Friday, September 14, 2012

MTA Stiffs Tenant On $65K Promise After She Was Booted From Rent Controlled Apartment Resulting From 2nd Ave. Subway Construction-Related Condemnation

In New York City, the New York Post reports:

  • She famously wiped out her husband’s “ring around the collar” — but now, she says, she’s getting taken to the cleaners by the MTA [Metropolitan Transit Authority]. Sally Ardrey — the actress who appeared in the 1970s Wisk commercial featuring that catch phrase — was booted from her rent-controlled apartment during Second Avenue Subway construction and is now battling the agency for financial assistance because it wants her to take an apartment she can’t afford.

    Ardrey, who is 74 and has four grandchildren, says she can’t make ends meet on her fixed income and has hired a lawyer to take on the MTA. “I’m frightened of what’s going to happen,” said Ardrey, whose commercial featured a suitcase flying open and taunting her bout collar stains on her husband’s shirts — ads she denounced years later as sexist.

    I can’t tell you how jittery and sad it makes me feel. This is a terrible thing,” she said. Ardrey says the MTA ran her through the wringer, at first negotiating with her and her lawyer before suddenly backing out. “I don’t feel it’s fair . . . I just don’t understand,” Ardrey said. “Why string us along?

    In 2009, she was forced to leave her $1,726-per-month, rent-controlled apartment at 257 E. 73rd St. — where she’d lived for more than two decades — because the building was condemned due to the subway line.

    The MTA helped Ardrey got a new place to live — an offer made to the 57 others dislocated by the project — eventually finding a $2,195-per-month pad that was not rent stabilized. “The MTA told Sally that if she moved into the comparable apartment, it would give her a [one-time] rental assistance payment of $65,553.01,” said her lawyer, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan.

    But Ardrey, whose income is less than $40,000 per year, crunched the rent numbers and realized the MTA was trying to whitewash a bad situation. The new apartment rate amounted to a $5,600 rent increase per year, and she would be exposed to big increases.

    To avoid breaking the bank, Ardrey in 2009 instead moved into an apartment on East 91st Street that cost $1,600 per month and was not rent stabilized — and asked the MTA to honor its $65,500 rent-assistance offer.

    But “the MTA told Sally that because the rent in this new apartment was, at that time, less than the rent in her [old] apartment, it would not give her any rental assistance payments,” said Colangelo-Bryan.

    Over time, the new, nonstabilized, apartment would become more expensive, and, in fact, it already has,” Colangelo-Bryan, said, adding that Ardrey’s rent has now increased to $1,756.

    Ardrey and her lawyer negotiated with the MTA — which was initially receptive — until it abruptly pulled out of the talks. “We eventually traded settlement proposals that actually would have had Sally getting the full $65,553.01,” and they were near a deal, Colangelo-Bryan said.

    But, suddenly, “there is no offer on the table and no willingness to negotiate.” “Ultimately, the MTA has punished Sally for being frugal,” the lawyer said.

    MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said, “We are sympathetic to Ms. Ardrey’s situation, and we are considering a settlement of her appeal.”

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