HARLEM — A Harlem brownstone housing a gaze of neighborhood-terrorizing raccoons is owned by a landlord once named among the city's worst.
The building at 160 W. 121st St., is owned by One 21 Street Corporation, a Queens-based company, according to city records.
The organization was ranked at No. 110 on the city’s worst landlords list in October 2013, with 139 violations listed, and has been at the center of several lawsuits.
The company bought the property in 2012 from a Freemasonry organization.
DNAinfo New York reported last month that the raccoons that were taking shelter in the building were causing havoc on the block — breaking into kitchens and even eating a pet turtle and bullfrogs from a backyard pond.
Many of the violations against the building appear to have been issued before the company acquired the property, according to city records. But city officials said when someone acquires a property, they still have to fix violations.
Presently, the building has 136 violations, according to the city's Housing and Preservation and Development. The agency won a lawsuit filed to correct the violations in 2015 and was awarded $366,250 in civil penalties. The building is now under the city’s Alternative Enforcement Program, which works with landlords to enforce and correct housing maintenance code violations.
Nia Bedaiko has owned her brownstone next to to the raccoon hangout for the past 16 years and said she often sees the animals in its backyard, which she describes as a "jungle."
“It harbors the bees, the rats, the mosquitos and now the raccoons,” she said.
She said the previous owners maintained the property, but she has seen it fall into disrepair with the new owners.
“I want the owner to come and clean out the place,” she said.
Bedaiko said she used to hire locals to trim branches and clean the yard, but has stopped.
DNAinfo New York contacted the city Department of Buildings, which sent an inspector to investigate this past Thursday. The agency said there is at least one person living in the building and it could only do something about the property if the building was abandoned.
Residents said they have seen a man come and go at various times. When a DNAinfo New York reporter visited the property last week, there was no answer.
Recently residents, frustrated that the city cannot intervene, pooled more than $600 to hire a private raccoon trapping service.
“They take care of the rats, but not the raccoons,” Bedaiko said. “To me, they’re one and the same.”
The property owners filed documents in state Supreme Court this past June to have liens removed from the property, according to court documents.
Court documents also reveal the company took over the property in 2012 in a contentious deed fight.
The Freemasonry organization, which could not be reached for comment, filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in 2013 alleging that One 21 Street illegally acquired the deed.
The two eventually entered into a settlement agreement in 2015, according to court records. City records show the deed was transferred again in 2015 for $260,000.
Steven Masef, a lawyer representing the One 21 Street Corporation, did not respond to a request for comment.