Manhattan U.S. Attorney Files Civil Rights Suit And Enters Settlement With Developer To Enhance Accessibility At More Than 2,500 Rental Apartments
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that it has settled a federal civil rights lawsuit against GLENWOOD MANAGEMENT CORPORATION (“GLENWOOD”) and GLENWOOD’S affiliate, LIBERTY STREET REALTY, LLC, by consent decree. Under the settlement, GLENWOOD agrees to make retrofits at three residential rental complexes in Manhattan – Liberty Plaza, Hawthorne Park, and The Sage – to make them more accessible to individuals with disabilities. GLENWOOD further agrees to inspect six other residential rental complexes in Manhattan and, where necessary, make retrofits at those buildings as well. Additionally, GLENWOOD must establish procedures to ensure that its ongoing and future development projects will comply with the accessibility requirements of the federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”). Finally, GLENWOOD agrees to provide up to $900,000 to compensate aggrieved persons and pay a civil penalty of $50,000. The consent decree was approved yesterday by U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “This is the tenth lawsuit that this Office has brought to ensure that the promise of the Fair Housing Act – that newly built residential buildings are accessible to people with disabilities – is being fulfilled in New York City. This settlement shows our enforcement efforts have motivated major developers like Glenwood to embrace their obligations under the law by making retrofits in thousands of apartments, compensating aggrieved parties, and establishing procedures to ensure accessibility at ongoing and future development projects.”
The FHA’s accessible design and construction provisions require new multifamily housing complexes constructed after January 1993 to have basic features accessible to persons with disabilities. According to the allegations in the Complaint, Liberty Plaza, a 287-unit rental complex located in Manhattan, was designed and constructed with numerous inaccessible features, including excessively high thresholds interfering with accessible routes into and within individual units, insufficient spaces in bathrooms and kitchens for people in wheelchairs, and bathroom configurations preventing installation of grab bars. These inaccessible conditions at Liberty Plaza were first brought to the attention of the United States by testing performed by the Fair Housing Justice Center.
Under the settlement, GLENWOOD agrees to make extensive retrofits at Liberty Plaza and to commit to make retrofits at two other rental complexes that have been inspected, The Hawthorne and The Sage, to make them accessible. GLENWOOD also agrees to arrange for inspection at its six other rental complexes in Manhattan and, where necessary, to make retrofits at those properties as well. Together, the nine buildings covered by the consent decree contain more than 2,500 rental apartments.
The settlement also requires GLENWOOD to establish procedures to ensure FHA compliance at its ongoing and future development projects. These include retaining an FHA compliance consultant to ensure each residential building developed by GLENWOOD will, as constructed, comply with the FHA’s accessibility requirements. The FHA consultant also will conduct a site visit to identify non-compliant conditions and recommend appropriate solutions prior to the completion of construction. In addition, GLENWOOD agrees to institute policies and training to ensure that its own employees and agents will comply with the FHA’s accessibility requirements.
Finally, the settlement requires GLENWOOD to provide up to $900,000 in funds to compensate aggrieved persons. GLENWOOD also agrees to pay a civil penalty of $50,000.
The government’s lawsuit also asserted claims against the architect of Liberty Plaza, STEPHEN B. JACOBS GROUP, PC. The United States is currently engaged in negotiations with that architect regarding a potential settlement.
Aggrieved individuals may be entitled to monetary compensation from the fund created through today’s settlement. Aggrieved individuals may include those who were:
Injured by a lack of accessible features at Liberty Plaza or the other properties constructed by GLENWOOD;
Discouraged from living at Liberty Plaza or the other properties constructed by GLENWOOD because of the lack of accessible features;
Required to pay to have an apartment at Liberty Plaza or the other properties constructed by GLENWOOD made accessible;
Prevented from having visitors because of a lack of accessible features at Liberty Plaza or the other properties constructed by GLENWOOD; or
Otherwise injured or discriminated against on the basis of disability as a result of the design or construction of Liberty Plaza or the other properties constructed by GLENWOOD.
People who may be entitled to compensation should file a claim by contacting the Civil Rights Complaint Line at (212) 637-0840, using the Civil Rights Complaint Form available on the United States Attorney’s Office’s website http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/civilrights.html, or by sending a written claim to:
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York
86 Chambers Street, 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10007
Attention: Chief, Civil Rights Unit
The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Li Yu, Jessica Jean Hu, and Jacob Lillywhite are in charge of the case.