Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Very Troubling History Of The Smith Street Abadi Warehouse Demolition

The former Abadi/ Vichar, Inc. building in early 2009


Late 2008


Very recently, the New York City Buildings Department has lifted a Stop-Work Order imposed on the Abadi/ Vichar, Inc. Warehouse at 455-459 Smith Street. It is rather surprising, since there are still 15 ECB and 7 DOB active violations.

Besides those violations, there are quite a few reasons why this site should be closely monitored, both by this community and the DOB, but also by the Department Of Environmental Conservation (DEC)



Reason # 1



photo credit: Nate Kensinger



In February 2009, the contractor, Perry Ferrara, had his crews demolish the roof of the building, which once housed 47th Street Photo. But he did so without the knowledge of the Buildings Department and without receiving the proper demolition permit. The roof contained asbestos, so the unsupervised demolition was rather problematic
. The demo earned the site a full stop-work order for "hazardous conditions and lack of public protection.


Reason #2





Predictably, the structurally weakened building collapsed on August 11th, 2009. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but quite a few cars were buried under the rubble.
Interestingly enough, when the owners of the cars contacted Mr. Ferrara's insurance company to file their claims, they were told by the claims adjuster that the contractor
is not covered for this type of incident.
It would appear that he is only insured for interior sheet rock installation, not the demolition of an entire building.
The car owners still need to be reimbursed for damages.

If that is indeed correct, one would suppose that the Buildings Department would have caught the mistake.



Reason # 3







filmed October 6th 2009

The Abadi property has been declared a brownfield site due to the contaminated soil and coal tar left behind by the old Brooklyn Union Gas Company and various other industries. It is also next to the equally toxic six acre Public Place site, which the city intends to turn into a mixed-use development with over 700 units of low and middle -income housing after remediation.
Just this week, the Stop-Work Order was lifted and demolition resumed. Today, crews were digging away at the cement slab of the old building. Whatever is underneath that slab is rather nasty and dangerous stuff. If any special steps had been taken because of the toxicity in the ground, it was not apparent yesterday, when I took the video above. In addition, the site has not been secured. Anyone can slip through the big gap in the fencing.

Given the history of the demolition of Mr. Abadi's property so far, it is important to keep our collective eyes and ears open. The owner and his contractor have been way too negligent so far.



Thanks To Nate Kensinger for the use of his photo. I also want to thank the vigilant residents who allowed me to use theirs.





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17 comments:

Batman said...

So...no one has been injured, hurt or fined? Sounds like its been smooth sailing so far.

Just kidding.

But, Katia, lets practice some responsible journalism here. Some of the DOB violations are from 2004, and some of the ECB violations are for not having the permit posted; hardly a life-threatening concern for the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Tens of thousands of dollars damage... tens of thousands of dollars in fines (check DOB)... The building fell in the street and crushed cars! This is a hazardous site with an irresponsible owner and a dangerously incompetent contractor who has no insurance.
Protect the good citizens of Gotham Batman and get a clue.

Chopper

Anonymous said...

Yeah that may be true Batman but not posting a permit prevents the public from Identifying the contractor. The DOB regularly allows uninsured/underinsured contractors to work in Brooklyn. Contractors will get permits and then drop the policy to save money. Doubt car owners will ever see a dime from this disaster. Typical Crooklyn demolition job, by the way. No site safety plans.. no dust control... They filed Asbestos waiver paperwork but probably never had tests done....

AND THESE ECB FINES WILL NEVER BE PAID>

Anonymous said...

Where is the EPA on this? Why haven't they responded to this clear violation that is dispursing contaminants into our air quality!

Batman said...

Chopper -

Perhaps you failed to read the portion of my post that said "just kidding".

Anonymous said...

9:34 - Your statement that this is not a life-threatening concern could not be more wrong. This site is on highly toxic ground. The soil is exposed, blowing who knows where into our community. Margaret

Batman said...

The toxic soil...that has been exposed to the wind for years, blowing into my backyard on 3rd Street?

Or maybe it's the toxic soil that is somehow ok for little children to handle on Gowanus clean-up day?

I'm just pointing out that these concerns have existed for probably a decade now...

Or maybe it's just whining and moaning because there will be a development there that is out of scale with the neighborhood?

Margaret said...

Batman, Cowanus Conservancy had that event where people, including children, were invited to clean up along the Gowanus. Many voiced that this was totally irresponsible. That toxic soil may be a joke to you to dismiss, but science is no joke. Toxicity is dangerous, deadly. That's the very definition of it. So if you have it blowing in your backyard, I'm genuinely sorry for you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Batman,

For 150 years or more our neighborhood has lived with Gowanus toxins. Demolition dust from the toxic soils of 3rd and Bond mean nothing to people like Margaret.

FROGGS and anti-superfund people are against ALL change and see the superfund as a means to that end.

Katia said...

Hi All:

A quick reminder. This is an environmental issue. NOT a development issue.

Nothing else but science should be taken into account when deciding on Superfund.

Anonymous said...

9:09 - Please don't mischaracterize FROGG as being anti-change. FROGG's mission statement is very clear: Clean water, clean land. That would be a VERY BIG CHANGE in Gowanus.
Margaret

Margaret said...

While real estate prices are plummeting everywhere, they have stayed pretty stable in our neighborhood, because “New development didn’t dominate the market, so as a result you didn’t have as large of a drop,” Toll Bros. is SLASHING its prices in its mega- Williamsburg project because units are NOT MOVING! If you don't want your property value to plummet, and your quality of life to do the same with the increased density it brings, then beware of big development projects a la Toll and their ilk. Don't take my word for it - just read the report here:http://www.tregny.com/content/press_archives/2009/10/05/finding-a-bottom-in-brooklyn/

Anonymous said...

Surely even Batman and his sidekick can acknowledge that when neighborhood resident's cars are being crushed in a demolition of a building being paid for by National Grid, and those same residents cant get reimbursed because the contractor has no insurance there is something wrong.

Why cant Nat Grid make things right? Why cant they oversee a process they are responsible for and are financing? What does this say about our ability to trust Nat Grid to do their share in the cleanup of the canal if they cant even get this simple first step right?

Chopper

Anonymous said...

Katia,

See the comments above. Margaret, FROGG and other EPA supporters are concerned about real estate prices and Superfund limits new development which sustains their property values.

Most of the residential proposed for Gowanus is affordable. EPA supporters want to keep poor people out of the neighborhood and housing prices high.

The rich white people moving into the property on 3rd/Bond are just dandy!

Katia said...

Hi Anon 2:30PM

Luxury, affordable, rich, poor....again, this is an environmental issue. First comes the cleaning of the canal. And the agency that has the best track record
in cleaning up toxic sites is the EPA.

That is all there is to it.

Anonymous said...

2:30 -who are you kidding. Do you REALLY believe that claptrap about the proposed developments to be for affordable housing? Yeah? Billions of dollars poised to be invested in Gowanus for the good of the people. You're off your rocker.

Anonymous said...

JUST TO CLARIFY

IN NO WAY WAS THIS FAULT OF MR. ABADI AND NEITHER WAS THERE ASBESTOS COMING FROM THE ROOF. IF YOU CHECK CITY FILES, PERRY FERRARA IN FACT HELD THE RIGHT PERMITS FOR THE JOB AND ACCIDENTLY CAUSED A WALL TO FALL WHICH WAS COMPLETELY COVERED BY INSURANCE. SO PLEASE BEFORE YOU WRITE YOUR DUMB STORIES, GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT. MR. ABADI IS NOW WORKING WITH NATIONAL GRID AND THE NEW YORK GOVERNMENT TO CLEAN UP THE SITE ALONG WITH 3 OTHER SITES AND THE GOWANUS CANAL.
I KNOW ITS BEEN A LONG TIME FOR THIS ANSWER BUT I RECENTLY STUMBLED UPON THIS PAGE AND WANTED TO LEAVE FEEDBACK BEING THAT I AND MY BROTHER ARE COORDINATORS OF THIS SITE