Security concerns, along with a raft of other complaints, have angered residents at the luxury residence SKY on W42nd St. Owners, the Moinian Group, have been accused of “slumlord behavior” at New York’s largest rental apartment building, and a poster campaign now surrounds the block. While neighboring buildings recently increased security in response to homeless issues, SKY has laid off staff, resulting in just one front desk person servicing the needs of the 1,175 apartments as well as door and security duties.
Whitney Richardson, who has lived at the building since October 2018, has worked to form a tenant organization to respond to the issues. “Management is jeopardizing tenant safety,“ she said. “Homeless men have tried to attack tenants, steal packages, and sleep in our building stairwell. The layoffs exacerbated an already weak security system, while making living conditions intolerable. Garbage piles up in trash rooms, while routine maintenance takes weeks.”
SKY has attracted high-profile residents in the past: models Jen Selter and Nina Agdal, along with sportsmen like the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis and Mets pitcher A.J. Ramos, and celebrities like Luis Ortiz from Million Dollar Listing. The most recent rental on Streeteasy shows a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment signed for $5,440 per month.
Staff reductions during the pandemic have been the final straw for residents, with front desk and porters struggling to cope with security issues, elevators out of operation, a backlog of repairs, and trash piling up in the service rooms.
“When I first moved in I was literally amazed by the service, amenities, fantastic views, and everything else the building had to offer,” said Wallace Fortes, who works in branding and has lived at SKY for four years. “It was new, clean, and very organized, with enough staff to help you with anything you needed. It used to feel like I was living in a very fancy hotel or a palace of some kind. Unfortunately, this only lasted for a couple years. While the costs for everything within the building is still the same if not higher, everything else has gone down dramatically. The staff is good, but the service is not anymore because they fired so many of their staff. We used to have three people at the front desk at all times; now it has been reduced to one person to assist 1,200 units in the building. We have no doorman and no security. There are cops in the building at least five days a week. There are homeless people breaking in to sleep in the stairwell, trash accumulation, and packages being stolen. The elevators are always out of order. I’m looking to move out and if anyone is thinking of moving in, I would say to them, ‘THINK AGAIN’.”
The list of security issues includes a homeless man threatening the front desk staff with a crowbar. Two weeks later, the same man was discovered in a vacant apartment that he had been living in after breaking the locks. Another homeless man was found sleeping overnight in the stairwell.
Another resident, Marc Capra, told us: “The elevators going to the high floors are never all working. This is leading to overcrowding during COVID. At least one elevator has been out of service for the last year. The building has laid off all security staff and reduced front desk coverage to one person a shift. This is extremely dangerous, given the increase of crime in the neighborhood. Two weeks ago I was attacked by a homeless man across the street, I ran into the building for protection and the attacker followed me into the lobby. There was no security to stop him and he was in the lobby screaming and spitting and jumping on the front desk. I called the police and they took him away.”
Marc has emailed the Moinian Group management and told them: “We will not tolerate this slumlord behavior and need it remedied immediately!” The response so far from Mitch Moinian via email has been: “We appreciate your concern and opinion, rest assured we will be addressing. There is nothing more important to our company than the happiness and comfort of our residents.”
UPDATE 9/3 6:25pm. We received this statement from the Moinian Group this evening.
“As is common with residential buildings, we did experience routine turnover with Sky’s building staff, but we worked quickly to re-staff to pre-COVID-19 levels, even adding additional security detail. While these concerns have been expressed publicly by a very small contingency of our residents, we want to assure our greater Sky community that we continue to remain dedicated to providing the highest-level of service and their safety remains a priority.” – John F. Marino, a spokesperson for The Moinian Group