U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Ginsburg Development Cos., asserting that two of its Rockland County apartment complexes are not accessible to people with disabilities.
The suit requires the Valhalla-based developer to remedy the conditions at The Parkside, a 110-unit complex, and The Riverside, a 106-unit complex, in Haverstraw. The company must also ensure that its four Westchester County properties recently completed or under construction – The Lofts on Saw Mill River in Hastings-on Hudson, Harbor Square in Ossining and River Tides at Greystone and 1177@Greystone in Yonkers – will be wheelchair-accessible.
Provisions under the Fair Housing Act require multifamily complexes built after January 1993 to have basic accessibility features for people with disabilities. According to the federal civil complaint, Ginsburg Development’s recent rental complexes have a number of inaccessible features, including excessively high thresholds, insufficient spaces in bathrooms, and kitchens and doors in both individual units and common areas that are not wide enough to accommodate people in wheelchairs.
A court-ordered preliminary injunction requires the development company to retain an experienced accessibility consultant as the Fair Housing Act reviewer for those Westchester projects. The reviewer must analyze all designs by the developer for accessibility and conduct construction site visits.
The complaint also requires Ginsburg Development to modify its policies and pay a civil penalty and seeks compensation for alleged victims of the housing conditions. The company is in settlement negotiations to resolve those claims, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
“Developers in this district should know that this office will use all available tools to enforce the FHA’s basic mandate that developers construct residential buildings accessible to people with disabilities,” Bharara said when announcing the lawsuit and injunction on Wednesday.
Ginsburg Development, headed by longtime Westchester developer Martin Ginsburg, disputed the government’s claims in a press statement. “We work with our architects and other professionals and we design our buildings to ensure that those requirements and the needs of any disabled person who resides or visits our buildings are met,” a company spokesperson said. “We have always been sensitive to the needs of disabled persons and we go well beyond the requirements of the FHA in making even further accommodations to their apartments.”