More than 60 of the hundreds of tenants displaced after a massive fire at a Jackson Heights apartment building in April are now suing the property’s owners and management, as well as city agencies.
They’re demanding that the building’s owners repair their homes so they may return — and let them back in soon to retrieve possessions from the still heavily damaged and inaccessible block-long complex.
The building remains surrounded by scaffolding and caution tape, with many windows boarded up. The eight-alarm blaze crumbled ceilings and destroyed interior walls, exposing wooden beams in their place.
Tenants allege that in the five months since the fire, Kedex Properties and city officials have provided little sense of when repairs will be completed, if any belongings can be salvaged and when residents might be able to return to their apartments.
Access to the building has been “unreasonable and severely limited,” according to the complaint filed Sept. 10 in Queens Housing Court targeting the owner, along with the city Department of Buildings and Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
Several dozen tenants in one wing of the two-address, 133-unit building have been allowed scheduled visits to retrieve personal items. but former residents of more than 60 apartments in the other wing have not been granted that same privilege, said Andrew Sokolof-Diaz, the building’s tenant association president and a plaintiff in the suit.
Several Queens legislators have called on a city panel tasked with overseeing public art and architecture to vote to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson in the City Council chambers as a form of reckoning with his legacy as a slaveholder.