Malodorous Condos Coming Down
"They had better try and sell them on a dark night during the winter," one local wag joked at the time, adding that he could not believe that anybody would ever build homes next to the treatment plant, which often puts out smells that spread for miles on a hot summer day.
Now, however, officials say that the eyesore, which consists of more than a dozen abandoned, half-completed condo homes, will be bulldozed in early 2009 to make way for the storage of large equipment and pipes for the adjoining plant.
Officials from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, in 2005, tried to buy the property, which was then an abandoned Kosher catering hall project that never got off the ground, but negotiations with the owner, identified as Yehuda Cohen, failed.
Construction on the condos began in earnest in 2006, but several stopwork orders by the city's Department of Buildings put a halt to the work.
The city finally condemned the property in March of 2007 and all work stopped at the site.
The half-built condos remained, however, thought to be an eyesore on the major east-west roadway by many locals who passed it each day.
Real estate experts say that the property was worth about $1 million before the condo construction.
Now, however, the city will pay more than $5 million for the land and to demolish the existing building shells.
"A lot of things went wrong here," said Jonathan Gaska, the District Manager for Community Board 14. Someone dropped the ball [in the original negotiations] and the [Department of] Buildings should have never issued the permits [to begin construction]."
City officials said that demolition will begin in the coming months, and that work would be done to clean the wastewater treatment plant to control the odors emanating from the plant.
While many of the other water treatment plants surrounding Jamaica Bay have been funded for major renovations that would stop the odors, the Rockaway plant, one of the oldest in the city, has not been scheduled for any major renovations in the present capital budget.