A recent drunk driving incident on Westchester Square may delay the renovation of an arts center.
According to police, on Sunday, April 24 at 4 a.m., a man speeding in a tow truck jumped the curb and slammed into 2700 E. Tremont Avenue, a building which was gifted to the Bronx Council on the Arts by JPMorgan Chase.
The building, formerly a Washington Mutual branch, is slated to become BCA’s new headquarters in a city-lead renovation project being helmed by the NYC Department of Culture Affairs and the NYC Department of Design Construction.
BCA’s new headquarters will include an art gallery, public program space and office space to be funded by the more than $5.3 million raised for the renovation.
Deirdre Scott, BCA executive director said the non-profit’s leadership is assessing the damage and considering its next steps.
She added BCA is reviewing the damage to the building, consulting with the insurance company, speaking with its architects at LTL architects regarding the repairs that will be required before commencing with the planned renovation.
“This accident does not in any way diminish our eagerness to move ahead with the project, in fact, it increases the urgency to complete the renovation and establish our presence in Westchester Square.” Scott said.
An engineer’s report on Monday, May 2 determined the property is structurally sound.
As a yearly co-sponsor of the Westchester Square Business Improvement District’s ‘Fair at the Square’, BCA said it will still participate in the Saturday, June 18 activities.
“We’re disheartened this accident has happened because that building has sat empty for so long,” said Lisa Sorin, WSBID executive director. “It is our hope that once Bronx Council on the Arts new headquarters is opened it will become a ‘cultural anchor’ for Westchester Square bringing a dynamic array of programs to the area.”
When the 45th Precinct responded to the scene, the driver, Brandon Diaz, 27, of 1738 Van Buren Street was outside the blue 2011 GMC Sierra, restrained by two witnesses who claimed he was trying to flee the scene.
The front seat passenger, Throggs Neck resident Pamela Crowley, claimed Diaz was speeding eastbound on East Tremont Avenue driving through steady red lights when he lost control of the vehicle.
The tow truck sustained damage to its front-end and left side and its frame was wrapped around the corner of the building.
Crowley sustained bruising, swelling and lacerations to her arms, legs and face and a broken right arm.
Diaz and Crowley were transported and treated at Jacobi Medical Center for their injuries.
No additional injuries occurred.
Crowley alleged that Diaz had been drinking alcohol all night prior to the crash.
According to a spokeswoman from the District Attorney’s office, Diaz faces several charges including burglary, assault, reckless endangerment, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, vehicular assault, reckless driving and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Agosto Yanira, owner of the vehicle registered to Xpert Automotive Inc., informed police that Diaz did not have permission to operate the vehicle.