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Tenants peeved as heating issues persist at University Circle apartment building

Posted at 6:08 PM, Feb 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-02 18:20:27-05

With bone-chilling cold on the way for the area, hundreds of tenants of a University Circle apartment building are coming to grips with the fact that they may be without heat for days to come.

Tenants of Commodore Place apartments said this is just the latest in a long string of heat-related issues in the nearly 200 unit building.

Sierra Garrett, who lives on the 8th floor, said the on-again, off-again heating system began acting up around Christmas. Now, more than a month later, there’s no heat at all.

“I don’t really want to live here anymore,” Garrett said. “I’m trying to keep it together so [my children] aren’t cold but there are times that I can’t. I don’t want to run the oven all night.”

Garrett and her upstairs neighbor Eunice Perry have both had to resort to using their ovens to heat their two bedroom apartments. The two single mothers also use the shower to heat their bathrooms.

“It’s like being stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Perry said. “It’s 17 degrees outside and there’s frost on my bathroom window. Okay, where’s the heat?”

In late December, management provided each tenant with a small space heater and tenants were instructed to bring the space heater with them as they moved room-to-room, Garrett said.

“It’s a safety hazard. We have twelve floors with all of these units plugging up heaters,” Garrett said.

Commodore Place is owned by Community Builders Inc., which purchased the sprawling property in 2015 for roughly $8.7 million. It is managed by the non-profit Famicos Foundation.

Management and tenants met Thursday to discuss the ongoing efforts to fix the building’s aging boiler system. Famicos’ executive director, John Anolieto, said crews are working on getting a temporary fix in place. That fix includes a temporary boiler that would be connected to the existing heating system. The building is scheduled to undergo a massive renovation although plans have been often delayed.

“Management is aware of their plight. We sympathize with them,” Anolieto said. “We are not waiting for winter to go away. We are doing the best that we can. We are going to do our very best to bring heat to the property as soon as possible. We know they are hurting. Because of that, we are hurting too.”

Perry believes the pending renovations are the reasons why management has been so slow to act on the heating issues, she said. The renovation project includes a complete overhaul of the HVAC system, including the installation of new forced air units in each apartment unit. Perry believes management doesn’t want to replace the existing boiler only to install a new system in the coming months.

The lack of heat is exacerbating her children’s pre-existing medical issues, she said.

“They all carry the sickle cell trait. They are all anemic. They are all sick,” Perry said. “And there’s pretty much nothing I can do about it.”

According to the city’s department of building and housing, a formal complaint was filed Thursday. The review of that complaint is pending.