City to Initiate ‘Demolition By Neglect’ Lawsuit Against 43 MacDougal Street
We have some very important progress to report regarding our efforts to save the landmarked house at 43 MacDougal Street from continuing neglect and deterioration — the city has just informed us that they are pursuing a lawsuit against the owner to force repairs to the building, as GVSHP has long urged them to do.
Background: For years GVSHP and neighbors have been waging a battle to get repairs to this building. We have documented extreme neglect, including the building being left open to the elements and intruders for months at a time. We pushed with some success to get the city to issue fines against the owner, bait the property for rats, and take emergency measures to seal the building to prevent further damage and protect passersby.
However, we have been frustrated by a lack of concrete progress in seeing the building restored and its historic features protected, as its landmark designation requires. Thus we have pushed the city to undertake a “Demolition By Neglect” lawsuit against the owner, which is the strongest legal action the city can take regarding a neglected landmarked building, charging that the owner’s actions are resulting in the building’s de facto demolition. Demolition By Neglect” cases have led to owners being forced to make repairs to their buildings, or selling their buildings to more responsible owners who obey the law and restore their buildings. In addition to multiple communications to the city about this, last month GVSHP initiated a letter-writting campaign resulting in scores of letters to Mayor Bloomberg calling upon the city to take such action.
In response, we have just been notified by the Landmarks Preservation Commission that they have “begun the process of initiating a demolition by neglect lawsuit against the owner” (read the entire letter HERE). This is tremendously important news. While such lawsuits take time, this greatly increases the pressure upon the owner, and is the strongest action yet the city has taken.
I want to thank everyone who wrote the city urging them to take this action. Even as the city undertakes this lawsuit, we will no doubt have to continue to closely monitor the site for new signs of neglect, deterioration, safety hazards, and abuse, and urge the city to take action in response. However, this announcement is significant progress, and a reason for some hope for an eventual end to this terrible situation.
We will keep you posted as this situation continues to develop.