Ovington Avenue neighbors ask, Why so long?

July 19, 2012 Denise Romano
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As they stare at the ruins of the residence that once stood at 552 Ovington Avenue, Bay Ridge residents are wondering why nothing was done to secure the property after the Department of Buildings deemed it an “unsafe building” on June 8.

“The inspectors come out, but we get the run-around,” said Gloria Mullaney, who lives a few doors down from 552 and directly next to 562, which developer Mousa Khalil also owns. “Nothing is getting done. Fortunately no one was hurt.”

Khalil owns or has owned nearly 30 properties around the borough and many have outstanding violations, according to the DOB’s database. Nearly 12 hours after the building collapsed, an engineer working for Khalil razed the site under DOB supervision.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile noted that his office had received “numerous” complaints regarding the property. “Fortunately there were no injuries but it is absolutely unacceptablethat abuildingmustcollapsebeforegettingtheattentionof the pertinentagencies,” he commented.

To some degree, the agency’s hands may be tied when it comes to dealing with dilapidated properties, even after they have been deemed hazardous, said one local official. “From many conversations with DOB, I was told that as long as the building is safe and the owner is paying taxes, there is not much the agency can do but monitor complaints,” explained Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10.

“Even with hazardous complaints, the owner has a window to respond and typically until that opportunity to respond has passed, they don’t act,” she went on. “I think they were very close to an emergency declaration. That is the process they were heading towards.”

Calls made to DOB and to Councilmember Erik Martin Dilan, chair of the Council’s Committee of Housing and Buildings, were not returned as this paper went to press.

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