Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda and Senator Ruben Diaz announced Tuesday, Aug. 2 a proposed settlement with the management of the sprawling Parkchester South Condominiums over its efforts to impose a 15.19 percent maintenance increase on unit owners there.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement still being worked out, unit owners who meet documented requirements of financial hardship would have the maintenance increase spread out over four years.
The announcement of the proposed settlement came at a Town Hall meeting held by the two legislators at at St. Paul's Church gymnasium at 1891 Degraw Avenue that drew a crowd of concerned unit owners.
Assemblyman Sepulveda, who is an attorney, and Senator Diaz, a unit owner who is lead plaintiff, filed a lawsuit in Bronx state Supreme Court on against the Parkchester South Condominium's management over the maintenance hike management said it needs for structural repair work. The court has barred management from evicting any of the 8,286 unit owners for failure to pay the increase until the outcome of the court case.
"During the last several months through litigation, we have met with the attorneys for the Parkchester board and the Parkchester management to discuss a resolution of the massive increase in maintenance to the owners of the units," said Sepulveda.
"We've gone back and forth in several court appearances. We have exchanged legal information, and we have requested that they provide us with financial information throughout this process. As a result of this, the attorneys and management have come back with a settlement proposal for the unit owners," he continued.
The settlement proposal is premised on the income of individuals, and on what percentage of their income goes to paying their mortgage, their maintenance and other expenses, Sepulveda said.
"The main point of the proposal is that rather than a one-time 15.19 percent charge, we're going to break it down into percentages for four years," Sepulveda said. "I believe this will help alleviate some of the concerns of people who are living on fixed incomes and those who truly cannot afford to pay such a large increase in maintenance."
Sepulveda warned that "We are going to continue to litigate unless we can reach a final resolution that's helpful to those individuals who are truly in need financially."
Parkchester management has said it needs the one-time increase to cover the cost of repairs for serious structural problems. Once work is finished in 2017, it has indicated maintenance fees would return to 2015 levels.
Assemblymember Sepulveda noted that Parkchester management has also agreed to provide certain financial documents to help determine various issues, including the bidding process and selection of contractors to determine if management used the most cost effective measures.
"We have an accountant who has been reviewing the information to see if there are any problematic issues financially," said Sepulveda. "We haven't uncovered anything yet -- and we hope that we don't. But we intend to remain vigilant throughout this process."
Senator Diaz stated that "While I am grateful for every effort to try to resolve this matter so that the families, the senior citizens, the disabled, and all of our neighbors in Parkchester South may receive some financial relief and have a more reasonable way to pay their bills, I remain concerned that last year's budget and the projected budget for 2016 have not yet been shared with the condo owners and residents.
"Transparency remains a key factor," Diaz continued. "We all need to be able to review those documents to see where and how the money was spent, and will be spent."
The huge city-within-a-city, built by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. toward the end of the Great Depression, is now home to large numbers of South Asians, comprised of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indians. Some 20 percent or so residents are African-American and Latino.