In our previous article, we described how The Printhouse at 165 Huguenot Street in New Rochelle is falling apart due to a combination of poor construction and a deliberate decision by ownership not to maintain the building. Now we will step back a couple of years to provide some context.
What became The Printhouse was discussed at a 2015 meeting of the New Rochelle Industrial Development Agency.
A 12-year PILOT schedule (payment in lieu of taxes) was approved in 2016. The building was completed in 2019.
The building received a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy from the City of New Rochelle in August 2019 at which point the first tenants moved in to the building (including me).
The photo in the property portal form above depicts pergolas with vegetation, which was never built. From day one, the four terraces depicted at the top of the building had issues with the sun hitting the planks of the terrace. In the summer, the planks reached temperatures so high that walking on them barefoot would scald tenants feet. The planks soon began to bend and warp to a degree that inhibited the use of the terraces by tenants.
When work began in March 2021 to replace the decking material, tenants were told each deck would take 4 days to repair. Only three of the decks were repaired, and the work ran from March to June – 12 weeks when the decks, the main feature of those units, were unavailable.
Even after new planks were installed, they were misaligned and created a tripping hazard.
On Day 1, the building management company was Alliance Residential, later acquired by GreyStar, which also manages 360 Huguenot. GreyStar was replaced by FirstService Residential on July 1, 2021.
A proper hand-off did not take place due to what employees of GreyStar and FirstService Residential both described as an acrimonious relationship between Megalith and GreyStar, reportedly due to a failure of Megalith to pay some disputed invoices.
FirstService Residential took over management of the building without even a walk-through to inspect the property, according to a knowledgeable source.
This same source stated that many building vendors continue to clamor over unpaid invoices being ignored by Megalith, which would explain why even minor repairs are not made at The Printhouse. The issue, this source says, is that Megalith, through its special purpose company, 165 Huguenot Property Owner, LLC, is passing all or almost all the money it receives directly to investors leaving little or no money to maintain the building.
Alexandra (Lexie) Hearn, Vice President of Operations for Megalith Capital, vehemently denied this to be the case in a recent meeting with City officials. Facts suggest otherwise.
On September 17, Andrew Di Schino, Managing Director, Multifamily Rental Management, for FirstService Residential without specifically addressing his client, Megalith, by name said, “if you can’t maintain a building you should not own a building”.
For tenants, the building was (and still is) marketed as a luxury building with various services and amenities, few of which have been consistently delivered or delivered at all.
Tenants were promised 24/7 doorman-concierge service. What they got in 2019 was one shift, 5 days a week, from an employee who was on occasion found passed out drunk in the lobby. Even that minimal level of staffing was reduced in 2020 and in 2021 reduced further to a non-union “doorman”, a college student staring at their laptop for a few hours on weekends.
With no one on site, the building is not controlled. In addition to the parking lot and trespassers drugged or drunk in the lobby, new tenants have taken to moving into the building through the front door — piling up their belongings in the area by the mailboxes and elevators, creating a fire hazard and general nuisance.
In June, a hallway on a residential floor was almost entirely blocked by a large, heavy package propped up against an apartment door for weeks. An obvious fire hazard, GreyStar staff refused repeated requests from other tenants to move the package.
When FirstService Residential took over management of The Printhouse on July 1, 2021, the new building manager greeted tenants enthusiastically and talked with them about getting the building back into good shape. Eight days later, he disappeared without explanation. His voicemail was full, and he did not reply to emails. To this day, tenants have never been notified what Di Schino confirmed to this reporter, that FirstService Residential decided to eliminate office hours in The Printhouse. Tenants have been left ever since to bang on the management officer door or wander the building to seek help.
There have been many other issues with The Printhouse.
One tenant took photos of his apartment, listed the rental unit as a Condominium he was renting, and took deposits and rent payments. When the “Condo Renters” showed up looking to access their new apartment, the fraud was explained to them.
Garbage chutes throughout the building are non-functional.
Lights outside the 4 apartments with decks — the most units in the building— cannot be controlled from within the individual apartments. Instead, they are all controlled by one switch on a timer in a utility closet by the elevators.
The New York State Attorney General is investigating allegations that The Printhouse sought and obtained deposits bases on multiple months of rent and pet deposits ($500 per pet) in violation of state law. Since 2019, landlords are only allowed deposits based on one month’s rent; pet deposits are banned.
Both doors connecting the sixth floor lounge and sixth floor deck are broken and are often wide open or flapping about and slamming into the exterior walls.
Apartments and hallways throughout the building have experienced flooding, sometimes Category 1 water (clear) and sometimes Category 3 water (contaminated). Carpets are stained brown from the rusty water; walls have rust color streaks running down them. Hallways on the residential floors — never painted or touched up since the building opened in 2019 are now chipped, scratched and stained.
For more than 8 months, in 2020, Internet service from Altice was non-functional. The internet-enabled equipment in the fitness center became non-functional. Individual apartments experienced non-functional internet service. It was only through the efforts of a tenant (me) that Altice diagnosed the issue as a “deteriorating TAP”, a sort of switch in a utility closet on a different floor under the sole control of building management. Rather than fix the TAP issue, building management told new tenants to use Verizon without telling Altice customers they knew there was a then-undiagnosed issue with Altice.
There have been other issues: toilets backing up, HVAC systems leaking, non-functional kitchen appliances, insufficient hot water heaters and more.