2009-08-21 / Top Stories

SRO Renewal Set For Beach 113 Street

By Howard Schwach

186 Beach 113 Street, which might soon become a 24-unit SRO, much to the anguish of neighbors. Wave file photo shows a drug raid on the home from the November 30, 2002 issue. 186 Beach 113 Street, which might soon become a 24-unit SRO, much to the anguish of neighbors. Wave file photo shows a drug raid on the home from the November 30, 2002 issue. The Rockaway Park community fought for years, through the 1990s and into the mid-2000s, in an attempt to rid the neighborhood of single room occupancy buildings (SROs), particularly those owned by slumlord Michael Andrews.

Finally, with the help of Community Board 14 and the city's SRO Taskforce, Andrews was forced to sell his homes, many of which were populated with drug dealers and gang members, and leave the community.

Today, however, the city might be allowing the bad old days to return, locals say.

One of those Mike Andrews SROs was located at 186 Beach 113 Street and it went through several incarnations since Andrews sold it, most recently as a three-family home.

Now, however, city records show that Ila Koptiev and GBR Realty filed with the city to restore the home to its previous use as a 24-unit SRO, and that the Department of Buildings granted permission on April 26 to begin the renovation, something that has neighbors fuming.

"There was a time when you couldn't walk down the block without getting accosted or threatened. It was terrible," said one longtime resident who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. "When Andrews left, it was great. I'm afraid that we're going to have the bad old days all over again when the SRO is open."

"Who is going to live there," she asked. "It's going to be homeless, drug dealers and alcoholics. This is a nice block now, and we don't need problems such as that just so somebody can make some bucks from the government."

Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska, who was on the original task force, thinks that the city's approval is illegal, but can't put his hands on the law that would make it so.

"When we had the task force, the city passed a law that if a former SRO sat vacant for three years or more, it reverted to its prior zoning, which was a three-family home," Gaska told The Wave this week. "The Department of Buildings told me that I should show them the law, even though you would think they could find it themselves."

Meanwhile, the owner plans to renovate the 24-unit building, and neighbors fret for the future.

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