NEW BRITAIN – The owner of a condemned Arch Street building will foot the bill for his tenants to stay at a hotel until he makes financial reparations to them, one of the displaced residents said Friday.
“I’m happy I’ll be able to get my security deposit back,” said Kaitlyn Soderstrom who had to leave with her four children Thursday after city officials condemned 408 Arch St. Thursday. “If it all works out I’ll be able to get a reasonable apartment.”
Saul Berger, the owner of the building will have to do extensive repairs including fixing defective utilities before he can rent the place out again, said the city’s Building Director Sergio Lupo. “There were building, fire, and housing and health code violations,” Lupo said. “He will have to have licensed contractors perform the work satisfactorily for each city department.”
Berger has been cited several times for blight and litter at the building which is at the corner of Whiting Street. He has not been fined for the condemnation but could be if he doesn’t comply with state health codes, Lupo said.
Berger has not returned phone calls.
Lupo and a team of various fire, building and health department inspectors descended on the multi-story building Thursday afternoon after notifying tenants the day before that they had until March 1 to find other housing. Relatively quickly after the team started their inspection they determined that the building needed to be immediately condemned for the safety of the residents, Lupo said.
“There were so many things going on, based on what we saw, we felt we were justified in condemning the building,” Lupo said.
The stairwell leading up to Soderstrom’s second floor apartment had holes in the walls, graffiti and chunks of plaster which had fallen from the ceiling. Black mold was growing on the ceiling to her bathroom where the toilet was resting on plywood. One window had been replaced with sheet rock because Berger hadn’t provided money to replace the glass, a man who identified himself as the former property owner said.
The building was also infested with mice and rats, and people were running illegal businesses out of the basement and an illegal private club which was stealing electricity from a tenant, officials said Thursday.
Soderstrom and another woman with six children sought help from the city to get into a local hotel overnight. During a meeting with the Community Services Department Friday, Soderstrom was told that Berger would have to pay for their hotel rooms until he provided security deposits based on comparable market rates for any tenants staying at the hotel.
“The property owner will be involved in the permanent relocation for the tenants,” Lupo said. “He will continue to pay for hotels until an agreement has been reached.”
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.