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Police officially lock Plainfield apartment building that was condemned until violations are fixed

City officials condemned 501 West Seventh St. this week after inspectors found more than 230 maintenance violations on the property, including leaks and mold.

News 12 Staff

Aug 11, 2023, 5:09 PM

Updated 311 days ago


Police have officially locked a Plainfield apartment building that was condemned by the city for being unsafe to inhabit.
City officials condemned 501 West Seventh St. this week after inspectors found more than 230 maintenance violations on the property, including leaks and mold.
The Plainfield Police Department locked the building Friday evening and will make sure no one is left inside until repairs can be made.
Meanwhile, News 12 New Jersey visited the apartment building next door at 515 West Seventh St. Friday to see if repairs were being made. One family had no cold water in their bathroom, only hot water. News 12 found work was being done in the shower to correct that.
After the 515 building was checked out by an inspector with the state Department of Community Affairs, residents were told they could stay. But this is not the same case next door at 501, where tenants forced to move out have been sleeping for the last two nights in motels or a nearby shelter. The move-out rush continued Friday as tenants were still waiting for answers.
There are also two other buildings owned by Cyclone Investments in Plainfield that were also recently condemned, but they still sit abandoned and there is a fear that could happen at 501 and 515.
Carmen Salavarriata, of Angels for Action, a representative for those living at the building, says the building is getting work because of "all the pressure."
"These tenants are hopeful that repairs will be made and that they can move back in within the next six weeks,” Salavarriata said.
Plainfield officials said Friday that the city will bus residents to Plainfield High School for shelter. Officials said they will not be asking about anyone's immigration status or asking for proof of residency.
"We have a safe place for them to come. Shelter, hot meals, showers. We're going to stay open as long as we need to stay open. The state will be at the site [Saturday] to offer a more permanent solution...this is a much safer spot than they were in here,” says Abby Levenson, business administrator for the city of Plainfield.

Interview with landlord of condemned Plainfield apartment building

News 12 New Jersey spoke Friday with one of the building’s owners, Charles Aryeh. While he’s blaming a third-party management company for not telling them about the problems and not fixing them properly, he’s also taking responsibility for what’s happening to the tenants now.
“I noticed what the management company did was they just patched it up. All you do is put a gloss pad on it and it doesn’t really solve the issue. If anything, the issue only gets worse,” Aryeh said.
Aryeh admits any work done to address the concerns of the tenants was subpar. He says he and his partner spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the third-party company that ultimately let them down. He says he was unaware of the problems and the more than 250 violations that Plainfield found in June 2022.
He says, “The first time I heard of this was the first time I went down to City Hall a few days ago. I did not know this – I knew nothing of this, 235 violations, no.”
When it comes to the displaced tenants, Aryeh says they will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. He says he will be meeting with Plainfield to determine any options for financial assistance over the next few days. He also says his contractors now on site will look at the other two properties in town that are also condemned.
Aryeh says he will no longer be an absentee landlord. He says he will make frequent visits in person. He says he also feels terrible this happened, calling it “unimaginable.”
Although there is no timeline as of now for when these repairs will be made, Aryeh has set up two ways of contacting him directly. Tenants can contact him via email Cyclonetenants@gmail.com and/or Facebook Group “Cyclone Tenants.”

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