The 14 tenants of a College Point mansion may finally be nearing the end of a long, arduous journey that has left them without a permanent home for more than eight months due to an unsafe wiring system.
The city Department of Buildings is expected to make its final inspection at 11−41 123rd St. this week, which will determine whether or not the renters of seven apartments in the 19th century mansion will be able to return home for the first time since July.
“I’m almost afraid to say it. If everything goes well tomorrow, then we get to go back home,” Rita Douglas, who owns an apartment on the first floor, said Tuesday.
The residents of Schleicher’s Court, a three−story mansion built in 1851, have been forced to stay in shelters or with relatives for more than eight months after the DOB issued a vacate order on the house because of an antiquated electrical wiring system it characterized as “dangerous.”
The tenants got their first taste of home last weekend, when they were allowed back into their apartments to clean ahead of the DOB inspection, which was scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday.
“I think it was the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had,” said Edna Rodriguez, who lives in an apartment with her husband and two children. “I was with family, we cleaned and spent time together. We were home. It doesn’t matter why you’re there. The point is that you’re there.”
Since being forced out in July, the tenants have waged a battle with the building’s managers, Eva Rohan and Georgina Sagr, who they contend have been trying to force them out by not completing the electrical work in hopes of selling the building more easily.
Rohan, who owns the building, admits she is attempting to sell it, but said the electrical work has not been completed because the tenants have refused to pay delinquent bills to Con Edison. But a utility spokesman said the outstanding charges would have no bearing on any contracted work in the building.
The feud culminated on Christmas Eve, when a Queens Civil Court judge issued an order that set up a six−week schedule for the work to be completed by the beginning of February, after which the DOB said it would immediately inspect the apartments in hopes of lifting the vacate order.
The building is also being considered for landmarking by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, which held a hearing on the 19th century relic last week. A decision by the LPC could come as early as this summer.
Rodriguez said she has her fingers crossed that her long ordeal is nearing an end.
“We’re just hoping everything goes smoothly,” she said. “Hopefully, this can finally be it.”
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.
©2009 Community News Group
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