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Queens Chronicle

House poses no imminent threat

DOB inspection reports that stalled construction site is legal

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Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:51 am, Thu Jun 27, 2013.

Three years after the Queens Chronicle investigated the long-incomplete house at 179-16 Grand Central Parkway, the site still looks like the ruins of a medieval castle.

The Jamaica Estates house is listed as a stalled construction site, according to the Department of Buildings, almost eight years after its owner received a work permit to start construction.

Martha Taylor, President of the Jamaica Estates Association, described the property as a “graffitied eyesore,” adding that there are many complaints about the site.

One complaint to the DOB from Aug. 6, 2010, the day after the Chronicle story ran, resulted in an inspection of the house nearly three years later, on March 22, 2013. The DOB report labeled the house a “superstructure deteriorating,” noting that the property does not pose an immediate threat since it is secured and fenced. The inspector found no illegalities on the site as all appropriate permits and signs were posted on the surrounding fence.

The house’s owner, Josette Said, applied for a work permit in 2003 and received one in October 2005. The house developer received two environmental control violations in May 2007 for not having a construction fence surrounding the building. In July 2009, the developer was again fined $2,500, and Said corrected the violations.

Soon after the Chronicle’s article in 2010, Community Board 8 sent a letter to the owner about the Stalled Sites Program.

“It was a part of the Stalled Sites Program, but unfortunately we don’t have any new applications put in for it,” CB 8 District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide said this week.

The Stalled Sites Program, instated by Mayor Bloomberg in 2009, expires on June 30 and according to the DOB’s website was created “to encourage owners to safely maintain their sites while work is stalled.”

The program allows an owner to renew permits for up to four years after a specific, in-depth site maintenance plan is created for a property. If a building is not a part of the program, construction codes would automatically terminate work permits if construction is suspended for more than 12 months.

“It’s one of the issues that we face in the community when people purchase properties with the intention of repairing and flipping it and the construction stops,” Adam-Ovide said, adding that while the Stalled Sites Program works for some buildings, it has not helped this site.

Said could not be reached for comment.

“Having properties that are unkempt affects the whole neighborhood,” Adam-Ovide said. “The property value is not only determined by your own house but by the other houses in the neighborhood.”

“It’s horrible,” Taylor said. “We probably have about six houses in Jamaica Estates that are in that kind of semi-developed state. We don’t like it and we’ve tried to figure out ways to do something about it.”

When reached for comment, DOB spokeswoman Gloria Chin said that since the most recent inspection did not find any illegalities, the house will continue to stay on the list of stalled sites.

While residents may complain about the eyesore in their otherwise picturesque neighborhood, the house can legally stay the way it is.

Welcome to the discussion.