SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh has asked the state supreme court to bring an end to Green National, which owns Skyline Apartments on James Street and several other properties in the city.
In court documents filed Friday, the city is asking a State Supreme Court judge to appoint a receiver to oversee the Green National properties, which include Skyline, Chestnut Crossing, The James and The Vincent Apartments to deal with ongoing problems ranging from security to repairs.
The city claims Green National failed to reinvest rents for everyday, ongoing maintenance. Instead, they have actively allowed the properties to fall into such disrepair that the properties are declared unfit for human living.
Skyline Apartments determined unfit to live
More recently, city code enforcement declared the Skyline Apartments unfit as tenants were without hot water for several days in below-freezing temperatures.
“Green Respondents continue to collect and pocket rents while the tenants are forced to live without heat or hot water and are faced with the possibility of being robbed, assaulted, raped or murdered for merely leaving their apartments.”Syracuse City Code Enforcement
Two years ago, 93-year-old Connie Tuori was murdered in her Skyline apartment in 2021, also cited in the lawsuit. Victoria Afet, who was not living at Skyline, was charged with Tuori’s murder.
City lawyers are asking the State Supreme Court judge to fix building repairs and improve security at Skyline and its other properties.
A court-appointed receiver was also requested to have custody over Green National’s rent money to pay for those improvements. The city is also asking the judge to order Green National to pay $1 million to cover the cost of intervening repairs before March rents are due and received from tenants.
Green National has owned Skyline Apartments since December 2016. City lawyers believe the company has refused to maintain safe, clean and habitable living conditions for tenants.
Green National properties’ history of repeated instances of serious crime
Across four of Green National’s properties, there have been repeated instances of serious crime which is detailed in the City’s petition.
This includes more than 1,500 calls to 911 in the past six months, 11 separate declarations of unfit living conditions in two years, and multiple occurrences of failed utility systems.
The City wants a receiver to take over management of:
- Skyline Apartments, a 12-story, 352-unit complex at 753 James Street
- The Vincent, sixteen three-story buildings with 267 apartments at 420 and 438 Jamesville Avenue
- The James, a seven-story apartment with 62 units at 600 James Street
- Chestnut Crossing Apartments, two three-story buildings with 133 units at 923 and 941-947 James Street.
Mayor Walsh along with representatives of the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development, Code Enforcement, Police, and Law, met with Green National tenants on Monday, February 13, to explain the expected next steps in the City’s action.
Mayor Walsh said the City is prepared to recommend a qualified receiver to immediately take control over all Green National properties in Syracuse.
The City of Syracuse has been working closely with New York Attorney General Letitia James to hold Green National accountable and improve conditions for tenants.
Last February, Attorney General James reached an agreement with Green National requiring the company to correct all code violations at their properties within 60 days and to pay a $300,000 fine.
Green National fixed some issues at their buildings but failed to correct all the code violations in a timely manner before the end of the 60-day period. As a result, Attorney General James sued Green National for failing to repair all their violations and to retain a monitor, as required by their agreement.
Attorney General James then secured a court order requiring Green National to correct their code violations and pay additional penalties for violating parts of their agreement with OAG. Green National has filed a motion to reargue the case and a notice of appeal on the court decision.