It’s easy to walk around Bushwick and appreciate all the street art along Jefferson Street, the breweries, and dining options. All of these new amenities come at a price, and often the price is incidental and hidden. Perhaps it’s even unintentional. Let’s take a look at 177 Wilson Ave, aka 1399 Dekalb Ave (make note of the 1399). This unfortunate piece of property was once home to DiMola Printing Co. As of this writing, the building sits empty, the result of recently issued DOB (Department of Buildings) stop work and vacate orders.
Let’s take a look at this building’s history, present, and future. First stop is ACRIS, where we see the deed has transferred twice in the last seven years. The first transfer was in December of 2010, from the Estate of Vera DiMola to Bruce DiMola. The deed transferred again in July of 2017, from Bruce DiMola to Redfern Realty, LLC, for a cool $2.45 million. The next step is to examine DOB records and perhaps learn more about the vacate and stop work orders.
DOB approved the work application to renovate the first floor commercial space on October 10, 2017, and convert it into a type of eatery. Just nine days later on October 19, DOB issued a Stop Work Order (SWO) due to unsafe conditions. According to the DOB, during demolition work the building’s stability was compromised. The SWO was partially rescinded on October 23, but only to the extent necessary to “shore” up the building and clean out the rubbish. The DOB ECB (Environmental Control Board) violations are still unresolved, however. According to the violation record, the structure weakened when the contractor removed a load bearing wall.
“WORK DOES NOT CONFORM TO APPROVED CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS. AT TIME OF INSPECTION OBSERVED THAT THE CONTRACTOR REMOVED EXISTING WALL WHERE THE BLDG SUFFERED STRUCTURAL DAMAGE NOT COMPLYING WITH APPROVED PLANS.”
DOB issued a second violation, alleging the contractor failed to protect persons and property. DOB has named “Nova Vasquez and Associates” as the respondent in each ECB violation (3 total). This “work” lead to unfortunate consequences for the tenants. On October 19, the DOB issued a vacate order, which remains in effect. At the time of our visit, there was no construction (even to the limited extent permitted by the partial rescind order), and there were certainly no tenants living in the structure. All because the contractor, according to DOB, destabilized the building for reasons that remain, at best, unclear.
How things unfold from here is unknown. The total estimated cost for the project was only $21,000.00, and that was just to renovate and install a cooking apparatus. Interestingly, the project did not call for any change in the occupancy of the building. But tell that to the tenants that once lived at 177 Wilson Avenue. Without rent stabilization to help (the building seems to be only 5 units, although it was built before 1974), there is no little recourse to protect their tenancy, other than perhaps a lease (which would need to be enforced by the courts). Remember this building, and the many others like it, when walking the streets of Bushwick.
There also seems to be an address identification error (or whatever) on the side of 177 Wilson Avenue that faces Dekalb Avenue. On the side door, the address is improperly marked “1389” (see picture below). The correct alternate address is 1399. So it doesn’t help matters that the SWO was written for 1389 Dekalb Ave, which is the alternate address for the lot across Wilson Avenue at 178 Wilson Avenue. Also note the picture way left (and then, bottom right): the Department of Sanitation issued a violation for for B & R Management, which owns 178 Wilson Avenue (1389 Dekalb Ave) across the street, not the lot where the violation is posted! Messy times are ahead.