Bristol Condemns Apartment Building, Evicts Tenants

The city of Bristol has condemned a 12-unit apartment building on High Street and is asking residents to move out by Wednesday.

Bristol Councilwoman Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said the city handed over a list of abatements in August, only some of which have been fixed. She detailed unsanitary conditions, electrical problems and fire escapes that are all but falling apart.

"They are pulling away from the wall and if you actually step on the fire escape in the southeast corner of this building, the wall moves," Zoppo-Sassu described.

Tenant Brenda Rivera showed NBC Connecticut nails protruding from the floor, holes and cracks in her wall and a sink that's falling off.

"It's really hard. It happened unexpectedly," she said of the eviction. "I just hope I can find somewhere to go and everyone else."

City officials said it's not the first time property manager Anthony Cammariere has given them problems. Mayor Ken Cockayne said Cammariere has not paid proper taxes on many of his buildings and also has outstanding water bills.

"We have given Anthony Cammariere not only an inch but a mile in the lat 10 years, and I'm not willing to give him another millisecond," Zoppo-Sassu said. "He's hidden behind the facade of trying to rent to people who are in need of a place to be when in fact, his only concern is his own and his own pocketbook."

Cammariere said he already has the money to do the work and estimates he could have it done within the next 30 days since the weather is improving.

"I already have the financing in place. I have the manpower and the right people to do the job that are qualified to do it," he said. "So hopefully the judge will see that and realize that it will probably be a lot easier to make some improvements to the building. I think it would be a lot easier than actually displacing 11 or 12 families."

He disagrees that the building is unsafe and said the problems are with the structure itself rather than the individual units. Cammariere claims an engineer deemed the fire escape safe and said the front staircases have already been repaired.

"Everyone is so quick to hop on a bandwagon and speak of me as if I'm the devil," he said. "I think the whole point here with the city is to kind of smear my name and make me a bad landlord. I don’t believe I am. I’ve been in the business over 20 years. I don’t think I would be in this business last this long if I was such a bad landlord."

According to Cockayne, city officials are helping to relocate the 10 or 11 residents of 116-122 High Street. The tenants are searching for new apartments and will be put up in motels if need be.

Cockayne said the condemned building is a safety hazard and the city's priority is to get the tenants into safe housing.

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