Tag Archives: Environmental Control Board

Vacant Rego Park building becomes eyesore

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

A vacant building in Rego Park has some complaining that the structure is a major eyesore.

The commercial strip on Woodhaven Boulevard, between 63rd Road and Dana Court, has rental signs along its windows.

Until recently, scaffolding covered almost the entire block.

“Of course there’s a problem,” a source said. “There’s been problems for years.”

The source, granted anonymity, who identified himself as a former employee of Bridie’s, a bar and grill on the boulevard, said scaffolding had covered the entire block for more than a year-and-a-half. He said the structure was intended for work on nearby apartment buildings, but repairs were ever conducted.

A business last called the building home about four or five years ago, the source said. Bridie’s, the only establishment on the block, has suffered, the former employee added.

The For Rent signs that cover the windows advertise “restaurant, medical, retail, or office space.” Calls to the phone number on the signs reach an automated message system.

Keystone Management, a California-based real estate company, controls the building under High Point Associates LLC, according to a Department of Buildings (DOB) spokesperson. Representatives for Keystone, owned by developer Daniel

Shalom, had not returned calls for comment by The Courier as of press time.

The vacant building has received a number of violations from the DOB and the Environmental Control Board (ECB), in recent years.

It has four unresolved ECB violations, according to the DOB spokesperson. These deal with plumbing work without a permit, failure to maintain a boiler, maintaining building walls and miscellaneous boiler problems.



Douglaston home destroyed by fire had $1,000s in violations

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

A Douglaston home under renovation, ravaged last week by a three-alarm fire, had incurred a laundry list of complaints and racked up thousands of dollars in violations, according to city agencies.

The 39-12 Douglaston Parkway dwelling received 44 complaints since March 2008 from callers saying the ongoing construction work being done at the site exceeded the scope of the approved permit, according to the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB).

All complaints were listed as closed, according to the agency, but homeowner David Wei Huang was also pinned for two violations from the DOB and 17 from the Environmental Control Board (ECB). Of those violations, nine were still outstanding, according to the DOB, and were related to the ongoing construction.

Huang was issued a $2,500 fine when construction at the site was found not to be in compliance with approved plans and another $1,200 for failing to safeguard the public and his property. There were other violations for working with an expired permit, the DOB said.

Permits were first issued by the DOB to extend the building horizontally in September 2009, the department said.

The unoccupied home went up in flames last Tuesday, August 14 at around 7:30 p.m., the FDNY said. No injuries were reported.

Bystander Thomas Perrino said he heard three explosions from inside the house, which he said sounded like gas tanks exploding.

The entire building was already swallowed in flames before more than 100 firefighters from 33 units extinguished the blaze by around 9:30 p.m. The infrastructure of the home’s second floor had completely caved in at that point, said the FDNY.

The fire was deemed accidental, according to a spokesperson for the fire department, and was caused by construction work being done with pipes and torches.

Huang could not be reached for comment.

— With additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

Jackson Heights community rallies against Trade Fair

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Daniel Dromm

The Jackson Heights community is fed up with a local supermarket’s “un-Fair” procedures.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm and neighborhood residents united on January 17 in front of Trade Fair, a supermarket located at 75-07 37th Avenue, to protest the grocer’s persistent violations of city laws and regulations.

“Trade Fair’s violations have created an unsafe environment for the Jackson Heights community and ruined the appearance of the neighborhood to the detriment of both residents and fellow business owners,” said Dromm. “We are demanding that Trade Fair do right by our neighborhood.”

Among the residents’ premier demands are for Trade Fair to cease in placing bins of broken glass near their recycling area, restore a tree pit in front of the market which they filled with cement, and comply with a partial vacate order for an enclosure obstructing the sidewalk on 75th Street.

In August of last year, Trade Fair was ordered to vacate from an illegal extension on the side of their property. When the grocer failed to follow the command, the Environment Control Board (ECB) issued a violation.

Jackson Heights community organizations echoed Dromm’s complaints – emphasizing the supermarket’s lack of respect for the neighborhood.

“Trade Fair supermarket is a serial sidewalk abuser,” said Edwin Westley, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group. “In each of their Jackson Heights locations on 37th Avenue, they have expanded their storage spaces by our sidewalk space. They are not good neighbors as demonstrated by their lack of respect for pedestrians. This is a clear violation and needs to be stopped now.”

Neighborhood residents admit that Trade Fair is a fine supermarket, but demand that the store’s selfish behavior cease if they are to continue to shop there.

“We have a great neighborhood here and most everyone works to make it better,” said Tom Lowenhaupt, a resident of 75th Street who attended the rally. “Trade Fair runs a good store but they can’t keep straight what’s theirs and what belongs to the public. They have a take, take, take policy when it comes to the areas adjacent to their stores. They constantly push the boundary and test what they can get away with. That’s not being neighborly. Ease off or face a boycott.”

Despite the community’s allegations, Victor Fuentes, the manager of Trade Fair, says the supermarket has done nothing wrong.

“[The owners] are currently in the process of getting a permit for the extension they are building,” Fuentes said. “It is a little on the sidewalk, but there is plenty of room to walk. There is no broken glass in the recycled area. As soon as we are aware of broken glass, we clean it up right away. The tree is in the unloading area, so when the trucks backed out they knocked the tree down. We called the city to replace it, but it kept getting knocked down. Eventually, the city stopped coming. And when it rains or snows, the water gets in the hole where the tree goes and it stinks. Residents complained about the smell, so we filled the hole with cement to stop the problem.”