By Gina Martinez
Whitestone residents are calling on officials to deal with an abandoned home they say has plagued the neighborhood for over a decade.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Whitestone) and neighbors gathered in front of 168-08 14th Ave., asking Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city Department of Buildings to investigate the status of the abandoned corner home that has been listed as “under construction” for years.
According to residents, construction on the home began years ago but then stopped suddenly. Neighbors described the house as being in an “unhealthy and unsanitary state, creating a breeding ground for rodents.”
Avella said the home first received a DOB permit for construction in 2004 which was renewed in 2008 and 2013. He said the repeated permit renewals led community members to wonder why the city continued to reissue permits for a home that had badly deteriorated. Avella also pointed out that the home had received 10 DOB Environmental Control Board violations and has had 16 complaints from the community.
The DOB said inspectors had been sent to the property to investigate the site as recently as three weeks ago and found that the scene was secure. The agency has issued two violations to the property owner, one for an unpermitted construction fence that was in poor condition and the other for failing to comply with the previously issued violations.
DOB first issued a new building permit at the Whitestone property in May 2005 and it was renewed several times, having last expired in January 2014. According to DOB, there are no active permits for construction at the property and the department will continue to monitor the site and issue additional enforcement actions if necessary.
In the last year alone DOB has issued multiple violations at the property for issues involving the unpermitted construction fence and the illegal storage of vehicles.
This is not the first abandoned space Whitestone residents have fought to be cleared. In April Avella demanded that the commercial contractor using the lot located between 149-43 and 149-53 24th Ave. as a storage site leave. Salvatore Valenza Contractors, Inc., based in Whitestone, was accused of storing vehicles, construction debris and supplies in the lot DOB had listed as vacant land.
Avella said the fact that a property can sit idle while in a state of construction, with a number of violations, and still have its permit renewed over and over shows a clear dereliction of DOB’s duty to monitor these properties.
“I wonder how many other properties throughout the city DOB has allowed to be ‘under construction’ for over a decade without showing any signs of actual construction,” he said. “The mayor and his administration owe it to the community to make sure that all construction sites are safe and actually being worked on to maintain a quality of life in neighborhoods. Shame on DOB for allowing this to happen.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart