Pelham Bay Builder Gets OK

The site of a former carpenters union hall (above) now has construction underway for a seven-story, 44-unit apartment building with some under-ground parking. Photo by Walter Pofeldt

A developer with one of the worst track records as a NYC landlord is coming to the Pelham Bay area, and residents are so up in arms about his new project, that they will take to the streets with signs and placards to protest what they believe is another example of overdevelopment.

The protest will take place at noon on Saturday, October 18 at 3030 Middletown Road, a hotly contested parcel of land, formerly a one-story union headquarters.

Residents are unhappy that one of the partners of 2419 LLC is Jacob Selechnik, who amassed over 23,000 housing code violations on other properties he owned and was named as one of New York City’s ten worst landlords by the Village Voice.

While the Department of Buildings initially issued a stop-work order for the seven-story, 44-unit apartment building, the builder, a Westchester-based partnership, has satisfied all of the department’s objections, and the project is now moving along.

“We have made quite a few flyers and signs, and we hope to get a lot of people to the protest,” said Mary Jane Musano, of the Waterbury LaSalle Community Association. “Selechnik still owes over $90,000 in C-class violations, and we are trying to get the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to look into this. HPD says they are working with him, but there are laws out there to stop him. He should be in jail.”

Musano said that Selechnik has destroyed the lives of thousands of tenants in his buildings, many of which are in the south Bronx, and is not the kind of indivdual the neighborhood needs. In the last few years Selechnik, to escape growing scrutiny, is believed to have placed many of his properties in the names of family members and associates.

Besides changing the landscape of the Middletown Road area, which is already impacted by the Waterbury-Estates project, there are quality-of-life issues that members of the community feel the apartment building, with ground-floor professional and retail space, will bring to Pelham Bay.

“The location is the perfect site for a parking lot, not another residential building,” said Andrew Chirico, also of WLCA. “We need to limit new construction. Very often the zoning regulations are too broad and do not reflect the real needs of communities like ours. Overdevelopment has caused a great need for parking in our residential and commercial districts.”

Chirico also cited overcrowding of schools, and depletion of municipal services that are already stretched thin.

“The DOB will tell you the building on this site is ‘as of right,” Chirico stated. “In our community today, ‘as of right’ means it is wrong for our quality of life.”

Members of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association, WLCA, and surrounding civic and community associations are expected to take part in the protest.

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