2000-11-18 / Front Page

Catch 22 No Permit=No Repairs At Dayton-Seaside

By John C. McLoughlin

Catch 22
No Permit=No Repairs At Dayton-Seaside

Tenants of Dayton-Seaside head into another winter season without repairs or renovations to their buildings. 
Tenants of Dayton-Seaside head into another winter season without repairs or renovations to their buildings.

As another winter approaches the Rockaways, the three Dayton-Seaside buildings along Shore Front parkway still remain without repairs, leaving tenants vulnerable to the season’s harsh winds, cold temperatures, and conditions that have been documented as "hazardous" by the New York City Buildings Department, an agency that refuses to issue permits for renovations to begin.

In September 1999 the Buildings Department declared the overall condition of 107-10 Shore Front parkway, 106-20 Shore Front parkway and 1 Beach 105 street as "unsatisfactory", noting the crumbling brick facade, windows and balconies.

Tenants of the buildings, led by Barbara Buffolino, have blamed the lack of repairs on the owners, the Zukerman family. Buffolino, president of the Surfside Housing Association for Tenants, sent a letter to all tenants in early October stating, "Last year the landlord filed bankruptcy. No work or any attempt to ensure safety has been addressed. We have been bombarded with legal papers from bankruptcy court stating that the Zukermans are looking for extensions which postpone any repairs. The Zukermans are now hiding behind bankruptcy and our safety and quality of life is being ignored."

The Zukermans declared bankruptcy on the three buildings last February, the result of an unresolved tax dispute with the City of New York. The City claims that the Zukermans owe an estimated $50 million in back taxes, which the owners deny. The bankruptcy enabled the Zukermans to apply for debtor in possession financing, which permits money to be allocated to repairs before payment of back taxes.

Once the bankruptcy court permitted the Zukermans to go ahead with "priority" repairs in late spring, they began to take the necessary steps to go about repairing the parapet of all three buildings and the south wall of 107-10 Shore Front parkway. The Zukermans had their architect, Ralph Sobel, submit work plans to the Buildings Department and their contractor, Apollon Waterproof and Restructuring Corp., file for work permits.

According to documentation supplied to The Wave by the Zukermans and the Buildings Department, the Plan/Work Approval Application was "accepted for permit under directive no. 14/1975" on August 28, 2000. From this point, it would have taken only a week or two for the permits to be issued and the work to begin. That’s where the Zukermans ran into problems.

On September 7, 2000, Eugene Biederman, vice president of Apollon Corp., sent a letter to the commissioner of the Queens Buildings Department, James Leonard, questioning why the permits had not been issued. Repeated phone calls and numerous letters to the Buildings Department by both Biederman and the Zukermans have not been returned or answered to this date.

A source close to the Buildings Department told The Wave that the recent uncovering of corruption and scandal within the agency, and the indictment of several bigwigs, including Queens Commissioner James Leonard, has made day-to-day business almost impossible.

"The safety of residents of the buildings is being jeopardized because of mismanagement at the Buildings Department," said the source. "If you can imagine that a paper is laying on someone’s desk and nothing is getting done because no one is in charge over there, then you’ve got the picture right."

Repeated calls to the Buildings Department for comment were not returned.

Martin Zukerman, a principal of Dayton Management, said that he met with his architect, contractor and New York City Corporation Counsel on October 30 to deal with this matter, but has heard "nothing from the city since."

According to Zukerman, the contractors have been paid, bricks have been purchased, and scaffolding is up. The contractor has been ready to do the job for nearly two months.

"The city cost us 50 damn days," Zukerman said. "We’re prepared...we just ask the city to work together with us."

Zukerman said that tenants could feel safe, since his contractor has checked the conditions of the buildings on more than one occasion.

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