Astoria residents refuse to let developer on property
by Andrew Pavia
Oct 02, 2013 | 750 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State Senator Tony Avella and residents protest the development of a medical facility in Astoria.
State Senator Tony Avella and residents protest the development of a medical facility in Astoria.
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Robert Draghi says his backyard was damaged due to construction.
Robert Draghi says his backyard was damaged due to construction.
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The developer of a controversial eight-story medical facility at 23-25 31st Street in Astoria is demanding access to residents’ properties in order to complete construction that has been taking place for the last five years.

Local residents say the developer has threatened to file a lawsuit to gain access.

But residents say the project is damaging their homes. Construction is taking place up to the property line of the backyards of one-family homes along 32nd Street.

Robert Draghi, a resident of 32nd Street, said construction has caused cracks in the concrete in his backyard. “The houses and yards are cracking apart,” he said.

Draghi said residents aren’t opposed to letting the developer complete the construction by accessing their backyards, but they want assurances their homes will be fixed.

“We want a settlement,” he said. “We just want them to agree to fix our houses to how they were before.”

Resident contacted the developer through a lawyer stating they would allow access via their properties if the developer provides a plan stating they will fix their homes at a later date.

Draghi said that the developer responded by turning the offer down and refused to counteroffer. “It’s a dog-and-pony show,” he said.

“It’s very upsetting to see the Department of Buildings has been one-sided when it has come to the issue of overdevelopment,” said Community Board 1 member Gus Prentzas. “These [residents] are paying out of pocket for attorneys to seek what they are entitled to.”

State Senator Tony Avella attended a rally with residents last week, criticizing not only the developer, but the Department of Buildings, as well.

“The city seems to be refusing to come to the aid of the property owners,” said Avella. “Some of these houses may have to be rebuilt totally.

“It’s one thing to have a huge monstrosity abutting one-family homes,” he added. “But it’s a completely different issue when you start destroying those one-family homes as part of the construction.”

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