79th Street eyesore to be demolished

August 1, 2012 Denise Romano
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The city has paved the way for the demolition of the hulking shell of a house that was once a beautiful Tudor at 237 79th Street but which has long been an eyesore in the community; but, if one local politician has his way, the dilapidated structure may become a dream home for a local hero.

It was ongoing efforts by Councilmember Vincent Gentile and State Senator Marty Golden that got the Department of Buildings to issue a demolition permit for the site late last month. The city –working through the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development — will likely take the house down if its owner does not do so; the owner would then be billed the cost of demolition.

But, Gentile doesn’t just want that – he wants the site to become the location of a smart home for Wounded Warrior Bryan Dilberian, a Fort Hamilton High school graduate who lost three limbs when a roadside bomb exploded near him while on routine patrol in Afghanistan.

Gentile explained that the owner of the home, Frank Landy, is a recluse with no cell or house phone. “Every time we have an attempt to reach him by his mailing address, it would come back ‘Return to Sender,’” he told this paper, adding that Landy is a post office employee.

“We wanted to say to him…Yes, you are paying property taxes, but it’s still an untenable situation. Either you sell [the house] to someone who can use the property, sell it as a new home, fix it up, whatever. We want that eyesore off the block after all these years,” Gentile said, contending that the condition of the house affects the property values of surrounding homes.

“Determined” to find Landy, Gentile and his staffers learned that he worked a midnight shift at a Manhattan post office.

“Myself, a staff member and a CB10 member, went to the location at midnight this past May and stationed ourselves there at the change of shifts with the hope that we may find Frank Landy, but that was not successful,” Gentile said, adding that they were able to leave a message with his supervisor.

Right after Memorial Day, Gentile’s office got a call from Landy, who “did indicate that he felt bad about the condition of the house.”

Gentile mentioned to Landy that the property might be a good location for Dilberian’s smart home, money to build which is currently being raised by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, aided by a group of Bay Ridge activists. “He seemed interested in [our ideas]. He admitted that his name and reputation was not good in Bay Ridge and thought this may be a good way to redeem it,” he said.

Gentile said the difficulty in communication with Landy continues, but his office asked the Department of Buildings to do an inspection.

“They found that the building was no longer safe or stable and they were issuing an order of demolition,” he explained. “In the meantime, I am trying to let him know and we are still asking him to do something: sell it, fix it up or give it to a foundation to use the property. The communication attempts will continue and I am pleased that [it will be demolished] because it’s been a haven for rodents and animals and all other kinds of bad things that we don’t want to continue.”

According to DOB, 18 complaints, dating back to 1991, have been logged against the property, as well as seven DOB violations, some going back to 1997, and 12 open DOB and ECB violations, the most recent from April 12.

“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,” Golden said, referring to the 552 Ovington Avenue site. “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.”

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