Astoria medical building destroyed homes: Vallone

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rebecca Henely

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said while an eight-story medical building under construction in Astoria has damaged multiple homes nearby, he would like to see the building completed rather than being left to deteriorate.

“That’s a very difficult situation. I’m extremely unhappy about it,” he said. “But unfortunately there’s no right way to do anything about it.”

The city Board of Standards and Appeals is expected to make a decision within a few weeks about the continuing construction on the site, at 25-31 31st St. The developers of the eight-story medical building and 135-car parking garage are Pali Realty LLC, of 150-49 7th Ave. in Whitestone.

Pali Realty did not return calls for comment.

Astoria resident Rob Draghi, of 32nd Street, said the construction of the building has caused so much damage to his cinder block and brick property that he expects his home will need to be completely rebuilt.

“There’s not really at this point a fix option,” he said.

Draghi said a neighbor’s cinder block and brick home is in the same condition, and at least three other wood homes have sustained extensive damage. He said after years of trying to speak with Pali Realty and getting no response, he and his wife decided to get the city involved. An audit found the structure on 31st Street was built 10 feet too close to the homes’ property lines.

Community Board 1 recommended the BSA grant the building a rezoning for the mistake, Vallone said. While he called the damage caused by the project “inexcusable,” he said the board decided that recommending a complete stop on construction would leave the structure an unfinished hulk in the neighborhood.

Another 32nd Street resident, Norm Sutaria, said the home he rents has not had significant damage, but he has created a website, astoriamedbuilding.com, calling for Pali to fix the homes. He is also requesting that the developers move all exhaust vents and mechanical equipment further toward the roof and off the rear setback, as well as cover the windows from the parking garage due to air and light pollution concerns.

“It’s peace, property and privacy,” Sutaria said. “We want to maintain that.”

Both Draghi and Sutaria said they do not object to having a medical building on the street, but how it is built.

“We’re not just trying to oppose it just to oppose it,” Draghi said.

Vallone said he would be working with both CB 1 in support of the zoning as well as with the homeowners. He said the zoning issue was different than the issue of the destruction, and he expected they would have to go through lawyers to get their homes fixed or rebuilt.

“I don’t like it,” Vallone said, “but I used to be an attorney and that’s the way it works.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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