NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Tenants of a relatively new building in downtown New Rochelle, sold to them as a luxury apartment building, have learned to look up before venturing out of the building. Opened just over two years ago, the building is literally falling apart due to poor construction and a failure to maintain the property.
Over the past 90 days, two large windows have fallen from the sixth floor and smashed into the parking lot in back of the building — one on July 6, 2021, landing a few feet from parking spaces rented by a pair of families with young children. The other on July 30, 2021, narrowly missing a tenant, by about 10 feet.
The building management company, FirstService Residential, was warned (by me) on the evening of June 6 at about 6 p.m., that a window in the 6th floor lounge had become detached from a hinge and was slamming loudly into the exterior of the building.
Matthew Lach, the property manager, acknowledged receiving the information soon after — but failed to secure the window.
The window fell between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. the following day.
After the window fell, building management failed to secure the area, warn tenants of a dangerous condition in the parking lot or even remove the shattered glass and broken window frame.
The broken glass was not removed until about 11:00 a.m. after repeated complaints by tenants of having to walk through or drive through piles of broken glass.
Despite a window tumbling six stories from the building and slamming into the parking lot on July 6, building management failed to inspect and secure all windows in the building.
On July 30, another window fell from Unit 6A, an unoccupied apartment on the sixth floor.
This time, the New Rochelle Building Bureau was notified and ordered Lach to secure the area, warn tenants of a dangerous condition in the parking lot, and remove the shattered glass and broken window frame.
Under the New Rochelle building code, broken windows must be boarded up with plywood as soon as possible.
At the time the second window fell on July 30, the frame of the window that fell on July 6-7 had still not been boarded up with plywood. Instead, the open window was haphazardly and ineffectively secured by a piece of brown paper and packing tape.
To this day — more than two months later — the window in Unit 6A has still not been boarded up. The window in the lounge was boarded up in August about a month after it fell.
The failure to act to prevent what could have been a violent and bloody tragedy suggests a depraved indifference to human life by building management and ownership.
It is hardly the first time.
In August 2020, a guest/spouse of a mentally ill tenant fell or jumped from the seventh floor and smashed into the parking lot in back of the building as other tenants watched the scene unfold. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. One family with a traumatized child who witnessed the aftermath moved out of the building the next day.
The rooftop deck and mechanical area of the roof have never been secured or noticed even after multiple incidents involving tenants and guests and a clear order to do so by the New Rochelle Building Bureau.
The term “non-functional” means something works sometimes and not others.
On multiple occasions, building elevators have become inoperable. In June 2021, a tenant had to call 911 to be extricated by the New Rochelle Fire Department from an elevator stuck between floors because the elevator communication system was non-functional.
The front of the building has a revolving door and a regular door both of which have been non-functional for much of 2021.
A curved piece of glass was shattered on March 28 when a person drove their vehicle into the front of The Printhouse. The New Rochelle Fire Department and EMS responded. One person was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. The driver left the scene. Firefighters cleaned up the shattered glass as no one from the building responded in a timely manner.
On March 29, Greystar, a prior building management company for The Printhouse, informed the New Rochelle Building Bureau it had boarded up the revolving door as required by the Building Code and ordered replacement glass from a company in Yorktown Heights
The revolving door was locked in place so the door was no longer operable.
By July 1, 2021, Greystar was out as building manager and FirstService Residential had taken over. The revolving door was still not repaired and inoperable despite a relatively small cost to fix it — about $4,700.
FirstService Residential, like Greystar, told the Building Bureau the replacement glass was on order.
By August 31, the New Rochelle Building Bureau was no longer buying what The Printhouse was selling. Building inspectors cited The Printhouse for multiple building code violations, issued a court appearance ticket for September 21, and demanded access to all unoccupied units to inspect the windows. The Building Inspector was told there were 6 unoccupied units in the entire building which is dubious considering that there were 3 vacant units on the 6th floor alone. The 6th floor houses a lounge and fitness room so has just 7 units compared to 16 units on floors 2 – 5.
Megalith ignored the September 21 summons.
A new court date was set for October 19, 2021.
Senior City officials called a meeting on September 28, to speak directly with Megalith about their concerns, a topic we will cover in a future story. It did not go well. Afterwards, one City official summed up the situation, “they are operating the building as a slumlord”. More on that in a future story.
The Building Bureau was unable to hand-deliver the violations notice to FirstService Residential directly because, without notifying tenants, unilaterally decided to stop staffing the management office.