Tag Archives: Jamaica Avenue LLC

Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps rallies to resolve collapsed building issue


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

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Next year will be Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps’ 50th anniversary, but members don’t’ know if the organization will be around to see it.

The ambulance corps headquarters took damage when building adjoining, 78-19 Jamaica Avenue, collapsed nearly a year ago. Recently members were forced to vacate after melted snow from the collapsed building caused water to flood into the volunteer group’s structure. Now the ambulance corps has damaged walls and mold, members said, and the volunteer organization has to wait for an inspection before they can use the building again.

Members of the ambulance corps and supporters rallied in front the ambulance corps building Sunday to ask the city to speed up repairs on the crumbling building.

“It’s very frustrating, sad and makes me upset,” said John Bennett, a member of the board of the ambulance corps, who has been with the organization for more than three decades. “It feels like I’m losing someone very close.”

The ambulance corps recently filed a lawsuit against the collapsed building’s owner to the tune of $13 million in damages and lost rent. However, it’s another slow process they have to deal with while the building continues to suffer.

The Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center rented space from the volunteer ambulance group, but had to move to a temporary location—American Legion Post 118—after the structure was determined unsafe by the city’s Buildings Department. The ambulance corps has lost its revenue source, and seniors want to move back into the volunteer groups’ building for its centralized location to transportation, wide space and other features.

“I miss the senior center because in the temporary location I can’t even use the bathroom,” Patricia Sexton said. “It’s not handicapped accessible.”

The owner of the collapsed building, George Kochabe, recently paid $3,200 in fines owed to the  Department of Buildings and hired an architect, according to the agency. However, the building still has many open violations and Kochabe owes thousands more in fines. He could not be reached for comment.

Assemblymember Mike Miller and State Senator Joseph Addabbo are pushing to have the city tear down the building, rebuild it and bill Kochabe. They not only fear for the survival of the volunteer ambulance corps and the senior center, but also worry about the threat the crumbling building creates for pedestrians.

“We don’t want to find out how much more this building could take,” Addabbo said. “We don’t want to react to a bad situation or a tragedy.”

 

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Residents want landlord held responsible for Woodhaven building collapse


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Twitter / @FDNY

BY LUKE TABET

Concerned Woodhaven residents want to know what repercussions, if any, a local landowner will face after his building collapsed last month, damaging the adjacent Volunteer Ambulance Corps and forcing residents to leave the Woodhaven Senior Center.

An abandoned furniture store at 78-19 Jamaica Avenue crumbled onto the street on April 12, crushing a minivan parked out front and shutting down a section of the road while debris was removed.

The 78-19 Jamaica Avenue LLC owns the building, according to the Department of Finance.

At a May 18 meeting of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA), many voiced their desire to see the landlord held responsible for alleged negligence that led to the vacant building’s collapse.

According to the Department of Buildings’ (DOB) website, the structure had 35 violations and a partial vacate order before the collapse.

An impending Environmental Control Board hearing will determine if the owner — who could not be reached — is at fault for the violations.

The Woodhaven Senior Center is currently covered by a tarp, which must be proven watertight before seniors will be allowed back into the building.

 

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