Rent increase hit tenants like a ton of bricks

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The scaffolding that shrouded the The Whitehall for years protected residents from the danger of falling bricks as its distinctive white façade was being refaced and repointed.

Rent-stabilized tenants in the luxury apartment building at 3333 Henry Hudson Parkway say they have no such protection from huge increases in rent promulgated to pay for the work.

This spring, renters in the mostly co-op apartment building learned that its board had applied to pass on a portion of the cost of brickwork between $12 and $13 million, to its rent stabilized tenants in the form an almost $80-per-room Major Capital Improvement. Now, some tenants have banded together to fight what they say is an astronomical increase that will force some of them out.

“We don’t feel like we should have to pay anything,” said David Bernstein, president of the tenants’ association, which formed to fight the increase.

“We really feel like this was something that was done improperly to begin with and we shouldn’t have to bear the financial burden of the building not making the right decisions at the time of construction,” he added.

Mr. Bernstein, who lives in the apartment he grew up in, said his parents moved to The Whitehall in 1972 and his grandfather, a civil court and then housing court judge, also lived there. His family has documented legal battles over the brickwork that date back to the 1980s and he said there’s a running joke in Riverdale about how long 3333 Henry Hudson Parkway has languished beneath scaffolding.

“I feel very depressed and demoralized and am hoping that we’re going to prevail and that they’re going to reduce it at least,” said Joan Perkiel, treasurer of the tenants’ association, who has lived in Whitehall for 34 years.

They hired an attorney, David Hershey-Webb of Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph, who will look into whether the brickwork qualifies for an MCI increase at all and, if so, whether the amount of the hike is accurate.

“They’re asking for an enormous increase,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who came to speak at a newly formed tenants’ association meeting this summer.

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