WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The owners of a senior residence in White Plains have agreed to pay $528,000 to elderly tenants who were forced to move out, according to state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
Esplanade of White Plains Venture Partnership, L.P. and White Plains Hotel, L.P., own the Esplanade Senior Residences at the corner of South Broadway and Lyon Place.
Schneiderman said they failed to inform potential residents of a plan to vacate and re-purpose the building, the companies “caused many seniors to suffer undue and unnecessary stress, hardship and expense.”
The money will help ousted residents cover moving and other expenses.
Esplanade, in a statement Wednesday, said it had cooperated fully with the attorney general’s office after it was contacted “to discuss the closure.”
No resident was “forced out” or asked to leave, the statement said.
The company said there was “no allegation that we acted in any way in contradiction to law or violated any right of any senior.”
Esplanade said, after talking with the attorney general’s office, it voluntarily agreed to make payments to seniors to assist them with relocating.
It pointed out that no fine or penalty was assessed, adding that it was “comfortable” with the result.
Pointing out that the tenants had “expected to live out their remaining years,” at the residences, Schneiderman said his office remained “committed to protecting our most vulnerable citizens, and to holding landlords accountable for their actions.”
The owners notified residents last November that a “multi-year complete overhaul” of the facility was planned, and that the “enormous level of construction will make it necessary to vacate the building.”
The plan was, Schneiderman said, to turn the 15-story building into 212 luxury rental apartments, not restricted to seniors.
Although the plan to vacate and renovate the building was in the works since 2014, the Esplanade owners continued renting apartments to senior citizens -- without informing them of the plan, the attorney general said.
Some of those had moved in only weeks before the November 2015 notification was sent.
Esplanade residents told Schneiderman that they were “heartbroken and upset” when they learned they would have to move out.
Those who had moved in 2014 and 2015 were, he said, especially angry because they felt they had been kept in the dark.
Some of them told him that they had chosen the Esplanade to be close to their children and grandchildren and had believed that they would never have to move again.
In addition to agreeing to make payments to residents who moved in during 2014 and 2015, the Esplanade owners agreed to make smaller payments to residents who moved in earlier, Schneiderman said.
All 139, who were residents as of November 2015, will receive some payment, he added.
Under the agreement obtained by the attorney general, Esplanade will pay $6,500 to each of the 60 residents who moved into the facility during 2014 and 2015, $3,250 to each of the 27 residents who moved in during 2013, and $1,250 to each of the 52 residents who moved in prior to 2013.
State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who represents the 35th Senate District, of which White Plains is part, thanked the state for helping get compensation for the seniors who were “forced to leave their homes without fair notice.”
Stewart-Cousins said she had introduced legislation that would “prevent those who market and create senior communities from pulling the rug out from under these residents without cause and appropriate notice.”
Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, D-Yonkers, called the payments “a great resolution for unacceptable behavior by the Esplanade owners.”
“Seniors deserve to be treated with respect,” said Assemblyman David Buchwald, D-White Plains, who sponsored legislation to prevent similar occurrences.
He said he hoped that “the former residents of the Esplanade and their families will have some closure in this matter and be able to live without fear of eviction in their new homes.”