Vacant Morris Park lot with a controversial history may be developed

The site at 841A Morris Park Avenue has been vacant for years.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

A site in Morris Park that has often been the center of controversy in the past may finally be developed – with the community’s blessing.

The vacant parcel, 841A Morris Park Avenue, a paper street called Graham Place, was sold by the city several years ago.

Local developer, Morris Park Venture LLC, filed permits on Monday, April 11 to build an eight-unit residential building, with basement commercial space and medical office floors, according to the NYC Department of Buildings.

The plans have not been approved yet, but are as-of-right, according to sources

Well over a decade ago when Diane Cerino owned one of the two residential properties facing Graham Place, she raised concerns that the houses would be landlocked if the property was developed.

But now, with those two houses now vacant and facing foreclosure according to neighbors, community sentiment has apparently shifted.

Graham Place runs north from Morris Park to the southern side of Matthews-Muliner Playground.

The Morris Park Community Association has received many complaints about the two boarded up properties.

According to a nearby business, squatters were found living in one of the vacant houses and stealing power from a neighboring house of worship.

“I know that neighbors have been complaining about homeless people and squatters,” said Tony Singorile, MPCA president. “Sometimes they see kids smoking ‘funny cigarettes’ (marijuana) there at nighttime.”

Signorile said he feels that something needs to be done at the location.

Cerini said when she owned the property she was forced to deal with a nightmare when an earlier owner of the lot fenced off the property, leaving her a narrow walkway to reach Morris Park Avenue.

She ultimately had to register her house with the FDNY as a landlocked property, she said, adding that while her next-door neighbor was able to construct a door onto neighboring Muliner Avenue, she was not able to. She finally moved from the house in 2002.

Councilman James Vacca said he is objecting to the recent plans filed for 841A Morris Park Avenue in their current form, adding that he had found some errors.

“I feel that parking is adequate according to the (R-5) zoning,” said Vacca, adding that he maintains that there should be two side yards instead of one in the application, and that a front-yard is also needed but not in the current application.

“I have made some objections to DOT, that I hope will cause the plans to be reconsidered and possibly redone,” said the councilman.

Hafeez Zahirudin, the manager of the neighboring D. Kingsbridge Upholstery at 845 Morris Park Avenue, said he reported the squatters who were stealing electricity in 2015 from the mosque next to the property.

“We are hoping that the lots can be sold as soon as possible and they could get someone in there,” he said of the vacant houses, added that he does not want the area to become blighted, with garbage dumping and graffiti.

Cerini said she believes that if a building is constructed at 841A Morris Park Avenue, it will make selling the landlocked properties at 191 and 193 Graham Place all but impossible.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

More from Around NYC

>