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Queens Chronicle

When is this building going to come down?

Woodhaven structure that collapsed in 2013 to be demolished this month

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Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:21 am, Thu Jul 10, 2014.

The vacant Woodhaven building that collapsed more than a year ago still has not been demolished, but the process should begin this month.

The building at 78-19 Jamaica Ave. collapsed after a heavy rainstorm on April 12, 2013, crushing a vehicle but not causing any injuries. The structure, which included commercial space on the first floor and apartments above that, was vacant at the time.

The collapse damaged the recently renovated headquarters of the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps, forcing the Woodhaven Senior Center based there to be evicted.

Demolition of the building has been in limbo for more than a year as the city attempted to get the owner, who owned thousands of dollars in fines to the city, to rectify the issue himself.

A court finally ruled the building can be demolished by the city earlier this year, but it remains standing as a contractor was found and permits filed. That was done this week.

Maria Thomson, executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District, which oversees the commercial strip along Jamaica Avenue, said that as far as she knew the building was due to be demolished imminently.

“Last I heard, it was going to be down in a month or so,” she said.

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association said on its blog last week that the project to take down the building is slated to begin July 14 and be finished by October. It obtained that information from Assemblyman Mike Miller’s (D-Woodhaven) and state Sen. Joe Adddabbo’s (D-Howard Beach) offices.

As part of the schedule, starting July 18 and every week until the work is done, the engineer would have to file an update report with the city.

“We hope that this schedule is adhered to by the courts and by the city and this isn’t just another chapter in the long game that’s been going on,” Ed Wendell, former president of the WRBA, wrote in a post on the civic association’s blog. “We’ve been promised that time has run out and that this schedule is a strict one — we hope for the sake of the Volunteer Ambulance Corps and our seniors that this is, indeed, the case.”

In the meantime, the WRHVAC and the Woodhaven Senior Center remain out of their building next door. The corps had reoccupied the building a few months after the collapse, but had to leave again in February when a wall between its headquarters and the collapsed building was compromised after a heavy snowfall.

The Woodhaven Senior Center was relocated to the American Legion Hall at 89-02 91 St. last May. The WRHVAC relies heavily on the rent paid to it by the senior center and has been in dire financial straits since the collapse.

Thomson has said she would like to see a senior housing development built on the site.

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