The partial demolition of a landmarked Brooklyn Heights building over Memorial Day weekend left local residents questioning the rhyme and reason behind the action.
The 19th century five- story, 16-unit building is at 100 Clark Street and the corner of Monroe Street. It has had a “For Sale” sign on it for about the last year and a half, according to local residents.
The demolition started following the Department of Buildings receiving a 311 call on May 24 that the building’s exterior was buckling.
According to the DOB, emergency inspectors found the site so unsafe that they immediately evacuated the building’s three occupied apartments, closed the surrounding streets, and called in a wrecking crew to demolish the building’s top two floors.
This order was later amended to call for the demolition of the entire building, according to an email obtaind by this paper from Communty Board 2 District Manager Robert Perris to a constituent.
Perris stated in the email that it has been alleged that a series of owners of the building have failed to maintain it.
“Some tenants were evacuated from the building in 2004 when another wall was at risk of collapsing and, to the best of my knowledge, no significant investment was made in the buiding in the four years that elapsed since then,” Perris wrote in the email.
According to Irene Janner, who lives across the street from the site, the Manhattan-based Penson Companies, which owns the building, was out of town for the weekend.
Upon returning to town, the owners received phone messages on their machine as to the demolition and immediately went to court and got a stop-work order, Janner said.
Janner said that at this point, the owners came in and shored up the third floor, and are now waiting to see what happens.
Janner said that when Penson bought the building, they came up with a restoration plan that fit into the historic landmark district, but they couldn’t afford the remaining tenants’ buyout price.
“So they [Penson] put up a ‘For Sale’ sign on the building around a year and a half ago,” she said.
Janner said there was a meeting on the street in front of the building last Tuesday, in which DOB officials said that if the owners don’t start working on the site soon they would take the building down.
On Thursday, crews were putting up two-by-fours to shore up the third floor, she said.
“I don’t know the time limits. Now the building is quiet and empty,” said Janner.
The Penson Companies refused comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn Heights Association Executive Director Judy Stanton said the organization is alarmed that a building in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District can be torn down over a weekend when it’s not possible to reach the owners or the city Landmarks Commission.
“We are seeking a better process where the Landmarks Commission can exercise its authorities over properties such as this where owners face significant obstacles to restoring their buildings,” she said.
©2008 Community News Group
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