builder in deal with feds over accessibility News

| 15 Feb 2016 | 12:33

The first Manhattan high-rise residential rental building constructed after the Sept. 11 attacks is promoted online as offering “well-thought out” luxury one-, two- and three-bedroom units to accommodate a comfortable and sophisticated lifestyle. But federal prosecutors say the real estate development company that created it left out some important details that would exclude some disabled tenants.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced that Glenwood Management Corp., as part of a consent decree, must reconstruct parts of its 287 units in a building built in 2004 in Manhattan’s financial district. The upgrades would allow people in wheelchairs to maneuver through bathrooms and kitchens, over now-obstructive thresholds and reach mailboxes that are placed too high.

The work to be done during the next three years at the 45-story Liberty Plaza and two other residential rental complexes in Manhattan will settle a civil rights lawsuit brought by the federal government to bring Glenwood into compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act. The changes will occur in apartments where one-bedrooms can go for about $3,500 monthly and two-bedrooms can cost about $7,000.

As part of the deal announced at the same time as the lawsuit, Glenwood also agreed to set aside up to $900,000 to compensate people affected by the lack of accessibility and to pay a $50,000 penalty.

The agreement will make 2,500 apartments wheelchair accessible. It also will require Glenwood, one of the city’s biggest residential developers, to inspect six other residential rental complexes it controls in Manhattan and make improvements to accommodate disabled people.

Glenwood said improvements already have begun and that the agreement resulted from its extensive cooperation since 2008.

“The agreement underscores Glenwood’s commitment to designing and building housing in which all New Yorkers can feel at home,” the company said in a written statement.

Glenwood said Liberty Plaza was “seen as a symbol of the rebirth of lower Manhattan.”

The company most recently attracted attention when one of its executives testified in Manhattan federal court that he put Adam Skelos, the son of former New York State Senate leader Dean Skelos, in touch with an Arizona company for potential work after he was repeatedly badgered by the Republican senator to help the son.

Skelos and his son were convicted in December on extortion charges and are awaiting sentencing.