No way I’m heading to NYC. Check this out. And consider the big-name residents all over the city selling. Karen Zraick and
When it was completed in 1931, the City Bank-Farmers Trust Company Building towered over the financial district as one of the tallest buildings in New York City. It was, in fact, the tallest with a stone-clad facade, which featured 14 Assyrian-style busts, called “giants of finance,” watching over the narrow streets from their perch on the 19th floor. Replicas of coins from around the world adorned the entrance, representing countries where National City Bank — which would later become Citibank — had branches.
The 59-story building, at 20 Exchange Place, is now a bustling residential high-rise with more than 750 apartments, featuring luxury amenities, stunning harbor views and some rent-stabilized units. Tenants breeze into the lobby, with its soaring ceilings and elaborate marble mosaics, and into Art Deco-style elevators to reach their homes.
Or they used to, anyway.
Since November, the skyscraper has been plagued by long elevator outages that have turned daily life upside down and trapped residents with mobility issues inside their apartments. Elevator service is unpredictable and often nonexistent, for hours at a time, above the 15th floor. The elevators that service only the lower floors have continued to work, even as the outages in the others have grown more frequent in the last two months.
The city received 25,376 complaints about broken elevators in 2021, according to city data, not an outrageous number for a city with more than 70,000 elevators and escalators. The problems have been particularly acute in public housing.
At 20 Exchange Place, the sheer height of the building has made the persistent outages particularly infuriating for residents, who can pay as much as $5,000 a month for a market-rate one-bedroom unit.
In interviews and emails, more than a dozen residents told The New York Times about living in what one of them described as “high-rise hell,” and about how they have reorganized their lives as a result. They have canceled plans, missed appointments, been late for work, ditched heavy strollers, contemplated moving. (But how do you move out of a high-rise without a reliable elevator?)
“Our lives completely changed the moment these elevators stopped working,” said Faisal Al Mutar, 30, who lives in a studio on the 22nd floor.
Those who are able have climbed many, many stairs. One young software engineer, in fact, has gotten so used to the hike that he signed up for the 102-story Tunnels to Towers charity climb at One World Trade Center in June.
Erin Campbell, a 28-year-old nurse, was excited to find a “Covid deal” for a two-year lease for an apartment with water views on the 48th floor a little over a year ago. Then the elevators started breaking down, leaving her stranded after long shifts on her feet.
“I’m a nurse, I have no choice: I have to go to work,” she said, recounting how often she returns home only to learn that the elevators are out. After a recent 12-hour shift, she came home at 8:30 p.m. and was told by doormen that service to her floor would probably not be restored until about 11 p.m.
“I just started crying,” she recalled. “I’m a young, in-shape person, so I can do it. But it’s miserable.”
Her greater concern, she said, is for her neighbors who are unable to trek up so many flights — as well as the possibility that residents could face delays receiving medical attention in case of an emergency, she said.
The building’s owners, DTH Capital, say that Con Edison must step in to resolve the problems, which they maintain are likely related to electrical surges from Con Edison equipment. The owners say they have hired teams with elevator, electrical and engineering expertise to get to the bottom of the problem, which is affecting eight elevators.
“These experts have so far been unable to determine the source of the surges and believe that we will not be able to do so without the full collaboration and 24/7 support of Con Edison,” DTH Capital said in a statement.
Con Edison, in turn, says it has conducted extensive testing at the building and found “no indication that our power supply is deficient or compromised.”
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“To date, we have not been presented with any plausible theory as to why the elevator problems, which have developed since work to install a new elevator system began, are related to Con Edison equipment or service,” the electric company said in a statement.
Action Line: Can you imagine facing a 48 story hike when you come home from a long day at work, and neither the building’s owner nor the electric company willing to take responsibility? It’s no wonder city residents are looking to escape. If you’re living in a big city like New York or San Francisco, and you’re tired of the crime and business crushing taxes and regulations, it’s time to look for a better America. Start with my Super States. If you are serious about making the move to a Super State, but can’t get going on your goal, I can help. Click here to subscribe to my free monthly Survive & Thrive letter, and I’ll help you break inertia and achieve your goal of freedom. But only if you’re serious.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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