Op-Ed: Behind the Curtain at Knickerbocker Village

Posted on: November 13th, 2012 at 10:23 am by

The following is an op-ed written by Thomas Versella.

Much of Knickerbocker Village is still without power, heat, hot water, phone service, mail delivery, garbage collection and internet service. Residents of Knickerbocker Village are outraged at James Simmons, Vice President of the multimillion dollar international investment group Area Property Partners, and Vincent Callagy, Property Manager of the complex. At issue is the company’s failure to have basic preparations in place to deal with the flooding of basements.

One resident said a few guys wearing sweatpants with no flashlights showed up in a van with a few small pumps and began the job. They would work one pump in one area, then dismantle the pump, and move on to another area. It was a joke! Obviously, Area Property Partners did not want to spend the money to hire a crew with the resources to pump the water out. As a result, sea water had more time to damage the building’s mechanical and electrical systems.

Also at issue is the Owner’s failure to make any effort to communicate with anxious tenants until over a week after the storm. Confused security guards were unable to give residents accurate information because Area Property Partners Vice President James Simmons and Vincent Callagy Manager were nowhere to be seen. Volunteers bringing badly needed supplies were told to leave the property. Garbage is piled in front of the building. Lobbies, hallways and stairs remained dark until a few days ago.

It took over a week for the management to open a warming center. Vincent Callagy was overheard bragging about the money spent on a few folding tables in the center, and reminded shivering tenants that they should be grateful. Callagy was also reported to have called police to harass a resident who was taking photographs of the devastation.

Despite their claims, management has not provided tenants with the “comforts” like blankets and checking up on tenants etc. Instead, they instruct security guards to remove any notices posted by desperate tenants who want to organize and find out why Area Property Partners has remained callous and indifferent to the needs of residents. Many tenants say perhaps FEMA and other municipal agencies can help with the recovery.

Area Properties and Management are covering up their incompetence by saying “it’s an old building,” “it was a big storm,” and “we are all in this together.” However, residents believe that if basic, intelligent decisions were made early on, the situation would not have gotten out of control. The health and safety of the residents has been compromised.

Many are saying that after the recovery is completed, there is strong agreement that residents will reach out to government officials and legal organizations to investigate the business practices of Area Property Partners and their employment of a management team that quite frankly, is incompetent. Area Property Partners perhaps will earn much money from federal emergency aid, while tenants at Knickerbocker are told to pay their rent on time.

They have recently begun to issue press statements, and residents laugh at some of the claims made by management about helping the residents with “round the clock concern.” It’s a big sham.

Many residents have finally decided they could not take it any longer and have left their apartments temporarily to live in safer, healthier environments.

Recent Stories

Photo: Susan Fensten
Spooky Backyard Scene on East Fifth Street

This week, native New Yorker Susan Fensten plucks another gem from her father’s outstanding collection of previously-unseen images. The shot in question is a spooky backyard scene captured at Mr. Fensten’s East Fifth Street residence (between First and Second Avenues) in 1984. He worked as a bike messenger and lived in a tiny studio at […]

lafayette-bike-lane
Lafayette Street in the Running to Receive Protected Bike Lane

Primed and paved in the last couple weeks, that fresh layer of asphalt on Lafayette Street will soon gain some green. Yup. A new, safer bike lane is most likely on the way. The DOT threw together a deck describing in detail the plan to install a protected bike lane along the west side of […]

stanton-street-kitchen-awning
‘Stanton Street Kitchen’ Reveals Itself in Former Moldy Fig Space

The Moldy Fig is has been closed for over two years, but its awning and neon sign remained in place. Until this week. Stanton Street Kitchen is happening, and it’s already planted a flag at 178 Stanton Street. Last November, the latest in a string of applicants for this address obtained Community Board 3 approval […]

Min's Market is doomed, Photo: Mike Brown
Min’s Market at Clinton and Houston is Going Out of Business

Min’s Market, the bodega stalwart at the corner of Clinton and East Houston, is going out of business this weekend. Boogie reader Mike Brown relays the info that the reliable grocer is set to close for good on Saturday. A significant rent increase is blamed for their downfall. It’s a substantial footprint. One can only […]

Lexi Bella for Centre-fuge Cycle 4, July 2012
Centre-fuge to Present ‘Heroines of the Lower East Side’ as Part of Inaugural LES History Month

Centre-fuge just released information regarding the forthcoming mural to grace the mid-block DOT trailer on East First Street. Unlike previous installations, though, Cycle 13 will be a solo effort by project alumna Lexi Bella. She is the first artist to do so. Timed to coincide with the inaugural Lower East Side History Month (annually in […]

  • Norituna

    One thing-our building actually still doesn’t have lights in the stairwells and hallways. Thank you very much for what you have done in keeping up with our awful situation.

  • intheknow

    Not shocking at all.

  • just another kv resident

    i was not pleased with them for the first 2 weeks neither but over the last weekend i realized what a chaos it was in the management office when i went down there to volunteer, everyone running around, assisting red cross, fema, boxing up lunch box for the residents that is home bound. everyone kept complaining management is not doing anything, do what i did, go down and volunteer to help out. complaining is not going to speed it up but pitch in and help out will.