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Queens Chronicle

Work could restart on Astoria med facility

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Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:40 am, Thu Jun 13, 2013.

Astoria residents who abut a partially constructed, eight-story medical facility wonder what to do next.

On May 21, the city Board of Standards and Appeals, after delaying the vote twice, decided that the hardship claimed by Pali Realty if it had to deconstruct the structure to fix its error was great enough to warrant granting the firm a waiver.

The problem is that 20 feet up, the building’s higher floors are 20 feet from its rear property line instead of the permitted 30. The BSA’s waiver allows an exception to the rule.

Five homeowners allege that the massive building has caused their homes’ foundations to crack and crumble.

“The BSA allowed zoning laws to become zoning suggestions,” said Robert Draghi, one homeowner whose 32nd Street house has visible cracks. “It shows that you can build whatever, however, in New York City, and then just go hat in hand later and say you’re sorry.”

Pali Reality’s insurance carrier, Ace Insurance Group, has been contacted, but never sent an engineer or contractor to inspect the properties, Draghi said. An adjuster visited two of the houses in October.

William Driscoll, a lobbyist for the development firm, declined to comment on concerns between the insurance company and the affected homes.

A report from Tauscher Cronacher Engineers said Draghi’s home might be cheaper to replace than repair.

One homeowner has started a lawsuit, while others have asked their personal insurance firms to step in.The Draghis’ home insurer will not assess the damage until the monitors installed throughout the house to track movement have stopped showing activity, he said.

As of the end of last week, there was a stop-work order on the building due to the violation, which the Department of Buildings found last year.

The BSA waiver will allow Pali Realty to ask the DOB to lift the stop-work order so it can restart construction. Driscoll would not speculate on when the order would be lifted.

Following complaints, Pali Realty did agree to move exhaust vents leading from the 132-spot underground parking garage from the back of the building to the front, and change the windows from glass block to concrete block to prevent light from shining into neighbors’ backyards, among other concessions.

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