‘Dereliction of Duty’ in Brooklyn Heights

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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?

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  • I hate the spelling of toney as tony. “tony” has too many other meanings, especially in NY..

  • The foreclosure for failure to pay property taxes just goes to show that even homeowners are renting from the city. Don’t pay your property taxes – bye bye house.

  • Property Shark indicates that 25 Willow is owned by Emma Lindberg AND a Penelope Scarano. That’s the same spelling as another Scarano about whom we hear quite a bit on this blog, right? C’mon Brownstoner: do some reporting and tell us if there is a connection to your favorite architect.

  • 25 Clifton Place is in the same situation. I wrote to Leitia James asking her about whether derection by neglect applies to this property. She never replied. There are many people who are interested in the property but the owner refuses to sell and just leave the property to crumple. The stoop stairs are literally falling apart and in the past drup dealers were using it as a storage place. When we notify the owner, he just ignore the whole situation and it is useless to call the 88 because they never investigate anything unless they see it happening.

  • There is a house on pacific between bond and hoyt that the city just cemented up…it’s sad to see grand houses decay and also become safety hazzards to the other homes around them

  • I walk by 100 Clark all the time (corner of Monroe Pl). What a shame, especially as the entrance to a beautiful block.

  • “Now that the owner missed the best time to sell, we wonder what will come of this place over the next decade.”

    oh, give me a break. the owner of a 6,000sf brownstone with water views in prime brooklyn heights “missed the best time to sell?” you do realize that this home is currently worth a bazillion dollars, even in its dilapidated state, and that most of the gargantuan sales price would be pure profit to a long-time owner?

  • More weak reporting from Brownstoner. C’mon, you can do better. This is story is as old as Mathusalah.

    I’m sure you can go around to every neighborhood and find a derilict building that has some DOB Report, violations, etc that has been standing there for 20 years.

    Instead of reporting the obvious, it woudl be nice to dig deeper and get on the horn with the suits at the DOB, City Hall to find out why this happens. You could also tie this into the recent crain collapse and see what inspectors are doing about buildings. If you want, we can even get you phone numbers, contacts and write the story for you.

    Stoner, your site is really going downhill.

  • More weak reporting from Brownstoner. C’mon, you can do better. This is story is as old as Mathusalah.

    I’m sure you can go around to every neighborhood and find a derilict building that has some DOB Report, violations, etc that has been standing there for 20 years.

    Instead of reporting the obvious, it woudl be nice to dig deeper and get on the horn with the suits at the DOB, City Hall to find out why this happens. You could also tie this into the recent crain collapse and see what inspectors are doing about buildings. If you want, we can even get you phone numbers, contacts and write the story for you.

    Stoner, your site is really going downhill.

  • There is another house like this on Henry Street near the hospital (corner building with the scaffolding and cats in it.) Sometimes it’s legal wrangling, eccentricity, etc. But other times a case of demolition by neglect: if you ignore a building long enough it may end up unsalvageable and you can then demolish it without dealing with landmark district rules. Crappy attitude, in my opinion, because even with an economic slowdown, these properties would easily sell for a hefty price to someone who would fix them up. (Not true for all the building above, just one more reason this kind of thing happens.)

  • Brooklyn is full of dysfunctional owners who can neither maintain nor sell their property. The Psychiatrist on Henry Street is, even by the standard of his profession, crazy as a loon.
    On the other hand, the problem with 100 Clark Street is rent-control tenants who cannot be budged. I think there are three left who probably live rent-free in the building. They may exit feet first after the building falls in on them.

  • Regarding Penelope Scarano, at the time the house was purchased she used a Boston residence, and as you may know Robert Scarano Jr. was born in Brooklyn. I looked for a connection and didn’t find one. But I really could have spent days on this, you know? To 11:04 a.m. “If you want, we can even get you phone numbers, contacts and write the story for you.” That would be great! Letting the reader do some of the reporting (and sending in tips) is part of what the fast-paced blog format is all about! The same goes for drawing connections between these vacant buildings — among scores of others throughout the city — and the Department of Buildings (and even the crane collapse if you want). That’s why we ask if any readers have more information, and encourage open discussion of posts.

  • 46 willow – what a beauty. so sad to see the state it’s in now. i used to live down from 25 clifton, i always wondered what its story was. that’s a nice block, would be great to see someone bring the house back to life. same with all of these buildings.

  • Why don’t you follow up to see what happened with this unkept story.

    It was featured on Brooklyn Record a while back

    http://www.brooklynrecord.com/archives/2006/09/walls_crumbling.html

  • Part of the problem is that building regulations around private property are based on detached houses. The real issue is not that beautiful buildings are allowed to disintegrate (however sad that is), but that the structural integrity of attached homes can be negatively impacted, seemingly without recourse for the responsible homeowners.

    Other nasty things can happen, too. Before a derelict building on my block was finally repossessed and cleaned out, the immediate neighbors experienced a vile-smelling fluid oozing through their shared wall. Before that, there was a brief fire from overloaded circuits. The neighbors of the aforementioned Pacific Street house have unresolved lawsuits aginst its owner for ongoing water and mold damage.

    It is misguided to respect private property rights so much that other people’s property is effectively diminished or even taken away from them.

  • According to intellus.com:

    Penelope Pauline Scarano; Age 64 has the following relatives:

    DAMON R SCARANO
    DOUGLAS S SCARANO
    JENNIFER E SCARANO
    E SCARANO
    PENELOP SCARANO

  • I love it that there are more dilapidated, vacant buildings in Brooklyn heights these days than there are in Clinton Hill. All of the wrecks in CH have been fixed up.

  • there are less than 3 dilapidated buildings in clinton hill?

  • There are less wrecked houses in Clinton Hill than the five listed here and the five to ten other ones in Brooklyn Heights that aren’t listed here. How many do you count in Clinton Hill? I know of maybe four.

  • RE: Post 12:12
    Is there no privacy anymore? It’s insane that in a few clicks one can find out who owns a building, how many relatives she has, etc.

    Next you will be able to get her DNA and post that to the net? Come on…

  • daveinbedstuy

    I know a few wrecks who live in CH and they haven’t been fixed up.

  • 3:46… there are 10 to 15 ‘wrecked houses’ in Brooklyn Heights? Where?

  • oh, I WISH there were 10-15 wrecks in BH.

    Sorry, but these are them. The BHA has this one covered.

  • 100 Clark is a 5-story, 8000 square foot, 16-unit building. Three rent-controlled tenants shouldn’t be a deal buster. There has to be a way to work around them. I think the fact that the building is ready to fall down — translation: requires a major capital renovation on top of the purchase price — is the bigger barrier to a sale.

  • I’m a wreck and I live in FG…

    No, but seriously, Folks, a lot of the wrecks in FG have been dealt with. Right now it seems there are just some older residents (maybe we would be considered older residents) in FG waiting to sell.

    I want to sell sometimes…am tired of it all. If we sell, I’ll take the profit and move to a small house in New England. Anyone interested in a house? Not too bad…had some details…needs work…priced to move.

  • speaking of wrecks- any info re the dilapidated brownstone on garfield btwn 6th & 7th aves in PS?

  • Also speaking of abandoned wrecks… what’s up with the two ‘new’ buildings on 1st between 4th and 5th? They haven’t been worked on in years.

  • The place on garfield is owned by someone who works at the architecture office up the street on just west of 7th ave. i went in there back in 2002, left my number with secretary…

  • Wake up everyone! 1 Monroe Pl. is owned by The Penson Corp. owned by Edward Penson, a wealthy developer! The Penson Corp owned The Candy Factory building on Middagh Street. This was a Mitchell-lama building, offering affordable housing to artists. Look at what happened there! He got everyone out, just like he has now done with 1 Monroe Pl, only in a different manner, by getting the building condemned. This is happening throughout the city! Landlords and developers are waging an assault on tenants living in rent regulated buildings, slowly eating away at rent stabilized and controlled apartments. They are either breaking the law by warehousing empty apartments, taking months and years to fix “violations” or getting the building “condemned” in the hopes of tenants moving out and not returning, not renewing leases, claiming that they need the building for their families, (meanwhile owning other apartments or buildings) and harassing tenants in any number of ways!
    Our local politicians are guilty of aiding and abetting the landlords and developers!
    This onslaught on hard-working, middle-class, blue-collar and lower-income New Yorkers by property owners, often wealthy and politically-connected needs to stop!
    Those of you who think that rent regulations are a bad thing are not thinking about it in the right way. EVERYONE should be paying an affordable rent! Why should New Yorkers pay 1/2 or more of their hard-earned salaries towards rent?

  • Right on, 11:30! The local politicians – name them as David Yassky, Martin Connor and Bill DeBlasio – are responsible for the sell out to real estate developers. Connor and Joan Millman sponsored legislation to put luxury condos inside Brooklyn Bridge Park – a public park no less! And Yassky cheers them on while promoting height violations in DUMBO – same for DeBlasio on Atlantic Ave. And yeah, Markowitz wants to add lux condos to the jail for god sake. These characters all take huge money from developers – real estate developers like the one who now heads the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy group! It is a rat’s nest of thievery.