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Residents in Doorman Building Haven't Had Gas Service for a Month

By Leslie Albrecht | August 19, 2011 10:09am

UPPER WEST SIDE — Nearly three weeks after an Upper West Side doorman building was hit with a city violation for not providing gas to tenants, residents are still being forced to make do without the essential utility service.

At least 17 units at 173 W. 78th St., where a one-bedroom apartment rents for $3,000, haven't had gas since July 16.

On Aug. 1, the city's Department of Housing, Preservation and Development issued what's called a "Class C" violation against the building owners, meaning they're creating a serious hazard by not providing gas.

It's the second time this year that tenants haven't had gas — making it impossible to cook with stoves or ovens — for an extended period. In April, the entire building was gas-free for a week, and at least 16 tenants were without gas for a month.

"People are really frustrated," said a fed-up tenant, who asked not to be identified.

She and other residents say they still haven't been able to get answers from landlord Mall Properties about what's causing the gas problem. They worry that a foul, gassy odor they sometimes smell could be a warning sign of dangerous conditions in the 82-year-old building, near Amsterdam Avenue.

Mall Properties did not respond to a request for comment. Property managers recently posted a memo in the building apologizing for the inconvenience and telling tenants that gas service would be restored soon. But getting a live person on the phone or via email is almost impossible, tenants say.

The building's superintendent told HPD inspectors on Thursday that the gas problem had been repaired, and that the building was waiting for Con Edison to restore service, an HPD spokesman said.

But a Con Edison spokesman said the utility hadn't received any orders to turn on the gas at 173 W. 78th Street as of the end of business on Thursday.

A frustrated tenant says that's the same story residents have been hearing for weeks.

"I just continue to get a run-around," she said, adding that refuses to use the hot plate that property managers gave her because she thinks it's a fire hazard. "The landlord doesn't return my calls. They're not responding."