Renaissance Rats

Harlem Development Residents Fight Major Developer

Lee Chong, the housing representative for Fields's office, says she would like to see a full survey of the building completed by Suna/Levine to be sure the complaints are not "aberrations" by a few disgruntled residents. If the problems are proven to be true, then Fields would not likely support another project before things are fixed.

Still, politicians are not apt to be quick to turn on Suna/Levine, which has considerable political clout. Suna is an owner of Silvercup Studios in Queens and has developed dozens of projects for HPD throughout the city. HPD Anchor program director Syreeta McFadden said at the community board meeting she "felt comfortable" moving ahead with the project. However, she refused comment the next day, and HPD spokeswoman Carol Abrams responded in a short e-mail, saying HPD is monitoring the development team and is aware of the shareholders' concerns. Many tenants have expressed rage at HPD, which was meant to be a development partner in the Renaissance, for not overseeing the building practices.

Community Board 10's land use committee passed a resolution denying support for the project and the full community board will vote at a meeting February 5. The attorney general's office will also make another visit to the building next week.

After months of activity, shareholders saw a glimmer of progress following the meeting, in a flurry of phone calls between Suna/Levine, residents, and area pols, which seems likely to result in an official survey of the building's problems. "We'll see if the politicians are in their pockets," says one resident.

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