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Abyssinian Church Building Racks Up Fines and Overdue Taxes, Records Show

By Gustavo Solis | September 10, 2015 4:25pm
 Gardner has been living in the building for 25 years and says the conditions keep getting progressively worse.
Lenny Gardner
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HARLEM — An apartment building run by the business arm of the Abyssinian Baptist Church has racked up more 170 building violations and owes over half a million dollars for its West 135th Street apartment building, according to records.

Tenants of the building, owned by the Abyssinian Development Corporation, said the owners are operating the property like "slumlords" for ignoring basic repairs and letting apartments fall into disrepair.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has sited the six-story property at 181 W. 135th St. nearly 200 times for roach and mouse infestation, broken window guards, water leaks and busted carbon monoxide detectors. Tenants have taken them to court over basic repairs three times this year, records show.

Additionally the building owner owes the city more than $620,000 in property taxes.

“They are suppose to be for the people and they are basically slumlords,” resident Lenny Gardner said. “They are known as slumlords in Harlem.”

Garner hasn’t paid rent in eight months because the management company, Prestige Management, hasn’t fixed a leak in the roof. The wooden boards above his bed are swollen to the point that they could collapse on his bedroom, he said.

Prestige Management and the Abyssinian Development Corporation did not respond to questions about the building.

Additionally, residents said that the mailboxes were recently fixed after being broken for three months and the elevator did not work over Labor Day weekend.

“Our mail stopped because the post office refused to deliver it to us,” said Lisa Jones, who has lived in the building since 2006. “People’s phones were being shut off.”

Any attempts to get basic repairs, including lawsuits, have not worked. The situation has been progressively getting worst and the landlord increasingly negligent, she said.

“It’s beyond frustrating, it’s dangerous,” Jones said. “I had a personal conversation with Prestige, with the property management person and she had the audacity to tell me ‘it’s not that bad.’”