The head officer of the company that owns the Woodhaven building that partially collapsed last April appeared in Queens Criminal Court Friday and was ordered to immediately hire an architect and file for a work permit for the site at 78-19 Jamaica Ave. that residents, civic leaders and legislators have said poses considerable danger to the community, according to a source with inside knowledge of the situation.
George Kochabe, the head officer of 78-19 Jamaica LLC, appeared in court following a warrant being issued for his arrest and was told he must retain the architect and file for the work permit before his next court date on April 10, according to information from the source.
The news of Kochabe’s court appearance comes just before exasperated Woodhaven residents plan to rally this Sunday at 1 p.m. in an effort to pressure the city to act on what they said is an increasingly worrisome situation: A building that, 10 months ago, partially collapsed during the busy rush hour on the evening of April 12, sending a waterfall of bricks cascading onto the sidewalk and street. A car was crushed by no one was hurt in the accident. Since last April, the site has remained virtually untouched.
Concerns about safety and structural damage prompted the ambulance corps to shut down and the Catholic Charities Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center, which rented space from the volunteer ambulance corps, to relocate to the nearby American Legion Post 118 in Woodhaven. Both the ambulance corps and senior center were operating out the of the same building located next to the collapsed structure.
Because the owner of the building has not fixed the site, the senior center has not been able to return – leaving the ambulance corps in a precarious financial situation because it is not receiving rent from Catholic Charities. And, to make matters worse, melted snow from the collapsed structure caused water to flood into the ambulance corps headquarters last Saturday and may have compromised its structural integrity, according to the WRBA.