Island House: Tenants Speak
as told to Sharon Bermon
Eve Sarfaty, an attorney, moved into her three-bedroom apartment in 1985. She has signed a purchase agreement.
“From the time I moved here, I knew I wanted to stay on Roosevelt Island and raise my children here. I always wanted to buy my apartment, and when deals fell through in the past, I was disappointed. This opportunity is a win-win situation for me because it’s a great deal. There’s nowhere else I want to go, so I like the fact that there’s a financial incentive for me to stay. When and if I leave, I can sell at a profit, or I can leave the apartment to my children, who were born and raised here. I don’t know of anyplace else in New York City with the small-town community feel we have on Roosevelt Island.”
Ivana Jesic, a computer scientist, has had a two-bedroom apartment with her spouse since 2005. They have signed a purchase agreement.
“I’m glad that we are buying, but we are afraid the sub-metering bills will be so high that we will have difficulty meeting expenses. The building is old, very badly insulated, and I am not convinced that the numbers we have received – from the building owner and the IHTA Board – are accurate.
“As a floor captain, I’ve met many of my neighbors and I finally feel connected to them. In my home country [Yugoslavia], neighbors were almost closer than family. It feels good to know that if I have a problem in the middle of the night, I can knock on a door and get help.”
Judy Buck, a retired university administrator, has lived in her one-bedroom apartment since 2003.
“I have been pre-approved by Amalgamated, but haven’t put in a purchase agreement. I took the new deadline of April 20 as an opportunity to think things through again, talk with a few more people, and agonize.
“If I buy, I’m afraid I will be over my head at some point. I don’t want to become a financial servant to an apartment. The sub-metering issue is frightening... the possibility of rising maintenance... I have not yet heard of a conversion where maintenance did not rise in a more than minimal way.
“I will breathe more freely after April 20. One way or another, I will decide and I will live with it.”
Hope Dietsch, a tax accountant, has had a two-bedroom unit for almost 30 years.
“I am not buying because I am not interested in having material things. I don’t want the responsibility of owning anything – not a car, good furniture, or an apartment – at this point in my life. I’m very happy having nothing.
“I don’t think we’ve been given all the facts. The facts that we’ve been given are not clearcut. I don’t believe the bankers, the IHTA Board or anyone, because we deserve a better deal. We’re being pressured to buy or not buy. The vibes I pick up from people who are buying is that they’re being pressured. Thank God, I don’t have to be pressured.”
Stuart and Donna Chenkin, retired nonprofit administrators, have had a two-bedroom unit since 1999.
“After much thought, discussion and debate between ourselves and our children, we have decided not to purchase, but to continue as renters. Major reasons: our age and health. It’s not about money. We got approval for a mortgage from one of the approved banks.
“This is our home. We don’t want to move. We debated taking the buy-out offer, but we love the area, the convenience, and the good transportation.
“We are concerned that the rent will keep skyrocketing and the electricity costs are an unknown, but we have made this very difficult decision, and we look forward to more years in the apartment.”