Medical center developers plan to take Astoria homeowners to court


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan
THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Neighboring residents of a medical center being built in Astoria refuse to grant developers access to their backyards.

Developers of a nearly complete medical center in Astoria plan to take adjacent homeowners to court to gain key access to their backyards, residents said.

Pali Realty needs permission to enter the backyards of about five adjacent homes in order to wrap up an eight-story ambulatory care center project at 23-25 31st Street.

But dozens of residents, who say they have suffered foundation cracks and water damage since the project broke ground in late 2009, plan to adamantly deny them entrance.

“We don’t want them in our yards,” said homeowner Robert Draghi. “They have done severe damage to numerous houses and they refuse to even discuss settling damages. They never made a single offer to any of the homeowners.”

The company is prepared to gain access through a court order, according to a letter it sent the homeowners early last month.

Pali Realty wants no more than 60 days to waterproof and apply a cement stucco finish to the back wall of the medical center, the letter says.

The developer would need access to a four to six foot wide strip of land behind the building to erect scaffolding and remove piles of shoring steel.

It said it would obtain “additional insurance” to cover any potential damage to properties.
But Draghi, who has lived in his home for 13 years, said that promise has been made before.

“We have a letter from two years ago saying if any damages happen during construction, they would fix them,” he said. “They didn’t do that.”

Draghi said the homeowners would only grant Pali Realty access if developers formally agree to repair damages made since construction began.

The conflict between the two parties was exacerbated in late 2012 when developers said they accidentally extended a portion of the property an extra 10 feet without permits due to a “design error by the project architect.”

According to a Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) application, about 80 percent of the building was already completed when developers discovered the gaffe.

Pali Realty ultimately received a special permit in May from Community Board 1 and the BSA to lift a partial stop work order and continue construction.

An attorney representing Pali Realty declined to comment.

 

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