Avella Calls On DOB To Thwart Tommy Huang
A local lawmaker ventured outside of his district last Thursday, May 17, calling on the Department of Buildings (DOB) to crack down on a developer’s business practices during a press conference near the scene of a deadly Elmhurst construction accident in 2011.
At D&D Glass, located adjacent to the scene of the accident, State Sen. Tony Avella called on the city to take action against Tommy Huang, a developer who has been criticized for flagrantly defying rules regarding city construction.
Avella called Huang “a notorious, unscrupulous developer.”
“On a larger scale,” he added, “why does the city of New York allow individual developers like Tommy Huang to do business in the city of New York?”
According to the Bayside law- maker, work at the site at 84-18 Queens Blvd. undermined the structural integrity of both D&D Glass and the firehouse of Engine Co. 287 and Ladder Co. 136.
D&D Glass co-owner Michael Demetriou stated that work at the site prior to the accident has led to cracks appearing in the floor as well as the adjoining walls.
He later told the Times Newsweekly that he is unable to sell or lease the property unless the structural problems are fixed.
In January 2011, a one-story brick wall partially collapsed at the construction site, fatally injuring one worker and injuring three others.
“If somebody gets mugged on the street, the police come to your aid,” said Avella. “Why is it in the city of New York that when these neighboring property owners … get mugged by a developer, the city says ‘you have to privately sue, we’re not going to help you.’ It’s absurd and it’s got to stop.”
“Every single property this individual touches become a problem,” the lawmaker added.
According to Avella, while construction contractors and architects are subject to action from the agency, a developer like Huang can hire a new staff and begin anew.
“He just gets another contractor and another contractor and another contractor,” Avella said, calling on Buildings Commissioner Robert Li- Mandri to prevent Huang from doing further business in the city.
“If you can’t resolve this issue,” said the lawmaker, “then maybe you should step down and let somebody else do it, because this has got to end.”
Avella and historian Paul Graziano claimed that other areas of the city, such as the RKO Keith site in Flushing as well as portions of Bayside, have seen issues arising from Huang’s construction methods.
“This has been going on since the late 1970s-early 1980s,” Graziano stated.