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Residents In Bronx Community Worried Drug Treatment Center May Move Into Vacant Building: 'We Were Deceived'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Bronx community is in an uproar.

Residents say politicians promised to prevent a drug treatment center from moving in across from a school. But months later, one resident discovered the deal was done anyway, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Sunday.

The brick building at 2500 Williamsbridge Road near the border of Allerton and Pelham Gardens has been vacant for years and now the locals fear it's going to attract people struggling with drug addiction. It is across the street from an elementary school.

Last week, Roxanne Delgado discovered it was sold to CHI Bronx LLC, affiliated with Anna Marie Karkus, the director of the Carnegie Hill Institute, an addiction treatment center, on the Upper East Side.

Bronx drug treatment center
(Photo: CBS2)

"How could everyone let the ball drop? Best-case scenario, they're inept. Worst-case scenario, they're lying to us. Either way, we lose," Delgado said.

She said during a packed community meeting in November that Councilman Mark Gjonaj and the listing agent, Exit Realty, assured residents the owner was advised not to sell to CHI, which was interested in paying around $1 million to make it a methadone clinic.

"We were deceived. We were betrayed. The community was betrayed in November. They told us this deal was dead," Bronx resident Irene Estrada said.

Exit Realty owner Sonny Vataj told Rozner by phone the day the property closed an individual from the Hamptons bought it, under the name 2500 Williamsbridge Road LLC.

"Unfortunately, none of those papers were legally transferred," Vataj said, adding when asked if the type of business it would be ever came up, "We asked them what kind of business they were looking to do and were told it was going to be a high-end spa."

He said he cannot release the individual's name due to privacy laws, but said he, too, does not support CHI in the community. A representative for the seller said she, too, did not think she was selling to the clinic, either.

"We're concerned about the safety. The kids walk down the street over here," one resident said.

It's not clear what Carnegie or CHI will do with the property. Neither would not return CBS2's multiple calls or e-mails for comment.

Councilman Gjonaj said when he contacted CHI, they would not confirm the final use of the property. Now, he and Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez are asking the state to deny any applications for a treatment center there.

But it's not clear if that will make a difference.

Calls to the lawyer who represented the treatment clinic in the sale were not returned.

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