Residents in one area of Hell's Kitchen say some vacant buildings have become a dumping ground as well as a camping site for the homeless, and that no city officials are doing anything about it. NY1’s Susan Jhun filed a follow-up story.
Residents from one area in Hell’s Kitchen first contacted NY1 For You back in June, complaining about the unsanitary and unsafe environment created by several gutted buildings on 51st and 52nd Streets between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.
“Dirty, filthy, and very disgusting,” says resident Enoz Alenkav. “This has been like a place for the homeless, alcoholics, narcotics - you know, the aggressive ones. Sometimes we have to go across the street because we’re afraid.”
“It’s disgusting. I mean, it’s a fire hazard,” says resident Jeanette Velez-Soto. “Some of the [Department of] Sanitation people came around one day last week and tried to sweep it out and stuff but that was as far as it went. And then you have a lot of rodents running around and some of the homeless people, because they try to find a dry spot, they’ll be in the corner. It’s just kind of scary when you leave the place at night.”
Locals say the properties used to be a positive part of the neighborhood when they were owned by St. Vincent's Medical Center but quickly became a detriment to the area two years ago, after they were sold to a developer, gutted and left abandoned ever since.
“They were initially doing work, they were cleaning things out and trying to clean it out and straighten it out and then next thing we know they just stopped,” says Velez-Soto.
After some searching, NY1 found the properties were initially bought by Tessler Developments and then sold to 416-432 West 52nd Street LLC, which the station could not reach for comment.
In July, a month after NY1’s first story aired, the Department of Buildings added the structures to their “stalled site” list. A DOB spokeswoman said the buildings were inspected three times and determined to be structurally secure. She went on to say as long as there is compliance with building regulations and no risk, DOB can take no action.
As far as the homeless people who have set up camp there, DOB officials said that is a matter for police. The Department of Health has cited the buildings for scattered rubbish, exposed garbage and litter.
Residents say that's not enough to address this large blemish in their otherwise nice neighborhood.
“This is a great neighborhood and this is sort of a sore spot that you don’t want to walk past because you don’t feel safe,” says resident Jacqueline Calder.
NY1 will continue to follow the situation.