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Renovations make historic Bayside home unrecognizable

The house formerly owned by Judge Nicholas Garaufis has been transformed into an unrecognizable structure.
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Work on the historic home formerly belonging to federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis is nearly complete with none of the original features of the classic 19th century structure remaining and complaints continuing to mount.

A modern brick structure with multiple entrances has risen in the place of the large, stately home that originally belonged to the Lawrence family, who owned an estate covering most of what is now Bayside and left a legacy which preservationists have attempted to maintain.

A neighborhood feud began in April 2016, led by Bonnie Skala Kiladitis, as the property was purchased and plans for renovation were posted on the city Dept. of Buildings site by the new owner with a permit requiring at least half the original structure be retained. Work on the four-story house, however, quickly took a turn for the extreme. Within days, the home had been reduced to the first floor.

“My family has owned our house for 75 years. I am the fourth generation to live here with no intent to sell.

Now I open the front door to look at this monstrosity across the street. It is such a shame to see what replaced Judge Garaufis former, historic home,” Kiladitis said. “It is not for me to say if I like the look of what is now there or if it fits in to the neighborhood. There are no laws on the style of how you design a house you pay for. But to now have a neighbor now who has blatantly disregarded the law time and time again when demolishing and rebuilding a house is disheartening. The driveway is above grade. There are occupants living there without a Certificate of Occupany. What was built does not match the filed plans. Why even have a Department of Buildings if developers can and do whatever they want?”

The most recent violation on the property shows people have been living in the home without a certificate of occupancy for which the DOB cited them on Nov. 5.

The home was purchased for $1.5 million by a real estate agent from New Jersey named Lisa Huang, who said it would be occupied only by her family.

Huang was baffled by the outcry over her renovations at the time when neighbors began reaching out to the BaysideTimes and elected officials, saying that construction in Bayside was nothing new and her property was no exception.

The plans showed there would be an extension to the front of the house by a few feet.

A stop work order for 218-15 40th Ave. was issued in July 2016 due to the Alt-1 permit being revoked for work that exceeded the scope of the original plans. The violations have been dismissed, according to a Department of Buildings spokesman, and a new Alt-1 permit was issued in mid-August that took effect in mid-September of that year.

It was not clear why the violations were dropped.

A DOB spokesman said in August of 2016 the owners no longer qualified for an alteration permit and would be required to apply for a new building permit.

The DOB, however, reissued an Alt-1 in this case on the basis that the foundations were still intact and because the building plans had been revised and approved for an Alt-1, a spokesman from the agency said. He pointed out that it is at the discretion of a plan examiner to determine how much of the original structure needs to remain to call for an Alt-1.

Another stop work order was issued on the property by the DOB in July 2017 for plumbing, but was rescinded in late October.

The land was split with a 40-by-100-foot plot going up for sale, but this parcel is still on the market.

“It infuriates me as to how they have bastardized that gorgeous house,” Richard Doyle, a nearby resident, said. “You know it really gets me, because they know what they are doing when they tear down too much of a house and won’t keep with the plans. I get tired of people being able to do this and the [DOB] does nothing.”

Garaufis’ house is believed to have been built circa 1890 and was the one of the personal residences of the Lawrence family, influential members of the early Bayside community. A study conducted by former Bayside Historical Society Treasurer Paul Graziano found the Lawrence Estate eligible for the National and State Register of Historic Places. This recognition, however, carries no protection from demolition or alteration.

Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) introduced legislation in December 2016 to address the “limbo” period between the issuance of a notice to revoke on a construction site and the point at which the permits are officially revoked, during which time property owners can push to compltete as much work as possible.

“Our community will not stand idly on the sidelines when homeowners and developers come into our neighborhoods and deceitfully try to circumvent building codes,” Vallone said in 2016. “This type of blatant disregard of building permit requirements and deliberate over-development will never be accepted in our community.”

Among other elected officials who fought for stronger regulations and oversight from the DOB were state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who each reached out to the Department of Buildings to see that the activity of the current owners of the historic property was stopped in its tracks

Kiladitis, daughter of late community activist Frank Skala, got elected officials involved in the fate of the house on 40th Avenue and looked to it as an example of a zoning violation epidemic in the community.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

Updated 12:17 pm, November 22, 2017
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Reader feedback

Yea right! from Queens says:
Ms. Huang has a HUGE family then! Come on now, they REALLY think that the neighbors are so stupid as to believe that only HER FAMILY will live there? Her "family" must consist of her, her husband, 2 of her kids, her sister, her sisters husband, her sisters 2 kids, a cousin, the cousins spouse, his/her two kids, a day care center full of kids from god knows where so she can put them all in our schools and crowd up our schools. This is nothing new, the dob lets them all get away with it. All of bayside is garbage anymore. It was going to happen, just look at flushing.
Nov. 22, 2017, 3:18 am
Long Gone from Bayside says:
The comment above says it all. I’m just curious as to how all of these corner houses, that have the biggest lots, become forsale? Then two houses sometimes three are built in place of where one stood. They are huge, gaudy, and in my opinion ruin the look of the neighbor. I always wonder how this is allowed, then I remind myself with a lot of money you can get away with anything. Bayside was gone a long time ago. On a different note. I also don’t know how they allow these hookah bars opening on bell Blvd. #NobodyCares.
Nov. 22, 2017, 11:09 am
Liam from Douglaston says:
The design is hideous, but I can almost get past that. But breaking the law?? Not so much. If we want to do a simple alteration or renovation on our home the DOB puts us through the ringer. These people break multiple laws left and right and get away with it. The DOB is so corrupt it’s not even funny. Our local politicians should be ashamed of themselves for not doing more. They’re equally as guilty and corrupt.
Nov. 22, 2017, 11:56 am
HAS from Flushing North says:
Our new immigrants DONT CARE, they are getting away with this ! Someone is getting paid off !
Nov. 22, 2017, 12:32 pm
Helga from Bayside says:
Shiny brick, metal doors, gawdy railings, packing the people in by the dozen - It’s the new trend on every corner in Bayside. The city will continue to allow this to happen. It’s money in their pocket. Multiple pockets actually. Meanwhile these 1 to 4 family conversions continue to tax our antiquated infrastructure, create more traffic and pollution, make parking an absolute nightmare and over crowd our schools. The people in position to do something about just turn a blind eye to it. They don’t care about our quality of life. They just don’t.
Nov. 22, 2017, 1:04 pm
Joe Bloe from bayside says:
It seems the locals are just jealous that a hardworking immigrant has the finances to build such a mansion.
Nov. 22, 2017, 2:57 pm
Michael from Palm Coast Florida says:
What an eyesore. Only Trump would like a tacky monstrosity of a so called house.
Nov. 22, 2017, 4:42 pm
Joey from Flushing says:
It’s all about money laundering.
Nov. 22, 2017, 11:28 pm
LOL from Baysuck says:
Its all about Baysiders in their 60's with nothing else to cry about.
Nov. 23, 2017, 5:02 am
Anna says:
Wow so many racist whiney folks in the comments. I'm sure if y'all had the money you'd do the same thing. Losers.
Nov. 23, 2017, 9:20 pm
O’Brien from Bayside says:
Listen I work for Homeland Security and we’re cracking down on what’s going on we’re getting a lot of calls. Human trafficking etc. a lot of this money. Is a coverup So keep the calls comeing in. Also call you local. Ice office or stop bye the 109 or 111 for more information. There glade to help.
Nov. 23, 2017, 10:58 pm
LOL from Baysuck says:
I'm pretty sure a high school education at minimum is required to work for homeland security. "There glade to help?" Really? LOL
Nov. 23, 2017, 11:58 pm
Raised in Queens says:
That is the ugliest mcmansion I've seen in a while. Wow. I can't believe these houses are being approved. Beyond gross.
Nov. 26, 2017, 3:57 pm
Bill from Bayside says:
This is a front for money laundering they charge room bye room. And get money from deblasio aka bozo. Most whore and human trafficking just call. Immigration. And home land security. Report the house.
Nov. 26, 2017, 8:07 pm
JP from Bayside says:
LOL is an ASS
Nov. 28, 2017, 7:54 pm
Frank g from Whitestone says:
This is a scam. Look in L.A. Chinese. We’re sell American visa 50 million scam. Bye doing this they over price the home values just like there doing here just go downtown flushing and Roosevelt’s ave. And you get a social security card and visa 50- 200$. Open your every America
Nov. 28, 2017, 10:49 pm
LOL from Baysuck says:
Hey Frank - your education was a scam.
Dec. 2, 2017, 4:29 pm
Jeff from Bayside says:
This is all illegal money prostitution all over Main Street all illegal cabs. They pick up all Asian girls. All theses black cars park. All over. They will never pick up an American. It’s a way for trafficking there kind. Its alll over queens and this is how they clean money. They build these home because. American will move out. Just take pictures of the plates and the driver send to home land. I do it all the time. Just like the whor house they raided in Main Street. Last week. And the hook jumped out the window
Dec. 3, 2017, 8:17 pm
Taking our country back from Whitestone says:
So true I call all the the time. Immigration takes tips. It take awhile but they investigate. Just keep calling. There is also an on line. Sight to leave a tip. There bleeding this country dry. Taking queens back from all the crap. They have no respect for family or becoming part of the community. So get them out
Dec. 4, 2017, 8:49 pm
LOL from Baysuck says:
HAHA do you think we're stupid. It's obviously one person posting and replying to his own comments. You have the grammar of a rock.
Dec. 5, 2017, 7:17 am
Kenny g from Bayside says:
Trump = deportation

Trump = win

Trump = make America great again

Trump = party is over.
Dec. 5, 2017, 9:08 pm

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