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Rivoli House living conditions under Hempstead Village scrutiny

Evelyn Davis, a longtime resident of the Rivoli

Evelyn Davis, a longtime resident of the Rivoli House in Hempstead, photographed outside the apartment complex, Tuesday, August 5, 2014. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Hempstead Village officials are inspecting the chronically troubled Rivoli House apartment building after residents reported they continue to live in squalid conditions.

Deputy Mayor Waylyn Hobbs went to the 111-apartment building at 40-44 W. Columbia St. Tuesday and village officials on Monday night pledged to send building inspectors to the site.

Residents have reported problems with mold, bedbugs and no ventilation or security.

Village Attorney Debra Urbano-DiSalvo said Tuesday she didn't know the results of the visits.

Residents packed the village board meeting Monday night even though officials did not have any action planned on the property. Evelyn Davis, 65, a Rivoli House resident of 16 years and frequent critic, was the only one to speak, adding to residents' chronic complaints.

She said a day care center at the property has been displaced and some one-bedroom apartments were occupied by five to seven residents.

"We've been dealing with the same issues, but it got worse," reported Davis, who said she is being sued by the building owner for nonpayment of rent. "This place can't get . . . worse."

The building's property manager, Related Management Co., denied there was mold in the building and said any complaints have been addressed.

"Rivoli House has always been and continues to be professionally and responsibly managed," the company said in a statement issued Tuesday. "Any related incidents have been addressed expeditiously and resolved."

Over the past few years, the building has been cited for about 75 code violations, Urbano-DiSalvo said. The owner, Garden City-based Rivoli Redevelopment LLC, has been to court 20 times and pleaded guilty, she said, without detailing the penalties.

Village inspectors and police have visited the building numerous times. About 46 cases are pending against the owners, and one case defaulted into a $12,000 settlement, Urbano-DiSalvo said.

Last year, the village threatened to revoke tax breaks for Rivoli Redevelopment after allegations of poor living conditions, such as lack of heat, security problems and drug activity.

An inspection last year found no major issues, Urbano-DiSalvo said, and a PILOT tax break -- payment in lieu of taxes -- of more than $100,000 remained in place.

Last month, residents received a notice that a parking lot used by residents would be foreclosed Oct. 24 after its tax lien was purchased by a Uniondale attorney. The Rivoli owners said they didn't own the parking lot before the tax lien was sold, Urbano-DiSalvo said.

Rivoli Redevelopment officials have told the village that they are trying to sell the building, but the village would not grant a new PILOT tax break to the next owner, Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall said. He said they would have to seek a tax exemption from the Town of Hempstead or Nassau County.

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