Tenants of Historic Vendome Apartments Fight City and Owner for Affordable Housing

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Residents of the Vendome building at 363 Grand Avenue in Clinton Hill have filed a lawsuit against the city and building owner Azad Ali in an effort to protect a decades-old agreement enabling tenants to purchase their apartments.

Built in 1887, the Vendome is Brooklyn’s oldest multi-family apartment building. Gutted by a fire in 1980, the building was slated for demolition in 1987. The Vendome was landmarked in 1981 — when the Clinton Hill Historic District was established — and community members lobbied to save it.

At the time, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development created a preservation plan for the site, which included keeping the Vendome as an affordable rental building for 15 years, after which tenants would have the ability to buy their units as coops or condos, according to Legal Services NYC — the organization legally representing the Vendome tenants. Tenants claim that the then-landlord signed agreements guaranteeing these terms in exchange for subsidized loans.

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In 1988, the building received a New York State preservation grant for $255,000, matched by a $200,000 challenge grant from the city. The Vendome was rebuilt with 24 affordable middle-income units.

However, in 2008, the building went into foreclosure and racked up an unfortunate 177 housing code violations for everything from leaks to mold and broken windows.

In 2011, real estate investor Azad Ali — known for renovating and reselling historic homes in Prospect Park South, Ditmas Park, and Midwood — purchased the Vendome.

Tenants fear that once Ali resolves the building’s foreclosure status, they’ll be pushed out so that he can turn a profit. The building also remains in a state of disrepair.

Speaking from the front steps of the Vendome yesterday, New York State Assembly Member Walter Mosley — who represents Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, and parts of Crown Heights and Bed Stuy — said:

“Years ago,  this city agency along with state government  were involved in preserving the building and promised it would be maintained as affordable housing for members of the community and we must keep that promise especially in the face of an affordable housing crisis here in the city.”

Vendome Tenants Sue to Keep Building Affordable [News 12 Brooklyn]
LSNYC and UHAB File Lawsuit to Compel NYC to Live up to Affordable Housing Promise [LSNYC]
Building of the Day: 363 Grand Avenue [Brownstoner]
New York City Seeks to Raze a Landmark [NY Times]

Top photo of Vendome building by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

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