The East Village is home; I want to improve it

Last month, Raphael Toledano, above, purchased a portfolio of 16 East Village buildings for $97 million.
Last month, Raphael Toledano, above, purchased a portfolio of 16 East Village buildings for $97 million.

Raphael Toledano felt he was not given a chance to respond in last week’s Villager article about him, “E. Fifth St. tenants are still trying to figure out; Who is the real ‘Raffi’?” However, our reporter did reach out to his people for comment. The original article has since been updated with a comment from him. The Villager additionally extended the offer to Toledano of writing a talking point to “tell his side of the story,” and he accepted.

BY RAPHAEL TOLEDANO  |  Over the last year, I have had the incredible good fortune to take an ownership stake in a number of residential and commercial buildings in the East Village. The reason I chose to grow my business in this beautiful neighborhood is simple: I believe in the East Village. I am not here to transform this community, rather I am determined to become a part of the fabric of the neighborhood that so many wonderful New Yorkers call home.

As a business owner I learned early on that treating customers — in my case, tenants — with respect and decency is most important in order to gain their trust. Over the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know my new tenants in this community and it has been an extremely rewarding experience. By understanding their needs and concerns, I will be able to form a personal bond with the residents and better serve them. 

There are always going to be doubters and cynics, people who wonder what my motivations are. But I invite you to look at my track record.

Recent press reports about one of the buildings I acquired, 444 E. 13th St., do not paint an accurate picture of the effort I have made to work with residents. In the last four months since I took over managing that property, open violations have fallen by 70 percent. For those tenants who remain skeptical of our management, we are continuing to work with them to ensure that every issue they are facing is resolved.

As evidence of my commitment to the East Village and its community, I acquired an additional 16 properties last month and have received very encouraging feedback from the tenants. By having an open dialogue, my team is in a better position to provide superior tenant-relations services.

My plans for these buildings are simple. We want to renovate the apartments and common areas, improve the outward appearance and take suggestions from tenants for how to make the East Village the ultimate live / work / play community.

Beyond that, we are committed to making meaningful contributions to improve the welfare of the community. I have been engaged with a number of organizations to find out what we can do to help, and I look forward to announcing new partnerships in the next few weeks. But in the meantime, what you need to know is that my company is here to make the East Village a better place.

My team is taking the time to get to know our neighbors, and we invite all of you to get to know us.

I know that you will find we are here for the right reasons.

Toledano is president and founder, Brookhill Properties