Tenants of a Syracuse apartment building are being forced to relocate. The 38-unit building, located at 477 James St, has been determined as in need of complete renovation by Syracuse officials. Should the building fail to be fixed, it may be torn down as soon as Spring 2018.
The building’s manager, Mary Cook, says approximately one-third of the 22 occupied apartments are rented by tenants who are elderly, on disability, or receiving housing assistance.
Tenants received the order to move September 13 with a deadline of October 3. However, the deadline was extended to October 13. The Catholic Charities of Onondaga County have been helping tenants find and relocate to new apartments.
“[The tenants weren’t] in imminent danger, but we wanted them out prior to winter,” said Syracuse code enforcement director Ken Towsley. Towsley says the apartment building was unlikely to have withstood the cold before it would become unlivable. “Another winter of freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw and we would probably have had to demolish it,” he said.
According to Cook, the building has been exhibiting uneven flooring due to a crumbling foundation. Built in 1890, the building will be remodeled by the Brooklyn-based property owner, Chaim Apartments LLC.
Cook says she’s unaware of whether or not the building will be repaired or completely torn down and rebuilt. Up to 35% of these types of remodeling jobs involve the entire property.
“[The building’s] tired,” said Cook. “[It] needs some exterior work, some interior work. The city is helping us to do this in such a way that people can maintain their dignity, not be forced into shelters.”
The James St building’s condition isn’t the first of its kind. Syracuse’s poverty rate has been on the rise in recent years. According to The Atlantic, a number of Syracuse homes have been abandoned or stand crumbling in the city’s low-income neighborhoods.
“People face so many challenges,” said Rebecca Heberle, leader of the city’s Head Start program. “Their power has been turned off, they have infestations, they need money for food, formula, diapers, a bus pass.”
The James St building, purchased by Chaim Apartments LLC’s subsidiary James Street Apartments LLC in 2016 for $520,000, is just one of the many architectural details that require the city’s attention. James Street Apartments LLC has yet to comment on the building’s renovation status.