The building, located at 78-19 Jamaica Avenue, has become an unsafe eyesore according to community leaders, who are calling on the Department of Buildings (DOB) to order its demolition.
“They [DOB] think that there is a very strong structure there and it has integrity,” said Maria Thomson, executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District. “Meanwhile our ambulance corps and senior citizens have been moved out because they are afraid of the structural integrity of the building.”
The building is attached to the recently refurbished Catholic Charities Neighborhood Service Woodhaven Senior Center. After the collapse, seniors were forced to move to a nearby facility on 91st Street out of fear that more of the building would come down.
“It is just a shame that residents have to look at this eyesore that is so neglected,” Thomson said. “It is also upsetting because you have all these good property owners trying to do right thing.”
Thomson said she fears with winter bringing snow and strong winds, that matters will get worse unless the building is taken down.
“I hope it doesn’t collapse again,” she said.
Currently there is scaffolding at the site of the collapse, however residents are noticing a lack of lighting at night and an influx in graffiti in the immediate area.
“Clearly it is a dangerous situation,” said Steve Esposito, president of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation. “Nothing has been done and it has to be redone or town down.”
Esposito blames the DOB for not being strict enough. “The DOB has to a better job with enforcing fines,” he said. “Why even levy them if nothing happens?”
A recent inspection on October 25 resulted in another violation for failure to maintain the property.
“The department is exploring additional enforcement options to force the property owner to make repairs,” said a spokesperson for DOB. “A partial vacate remains in effect at the location.”
But for some, a partial vacate order is not good enough.
“I have been calling for the building to be demolished since the collapse several months ago,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich. “My office has been contacted by numerous residents who are concerned about structural integrity of building. That building needs to come down.”