Vacca halts illegal demolition

A stop work order was issued for 1720 Barnes Avenue, following the discovery of exterior construction without a permit. Photo by Kevin Heckman

It’s seems like a new house of horrors has arisen in Morris Park.

This past week, with the help of Councilman Jimmy Vacca, a stop work order was issued on 1720 Barnes Avenue, after neighbors report work proceeding without the proper permits.

“This is an instance within my district where people have started to do exterior and interior demolition without Department of Buildings’ permits and my office acted swiftly to get the work stopped,” said Vacca. “The neighbors called right away and knew how to use the Department of Buildings website.”

On Wednesday, July 22, the stop work order was issued for the property which recently changed ownership to 1720 NYC LLC. The contact address for the 1720 NYC LLC, listed in Department of Finance records, can be traced to Achieva Realty Corp., of which Jacob Selechnik is chairman of the board. Selechnik is notorious for problems with additional Bronx properties.

“We had a stop work order issued before we knew it was Selechnik, the same owner of 3030 Middletown Road,” said Vacca.

The new owner also inherited the $ 15,000 worth of prior ECB violations for failure to maintain the exterior building wall, work without a permit, and miscellaneous construction violations.

“It shows that we have to be more diligent when we see work being done. We’ve been getting quite a few of these construction jobs without permits,” said John Fratta, district manager of Community Board 11. “Too much work is done without a permit and we wind up having a disaster. We also have to send a strong message to landlords that we will catch them eventually and will not tolerate people trying to shortcut the system.”

According to local resident and CB11 member Joe Bombace, the property has been an ongoing problem since 2006. He claims to have gone through a similar ordeal with this property.

Vacca has written a letter to the DOB on behalf of the 1720 Barnes property to insist no permits be issued until all current violations are corrected.

“We discovered he owes $ 15,000 in violations, which were against the previous owner, but they have become his responsibility now,” said Vacca. “My first reaction was to respond immediately to the problem, especially with exterior demolition where there could be safety issues.”

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