A former city official has been hired by controversial developer Thomas Huang to help smooth over problems created by a Bayside housing project.
George Frangoulis, who has served in the Departments of Buildings and Citywide Services and as Queens representative on the mayor’s Community Assistance Unit under Rudolph Giuliani, is now working full-time for Huang.
“My title is project manager and I am trying to fix problems,” he said. “There will only be one voice now and I am currently getting the feel of the neighborhood.”
Huang has accrued almost $20,000 in fines and the city has issued several stop work orders on his project at 39-39 223rd Street, where he is building four one-family houses on a side access road with the first and last house facing 223rd Street and the others facing the access road.
Frangoulis said he is working with the judge to resolve the matter and expects to pay all fines. The stop work order has been lifted.
Yet to be resolved are the damages to adjacent properties caused by the work. Pat Martin, who lives at 39-33 223rd Street, has suffered extensive damage to her property estimated at $250,000. Huang’s workmen did excavation work too close to Martin’s property, causing her retaining wall to collapse, losing three feet of land. It destroyed her fence, outdoor lighting, the irrigation system and plants. She was unable to use her in-ground pool last summer. The initial damage was done in April with some additional loss since then.
Another neighbor, Lisa Mandalios, who lives at 39-47 223rd Street, suffered damage in October estimated at $20,000 when Huang’s workmen tore down her fence, damaged a wall and removed some of her trees.
In addition, the contractor was erecting illegal garages on the property. Frangoulis said that he has since gotten permits for the garages.
Martin’s lawyers have met with Huang, but she said that he would not take responsibility for the damage and talks were broken off last summer. She has already filed a notice of claim against the city that she intends to sue the DOB for lack of enforcement.
Last week, Frangoulis distributed fliers around the neighborhood introducing himself and offering to meet with residents about the project. Martin was dubious after all her run-ins with Huang.
But Frangoulis says those days are over. “I’ll go to a civic meeting to meet with neighbors or meet them one by one,” he said. “Huang has agreed to work with Mrs. Martin and will fix Mrs. Mandalios’ wall too.”
Frangoulis told his new boss that he has to correct a lot of mistakes. “There were a lot of problems with the initial drawings. He has to conform with building codes. It’s not easy, but he’s listening to me now.”
Frangoulis resigned from the Department of Citywide Services at the end of last year and is working on all of Huang’s projects including those in Flushing and Elmhurst.
He expects the houses on 223rd Street to be completed by June. The new access road will be known as Mia Drive. “We want to make it nice,” Frangoulis added.
Councilman Tony Avella has been working with the Bayside community for three years since Huang bought the property. He has contacted the DOB numerous times to complain and has asked the agency to deny Huang the right to build in the city.
Now, he has written the DOB again regarding a Huang project in Flushing after residents of the Flushing Tower Condominium contacted him about safety concerns.
The building is located at 33-70 Prince Street. Avella said the site has 31 open violations and 36 Environmental Control Board violations. He has not heard back from Queens Buildings Commissioner Magdi Mossad.
Huang is best known for nearly destroying the landmarked parts of the RKO Keith’s Theatre in downtown Flushing and letting the facility deteriorate. Several of his other construction projects in Elmhurst are under litigation because of faulty work.