Community-service award for Burton Towers developer

Times Herald-Record | September 30, 2015

Four years ago, the choices facing Burton Towers residents and City of Newburgh code enforcement officials varied between awful and worse.

For upper-floor residents of the 126-unit, eight-story apartment complex for seniors and the disabled, oft-broken elevators meant remaining trapped on their floors or braving the building’s stairs.

For city officials, the defective elevators and other health and safety violations forced them to choose between allowing residents to remain or evacuating the building and making homeless more than 100 elderly residents.

And that was before the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development foreclosed on the complex’s mortgage, and the city battled the Newburgh Housing Authority in court over the complex’s future.

“It was bad,” said Leslie Patterson, current president of the Burton Towers’ tenants association.

Burton Towers’ two elevators have since been replaced as part of more than $7.5 million in capital improvements undertaken by Mountco, the developer city officials chose to take over the complex after purchasing it at the foreclosure sale in September 2011.

In gratitude for Mountco’s success, state Sen. Bill Larkin is giving the developer a community-service award during a ceremony at 2 p.m. Thursday.

“We did great work,” said Joel Mounty, president of Mountco. “The building’s in great shape.”

Myriad problems plagued Burton Towers before HUD’s foreclosure on the 1979-built structure ignited a chain of events leading to its transfer to Mountco.

Broken boilers and a bad ventilation system. A malfunctioning alarm system and crumbling exterior brickwork. And then there were the two elevators, which could be out for days at a time.

“There was no maintenance to the building at all,” Mounty said. “The tenants lived in squalor.”

Mountco replaced the elevators and boilers, installed new windows, renovated the community room and repaired bathrooms and kitchens in the apartments.

The company also patched up the building’s brick facade, installed a backup generator and repaved the parking lot. Its investment, including “soft costs” like engineering, permitting and legal fees, totaled about $12.25 million.

Former Newburgh mayor Nick Valentine, who led the city’s efforts to rescue the property from foreclosure, will be at Thursday’s ceremony.

“It’s just amazing what they did,” he said.

-Leonard Sparks, Times Herald-Record

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