By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A dilapidated house that has been the target of complaints from 79th Street residents for several years will finally be torn down, according to local elected officials, who said they’ve been pushing the city to do something about the messy property for ages.
The Department of Buildings has issued a demolition order for the house at 237 79th St., between Ridge Boulevard and 3rd Avenue.
Councilman Vincent Gentile and state Sen. Marty Golden both said they’re pleased that the city is finally listening to their pleas.
“The house has been vacant for more than 10 years. It’s an eyesore on a beautiful residential block,” Gentile said.
The building is in such bad shape that “the second floor collapsed onto the first floor,” the councilman said.
“I am glad that a final resolution has been reached that will improve the quality of life of this block, which has had to endure this dangerous eyesore for so many years,” Golden said.
Gentile said he has an idea on how to make good use of the property after the house is demolished.
“I think it would an ideal site for a smart home,” he said, referring to a wheelchair-accessible house for a wounded soldier. So-called “smart homes” are constructed with wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, customized bathrooms, and lowered sinks and cabinets to enable the soldier to reach.
For now, however, the house is still standing.
“It’s a nightmare,” said Maryann Gouras, who lives next door. “It’s so disgusting that my husband had to plant hedges in our yard so we don’t have to look at it. It has been broken into three times.”
She is hoping a new home can be built on the property.
“Anything that would fit in with the neighborhood,” said Gouras, who has lived on the block since 1978.
The city has been conducting regular inspections of the property, Golden said.
“My staff and I have worked with the city over the years to see that this property is regularly inspected and conditions are checked by the Health and Buildings departments,” Golden said.
The latest inspection uncovered violations, Gentile said.
“The owner does have violations on the property,” he said.
Still, it hasn’t been easy getting the city to move, Gentile said.
“Part of the problem we had been having in trying to get the city to deal with this house is that the homeowner has continued to pay property taxes on the house,” the councilman said.
The owner is also hard to reach, according to Gentile, who said he doesn’t appear to own a telephone number. The owner works in a Manhattan post office. In May, Gentile and a member of his staff tracked the owner down.
“We wanted to sit down with him and tell him something can be done with the house,” Gentile said.
The owner “was very receptive to the idea of using the property as a smart home,” he said.
The development surrounding the 79th Street house comes on the heels of the partial collapse of an empty house at 552 Ovington Ave. No one was injured in the collapse. The Department of Buildings ruled that the partially collapsed house presented a danger to the properties located on either side of it and ordered it to be demolished. It was demolished the same day on which the partial collapse took place.
“This community was just witness to a collapse of an abandoned, poorly maintained home and the planned action by the city will make sure that the same thing does not happen at this location. Today, we reiterate that safety is the priority and we send a message that our neighborhood will not accept the ruination and endangerment of a block at the hands of a property owner,” Golden said.