From Sheepshead Bites:
On Monday, March 15, Jacqulyn Bodenmiller should have been relaxing in advance of her marriage to Bittman Rivas in two weeks. Instead, she stood in the rain outside of her family’s home on MacKenzie Street. The family of five, and Rivas, watched helplessly as their home of 27 years was fenced up and prepped for demolition.
Almost all of their possessions were still locked inside the house, destined to be crushed by a huge mechanical claw.
On top of their home sprawled a three-story wooden frame, once a neighboring stalled construction site at 177 MacKenzie Street. During Saturday’s storm, the building slammed into the Bodenmiller’s home with a thunderous boom and shoved their house off its own foundation. Over the course of the next two days, the FDNY and the DOB inspected the home, declared it in “emergency condition” and an immediate threat. The family’s home could collapse under the weight at any time, according to city officials, and so they began demolishing both 177 MacKenzie Street and the Bodenmiller’s home at 181 MacKenzie Street.
Rivas and the Bodenmillers have little doubt who’s responsible. They blame the shoddy construction by the delinquent developer, as well as the Department of Buildings for failing to oversee the work.
The family has had its share of battles with 177 MacKenzie Street. Since construction began in December 2008, the family and other neighbors objected to what they saw as an abuse of a loophole for “community facilities” to have extra bulk and height. The contractor filed for a ten person prayer room, allowing them to build taller and further out on the property line, but the primary use of the building would remain a residence.
As construction moved forward, complaints caught the attention of the Department of Buildings. Ultimately the agency placed three consecutive stop work orders as the architect failed to make 8-foot means of egress along its sides, and the builders also built an illegal roof extension. According to the neighbors, despite DOB orders the contractors carried on with work before totally abandoning the project in October 2009.
Since then the shoddy wooden work has been poorly protected from the elements, weakening its structure.
An architect not related to the project watched as the building was torn down, and remarked that it appeared there were no substantial structural supports on the first or second floors.
The family said the tragedy could have been avoided if the DOB put more pressure on the developer to maintain or demolish the structure.
“It’s like the Department of Buildings dropped the ball,” said Rivas.