2125 Cruger Avenue

2125 Cruger Avenue

by Corinna Burford and Taylor Hess The Bronx Ink has profiled buildings owned by Ved Parkash, who was until recently rated the worst landlord in New York by the Public Advocate's office. The profiles form part of a wider investigation into housing conditions and tenant harassment in the Bronx. Find other buildings using the panel to the right. 2125crugerave A fresh coat of black paint dries on two large columns in the black and pink colored lobby of 2125 Cruger Avenue in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx. The cosmetic improvement is a superficial solution to a larger set of problems in the six-story residential pre-war building. After 24 years of ownership, real estate agency Cruger Realty sold the building  to current landlord Ved Parkash for $6.6 million in 2009, and tenants said life at 2125 Cruger Avenue changed dramatically. Since 2009, there have been 27 complaints registered with the Department of Buildings, compared to only 10 between 1990 and 2009. An additional 54 open complaints are registered with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “They don’t clean or fix anything,” said Shelly Budhu. “They won’t come for a whole year.” Budhu lives in one of the building’s 73 units with her family, and spent months trying to contact the superintendent and Parkash’s office.  When a chunk of the ceiling in her bedroom collapsed, Budhu and her children slept beneath a temporary patch job. The blue and golden patterned tiles that cover her wood-finished hallway are cracked and broken. Black mold grows in the bathtub. img_6662 The elevator is a frequent and urgent source of concern among many tenants in the building, with seven complaints filed about it with the Department of Buildings in the last year alone. Records of an unauthorized refrigerator repair shop operating from the basement, along with illegal "Single Room Occupancy" apartments, are also listed as complaints. On two occasions, superintendent Rolando Lopez was not available during “office hours.” He also declined to comment via phone. Underpinning the lapses in communication and ongoing maintenance issues looms a larger problem — tenant harassment. While Parkash is unresponsive to complaints, he acts swiftly when he thinks rent goes unpaid. One tenant, Anamel Martinez, who has lived in the building for 19 years, waited six months for a response regarding complaints about her floor, ceiling, and window-guard. When she refused to pay a month’s rent as a result, she was summoned to court.  John Martines, 21, has lived at 2125 Cruger Avenue all of his life, first with his mother and now in a unit of his own. According to Martines, when his mother was late to provide a receipt for the money order she had used to pay her rent one month she was locked out of her apartment.  Parkash declined to comment on both allegations. “My mom came home from work and the marshals had already come and kicked everyone out,” Martines said. “My cousins were standing in the hallway with nowhere to go. They were just waiting in the hallway.” Martines and his mother immediately took the train to Parkash’s office in Queens to try and rectify the situation. “We brought the money order receipt as proof that we paid the rent,” Martines said. But they were turned away.  After sleeping in his aunt’s apartment that night prior to an early court case the next morning, they were let back into the apartment by late afternoon the next day. “He wants people to leave,” said Martines.  His mother and aunt still live in the building, but his cousins decided to move. Martines is not yet willing to leave his apartment in the building that preserves his childhood memories. But if conditions continue to deteriorate, he said he might reconsider.