Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Living under siege at 901 Main Street

Peekskill Plaza tenants plagued by unsafe conditions, drug dealers, prostitution, vermin

A group of residents from Peekskill Plaza Apartments at 901 Main Street walked the short block to City Hall on Monday night to express their frustration and fear over the living conditions in their building.  “We’re at our wits end and have nowhere to go,” the first speaker told Common Council members who listened and assured the residents, mostly senior citizens, that the city would take action through its building and code enforcement departments.

“Our apartment building is overrun with drug addicts, prostitutes, homeless people, and drug dealers. I went to visit my neighbor downstairs – two days in a row, and saw used condoms on the floor,” said Elizabeth Jones, a tenant at Peekskill Plaza Apartments. 

Elizabeth Jones

The 168-apartment complex consists of a seven-story high-rise brick building and three two-story garden apartment style buildings, with a courtyard in the center. At the May 13 meeting, Jones and several other Plaza tenants described how living conditions have deteriorated in their apartment complex.

For example, tenant Michelle Cooper noted the gate system does not work properly. “People’s buzzers don’t work. People are buzzing in people. It’s just not secure. The comfort, security and the way you feel about where you live has declined,” said Cooper.

Michelle Cooper

Residents said that because the building lacks a proper security system, interlopers can enter the complex, making the legal and legitimate tenants feel unsafe. 

Another tenant, Gladys Mateo, suggested adding a camera at the entrance is the least the building can do to make tenants feel a bit more secure. She fears for her life, “I shouldn’t have to feel like a prisoner where I live.” Mateo echoed the claims that the apartment complex faces issues with prostitution and drug addicts.

Gladys Mateo

Dolly Hurston was almost brought to tears describing how a grocery delivery sent to her after surgery was stolen. She informed the council that she is being advised by other tenants to not leave her apartment after 8 pm because of the dangers. She then described being followed off the elevator by a man that said he was going to a different floor and but went to the stairwell instead. “I shouldn’t have to be in fear of people coming in behind me. I’m not going to be able to stop a six-foot tall man.” 

Dolly Hurston

Hurston said that some of these interlopers have also stolen her packages. She recalled an incident where a woman had Hurston’s package hostage, demanding $40 to hand it over. Although police were called and she filed a report, Hurston now pays for a post office box to avoid similar situations in the future.

The building’s superintendent also spoke out about the deteriorating conditions of the apartment building. “We are having problems with the drug addicts and the homeless in the complex. Whenever we try to fix that gate – it lasts like maybe two days, they just break it. People are just nervous and upset.” At the end of his speech, the superintendent held up his hands, saying they were damaged because he had to fight with trespassers. 

“He shouldn’t have to fight people in stairwells to get them out in the morning,” said Cooper.

After the residents aired their grievances, Mayor Vivian McKenzie stated that the City Manager will meet with Peekskill’s building department and code enforcement and contact the owner of the Plaza Apartments.

Peekskill Plaza Apartments is owned by Courtyard Housing Limited Partnership, based in Manhasset, N.Y. The Marathon Development Group manages the Peekskill Plaza. According to its website, Marathon has updated “all life safety systems for the property including installing new smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and a state-of-the-art security, fire alarm, and call-for-help system”. However, the website does not state when these systems were last updated.

The Herald asked  Mark Soja, President of Marathon Development Group, to comment. Soja did not respond to the request.

The Herald previously reported that negotiations were underway to sell Peekskill Plaza Apartments but, as of now, there is no record of any sale. 

About the Contributor
Jeffrey Merchan
Peekskill native Jeffrey Merchan is a 2022 graduate of Peekskill High School. He is the Collegiate Journalist at Peekskill Herald, funded by a grant from the DJ McManus Foundation. He is currently enrolled at Westchester Community College where he is studying journalism. As the inaugural recipient of the McManus grant, he will be covering city government, schools and feature stories with a focus on Peekskill’s growing Hispanic community.