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New Rochelle landlord Harbor One sues state over 8-year wait for rent increase approval

For eight years, Harbor One Co. has been awaiting word on whether it may increase rents for major capital improvements on an apartment complex in New Rochelle.
Last week, the company sued to compel a state agency to act on its rent stabilization application.

Harbor House New Rochelle Harbor OneHarbor One “is entitled to a determination of this application within a reasonable time,” the company states in a petition filed Jan. 23 in Westchester Supreme Court. “This proceeding is not of a complicated nature. Yet DHCR (the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal) sits on this application.”

Charni Sochet, spokeswoman for Housing and Community Renewal, said the agency “can’t comment on active litigation.”

Harbor One, an affiliate of Goldfarb Properties, operates Harbor House, a 10-building, 479-apartment complex built in the 1950s on Davenport Avenue.

By the mid-2000s, the concrete decks of three courtyards that also functioned as roofs of underground garages had deteriorated.

“The roofs were failing and directly impacted the structural integrity of the entire property,” the petition states. “They needed to be replaced.”

The landlord started the $2.7 million renovation project in 2006. The courtyards were demolished, new concrete slabs and garage roofs were built. An irrigation system, lighting and fencing were installed.

In 2011, Harbor One applied to the state agency for approval to increase rents.

In 2014, the agency approved a rent increase of $35.66 per month per room, based on nearly $1.3 million in improvements.

But it denied a rent increase for improvements for one of the courtyards. The work had been completed before the two-year deadline for filing the application, the state found, and the contract was not part of a unified, consecutively timed plan.

Harbor One sued. All three courtyards, it argued, were part of one comprehensive plan. The work had been phased to minimize the disruption to the tenants.

Harbor One and the state agreed to send the dispute back to the housing agency for further review and a new ruling.

That was in 2015, and the agency has yet to issue a new ruling.

A court order compelling the agency to act is proper, Harbor One’s petition states, “when a public administrative agency has failed to perform a duty which the law has placed in its sole responsibility.”

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