Unveil a high-rise horror story

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Last month, when a Times reporter at the Metro Desk, Karen Jarrick, received a tip from a tenant in a Lower Manhattan residential building, she wasn’t sure it would turn into an article. Tipster writes that the elevator service in the building was at its best spotted since the fall. But elevator disruptions are unfortunately fairly common in New York City, especially in the city’s public housing complex, Mrs. Zerrick thinks.

But one thing was unusual about this disruption: this person’s building had 59 floors, of which 56 were residential. Although the Lift Bank servicing floor worked well from one to 15, the elevators that carry passengers to the 16th floor or above were reported to be broken. Residents on the top floor may face long, arduous climbs to get home, meaning filling out a prescription or mailing a package can turn into an hourly Odyssey.

The sheer height of the building makes the problem completely out of the ordinary. “I was, ‘Wow, that’s crazy,'” said Mrs. Jericho.

Over the next three weeks, he and a reporting fellow at the Metro Desk spoke with more than a dozen residents of the bustling high-rise building in the financial district, including the Ashley Wang Building, 20 Exchange Place, both luxury amenities and some rent. – Controlled unit. Residents described experiences that were taxable (try walking up 33 stairs after a 12-hour shift as a nurse) and, for some, weak – those with mobility problems can’t navigate the stairs at all. Residents cannot go outside without a reliable elevator.

Some residents, who are unable or unwilling to climb, even change clothes before the night out if they need to stay at the hotel, do not know if the elevator will work when they return.

While residents of the building were shouting, the biggest initial challenge in reporting, Ms Zarek said, was forcing people to go on record. Some had signed an undisclosed agreement with the building; Others feared retaliation from management if their names appeared in newspapers.

So he has become creative. One tenant posted Mrs. Zerick’s number inside an (working) elevator, and others began spreading it to friends, neighbors, and, importantly, members of the building’s group chat. Soon, Mrs. Jarek was overwhelmed by dozens of calls, emails, texts and social media messages. He then enlisted the help of Mrs. Wong, who followed up on the phone with those who wanted to share their stories.

When word got around, Mrs. Wong said, “Everyone wanted to talk to us.”

The obvious problem was a physical problem, Ms Wang said, but as she talked to more people, she realized that she and Miss Zerick had to be held accountable for worrying about not getting reliable lift service for about five months – or worse, inside an elevator. Likely to get stuck.

“Even those who are physically able to walk up and down are trapped by uncertainty,” he said. “The lifts weren’t fully shot, but you never knew when they would arrive. People were in constant uncertainty, helplessness and despair. “

After talking to residents – and, in Mrs. Zerrick’s case, after inspecting the building (where elevators, presumably, were not working) – reporters reached out to building owners, DTH Capital. The company had apologized, Ms Zerrick said, but the electric company had not agreed to take the blame on Con Edison. The utility company said it could not find the cause of the disturbance but said tests had indicated it was not a power supply problem. “No one is arguing that this is a problem,” she said. “But they both don’t know how to fix it and think it’s the other party’s fault.”

Since the article was published online March 28, calls, texts, and emails from residents have continued.

The article sparked a conversation on social media. It has also received some criticism from readers who believe that public housing lifts, which are often poorly maintained, break down all the time. Why break into a luxury residential building, where one bedroom unit can go as low as $ 5,000 per month, the news?

It was a point of view, Ms. Zrike said, that her editor, Johanna Barr, encouraged journalists to consider early in the process – and to address in the article. In this case, the fact that the building was a skyscraper was unusual and the situation was worth exploring.

As of press time, Ms Zerrick said the disruption was still ongoing – and residents were still calling.

“We definitely plan to continue following this story,” said Mrs. Jarek. “And hopefully, in their interest, it will be fixed sooner rather than later.”

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