Vintage house taken down without demolition permit

January 11, 2012 Heather Chin
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The Ridge is rocking over the sudden demolition of a century-oldhouse at the corner of Ridge Boulevard and 77th Street bycontractors who only had a permit for interior demolition.

I saw the boards go up around it and asked [a neighbor] what’sgoing on, recalled Victoria Hofmo, a local preservationist andfounder of the Bay Ridge Conservancy. It seemed to be small thingslike the roof coming off, then [everything]. I’ve been in the housebefore for a friend’s wedding and it was in totally fine shape. Itwas a beautiful house; there was no reason to knock it down.

Construction on 7624 Ridge Boulevard began in December, but hassince been halted by the Department of Buildings (DOB) with afull stop work order that was served followinga January 3 inspection that found all exterior walls and over 50percent of the foundation removed, contrary to plans permitted,explained DOB spokesperson Ryan FitzGibbon. The inspection was inresponse to a complaint filed by an adjacent property owner thatdemolition equipment was causing the caller’s house to shake.

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The three-story, one-family home was sold in May, 2011, for $1.88 millionDOB website.

According to Bernice Bai, president of BDM, people shouldn’tjudge the house’s quality by its external beauty. People cannotjudge from the outside. On the inside, I cannot keep it [that way]anymore, she said in a phone interview with this newspaper. Idon’t understand what exactly is wrong, but understand [from thecontractor that] it couldn’t be kept.

The contractor, listed as MMM Contracting, did not return callsfor comment as of press time.

The house was built in 1905 with a Colonial-style façade.According to building plans on the DOB website, the new building,should permits be acquired, will remain a three-story abode,enlarged to add 200 square feet of additional space, with room forfour enclosed parking spots. It will be built within the existingboundaries and up to 1968 building codes.

The demolition also occurred without prior notification to thelocal community board – in this case, Community Board 10. Thepurpose of such a visit is to allow for community input with thegoal of ensuring that new construction fits into the character ofthe neighborhood.

The rezoning of Bay Ridge [several years ago] sought topreserve the hometown feel [and] reduce the building ofcondominiums, said CB 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, whonoted that there were no protections, such as landmark status, onthis particular house.

We have seen in the past few years that sometimes homeownersfeel a house is beyond repair and the easiest way to go isdemolition, said Beckmann. If they had applied appropriately,they may have had a good chance to get [the necessary permit].

Neighbor Steve Petros, who grew up across the street from 7624Ridge Boulevard, echoed Hofmo’s sentiment of sadness, but is takingthe change in stride.

I just wish there were more community input, said Petros. Wedidn’t get the opportunity to appeal to his [the homeowner’s]understanding of the historical aspect.

On the other side, it’s going to be a nice house, but with amodern motif. It’s been done before around here, he added. If thehouse is in such bad shape, then maybe he had to… maybe it’s timeto upgrade. And it’s still going to be a one-family house. I’m surewhatever he puts up ,we’ll be proud of because the community iswatching.

The contractor and architect now have to file applications forthe proper permits with the DOB in order to get the stop work orderlifted.

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