Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Imminently perilous to life"

Eight families are homeless tonight. Earlier today, at 3pm, the DoB determined that 1504 Eighth Avenue was no longer safe, and ordered a building wide VACATE ORDER. After re-examining the side wall, inspectors for the DoB found that the cracks in the facade were indeed growing larger. With the Stop Work Order in place at 406 15th, and the drilling rig silent, the building continued in its path to ruin.

The ousted tenants were told by their landlord to collect their things and to start looking for new apartments. One woman, her baby in tow, was told that the Red Cross would find her a room in a motel for two or three days in Sheepshead Bay. Another woman, tears in her eyes, was worried whether they would let her bring her birds to the motel fearing they would turn her away when she got there. A man on the second floor refused to leave his rent controlled apartment, saying "I have paid my rent, I have the right to be here, they will have to force me out''. While some feared for the things they will leave behind, other wasted no time and started packing everything they could jam into backpacks, shopping carts, and car trunks.

A hundred questions and not a single government agency to answer any of them. No police patrol car. No DoB officials, only the Red Cross van parked out front arranging to find temporary housing. "What about my first and last months rent plus security deposit? The landlord owes me $6000.00!" Others wonder why this had to happen at all since they have been complaining about the strong vibrations during the recent construction. They wondered why no one was over-seeing this work and looking out for their safety. After IMBY made a phone call, John Burns from Community Board 7, came by in person to see what he could do. He said he would make sure Council member Bill de Blasio, General Welfare Committee Chairperson, would be made aware of the situation. The General Welfare Committee deals with, among other things, the Department of Homeless Services. Seems appropriate.

IMBY has been blog-umenting the ongoing construction of Bricolage Designs' Armory Plaza on the vacant 406 15th Street parking lot for some time now. Time after time, the developer Jack LoCicero, his architect Henry Radusky, and their gang of construction workers have operated in a way that can only be described as contemptuous. Prior to this disaster, there have been four other occasions when neighboring properties were damaged during these pile installations. Two of those resulted in ECB violations. Of those two violations, one resulted in a $5000 fine, the other is still pending. That seems like a whole lot of warning that something was not being done correctly. The neighborhood has gotten very little help from the Department of Buildings. In most cases it has been after the fact. But you can't blame some DoB plan examiner or field inspector entirely for this mess. The stink rises much higher. Personally IMBY is disgusted by the smell. Seeing people thrown out into the street for what, the pursuit of more underground parking spaces? Is this Gen. LoCicero's plan to March on to the Avenue, destroying everything in his way?

Just as the community celebrates today's Board of Standards and Appeals victory over yet another dangerous developer who builds by any means necessary, we are reminded that the war is not over. Today's casualties are proof of that.

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