Last Friday morning, Felix Guzman woke up early, grabbed his fishing pole, and headed over to the East River for some catch and release fun. For 40 years he has lived in the same building on Academy Street in Inwood and in that time he has “seen a lot.” So when he got back to his apartment around 11 am and saw that his street was teaming with newscasters, elected officials, cameramen, and local community members, he wasn’t surprised. They’d been there before. “It’s always been tough here,” Mr. Guzman said. “I’m glad they’re doing something about it.”
The building in question was 552 Academy Street, a crumbling 72-unit brick building located across the street from Mr. Guzman’s apartment. A year ago he had stood outside and watched as dozens of tenants dragged their belongings onto the sidewalk, confused and frightened and wondering where they would relocate to next.
The building, the city told them, was unsafe, which was why they had to vacate the premises. Although Mr. Guzman had never been inside, he heard rumors that at times the units lacked gas, running water, and electricity. “This is what happens when you get these slumlords and all they care about is the money,” Mr. Guzman said, referring to the building’s landlord, Rachel Arfa, whom the City blames for the hazardous conditions. Read More