U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr., State Senators Ronald Rice and Teresa Ruiz, members of the Newark Municipal Council, and Garden Spires tenants joined Mayor Ras J. Baraka at a press conference today to announce that the City of Newark has filed a legal complaint in Essex County Superior Court against First King Properties and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD, over the uninhabitable conditions at the two residential towers that make up the complex. The buildings are located at 175 First Street.
The lawsuit seeks the appointment of a receiver and a court order declaring the buildings uninhabitable, as well as the evacuation and relocation of the tenants at the expense of the landlords, First King Properties. Specifically, this action seeks relief on behalf of the City in connection with the numerous documented housing violations by the landlord and the landlord's failure to maintain the Property in a livable condition. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") is also named in the Complaint as it appears that the Property owners are inappropriately collecting financial contributions from HUD for apartments that are uninhabitable and/or vacant.
“For far too long, these horribly managed buildings have been a breeding ground for disease, crime, blight, and suffering in Newark. They have been a stain on our city, and a source of misery and pain for residents. We are determined to ensure a safe and healthy place to live for Garden Spires residents. Working with our state and federal partners, we will remove this blight and provide residents with the housing and community they deserve,” Mayor Baraka said.
First King has a long history of code violations and the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness has determined that property is unfit for the human habitation as a result of rat-infested and unsanitary stairwells, evidence of urine and human feces, poor or inadequate ventilation which creates severe mold, defective radiators, deteriorated stand pipes, damaged window guards, excessive garbage in public areas, active illegal drug activities and more.