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Judge Takes Away Building From Absentee Landlord For Emergency Repairs

By Eddie Small | September 6, 2016 4:02pm
 Tenants at 888 Grand Concourse have been fighting for repairs at their building for years.
Tenants at 888 Grand Concourse have been fighting for repairs at their building for years.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

CONCOURSE — Tenants of a notorious building run by a controversial landlord in the South Bronx could finally start seeing some repairs after years of fighting.

Residents of 888 Grand Concourse have been engaged in a lengthy battle with their landlord Tiny Fiesta Realty Associates LLC over problems with rodents, elevators, heat and hot water, and a judge recently authorized a temporary receiver to start making essential repairs to the building.

The order gives the court-appointed receiver, Bronx attorney Christopher Marengo, the authority to make all necessary repairs at 888 Grand Concourse without prior court approval and allows tenants to prioritize the order of these repairs, which include weatherizing the building's exterior, fixing the boiler and fixing the elevators.

It also denies a motion for foreclosure on the building and says that Marengo will be in charge of collecting rent. He will also be allowed to ask for another court order letting him collect money from Tiny Fiesta Realty to make the necessary repairs.

Tiny Fiesta Realty had been run by Louis Bombart, but he recently passed away, according to Carmen Vega-Rivera, president of the tenant association at 888 Grand Concourse. His son Jonathan Bombart is believed to be running the company now.

Bombart and Marengo did not respond to requests for comment.

Tenants at 888 Grand Concourse have been dealing with inhumane conditions in their homes for the past 24 years thanks to their landlord's neglect, according to the housing advocacy group Community Action for Safe Apartments.

Public Advocate Letitia James came to the building in March 2015 to bring more attention to its problems, and tenants complained during her visit of dealing with huge rats and having paint chips fall on them while they sleep.

Tenants then launched a rent strike on Feb. 1 to prevent Tiny Fiesta Realty from keeping control of the property during foreclosure proceedings.

The building currently has 251 open violations with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and 165 open violations with the Department of Buildings, all of which Marengo will be required to correct.

Vega-Rivera said the receiver being appointed was a big victory for her, especially given how long she has been working to improve living conditions at her home.

"I’ve been in the building since '81 and working in the community since '79," she said, "so I know firsthand what this building was, could be, should be, and what they've done to this building."

"Today was a huge victory moment," she continued, "and it’s also sending a message to my neighbors and the community at large that they shouldn’t give up."

James lauded the judge's decision to take the building away from Tiny Fiesta as well.

"For too long, the residents of 888 Grand Concourse have been forced to live in dangerous and unsanitary conditions, going months without hot water or heat," she said in a statement. "This decision is a testament to the power of organizing and our commitment to ensuring all New Yorkers have access to the safe and decent housing they deserve."