2009-11-20 / Top Stories

Demolitions Worry Bungalow Residents About Future

By Miriam Rosenberg

One resident took this photo of the demolition of the bungalows torn down on November 11. One resident took this photo of the demolition of the bungalows torn down on November 11. Seven bungalows on Beach 26 Street were unexpectedly demolished last week, a short time after the owner told the owner of a neighboring bungalow that there were no immediate plans to tear down the homes, which were lo - cated behind the Metroplex on the Atlantic apartment building.

Andrew Langer, a local businessman, spoke with The Wave earlier this week about his company's decision to tear down the structures.

"There were no remedies to fix those bungalows. They were uninhabitable," Langer said.

On Monday he confirmed ownership of the buildings. "We [my partner and I] owned the bungalows." On Tuesday, he said that while he is listed as vice president of Rockaway Development Corp, LLC on Department of Building applications for work permits, he is actually the managing agent. Andrew Finkel is listed as president.

Langer said the city, area residents and the owners of Metroplex on the Atlantic were coming down on him and giving him a hard time about the structures.

The day after the demolition, the last remains of the bungalows are cleaned away leaving an empty lot in their wake. The day after the demolition, the last remains of the bungalows are cleaned away leaving an empty lot in their wake. "I wasn't looking to tear them down," Langer added. "If I could have rehabilitated [I would]."

Residents disagree that renovations could not be made.

"Everything is repairable. It's a matter of if you want to," said S.C. Samoy, the president of the Beachside Bunga - low Preservation Association. "The bunga lows could have been saved. It's about the culture and history of Rock - away. They're from a whole historical time."

Another resident, who has renovated her own bungalow, agreed with Samoy.

"It's a simple structure," she said. "There's nothing complicated about it. Restoring it is not difficult."

She also recalled a neighbor's home that "looked so bad, but he got in and fixed it."

Councilman James Sanders, Jr., has his own concerns about the demolitions.

"If we find that the bungalows were demolished illegally, we are going to fight to insure that they are built again in a better fashion," said Dono - van Richards, Sanders' acting chief of staff. "The councilman is committed to protecting the character of the bungalow area. We're also committed and we will support the Beach Bungalow Pre - servation Association's efforts to protect their area."

The street in front of the now vacant lot is already becoming a spot for litter. The area is right behind the Metroplex on the Atlantic building. The street in front of the now vacant lot is already becoming a spot for litter. The area is right behind the Metroplex on the Atlantic building. Samoy said that her organization would do outreach "To make sure that no other bungalows are demolished." She also worries about what will go in the place of the seven bungalows.

"Is it going to be in line with the rest of the character of the neighborhood?" asked Samoy.

Langer said he would wait until the market recovers before doing anything with the land. He did promise that whatever is done it will be better than anyone else will do.

"He had every right in the world to do what he did," said one neighbor. "[I believe] it just was not in his selfinterest or of the block. Maybe he didn't appreciate that there were people in the community he could work with."

Between September 10 and October 26 the DOB received six complaints of failure to maintain property and damages to the buildings related to the block of land on which the bungalows stood. One complaint came from Community Board 14.

"All we do is take a complaint and forward it to [the Department of Buildings]," said Jonathan Gaska, the district manager of CB 14. "The Department of Buildings makes the determination of the buildings."

While he said the bungalows in question were in bad shape, Gaska expressed surprise that they were torn down so quickly.

"Very rarely does an owner tear down this quickly unless it's by city order," he said.

In an email earlier this week, Jennifer Callahan who, with Elizabeth Logan Harris, is co-producing a film called "The Bungalows of Rockaway," gave some history of the bungalow area.

"By 1933 there were over 7000 bungalows standing on the Rockaway peninsula," wrote Callahan. "My guess is that the ones on Beach 26th Street were likely built in the early 1920s, the same time as the ones built on Beach 24th and 25th Streets."

Callahan estimated that there are fewer than 450 bungalows, possibly 350, left in Rockaway.

As we went to press, according to sources, two more bungalows on Beach 26 Street were condemned and going to be demolished.

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As a prior resident from 1950 when I was born here until the 80's when I left I am surprised as everyone else.History can show how much land and Ocean Front property stood empty over 30 years before developers somehow came and started all kinds of building with no infra structure or even attempting to match the landscape.I just don't get it.Who's in charge there anymore?


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