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Landlord: $6 Million to Repair Fire Ravaged Building

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We were in housing court earlier this morning, following developments in the legal fight between the owner and tenants of 289 Grand Street. An appraisal done by the consulting firm Brown Harris Stevens for the landlord determined it would cost about $6 million to repair the building. The figure includes adding an elevator to the 6-story structure.

The two sides have been at odds since April, when a devastating fire ripped through four buildings on Grand Street.  The tenants and city agencies contend the apartments can be made livable again. But the owner, Wong’s Grand Street Realty, is mounting an “economic infeasibility defense.”  The analysis, made available to the tenants’ lawyers this morning, theorizes it would cost more to repair the building than it’s worth.

The next step: experts working for the tenants will prepare their own estimate of what it would cost to rehab 289 Grand.  The advocacy organization, Asian Americans for Equality, is paying the residents’ legal expenses. AAFE Executive Director Chris Kui says it probably wouldn’t take any more than $1.5 million to make the apartments habitable. He calls the owner’s estimate “totally overblown and distorted.”

The combatants are due back in court at the end of the month.

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