Two ugly buildings have caught the attention of City Council member Gale Brewer and she’s pushing the city employee who owns them to get rid of them.
Diane Haslett-Rudiano, chief clerk of the Brooklyn Borough Office of Elections, owns brownstones at 118 West 76th Street and 44 West 73rd Street, but she’s let them fall into disrepair. She told the Daily Newsthat she’s held onto them because her late husband had dreamed of rehabilitating them. (He bought them in the 70’s for a song. The one on 76th street, pictured at right, cost him $5,000 in 1976!) “A lot of my husband’s dreams are wrapped up in that building … but you have to be realistic, and the thing to do is to let someone else enjoy it,” she told the Daily News.
Meanwhile, the buildings have become eyesores, and attracted that familiar Upper West Side scourge: rats!
“Over the past 12 years I have sent many letters to the owner, sharing the concerns of my constituents,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer in a statement. “My office has reached out offering to assist in mending the situation in any way possible, at first to try to improve the situation together and get her to do something about the rat infestation and garbage. When it became clear that she had no intention to make any improvements and maintain these buildings, I tried putting her in touch with a broker recommended by the block association. She never followed up on any of these things, and I found her lack of concern and refusal to be reasoned with deeply disturbing. Things can’t continue this way, the upper West Side community has had enough of being ignored and we want a new person to take possession since it is clear that the current owner is not a responsible property owner.”
Brewer and others spoke in front of the buildings on Sunday.
Judith Bronfman, President of the West 76 Street Block Association, Inc. summarized their attempts to repair 118 West 76 Street. “Over these years, the building has grown more derelict, more of an eyesore, a greater haven for rats. As our block has worked to improve itself, to make it a clean, safe, pleasant environment, 118 has mocked our efforts.”
“Our West 73rd Street Block Association and its members and residents on this block have been under duress by the great amount of rats running around the sidewalk and the street every evening. Needless to say, it has eroded the quality of life and real estate values on this block where many are owners of their building and/or their apartments,” said Frances Apgar, President of the West 73rd Street Block Association.
Brewer also said Haslett-Rudiano probably shouldn’t hold her city job: “She is a very bad example of home ownership (and) public servant responsiveness. She’s not somebody who should be either owning property or, in my opinion, (be a supervisor) of the Board of Elections.” (That seems like an overreach: she might be a bad landlord, but that doesn’t mean she’s not good at her job.)
Brewer is calling for some response from Haslett-Rudiano. Maybe this will push her to sell the places. There’s no question she’d make millions.
Photos via Gale Brewer’s office.