The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

TriBeCa Tenants Say Landlord Is Leaving Them Out in the Cold

By Julie Shapiro | December 7, 2010 6:37am
Tenants of Independence Plaza North in TriBeCa say they do not have enough heat.
Tenants of Independence Plaza North in TriBeCa say they do not have enough heat.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

TRIBECA — As temperatures dropped below freezing this week, tenants at Independence Plaza North were feeling the chill.

Many residents of the 1,331-unit TriBeCa complex told DNAinfo their radiators are lukewarm at best, and they have to bundle up just to keep from shivering in their apartments.

"It’s horrible," said Janet Moore, 66, an IPN tenant. "All winter I keep the oven on. Everyone I talk to, no one has heat."

Diane Lapson, president of the Independence Plaza North Tenant Association, said she has heard from more than a dozen tenants recently who say their apartments are not warm enough. The worst units are those that face the Hudson River and are subjected to icy drafts strong enough to blow out a match, Lapson said.

Lapson is particularly concerned about residents who are using their ovens and electric heaters to keep warm, which could be dangerous.

Nellie Milazzo, 55, said she kept her stove on much of last winter to heat her living room, which gets especially frigid, but she was worried about breathing the fumes.

Milazzo said she has more heat this year than last year, but "the old people are still suffering," she said.

Residents say the heat problem is a recurring one. Stellar Management, IPN’s owner, has tried to respond to it in the past by installing a new boiler, thermostats and better windows, but Lapson said those measures are not enough.

"If there are sensors at IPN showing when the heat must kick in, then they are not working properly," Lapson said in an e-mail.

A spokesman for Stellar Management did not respond to requests for comment.

While a handful of residents who spoke to DNAinfo said they had plenty of heat — some even complained that their apartments were sweltering — most said they were too cold.

Gertrude, 87, who did not give her last name, said her apartment has been very cold so far this year. Every morning she sits as close to the tepid radiator as she can, wearing flannel pajamas, a winter jacket, a bathrobe and extra socks, but even then she can’t get warm, she said.

Still, Gertrude said it never occurred to her to complain.

"I figure that’s just the way it is, that’s the weather, and I can’t do anything about it," she said.

Other residents said they wear long underwear, shut their blinds against the drafts and keep pots of water boiling on their stoves.

Kim, 53, who did not give his last name, said his apartment is not dangerously cold, but it is uncomfortable.

"If the comfortability factor is supposed to be equal to the rent you pay, it’s definitely not," Kim said.

Independence Plaza has a mixture of subsidized and market-rate tenants, and longtime residents could soon receive even more protections under a recent court decision that rendered IPN rent-stabilized.

Residents of 80 N. Moore St., IPN's northern tower, said their apartments are the coldest.
Residents of 80 N. Moore St., IPN's northern tower, said their apartments are the coldest.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

The tenants strongly advocated for that decision and aren’t afraid to mobilize on the heat issue if necessary, Lapson said.

"It will just be one more thing that we need to fight about," Lapson said. "And you know that IPN tenants know how to fight."