Categorized | Bronx Neighborhoods, Housing

2254 Crotona Ave.

By Maia Efrem

From a distance, the building at 2254 Crotona Ave. looks like all the other dwellings in the surrounding blocks. On closer inspection, however, the lock is knocked out on the front door, the windows on the first floor are boarded up and graffiti covers concrete slabs that block the entrance to many apartments in the building.

An Ocelot entity bought the Crotona Avenue building along with four others from Loran Realty X Corporation in July 2007 for almost $7 million. Since then, the six-story, 28-unit structure has gone through three management companies: Ocelot, Hunter Property Management, and now JLP Metro Management, Inc.

Large swaths of graffiti covered the hallways and apartment doors until they were painted by JLP Metro several weeks ago. Tenants are pleased to see the graffiti gone, but they said they still suffer from moldy walls and plumbing problems.

When Ocelot, and later Hunter Property Management, stopped providing maintenance services for the tenants, the conditions swiftly deteriorated. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has 859 open violations for the building, 738 of which are either “hazardous,” or “immediately hazardous.” Complaints include exposed electrical wires, faulty and leaky plumbing, and lack of a working carbon monoxide detecting device.

According to the current superintendant, Victor Garcia, the building had no landlord for roughly six months. Rent was not collected during that period, and the building deteriorated because of lack of upkeep. There was no heat and hot water. “It was chaos, every man to himself,” said Garcia. “There was no one to complain to or answer to.” According to Garcia, some tenants owe as much as $20,000 in unpaid rent.

Altagracia Rogers has two holes in her bathroom, one in the ceiling and one in the floor; both offer her a view of her neighbors and them of her. “We try to cover it up with bags but it doesn’t always work,” she said, pointing towards the ceiling where the gaping hole reveals a blue bathroom upstairs. She has endured several floods in the last year. “No one helps us, we have to help ourselves,” she said.

Because there was no one to pay for the repairs in the building, there was also no one to pay Garcia for his work. “Everything I did I did for free,” he said. “I even bought a five-gallon can of paint, walked away for a minute and a tenant had stolen it to paint her own apartment. I couldn’t even be mad, I just laughed it off.”

Leave a Reply