2006-12-08 / Community

Debris Falls From Roof Of Abandoned, Deteriorating Lawrence Hotel

By Howard Schwach


Fire apparatus stand in front of the Lawrence Hotel on Beach 116 Street as firefighters block off the sidewalk with safety tape. Photos by Susan LockeFire apparatus stand in front of the Lawrence Hotel on Beach 116 Street as firefighters block off the sidewalk with safety tape. Photos by Susan Locke The Lawrence Hotel, once one of the most notorious welfare hotels in New York City, has long been looked at as a blight on the Beach 116 street landscape, but last week it turned from ugly to dangerous when pieces of the roof began falling on the shopping street.

On Friday afternoon, December 1 at about 4:30 p.m. fire apparatus from the firehouse on the street roared up to the hotel at 164 Beach 116 Street responding to a call that the roof was falling off the building.

Firefighters from the local house quickly closed off the sidewalk in front of the dilapidated building.

Onlookers watched from across the street at a number of shingles flew from the roof in the heavy wind.

A team from the Department of Buildings Emergency Response Team arrived shortly after the fire department and inspected the building's faade and roof.

Some of the debris from the roof of the dilapidated hotel sits on the sidewalk.Some of the debris from the roof of the dilapidated hotel sits on the sidewalk. The next day, the Buildings Department issued a violation to the owner, Vladimir Prokopov for "failure to maintain" the building.

The agency's Emergency Response Team also issued an emergency declaration that the building is a danger to the community and an "emergency shed" or scaffolding will soon be placed around the building.

A spokesperson for the Department of Buildings said that there is a history of complaints involving the building, the latest coming in 2005 for working in the building without a permit.

While the spokesperson said that the ownership of the building is unclear on city records, Prokopov bought the pigeon-plagued property in 2004 with plans to reduce the building to rubble and build a showcase building that was to include stores, a restaurant and four floors of condominiums or offices.

His plan was stymied, however by the fact that the zoning for that particular piece of property restricts it to three stories.

Fire officials keep an eye on the roof of the abandoned hotel. The Department of Buildings has issued a violation for failure to maintain the building, but its ownership is unclear. Fire officials keep an eye on the roof of the abandoned hotel. The Department of Buildings has issued a violation for failure to maintain the building, but its ownership is unclear. Propokov was unavailable for comment on this story.

From the early 1950's well into the 1980's the hotel was used by the city to house welfare clients awaiting placement in city housing apartments.

The community, angered by the impact of the welfare hotel on its main shopping street, rallied and the hotel was eventually shut down and its clients moved elsewhere in the city.

In 2004, John Lepore, the president of the Chamber of Commerce said of the plans to raze the hotel, "Anything that gets rid of the Lawrence Hotel, which is both a fire and health risk, is alright with me."

The building has only deteriorated further in the past two years, with the second floor faade completely gone and large holes in the roof.

Officials say the emergency shed will protect the public until the condemnation proceedings result in the demolition of the unsafe structure.

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