NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The owners of an evacuated Bronx apartment building hunkered down Wednesday as residents and reporters demanded answers as to why they would remove fire escapes and render the entire structure unsafe.
The sign outside the building said no residents allowed. It was the spot where the fire escapes used to be, underlining the reason. The search for answers, however, has been elusive.
Goldfarb Properties owns the now-evacuated building at 2400 Webb Ave., in University Heights, along with a network of city and suburban apartment houses in New York and New Jersey, places like The Churchill in White Plains and Drake House and Harbor House in New Rochelle.
Goldfarb has it headquarters in New Rochelle, across from City Hall, but the voice on its intercom greeting employees and visitors said no one was home on Wednesday.
They’re all in the Bronx office, and with good reason, too.
The folks in the Bronx tried to send CBS 2’s Lou Young back to New Rochelle, but he instead waited until he recognized a guy wearing a gun on his hip going in the front door, the same guy who refused to speak with reporter Marcia Kramer on Tuesday about the missing fire escapes.
“I’m not authorized to speak, which is why I didn’t talk yesterday,” Gary Adams said, adding when reminded that he’s the company’s top security officer, “Yes.”
Adams then complained to his people to buzz him in and Young was asked to leave the property, which is sort of what Goldfarb did to the tenants at the building in University Heights. They decided to give those people some cash, told them to get out and then let them know there’s really no timetable for when they’ll be allowed to return to their home.
“I’m extremely upset,” one tenant told Young, a familiar refrain that’s been heard from countless others over the last few days.
And this all happened in a neighborhood described as being in the pre-gentrification phase — improved parks, better stores and rising rents. Few people buy that the fire escapes debacle was an accident.
“Seems like a pretty big mistake for someone to make. Doesn’t seem like a mistake to me,” said neighbor Dorian Martinez, who added when asked if it seems like the neighborhood is changing, “seems like it.”
As for how long this renovation will take, CBS 2 has learned that the security guy from Goldfarb, the guy who did his best to avoid Young and Kramer for two days, was at the Webb Avenue building to supervise the installation of surveillance cameras to track who comes and goes and make sure they’re not leaving with any of the property displaced residents left behind.
It seems apparent that whatever is going on over there will not be completed quickly.
FDNY inspectors were at the University Heights building again late Wednesday. A check of the building’s records in New Rochelle indicated no open violations against the company in that city.
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