April 23, 2019

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Where Luxury Meets Accessibility – The New York Times

Where Luxury Meets Accessibility – The New York Times
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At One Carnegie, a 461-unit condo-and-rental on the Upper East Side that opened in 2006, prosecutors compiled a laundry list of problems, including doors that were too narrow, kitchens that were too cramped and thresholds that were too high off the ground.

“Widespread inaccessible conditions” also plagued Tribeca Green, according to court filings. The 278-unit rental, completed in 2005 in Battery Park City, did not offer enough space to open refrigerator doors, had light switches that were too high off the ground and was missing Braille on amenity-area signs, according to court documents.

Prosecutors later expanded the case to address similar problems at Related rentals like One Union Square South, the Caledonia and the Lyric. Ultimately, a total of 16 Related buildings were named, encompassing 4,500 apartments.

Related has completely retrofit the common areas at One Carnegie and Tribeca Green, but work continues in the apartments. That is also the case for apartments at most of the other buildings, as individual units usually cannot be renovated until tenants move out, and Related has requested more time to make changes.

Related said it could not comment while settlement talks continue. TF Cornerstone and Glenwood also declined to comment. Marty McKenna, an Equity spokesman, said its suit, which involved 170 Amsterdam Avenue, a 235-unit rental in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, “was addressed quickly to the satisfaction of all concerned.”

Another big landlord under scrutiny was the Durst Organization, which was found to have violated fair housing law at rentals like the Helena 57 West, a 595-unit rental on West 57th Street built in 2005. The building had accessibility problems with toilets, trash chutes and thermostats, among other features, according to a 2015 federal suit. Durst had three years to fix the issues, but in November, it, too, asked for an extension.

“We reached a settlement,” said Jordan Barowitz, a Durst spokesman, “and it precludes us from discussing it.”

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