March 9, 2016 By Michael Florio and Jackie Strawbridge
Dozens of Long Island City community members gathered on 44th Drive on Wednesday afternoon to protest developers’ destruction of a historic local building.
Unique exterior details have been illegally torn from the former Elks Lodge at 21-42 44th Drive, just days after an effort to landmark the property and stave off demolition was launched.
According to Department of Buildings documents, construction work on the property – including the removal of an elk head detail – was taking place without proper permits.
A stop work order was issued yesterday, which police had arrived to enforce on Tuesday afternoon.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who wrote a letter to the Landmark Preservation Commission last week requesting landmark consideration of this property, called the illegal work a “disgraceful act” at Wednesday’s rally.
“They tried to destroy what made it worthy of being landmarked,” Van Bramer said. “They tried to scar it and make it ugly.”
Van Bramer’s landmarking request followed a petition launched by the Court Square Civic Association to prevent demolition of the property.
“This is a slap in the face to the Long Island City culture,” Court Square Civic Association president Amadeo Plaza said. “These developers use Long Island City’s roots as a selling point, but they don’t protect them and they are destroying them.”
Van Bramer said he is introducing two pieces of legislation as a result of this incident.
One of these bills would increase fines on any building owner who does illegal demolition work on their property. The logistics and dollar amount are still being worked out, Van Bramer’s office said.
The other bill would create heavy fines for any landowner who destroys a significant element of their building without a permit for which a landmarking request has been submitted by the community.
After purchasing the property late last year, Adam Westreich of Alwest Equities told the LIC Post that his company was working with Planet Partners to develop both 21-42 44th Drive and the lot next door as luxury condos.
It is unclear where development plans stand now; the property was purchased once again in early February, according to City documents, although the buyer appears to be Planet Partners.
Neither company could immediately be reached for comment on this story.
“I am livid at the creeps who tried to destroy this building,” Van Bramer said.
“We will not stop fighting,” he continued, as protesters broke into chants of “we will win.”
The building is an eyesore! You do not need a permit for brick repair.
Landmark LIC, as the area of the arts district.
LIC has been sold to the highest bidder. Look at the monstrosity 80-story tower planned. There’s no stopping the future ruin- unless you can pay.
That monster will be the nail in our coffin.
That and the 70 story tower on the back of the clock tower.
They don’t care about our neighborhood. They don’t even build enough condos for locals to be able to purchase. It’s too expensive
Has anyone seen the Jackson? The most expensive and tiny poorly located condos you can imagine
You do realize that the developers (a) are in the business of making money and (b) will charge what the market will bear, not what a local can afford. It sounds like you are among those who simply won’t be able to afford to live here anymore. Sorry, but that is the way things go sometimes.
I actually work for a local firm so I know all about pricing.
According to Crain’s the luxury market is starting to tank. It’s all a matter of time now.
Another damn rally by JVB. Jesus!
DOUBLE STANDARD ANYONE ????I m going to keep it short and sweet. I m saddened yet not surprise by yet again , another developer breaking the law, and destroying valuable art. What amazes me here is the double standard by elected council member Jimmy Van Bramer , friendly reminder for all, of his statement while we were trying to save 5 Pointz : “He said he is not an advocate for keeping the 5 Pointz building in its current form. He said that he believes in “property rights” and that the owner of the property—Jerry Wolkoff– is entitled to develop the site as long as his plans meet zoning rules and regulations” Is it me or do I see a clear double standard in 3 years ? The landmarking commission made it apparently clear the Elks Club does not fit requirement , the building is own by a private owner , just like 5 Pointz, and if we are going to talk about permits , friendly reminder there were no permit to white wash the building and have scissors lift on city sidewalk required to whitewash. Maybe the Elks club owner forgot to do large contribution to the office of said councilman… either or another very sad loss for LIC, but a clear political stunt.. NO SHAME …
Spot on. Now marry me!
dumbo at his best — his pockets are always being lined and that you can take to the bank —
JVB never met a photo op he didn’t like. At the end of the day, he is for sale. The developers will just wait for the buzz to simmer down and pay off the right people to let them bulldoze the place. Honestly, the building is uninteresting except for a couple of moldings. Much ado about nothing.