Earlier this month, residents, elected officials and activists at the Cooper Square Committee raised their voices against controversial landlord Icon Realty. Now the property owner — under fire for its treatment of tenants — is hiring a “chief safety officer.”
During a May 9 protest at 445 East 9th St., an Icon property, the firm was accused of conducting dangerous renovation projects, with the intention of driving rent stabilized tenants out of their buildings. Cooper Square Committee threatened legal action if the construction issues were not addressed. Here’s the statement we received yesterday from Icon principals Terrence Lowenberg and Todd Cohen:
After hearing from several tenant leaders in the last few weeks, Icon has added a new position of Building Safety Manager, to serve as an internal safety coordinator and tenant safety advocate. Icon has hired Felipe Olmeta to serve in that role. He started on Monday, May 16th. Felipe has a breadth of experience in the field of construction and construction protocols. Felipe will report directly to both of us and have vast discretion for tenant safety and as an advocate for tenants. Felipe will focus on 445 east 9th and 57 2nd Avenue at first, before expanding his role to other buildings. We welcome Felipe to the organization.”
The statement was distributed by Chris Coffey, a spokesman for Icon Realty. He went on to explain that Olmeta would maintain a daily presence in the buildings while construction is taking place. He also asserted that Icon is committed to building safety and that it takes tenant concerns seriously.
Coffey told EV Grieve that all work in the two buildings has been stopped while safety concerns are being addressed.