Tag Archives: community board 1

New district manager takes the helm at Community Board 1

| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

There’s been a changing of the guard at Community Board 1.

Florence Koulouris is the new Community Board 1 (CB 1) district manager, taking over for the recently retired Lucille Hartmann. Koulouris served as Hartmann’s assistant for the last eight years, and she told The Courier she is most excited to attend the monthly community board meetings and interact with community members and different city agencies.

“I’m a people person, and I think that’s a big part of the district manager,” Koulouris said.

The CB 1 area, which includes Astoria, Long Island City and Woodside, is the most ethnically mixed community in New York City, according to nyc.gov, and more than 118 nationalities call these neighborhoods home. A development boom has recently transformed the landscape and Koulouris said affordable housing is the most pressing issue facing Community Board 1.

Astoria Cove, the 2.2-million-square-foot project on the Astoria waterfront, is one example of a development that will drastically alter the neighborhood, and Koulouris said she is proud of the work the board did to ensure affordable housing there. More than 460 units of the 1,723 apartments will be designated for affordable housing.

“We are the trendsetters with the Astoria Cove project. I think the work that the board did is going to set a very high bar for the rest of the city,” Koulouris said. “Our board worked diligently to negotiate affordable housing.”

Long Island City will also soon be home to the tallest building in the borough when a 70-story apartment building near Queens Plaza begins construction. The mixed-use structure will surpass the Citi Bank tower and contain 930 apartments and nearly 15,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.

The newly anointed district manager also praised the new traffic calming measures in Astoria. As part of a Neighborhood Slow Zone, more than 55 blocks in Astoria, from Astoria Boulevard to 30th Avenue and Steinway Street to 21st Street are receiving 14 speed bumps, 20 gateway intersection treatments and 20 mph pavement markings from the Department of Transportation throughout September.

Koulouris also said she, along with the community board, are looking forward to the expansion of Citi Bike in their area. Long Island City already has 12 docking stations and Citi Bike recently announced that they will double the number of bikes in Queens by 2017 to include parts of Astoria.

“We have a lot of wonderful things coming to our community,” Koulouris said. “I look forward to working with the people of the community and the board members. We have a very diverse group of people. It’s going to be exciting.”


Astoria Slow Zone to be implemented in the summer

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Charts courtesy Department of Transportation

Astoria is cracking down on speed demons.

Community Board 1 voted overwhelmingly to approve the creation of a slow zone in the neighborhood in a public meeting on Tuesday.

The streets inside the boundaries of Astoria Boulevard to the north, Steinway Street to the east, 30th Avenue to the south and 21st Street to the west will all be included in the slow zone, which will be implemented later this summer. Those boundary streets (Astoria Boulevard, etc.) will not be part of the zone itself, but just the local streets inside.

The current speed of the affected streets, which include a long section of Newtown Avenue, will be reduced from the current 25 mph to 20 mph, and 14 speed bumps and new signage will be added throughout to remind motorists to reduce their speeds.

Residents — and even Councilman Costa Constantinides — have frequently complained to officials about speeding on 33rd Street in particular, which feeds into the Grand Central Parkway.

“My office is around the corner from 33rd Street, and my staff and I have witnessed numerous instances where cars and trucks speed down the block to make the following light,” Constantinides said in a letter of support for the slow zone plan to the community board. “Not only is this loud and disruptive, but potentially dangerous. Families living along these streets deserve peace of mind.”


Long-time CB 1 leaders guide final full board meeting

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

It’s the end of an era for Community Board 1.

Vinicio Donato, who has been chairman of the board for nearly 40 years, and District Manager Lucille Hartmann, who has been on the board since 1978, oversaw their final public board meeting as leaders of the Astoria-based community group on Tuesday.

Awards and proclamation from various politicians poured in during the meeting, which was the final one before the summer break.

Donato, who has been on the community board since 1972, has served in leadership positions for various institutions and organizations in the borough, including the Museum of the Moving Image, the Astoria Historical Society and the Queens Museum. Hartmann has served as the community board’s district manager since 2008.

Councilmembers Costa Constantinides and Jimmy Van Bramer, and Borough President Melinda Katz made appearances at the meeting to deliver speeches to the long-time leaders and thank them for their work.

On June 29 there will be a special board meeting to vote and select the new district manager. However, Hartmann’s final day is officially July 17. There are currently three candidates running for the position.

George Stamatiades, the first vice chair of the board, will step in temporarily as chairman when the board reconvenes in September, and until members nominate and select a new chair.


CB 1 chair, district manager to retire in the summer after almost four decades of service

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Map via CB1 Website

Astoria will soon say goodbye to two Community Board 1 leaders as they get ready to retire from their posts after nearly eight decades of combined service to the area.

Vinicio Donato, chair of CB 1, and Lucille Hartmann, district manager of the board, have announced they will both be retiring. Donato will stay on the board until August, while Hartmann will remain until July. 

Donato has been chair of the community board, which covers all of Astoria, and parts of Long Island City and Woodside, since 1979 and in January was re-elected to the position without any opposition. 

Hartmann has been on the board for about 38 years, during which she left for a brief period of time to work for the mayor’s office. 

However, the decision to announce their retirement at the same time was a coincidence and was made because it was just time for both of them to make the move, according to a community board representative. 

Lucille Hartmann (File Photo)

Lucille Hartmann (File photo)

Local elected officials thanked both Donato and Hartmann for their service and dedication to the community.

“Vinny and Lucille deserve our thanks for their long and dedicated service to our neighborhood,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “I have worked hand in hand with both of these community leaders throughout my career in public service and am proud to have stood side by side with them as we fought to make Astoria the wonderful place it is today. I wish both Vinny and Lucille the best in all that they do in the future.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer also thanked both of the community leaders for their commitment over the years.

“I thank Vinicio Donato for his four-plus decades of public service with Community Board 1 and acknowledge him for his commitment as an educator while at I.S. 10, where I attended as a kid,” Van Bramer said. “I commend Lucille Hartmann for her dedication to the communities of Community Board 1. Together, Vinny and Lucille cared deeply about the communities they served and worked hard every day to make western Queens a better place.”

Community Board 1 is expected to elect a new chairman at its September meeting after returning from the summer break.


Real estate roundup: New homeless shelters here to stay, huge development planned over LIC family cemetery

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Pan Am and Westway Set to Become Permanent Homeless Shelters, City Says

“At least two emergency homeless shelters that opened this year in Queens, including the controversial site at the former Pan Am Hotel, will become permanent facilities, officials said.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Long in Repose, Last Remnants of a Founding Family Will Leave Long Island City

“More people are buried in Queens than are living there now. This is a story of some of the departed. Precisely how many will not be known, though, until a bulldozer breaks ground early next year for a 42-story apartment tower in Long Island City, on the site of what was once a cemetery, owned by a family that settled there 350 years ago.” Read more [The New York Times]

The Sandwich Bar is spreading out onto 33rd Street– adding 24 seats

“The Sandwich Bar is likely to be getting a whole lot bigger. Alex Valavanis, owner of the 33-01 Ditmars Blvd establishment, recently went before Community Board 1 and was approved for an enclosed sidewalk café.” Read more [Astoria Post]


Astoria Cove developers pay $43.5 million for remaining land

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

Astoria Cove developers recently finalized the sale for the final bits of the land designated for the mega project, although they have yet to win any steps in the project’s land use case.

In the transaction, 2030 Astoria Developers LLC, the group behind the 2.2-million-square-foot project, bought four lots from Superior Steel Studs Inc. for $40.02 million, according to city records filed on Monday. The lots’ addresses are 8-51, 8-01, 4-55 and 4-57 26th Ave.

An additional lot on 4-34 26th Avenue was bought for $3.48 million from Rayan Realty Corp., according to city records.

The developers now own all properties associated with the project, according to Howard Weiss of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, which represents the team of developers led by Queens-based Alma Realty.

However, the project still has to clear its Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) case. The City Planning Commission plans to hold a meeting on Sept. 29 about its decision on the proposal. Weiss said they are confident they’ll receive the commission’s blessing.

“I believe the City Planning Commission will approve the project as proposed with respect to the affordable housing and with respect to all the [aspects] of the Astoria Cove project,” Weiss said. “The reason why I feel confident is because the Astoria Cove project is consistent with the mayor’s housing plan.”

But most opponents of the development are hoping to see a change in the affordable housing part of the proposal.

Various coalition members and residents testified against the development in a City Planning Commission public hearing in August, calling for the project to include at least 50 percent affordable housing, while developers are proposing 345 units or 20 percent of the 1,723 dwellings.

In their recommendations to deny the project, both Community Board 1 and Borough President Melinda Katz also suggested that the developers increase the units for affordable housing.

Astoria Cove is expected to consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building.

The project, which is anticipated to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space.

Following the commission’s decision, the proposal will go to the City Council.


City Planning holds public hearing on Astoria Cove

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

More affordable housing in the Astoria Cove project was once again front and center with critics, this time at a City Planning public hearing on the project.

Members of coalitions and residents testified on Wednesday that the 2.2 million-square-foot project should include at least 50 percent affordable housing, while developers are proposing just 345 units or 20 percent of the 1,723 dwellings.

“Soon they will take over the whole place and they will chase us out. Twenty percent of affordable housing is not enough for Queens,” a representative of New York Communities for Change testified at the meeting in Manhattan.

Jaron Benjamin, the executive director of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, said it would hurt progress to cure the city’s housing crisis.

“If Astoria Cove becomes just another glitzy playground for the wealthy elite, it will be a huge step backward — the opposite of progress,” he said.

Howard Weiss of the law firm Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, which represents developers Alma Realty, defended the project, calling it “the crown jewel in the reclamation of the Queens waterfront.”

In their recommendations to deny the project, both Community Board 1 and Borough President Melinda Katz suggested that the developers increase the units for affordable housing.

The City Planning Commission queried about the breakdown of the mix of housing in the plan, but it could not be provided yet.

“In looking at this project over a 10-year phasing plan, one has to keep in mind that market conditions can change,” Weiss said. “At present, it’s really too early to determine what mix will be.”

The commission also asked about main concerns the community and Katz had, including building the new elementary school in an earlier phase, and transportation options.

Prior to the public hearing, Weiss said developers are making public transportation commitments to ease community traffic concerns for the incoming residents in the area, which Katz called “insufficient” in terms of transportation options.

The plans include adding a shuttle bus to and from nearby subway stations, and there will be a spot for a ferry terminal, in case the city decides to add ferry service to the area.

Astoria Cove is expected to consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building.

The project, which is expected to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space.

At the public hearing, residents and union members from 32BJ SEIU asked that local jobs be set aside for local workers.

The City Planning Commission will issue its recommendations after its 60-day review. The proposal will then go to the City Council for a vote.

Councilman Costa Constantinides said he may not support it.

“Both Community Board 1 and Borough President Katz have voted against the Astoria Cove development with recommendations,” he said. “If the development is not integrated into our neighborhood in a way that benefits the community, I will be unable to support it.”



Borough president rejects Astoria Cove proposal

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy STUDIO V Architecture

And that’s strike two for the massive Astoria Cove proposal.

Following a Community Board 1 ruling against it, Borough President Melinda Katz rejected the 1.76 million-square-foot mixed-use waterfront development on Thursday after a public hearing earlier in the month.

In her decision, Katz echoed the community’s concerns of traffic congestion that the project would cause and the impact of the already “insufficient” public transit. She urged developer Alma Realty to increase affordable housing units to 35 percent from the proposed 20 percent of the 1,723 dwellings. Katz also suggested that a proposed 456-seat elementary school, which is expected to be built in the final phase of the project, be constructed earlier.

“The proposed redevelopment of the Astoria Cove site would revitalize an otherwise underutilized Queens waterfront,” Katz said in the recommendation. “However, in bringing hundreds of new residents into Astoria, the needs and concerns of the existing residents…. And the overall well being of the borough and New York City must also be addressed. At this time there are still outstanding issues with this project.”

THE COURIER/File photo

Astoria Cove is expected to consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories, and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building.

The project, which is expected to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space.

Community Board 1 voted against the proposal in June, and also suggested that the developer make some changes to their plan.

The board’s conditions included some of Katz’s recommendations, and also asked for an increase in parking spaces, commercial space set aside for recreational and medical facilities, and priority of construction and permanent jobs for local residents and youth.

The next step for the Astoria Cove proposal is a revision and vote by the City Planning Commission on Wednesday and then a vote by the City Council.

Councilman Costa Constantinides shares the concerns of the Borough President and the board, and said he may not back the project.

“Both Community Board 1 and Borough President Katz have voted against the Astoria Cove development with recommendations,” he said. “If the development is not integrated into our neighborhood in a way that benefits the community, I will be unable to support it.”



Community board votes on proposed Astoria Cove development

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Rendering Courtesy STUDIO V Architecture

A local community board has told developers if they want to move forward with a proposed development on the Astoria waterfront, they had better pay attention to the board’s suggestions.

One week after Architect Jay Valgora of STUDIO V Architecture presented the approximately 1.7-million-square-foot mixed-use development known as Astoria Cove to Community Board (CB) 1, board members voted against the proposal unless developers follow recommendations given by the board.

“We have put down in writing the recommendations that we think will help improve the situation there and will make the Astoria west area productive and really something to be proud of in our community district,” said Elizabeth Erion, assistant chair of CB1’s zoning and variance committee.

The four pages of conditions included an increase of affordable housing units from 20 percent to 35 percent dispersed throughout all five buildings of the site and be included in every construction phase; increase of parking spaces; priority of construction and permanent jobs given to local residents and youth; commercial space set aside for recreational and medical facilities; and the importance of the 456-seat public elementary school constructed at the site.

The proposed Astoria Cove by developers Alma Realty is expected to consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building.

The project, which is expected to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space.

Howard Weiss, attorney for Alma Realty, said his clients are happy the community board did not raise objections to the project and most of the conditions presented have already been changed. He said that developers will be submitting revisions to the proposal.

“[The community board] had some concerns and they expressed those concerns,” Weiss said. “But the important thing is that if you listen carefully to their vote they support the project itself.”

Although Weiss said developers are working with Department of City Planning to increase the number of affordable housing units, 35 percent would not be “realistic.”

“We are working with City Planning to increase the number of affordable units to what would be a realistically and economically viable affordable housing density,” he said.

The Astoria Cove proposal will now head to the borough president and make its way to the City Council by the late fall.



Community expresses concerns about Astoria Cove development

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings Courtesy STUDIO V Architecture

The process to bring an approximately 1.7-million-square-foot mixed-use development to the Astoria waterfront got off to a bumpy start as developers presented their proposal to the local community board.

Architect Jay Valgora of STUDIO V Architecture presented the proposed development known as Astoria Cove to Community Board (CB) 1 Tuesday night as the first step in the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) for the project.

“Today this waterfront is not accessible,” Valgora said. “It’s really not an amenity or asset for the community and we would like to tie that back in and create a wonderful extension to the community.”

The proposed Astoria Cove by developers Alma Realty is expected to consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building and 456-seat public elementary school.

The project, which is expected to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space, featuring a waterfront esplanade, children’s playground for various ages and streetscape design through the site.

“We think it’s just going to bring life and activity to this neighborhood,” Valgora said.

However the project was met with concerns from community board members who brought up issues of safety, handicap accessibility, affordable housing, parking, a medical center at the site, and construction and permanent jobs.

Along with the board members, more than 50 people signed up to speak on the project including members of Build Up NYC, an alliance of construction and building service workers. The alliance called on the community board to recommend Alma Realty ensure good and safe jobs with fair wages and benefits, protect workers and the community by removing asbestos and other toxins, create opportunities for local residents and much more.

“Alma Realty has an opportunity to create good, safe jobs with priority hiring for local residents and opportunities for local businesses,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of Build Up NYC. “But they haven’t made a commitment to do so. We need good jobs and affordable housing to keep the middle class strong.”

One of the main concerns shared by speakers was the number of affordable housing units at Astoria Cove. The site is expected to have 295 affordable housing units throughout the entire site, down from initially reported 340 units.

“We might be middle class but we’re not idiots and we can see the writing on the wall; we are not wanted at Astoria Cove,” said Astoria resident Tyler Ocon. “The community board is the first line of defense now against these underhanded tactics. Without the originally promised affordable housing units and a guarantee that these units will remain forever affordable, this project will be the first gust of wind that ships Astoria’s middle and working class up the East River.”

Howard Weiss, attorney for Alma Realty, said developers are in talks with the Department of City Planning to increase the number of units but will not have the number in time for the community board’s decision.

Residents also said they are concerned the development would increase rents, pushing out those currently living in the community.

On the other end, some speakers expressed excitement on the idea of the economic benefits and opportunities of the development. Both Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and Brian McCabe, COO of New York Water Taxi, spoke on the possibility of a ferry terminal being located at the site.

After the last speaker took the podium, CB 1 Chair Vinicio Donato said the board’s land use committee would vote on the proposal the following week. If the board approves it, the proposal will head to the borough president and make its way to the City Council by the late fall.

“Remember, the key word is recommendation. We have no authority to force anyone to do anything,” Donato said.



Astoria pol calls for potholes to be filled within 5 days or less

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

One Astoria politician is looking to make the headache of potholes go away faster.

Councilmember Costa Constantinides recently announced he had introduced a bill into the City Council that would require potholes to be filled within five days or less.

“It will give peace of mind to those that call 3-1-1 that potholes will be repaired within a five day time frame demonstrating our responsiveness to their all,” Constantinides said. “Department of Transportation (DOT) data shows that we have been able to fill potholes effectively despite the harsh winter. [The bill] would codify good practice and set our expectations high for years to come.”

Constantinides’ legislation was introduced after Mayor Bill de Blasio and the DOT announced that they have made pothole repairs a top priority this year. De Blasio’s plan includes pothole blitzes, targeted repaving, road-surface material enhancements, and enhanced routing and tracking operations.

“Potholes aren’t just a nuisance, they can cause thousands of dollars of damage that New Yorkers just can’t afford on a regular basis,” Senator Michael Gianaris said.

“Potholes and road maintenance are one of the top issues that I keep hearing from my fellow community members,” Robert Piazza, chair of Community Board 1 Transportation Committee, said. “It’s clear that we need to set a guideline and make sure that all potholes are filled quickly. The recent snow storms and freezing temperatures are surely creating more potholes than usual.”

The DOT did not respond for request for comment as of press time.



Star of Queens: Richard Khuzami, Community Board 1, chair, Parks and Culture Committee

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


COMMUNITY  SERVICE:  Richard Khuzami has served on Community Board 1 for the past 11 years. He is currently Chair of the Parks and Culture Committee. He is also a member of Borough President Helen Marshall’s Queens General Assembly, and  has  served as a panelist for the awarding of grants for the Queens Council on the Arts.

BACKGROUND:  Khuzami is Lebanese-American, and while he was born in Bayside, he was raised in Rochester. His parents were both professional dancers, which led to his interest in music from the age of 10.

“I have kept this interest alive over the years, and today I specialize in the music of the Middle East, eastern Mediterranean and Northern Africa,” said Khuzami.

He also spent many years in the international shipping business in freight forwarding sales.

“This afforded me the opportunity to travel throughout the world for many years. I still love traveling to many cultures, but today I only have to go around Astoria, one of the most ethnically diverse municipalities in the world,” he said.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Khuzami enjoys having the privilege of working with many dedicated community board and General Assembly members, who donate so much of themselves to making their neighborhood and borough the best it can be.

“My favorite accomplishment is in helping to facilitate the conversion of Astoria Park’s diving pool from a mosquito infested eyesore to the potential of becoming one of the most important performance venues in the United States,” said Khuzami.  “Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.’s foresight has made this space a reality, and I look forward to working with our new councilmember, Costa Constantinides, to secure the funding to complete the second phase of the construction, creating an unparalleled venue for 2,500 patrons.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Probably my biggest challenge is to have patience and understanding to realize that everything, especially when dealing with the public sector, takes time. But with perseverance, progress can be made,” said Khuzami.

INSPIRATION:  “My father was a big proponent of public service, and taught us all to respect government and politics, and not shy away from making our opinions known or getting involved,” said Khuzami.  “As my free time increased, it was natural that I try and give back to a community I love, Astoria.”




Woodside gentlemen’s club denied cabaret license by Community Board 1

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

One Woodside gentlemen’s club has been given the thumbs down to bring more dancing girls to the stage.

Community Board 1 (CB1) voted on Tuesday to deny NYC Gentlemen’s Club , located at 26-50 Brooklyn Queens Expressway West, a cabaret license allowing them to have more than two women working at the same time.

Currently, no more than two girls are allowed to be entertaining at once.

CB1’s vote comes from the board members connecting the facility to crime allegedly taking place in the neighborhood shared with two other clubs. The community board also said they do not want the establishment to expand.

The Department of Consumer Affairs will now have to vote on the license for the Woodside bikini bar.

In April, Community Board 1 voted against a liquor license recommendation for Racks, a restaurant and bar that owners sought to open at 19-26 Steinway Street in Astoria, on grounds its female servers will be wearing bikinis as uniforms. Later in July, the State Liquor Authority rejected that license application.



City Council OKs Hallets Point development

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

The development that would bring thousands of residential apartments, retail space and parkland to the Astoria waterfront at Hallets Point has gotten the final thumbs up.

The City Council voted on Wednesday, October 9 to approve the plan presented by Lincoln Equities Group, the company behind the estimated $1 billion complex called the Hallets Point project.

According to Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., the City Council came to an agreement with developers to cut the “community supportive project” down to half its original size.

The new deal also includes $500,000 in city funded research to see the feasibility, engineering and design of a proposed ferry service in order to take the large number of incoming residents to and from the peninsula of Hallets Point.

“It’s going to bring development to an area that sorely needs it,” said Vallone.

The development group initially announced in 2012 it would build the seven multifamily residential towers made up of 2,200 units on the waterfront presently home to the NYCHA Astoria Houses.

Twenty percent of the apartments are expected to be affordable housing. The complex will also include retail space featuring an affordable supermarket, a bank, drugstores and restaurants.

Along with the building, the plan is expected to include a 100,000-square-foot public park, outfitted with pedestrian walkways and bike paths winding along the waterfront, giving the community better sight lines of the waterfront. The project will also create a spot for a K-8 public school.

In May, Community Board 1 voted unanimously to approve the plan. The City Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan in August and in July Borough President Helen Marshall approved the plan as well.

Construction is expected to begin in late 2014 or early 2015.



Medical center developers plan to take Astoria homeowners to court

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

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.