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Rent Refunds Coming to LES Residents With No Heat, Power or Water

By Serena Solomon | November 14, 2012 8:03am | Updated on November 14, 2012 9:25am

LOWER EAST SIDE — Tenants of a 1,600-unit complex who have spent the past two weeks without power, heat or running water will receive a rent refund, building management announced Tuesday night at a meeting packed with hundreds of concerned residents.

Many of the residents of Knickerbocker Village — comprised of a dozen 13-story towers of privately owned affordable housing sandwiched between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges — have been left in the dark and cold since Hurricane Sandy flooded the complex's boiler and electrical wiring in 25 feet of water, management officials said.

With residents increasingly fed up with the conditions and some planning legal action, James Simmons, a representative for complex owner AREA Property Partners, promised Tuesday night to refund tenants' rents.

The company is still working out the details of how to return rent money to the tenants, Simmons said.

As of Tuesday night, all but 50 apartments had their electricity restored, Simmons said. Two out of the three boilers were fixed and slated to begin heating apartments Tuesday night, he added.

Simmons addressed residents' complaints that management was silent for weeks about the status of the repairs.

"It was our mistake in not being more forward and communicative as you deserve," Simmons said.

Hurricane Sandy's saltwater floods broke through the complex's 4-inch steel doors, dislodging boilers and wreaking havoc on copper electrical wires in the basement, he explained.

"I have never seen anything like it," Simmons said.

Many residents are also worried about the fate of belongings stowed in the basement storage space under the buildings.

"When it is safe we will let people down to identify it, but it is in bad shape," Simmons acknowledged.

The complex, which is comprised of subsidized rentals for middle-income earners known as Mitchell-Lama housing, is owned by AREA Property Partners and managed by Knickerbocker Village, Inc.