedly fixed two days ago. But it stalled, trapping residents inside once again, The Daily News has learned. Firefighters had to respond Monday to the Broome Street building, where Stephen Hewett Brown was killed, to free the trapped, residents said. “That particular elevator was cleared just 48 hours ago, and people got stuck in it again yesterday,” said Daisy Paez, chair of the Grand Street Guild Tenant Association. “We live in a 26-story building where people have become hostages in their own homes.”

Wavecrest Management, which operates the three-building Grand Street Guild complex, did not respond to the News’ requests for comment. The elevator slammed down on Stephen Hewett Brown Dec. 31, taking his life. After the tragedy, Wavecrest Management said the elevators had been modernized in 2011, but residents dispute that. An investigation by the Department of Buildings is ongoing.

In the City Council yesterday, legislation was introduced that would require elevator repairmen to be licensed. Similar legislation has been languishing in Albany for several years. Earlier this month, State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblyman Keith Wright called for renewed efforts to pass the bill in both houses.



After Lower East Side Death, A New Push For Elevator Safety Legislation

elevator safety1

State elected officials are hoping some good can come from the death of 25-year-old Stephen Hewett-Brown, who was crushed New Year’s Eve in an elevator accident on the Lower East Side.

State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblyman Keith Wright renewed a push earlier today for passage of elevator safety legislation. The bill, which would mandate proper training for elevator repairman and require licensing, has been passed by the Assembly four times. Even though it has 40 sponsors, the Senate Majority Leader has blocked a vote.

Last Thursday night’s accident happened at 131 Broome St., part of the Grand Street Guild apartment complex. Brown had just pushed a resident of the building to safety on the third floor when the cab slammed down and trapped the aspiring musician from the Bronx. Residents of the complex have been complaining for years about safety problems with the elevators.

elevator safety2

Squadron, who represents, the Lower East Side, and Wright were joined by members of the tenant association, community leaders, representatives of the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 1 and other labor groups.

In the wake of the recent tragedy, said Squadron, there’s an urgent need for action on the legislation. “The death of Stephen Hewett-Brown is a reminder of the need for common-sense standards for elevator work,” he added. Wright (a Harlem Democrat) sponsored the Elevator safety Act with Republican Sen. John Bonacic. Squadron is a co-sponsor. “It is shocking and unthinkable that New York State doesn’t do everything possible to protect the safety of its residents,” said Wright. “To think that the tragic death of Mr. Hewitt-Brown could have been avoided with proper elevator upkeep by licensed professionals is more than enough reason to take action today and pass (the legislation).”

In November, the Post reported that the de Blasio administration opposes the state bill:

Administration officials said a state law is unnecessary because the city’s Buildings Department already has strong elevator- licensing regulations and oversight, and data show elevator use has become safer. There were 50 mostly minor elevator accidents last year, down from 105 accidents in 2007 — a 52 percent reduction, city officials said. Under city rules, building owners are required to hire a Buildings Department-licensed “elevator agency director” with 10 years of experience handling elevators. Elevator inspectors working under the director are also licensed. “Creating another layer of regulation through a state license issued by an agency [the state Labor Department] with no experience regulating the elevator industry is duplicative, serves only to confuse, and does not constitute sound public policy,” said the mayor’s Albany legislative director, Sherif Soliman.

Earlier this week, Grand Street Guild Management told The Lo-Down that a 2012 modernization of the elevators was “overseen by an independent elevator consultant and licensed architectural firm.” Jay Yablonsky of Wavecrest Management added that the work was “signed off by both HUD (which funded building renovations) and the New York City Department of Buildings.” Alexander Schnell, Buildings Department spokesperson, told us, “Accidents like this are extremely rare. The city’s elevators make billions of passenger trips every year without incident.”

An investigation into what caused the accident is ongoing.


Followup: Tenants Want Safety Assurances After Fatal Elevator Accident

We have a followup today on the tragedy that occurred on New Year’s Eve, when a 25-year-old man was crushed by an elevator at the Grand Street Guild apartment complex. Residents of the building at 131 Broome St. are meeting tomorrow to discuss long-standing concerns about elevator safety. They have requested the attendance of executives from Wavecrest Management, which operates the affordable housing development.

Last Thursday evening, an elevator cab slammed down on Stephen Hewett-Brown, an aspiring musician from the Bronx. Efforts to save him were futile. Many news stories highlighted problems with the elevators going back several years. In the Department of Buildings’ online file for 131 Broome St., 44 violations have been recorded.

Leaders of the tenant association tell us they have been pleading with the management company for several years to address safety issues in the elevators at all three buildings in the complex. Daisy Paez, tenant association president, said, “It took a life to be lost. Now Grand Street Guild is getting all of this attention. We want to make sure this never happens again. We want to know that (tenants) can get in the elevators and be safe.”

On Saturday, a memo was distributed by management that read, in part:

We express our sincere condolences to the family of Stephen Hewett-Brown for their loss. They are foremost in our thoughts. We assure you that safety is our paramount concern. We and our elevator company are actively working with the New York City Department of Buildings, the NYPD and all appropriate authorities to determine the underlying cause of this tragedy. The elevators underwent a complete modernization in 2011 and are regularly inspected and serviced by a licensed elevator maintenance and inspection agency.

131 Broome St.

131 Broome St.

Tenant association members say, however, that a “complete modernization” of Grand Street Guild’s elevators did not occur. As evidence, they cited several emails between tenants and management in the past few years. A January 2011 email stated that one elevator in each building would be modernized. In February of 2012, tenants complained about an elevator that was “jumping” erratically with passengers inside. During a $60 million renovation project funded by the federal government in 2012, there were weekly meetings involving tenant leaders and construction managers. “The elevators were at the top of the agenda for quite some time,” said Paez. Rather than replacing the cabs, tenant association members say, metal sheeting was wrapped around all four walls of each elevator. The improvements were purely cosmetic, they contend. Just three weeks ago, Paez was in an elevator with her dog when they became trapped and had to be rescued by the fire department.

Alexander Schnell, Buildings Department press secretary, told The Lo-Down, “The Department’s investigation is ongoing. Our inspectors have been on site since this tragedy occurred.” We’re told the elevator that malfunctioned has not yet been returned to service. The remaining two elevators at 131 Broome St. have been tested and are in use. According to the Buildings Department, the defective elevator was installed in 2011 and was last inspected in December. There were no open violations for “immediately hazardous” conditions. There were three open violations for what the Buildings Department considers minor infractions.

We asked Wavecrest Management for their take on the elevator modernization program. This is the response from Jay Yablonsky, director of property management:

The modernization of the elevators was specified and overseen by an independent elevator consultant and licensed architectural firm. The work was signed off by both HUD and the New York City Department of Buildings and consisted of the installation of new major elevator components, including, but not limited to, the controllers, hoist motor, hoist and governor cables, and traveling cables. In addition, those components that were retained were adjusted and serviced for proper operation.

Yablonsky said tenants will be updated regarding their investigation when more information becomes available. Alexander Schnell, the city spokesperson, said, “Accidents like this are extremely rare. The city’s elevators make billions of passenger trips every year without incident.”

“In the unlikely event of a service interruption,” he added, “the safest place to be is inside the elevator. Ring the alarm, stay calm, and wait in the elevator until help arrives.”

The three 26-story towers that make up the apartment complex were built by the Archdiocese of New York (under the auspices of St. Mary’s Church) in the early 1970s. The properties are controlled by a not-for-profit organization known as the Grand Street Guild Housing Development Fund Corp.

New Year’s Eve Tragedy: 25-Year-Old Man Crushed By Elevator at Grand Street Guild Building

On New Year’s Eve, a man from the Bronx was killed after being crushed by an elevator at a Lower East Side apartment building.

It happened just before midnight at 131 Broome St., which is part of the Grand Street Guild complex. 25-year-old Stephen Hewett-Brown had been helping other people get off the stalled elevator when the car slammed down, pinning him between the ceiling of the cab and the third floor. Bystanders tried to pull him out to no avail. Rescue crews responded quickly and rushed Brown to New York Downtown Hospital, but his injuries were too severe. The aspiring musician was pronounced dead a short time after the new year began.

When the elevator ground to a halt, passengers pried the doors open. Brown lifted a 43-year-old woman, Erude Sanchez, out of the car and wished her a happy new year. He became trapped moments later. “He was crying, ‘Help me! Help me,'” Emmanuel Coronado, Sanchez’s son-in-law, told Channel 4.

Problems with the elevators in the building are nothing new, as numerous news reports over the weekend pointed out. Here’s how the New York Times reported the story:

For residents of the 26-story building, the accident was the culmination of years of worries about erratic service and unmet safety concerns on the elevator. Madeline Regalado, 27, a medical assistant, said that just a week ago she was stuck in the elevator for several minutes as it wobbled near the lobby and the doors failed to open. “It could’ve been any of us,” said Ms. Regalado, who has lived there for 10 years. “This is nothing new. I’m scared to use the elevator now.”

Department of Buildings records show three open violations for elevator issues. Many other complaints have been filed in the past several years. Wavecrest Management, which oversees maintenance in the residential complex, released the following statement:

We express our sincere condolences, to the family. We, and our elevator company, are actively working with the New York City Department of Buildings and the NYPD to determine the underlying cause of this tragedy.

Brown had come to the Lower East Side to attend a New Year’s Eve party with his girlfriend.

String of Burglaries at Grand Street Guild Apartments

Grand Street Guild apartment complex.

Grand Street Guild apartment complex.

A reader sent along a notice that was dispersed last month to residents of the Grand Street Guild apartment complex, alerting them to a string of burglaries dating back to December.  The May 16 dispatch from building mangement notes, “there has been no forced entry in any of these incidents, indicating that the perpetrators possibly have keys to some of the apartments.”  Our tipsters said there have been no major updates from management since the notice was distributed.  The incidents have happened in two out of three buildings within the complex – 460 Grand St. and 131 Broome St. Grand Street Guild recently completed a large-scale renovation.  The 7th Precinct is investigating.  Click through to read the memo.

Woman’s Body Found in Broome Street Apartment

From yesterday’s New York Post Police Blotter:

A teenager was discovered dead (Saturday) in a Lower East Side building, police said. Cops responding to a 911 call at 131 Broome St. (the Grand Street Guild) at 7:55 a.m. found the 18-year-old victim, whose identity wasn’t released, unconscious in the bedroom of an apartment in the high-rise. The teen, who had been visiting a friend, had a pre-existing medical condition that may have contributed to her death, sources said. No criminality is suspected. The medical examiner is to determine the cause of death.