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Abandoned and unkept buildings can be a problem even in Brooklyn’s most tony neighborhoods, in the worst cases becoming a fire hazard or haven for drug dealers, and in general reducing property values. The Brooklyn Heights Association looks into three such buildings in its spring newsletter, calling them a “Dereliction of Duty,” and yesterday we came up with a few more details. The “majestic brownstone” at 194 Columbia Heights, “vacant and padlocked for decades,” is owned by a psychiatrist with an office on Henry Street who did not return our calls. In 2004, he received a Department of Buildings permit to reduce the building from six families to a three but it appears no work was done after that. According to a neighbor, the house got caught up in a messy divorce in the 1980s and no one has lived there since. The neighbor said the owner made an attempt to sell the house but was unsuccessful despite its prime waterfront views. “Now word comes of tens of thousands of dollars owed in back property taxes,” according to BHA (records indicate that the city at least attempted to foreclose on the property for outstanding taxes once before, serving a vacate order in 1986). Now that the owner missed the best time to sell, we wonder what will come of this place over the next decade.
The multi-family building known as 100 Clark Street nearly collapsed in 2004, according to the Brooklyn Eagle, and is still in miserable shape. The Penson Company bought the building for $3.65 million two years ago and has since put it back on the market (the listing isn’t online but we were told the owner is still entertaining offers). Eastern Consolidated broker Ronda Rogovin told us the landmarked former mansion hasn’t sold because it required major structural work and another broker said three rent stabalized tenants still live there. DOB records indicate no work has been done there for a year. The Brooklyn Eagle also reported that Landmarks approved increasing the building’s square footage from 1,950 to 9,750 (woah five times the size).
Quaint 25 Willow Place has been vacant for over 40 years, according to the newsletter, adding “The house may soon be a candidate for Demolition by Neglect, a provision of the NYC Landmarks Law that allows the Commission to take an owner to court in order to save a landmarked building from irreparable deterioration.” Owner Emma Lindberg (married to Charles Lindberg, different spelling than the famous aviator and son of the same name) still has a phone listing in Long Island at the same address the home was purchased under in 1970. The house across the street, 45 Willow Place, is occupied but its exterior is in worse condition. The BHA says, “Often there are intractable circumstances that prevent the sale of a property. But even where legal entanglements or family disputes make a sale difficult, the owners should accept their responsibility for the safety and visual integrity of the neighborhood.” Anyone have more details on these mystery homes?