The developer who wants to build a $100 million mosque and community center near Ground Zero can’t take care of a rat-ridden apartment building with just 14 units.
Sharif El-Gamal, the main developer behind the mosque, has nearly 400 open violations that he has refused to fix despite a court order. His company owes the city $61,633 in fines, fees and taxes for the property at 1835 Amsterdam Ave.
El-Gamal, a principal in the company that owns the Washington Heights building, is due in court Thursday. If he doesn’t show up, he risks being sent to jail.
He already failed to appear at a Sept. 28 hearing.
Tenant Madeline Javier has been locked in a legal battle with El-Gamal and his partners to try to fix the problems in her $647-a-month apartment.
She claims in legal papers that her bathroom ceiling collapsed, blocking the tub, toilet and sink, and that dust and vermin worsened her and her children’s asthma. She said the conditions forced her to flee to live in her mother’s home for two years.
“It’s really bad,” Javier said. “They always promise they’re going to fix, and they don’t do nothing.”
More than 150 complaints about the building, including rats, roaches and lack of heat, were logged with the city from July 2010 to May 2011.
The building’s staircase “was obstructed with construction debris, and the fire escapes were also obstructed,” according to legal papers.
There are 366 housing-code violations that the owner hasn’t addressed, according to the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
HPD sued El-Gamal’s company, Washington Heights Holdings II, to fix the problems and reached a consent order in September. It also fined the company $5,550. It’s unclear if any work has been done.