On April 12, the second story and facade of 78-19 Jamaica Avenue collapsed, pouring rubble all over 79th Street and destroying a car. Miraculously, nobody was injured.
But the collapse badly damaged the WRHVAC headquarters next door, and forced the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center to move its operations off the premises, depriving the ambulance corps of much-needed rental income.
Kathy Sexton Dalbey, president of WRHVAC, said the building has sustained a great a deal of damage, including having to remove the walls and the floor.
“It’s just unbelievable,” she said. “We’re looking forward to getting back in here.”
Before its collapse, the building next door to the Ambulance Corps had been cited for numerous violations, and the Department of Buildings had issued a partial vacate order. But the problems remained unresolved until the collapse, which the Fire Department attributed in part to heavy rainfall.
Now, over 10 months later, more fines have accrued and an arrest warrant has been issued for the owner of the damaged building, but the edifice remains a serious threat, both to the WRHVAC and to residents and neighbors.
Recently, melted snow from the collapsed building has caused water to flood into ambulance headquarters and might have compromised its structural integrity.
State Senator Joe Addabbo if considering proposing legislation that after 90 days the owner of a building must be forced to make repairs or the city intervenes.
“We want some action now,” Addabbo said. “Let’s get this building fixed.”
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said behavior like this cannot be tolerated.
“I’m here to tell this property owner to start being responsible,” she said.
Maria Thompson, executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District (BID), has been a member of the community for 40 years. She said another collapse is not an option and people should not have to worry about a building falling.
“We want it taken down,” she chanted. “Tear it down.”
Joann Bartos, who lives on 79th Street and has been going to the senior center for a few years, is upset with being relocated. Many people cannot walk to the new facility and it’s quite inconvenient, she said.
“We want to come back to our home,” Bartos said.