Ridgewood’s biggest eye-sore: 614 Woodward Avenue
By Jessica Meditz
Known for its eye-catching architecture, swanky cafes and rich cultural history, Ridgewood is a community appreciated by lifelong residents and first-time visitors alike.
But for residents who live and work on Woodward Avenue, it’s a nightmare.
614 Woodward Avenue is a large, corner side abandoned property that is boarded up with construction fences and sidewalk sheds.
It is owned by Silvershore Properties, a company whose former owner, Jonathan Cohen, was labeled “New York City’s worst landlord” by Attorney General Letitia James during her time as the former public advocate of NYC back in 2017.
Since 2018, the property has racked up 28 violations from the Department of Buildings, adding up to a total of over $200,000 in fines.
The tickets are issued to Silvershore Properties as well as another individual named Dawny Martinez.
As per the Department of Buildings, both parties failed to show up in court and pay their fines.
In the meantime, the property has acted as an unofficial dumping ground for people to leave their trash, inviting rats and other creatures to wreak havoc.
Gary Giordano, district manager of Queens Community Board 5, said the site has been an issue in the community for several years, ever since Sehy Carson Funeral Home went out of business.
“I remember we had to get the Department of Buildings over there because people were squatting there. We eventually got that taken care of, but I don’t know of any real legitimate use of that property for more than seven years,” Giordano said.
“I will say that I have not known it to be the dumping accumulation problem it has been lately,” he continued.
“When I started at this job 32 plus years ago, nobody was complaining about illegal dumping.”
Giordano said that he has reached out to the Department of Sanitation to clean up the mess, and they do, but people continue to leave their garbage there.
Angela Mirabile, executive director of Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation (GRRC), a nonprofit that focuses on preserving Ridgewood, said that she’s received numerous complaints from residents about the site and its sanitation issues.
She is unsure of who is dumping there, and explained that most of the trash left on the sidewalk there is regular household garbage, and not something that Sanitation would not pick up.
Another issue at the location is graffiti, which GRRC has helped clean up as part of one of their routine programs.
“Normally, with a construction fence, we would give it time for them to do whatever they’re supposed to be doing because the fence is usually a temporary thing,” Mirabile said.
“But that fence has actually been up there for a very long time. So we figured it would help to have the graffiti removed because people are dumping garbage there,” she added. “Sometimes they think that nothing is going on and they dump it, so if we painted over it, it would give it a better look.”
Mina Takla, who owns Aghapy Food Inc. Deli & Grocery across the street, said that 614 Woodward has looked the same since he opened up shop seven years ago.
“People constantly throw their garbage and other stuff in front of the building and I don’t know why,” he said. “I think if somebody fixes it or takes care of the building it’s better for everyone who lives and works here, because it’s a problem.”
Another resident, who requested to remain anonymous, has remained on top of the issue that the property presents to the neighborhood by taking photos, making 311 reports and keeping in contact with community members who are part of the Community Board, the Neighborhood Association and local realtors who are concerned about showing homes in the area.
“I’ve contacted the realtor who is trying to sell the property whose documentation is hung up. It’s old information showing the building in an entirely different state, and they’re asking more for it than it would ever sell,” she said.
“So they’re clearly not really trying to sell it. I’m concerned for the Catholic charity building next door that’s had scaffolding on their building this entire time. It really seems like a hardship on their quality of life,” she continued.
She said it appears that Silvershore Properties keeps opening new LLCs in order to shuffle around losses. While it remains unclear what their strategy is, the resident said it can be categorized as an acceptable loss.
“I think it’s just criminal negligence for the health and safety of this neighborhood. It’s absurd how much trash children are exposed to, and that they can’t even walk a normal path to the park because the sidewalks are unusable,” she said.
“By having the scaffolding up for an extended period of time, on an unoccupied building without lights, it becomes an area for all kinds of criminal activities, like the shooting we had. It’s criminal that Silvershore treats this like a financial instrument, whereas we have to live with this health hazard.”
A Google search will reveal that Silvershore Properties is “permanently closed,” and the phone number listed is disabled.
Jonathan Cohen or any representative from Silvershore Properties could not be reached for comment.