Stalled development bedevils 77th Street residents

In front of 577 77th Street, the sidewalk is a mass of broken concrete. The construction fence that surrounds the property is scrawled with graffiti, and the mailbox tacked up on one side of the fence is overflowing with violation notices from city agencies.

Behind the fence, a modern building stands unfinished – an unsightly replacement to the one-family home demolished nearly a decade ago to make way for an as-of-right, six-unit structure that was supposed to be finished in something like four months.

That was in 2004. This is 2012. There are currently foreclosure actions related to the property in New York State Supreme Court. In addition, all development appears to have ground to a halt in 2006, the year that the property was transferred from William and Sylvia Salvesen to Bummer Realty Associates. In 2004, their son, Steven Salvesen, had been the developer of the site, through his company, R.I.P. Construction Consultants, though later permits were made out to M.I. A. Contracting, with their other son, Peter Salvesen, as general contractor.

It was Steven Salvesen who had told block residents — who had descended on a 2004 meeting of Community Board 10 to voice their concerns – that not only would it be done in a matter of months, but the project would be “in the character of Bay Ridge. I’m living here,” Salvesen had contended. “I’m not ruining my own neighborhood.”

That was then. Now, residents say they are tired of living with the eyesore on their block, the rodents, smashed-up sidewalk and unshoveled snow in winter.

“There are a great number of concerns,” stressed 77th Street resident Madeleine Henley. “Obviously, the sidewalk needs to be repaired. It’s very dangerous, particularly in winter and neighbors are concerned about elderly people and mothers with baby carriages.”

In addition, said Henley, “In the past year or so, there have been spottings of rats on the block that we suspect are coming from the property.” Also, she noted, a dormer on the roof collapsed some years back, there are portions of the house open to the elements, and trash is being dumped inside the fence. Overall, said Henley, the property “decreases the quality of life.”

Then there are the open violations. According to the Department of Buildings (DOB) website, there are 11 unresolved Environmental Control Board violations on the property, as well as one open DOB violation. These range from “failure to maintain,” with both debris and a weak fence cited, to work without a permit, to “failure to maintain site in a code-compliant manner” to “failure to certify correction on immediately hazardous ECB violation.”

CB 10 has advocated on behalf of neighbors over the years, reporting problems and trying to get the city to address them. In particular, said District Manager Josephine Beckmann, the board has reached out to DOB to inspect the “safety of the structure” on a regular basis.

The board has also repeatedly brought the condition of the sidewalk to the Department of Transportation’s attention. “It doesn’t appear safe,” stressed Beckmann, noting, “It should be inspected, and repairs should be made.” As for the rats, Beckmann said that the city’s Department of Health has been notified and had gone out to the site. “I don’t know what areas were baited and inspected,” she added.

William Salvesen, who told this paper that he and his late wife are the principals in Bummer Realty, acknowledged the poor condition of the property. “It’s been deteriorating because I don’t have the money to spend on it,” he explained, saying that he was hoping to sell the property to people who could complete the construction. “I have been trying to get it solved,” he contended.

But, his son Steven said the property couldn’t be sold until the will of the late Sylvia Salvesen, currently being contested, is probated, meaning a wait of another year or two before anything could happen.

Asserting that there is “nothing structurally wrong” with the building, the younger Salvesen – who said he had washed his hands of the project — agreed that “the vegetation needs to be controlled and there is possibly a fence that needs to be repaired.

“The project should have been finished. Because of internal problems in the company, it wasn’t The site is a disaster, I’ll grant you that,” he concluded.

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