Due to the deterioration of the building, DOB issued an immediate emergency declaration allowing a city contractor to demolish the home.
By Michael V. Cusenza
An unoccupied residence that has teetered precariously on the lip of a Hawtree Basin inlet in Hamilton Beach since Superstorm Sandy inundated the area with water in 2012 partially collapsed into the drink on Monday, according to officials and eyewitnesses.
A City Department of Buildings spokeswoman told The Forum that the agency responded to reports of a leaning building at 102-39 Russell St. DOB inspectors found that the vacant, single-family home had shifted 2-3 feet toward the waterway behind it. Any utility services feeding the home were cut. Due to the deterioration of the building, DOB issued an immediate emergency declaration allowing a city contractor to demolish the home.
The spokeswoman indicated that DOB will continue to monitor the edifice until the home is demolished. In addition, the agency issued an aggravated violation to the building owner for failure to maintain the home in a code-compliant manner.
The property owner has pledged to DOB that they will hire a private contractor to perform the work; however, if they do not commence the demolition right away, a City contractor will perform the work and bill the owner.
The City Office of Emergency Management promised to conduct a follow-up probe of the site on Wednesday.
Area residents have been alerting elected officials and authorities about the home and others like it for years. Just last May, residents in Old Howard Beach made several calls to The Forum after a waterfront property located on Bayview Avenue near 163rd Avenue in Ramblersville, abandoned since Superstorm Sandy hit, began to sink further into Hawtree Creek.
Fears had been mounting that the shed and the deck attached to the property would soon break free and clog the waters of the creek, introducing dangerous conditions in the waterway and prohibiting any watercraft from passing.
As with all properties in similar condition, the homeowners were offered the choice to renovate, rebuild, or surrender the property for market value to the City’s Build it Back initiative. Due to the highly restrictive conditions and the extended time frame involved, the owners of the property chose to participate in the acquisition phase of the program and sold their home to the City.
The house, which was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, has been demolished.