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Tenants Offered Gym Membership in Lieu of Hot Water Now Lack Cooking Gas

By Maya Rajamani | November 18, 2016 10:56am
 Tenants living at 463 W. 19th St. say they have been without cooking gas for more than a month.
Tenants living at 463 W. 19th St. say they have been without cooking gas for more than a month.
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

CHELSEA — Tenants whose landlord offered them temporary gym memberships three weeks after a hot water outage this past spring say they’ve now been without cooking gas for more than a month.

After a fire that broke out at The Fillmore Room in April forced Con Edison to shut off gas at 463 W. 19th St. — leaving the building’s residents without hot water for weeks — managing agent Royal Rock Realty offered tenants temporary Crunch gym memberships that would allow them to use the facility's showers.

Tenants got that offer again last month when the hot water went out for three weeks, resident Jordan Katz said. 

Heat and cooking gas, meanwhile, stopped working around Oct. 15, and while the heat came back on at the end of October, gas for cooking still hasn’t been restored, Katz added.

“No one can cook, which is awful, to say the least,” she said. “We imagined that after what happened over the spring, they would get their act together in regards to acting with transparency and honesty, and being more of a support system.”

The management company has offered rent discounts and reimbursements for tenants who buy hot plates to cook on, but residents are still “frustrated,” she added.

Aside from the inconvenience and quality of life issues, longtime resident Jorge Bendersky called the hot plates many residents are using to cook “a safety issue.”

“It is really creating a fire hazard,” Bendersky, 49, said. “And it is unsettling.”

A spokesman for Royal Rock Realty on Thursday said gas at the building was turned off after a leak was detected at the beginning of October.

When workers inspected the building’s cooking gas lines, they discovered the “really old” lines would have to be replaced, the spokesman, Mark Benoit, said.

"The bottom line is the gas lines will need to be replaced, so it’s going to be disruptive,” Benoit said. “Royal Rock is trying to figure out how to do that in the least disruptive way possible.”

The company had a temporary boiler installed at the building a week after the gas leak was detected, and has offered rent discounts to tenants, he noted.

“They’re diligently working on it and they will keep an open line with tenants and… communicate, and hopefully this will all be resolved shortly,” he said. “These things are going to happen in a 140-year-old building.”

For residents like Bendersky, however, money isn't the issue.

"It's not about the price of the rent — it's about quality of life and safety," he said. “It is starting to really feel that it is part of a plan to get tenants out, or at least start making them feel uncomfortable."