Woodhaven roof collapses after decades of violations

Woodhaven roof collapses after decades of violations
By Phil Corso

The fate of a two-story unoccupied building in Woodhaven with more than 30 open construction violations was still up in the air after it collapsed into itself last week, the city Department of Buildings said.

Fire officials said they responded to calls of the buckling commercial building, at 78-19 Jamaica Ave., around 6 p.m. last Friday and found no one was injured. Moments later, police temporarily suspended J train service between 121st Street and Crescent Avenue out of fear that any further vibrations might cause the building to continue to crumble, authorities said.

Bricks and debris were strewn on the sidewalk after part of the former furniture store collapsed, damaging parked vehicles outside.

The FDNY said the roof had caved in because of stormwater that collected on top of the building after recent heavy rains. The city DOB was still investigating whether or not the building should be demolished or restored, a department spokesman said.

An evacuation order was issued for the second floor of the vacant building in February, according to city Department of Buildings records, citing “questionable construction methods.”

The building also had a laundry list of more than 30 open violations with the DOB and another eight with the city Environmental Control Board, including four total open “work without a permit” violations, the property listing with the DOB showed. Records revealed the landlord of the property has been slapped with $18,000 in ECB penalties.

Open violations dated to between 1994 and 2011, the DOB said, and only two of them had been dismissed when the building collapsed. The first violation issued to the property, on June 7, 1994, about a failed boiler inspection, was still active when the building caved in on itself, according to the DOB. Other violations were issued for failed inspections of the building’s elevators or plumbing and working without a permit, the DOB said.

Officials said the DOB would continue investigating the building before deciding whether or not it would be demolished.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.

More from Around New York