City shuts down Auburndale building project

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A project to build a two-story office building on a long-empty lot on Northern Boulevard in Auburndale was stopped last month after residents complained the work was damaging the adjoining properties, a city Buildings Department spokeswoman said.

Last week Buildings Department spokeswoman Ilyse Fink said the project was halted Sept. 7 and the developer, Green Hill Development of Manhasset, was issued a violation because “the work didn’t conform to filed plans,” Fink said. The spokeswoman said violations involved work done to shore up and secure the foundation of the new building.

The two large lots, between 194th and 196th streets on Northern Boulevard next to St. Nicholas’ Church in Auburndale, have been vacant for more than a year.

In August the Buildings Department said partially filed plans showed a two-story retail and office building with a 51-space parking garage was slated for one of the properties. Construction began on the lot at 194-08 Northern Blvd. in early August.

A month later at least one of the residential neighbors had hired a lawyer because Green Hill Development allegedly damaged their property and refused to negotiate on repairs. The lawyer, Darryl Borenkoff, said the family has been living next to the Northern Boulevard lot for about 35 years. A lawyer for the project did not return calls for comment as of press time Tuesday.

Fink said Tuesday the work on the property was being done as-of-right. Under the city’s current zoning laws, any community facility — including houses of worship, medical facilities or community centers — can be built without review from community boards.

The city stop work order was inadvertently lifted on Sept. 25, Fink said, when an inspector looked over plans submitted by the contractor in response to the first violation. Fink said the plans the inspector saw had not been approved by the department, and so the stop work order was quickly reinstituted.

Fink said a representative for the project was at the Buildings Department Tuesday waiting to submit readjusted plans for the work.

The plans call for a two-story building with a basement parking garage, the Buildings Department said. The land used to house a gas station, nearby business owners said.

Of the plans already filed with the city, the Buildings Department said the basement parking garage would feature a 51-space parking lot with an attendant, a first floor with retail outlets and offices on the first and second floors.

For more than a year a large white sign with red letters loomed over the lots, promising retail development “coming soon.”

Last year the sign said the empty land would be built on by the fall of 2000. Earlier this year it was altered to read “by 2001.”

While construction has begun on one lot between 194th and 195th streets, the property between 195th and 196th streets continues to appear abandoned and overgrown with weeds.

Borenkoff said his clients have endured significant property damage since the work began, including a damaged sidewalk, patio, and cracks to the floors of the garage and basement. Improperly done digging work for the construction project may also have damaged the home’s foundation, he said.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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