DOB revokes work permit at Garaufis house: Vallone

By Mark Hallum

The city Department of Buildings has revoked the building permit obtained by the owner of Judge Nicholas Garaufis ‘ former Baysided home after the historic house was mostly demolished, City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said Thursday.

The new owner’s work permit allows for no less than 50 percent of the structure being retained.

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 40th Avenue 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.

Now the house that once had three stories has been reduced to ground level.

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 hourse 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 mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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