By Mark Hallum
The Bayside home that formerly belonged to federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis has been nearly demolished in violation of the work permits issued by the city Department of Buildings.
Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said last week the DOB had given the owners a “notice to revoke” on the ALT-1 work permit, which allows for no less than 50 percent of the structure being retained.
The property was purchased by Jia Hua Realty, a limited liability company based in Bayside that was formed in March 2014, according to city records. The owner identified herself as Lisa and said she had lived in New Jersey with her parents, husband and one child when she spoke to a TimesLedger staff two weeks ago.
According to the DOB website, the property was inspected April 15 with no violations found, but this was before Vallone said the work permit had been revoked.
The structure that once stood at three stories is now reduced to ground level.
The work on the historic property caught the attention of Bonnie Skala Kiladitis, daughter of late activist Frank Skala, when she complained to Vallone, who sent a formal letter to the city Department of Buildings for the breach of its permit.
After hearing from Vallone, the DOB issued a notice to revoke the building permit, pending the owner’s answer to the objections.
“Our community will not stand idly on the sidelines when homeowners and developers come into our neighborhoods and deceitfully try to circumvent building codes. This type of blatant disregard of building permit requirements and deliberate over-development will never be accepted in our community,” Vallone told the TimesLedger. “I want to thank the DOB for working hand-in-hand with our office to immediately address this issue.”
The large, stately house located on 218-15 40th Ave. is believed to have been built circa 1890 and was the one of the personal residences of the Lawrence family, influential members of the early Bayside community. A study conducted by historic preservation consultant Paul Graziano found the Lawrence Estate is eligible for the National and State Register of Historic Places, a recognition that carries no protection from demolition or alteration.
The building plans for the renovation show that only the front of the house was to be build upon. But neighbors watched in despair as the roof was peeled away and the inside gutted, according to Kiladitis, who grew up in the Skala house across the street.
Vallone is pushing for the Department of Buildings to levy the maximum fines and penalties in order to set an example to homeowners, contractors and architects. According to a spokesman for Vallone, a quick response from the DOB is critical to ensure that houses are not torn down and rebuilt before action can be taken.
State Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) also put in a complaint with the Department of Buildings.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall