Friday, October 7, 2016

Another Build It Back Horror Story

By Daniel Offner

Davino’s home, at 11-17 Cross Bay Blvd. in Broad Channel, will be raised approximately nine-feet higher than its current elevation. 
Photos by Daniel Offner Davino’s home, at 11-17 Cross Bay Blvd. in Broad Channel, will be raised approximately nine-feet higher than its current elevation.Photos by Daniel OffnerThis week, The Wave continues its ongoing series surrounding the reconstruction efforts of New York City’s Build It Backprogram, with yet another horrific tale from a displaced homeowner.
Deborah Davino first purchased her home, at 11-17 Cross Bay Blvd. in Broad Channel, back in 2001—eleven years beforeHurricane Sandy struck the peninsula, leaving all kinds of destruction in its path.
In the aftermath of the storm, then- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched Build It Back, a program designed to assist affected homeowners by returning them to a safe and sustainable home.
When the process began in 2014, Davino was among one of the first homes selected.
“I signed up at the very beginning,” Davino said. “[Contractors] went through the process quickly. It was wonderful. By the end of August 2014, I was going to be elevated.”
But, she wasn’t. One month later, in September 2014, the architect notified her that the house would not make the list.
Her house sat in limbo for several months, until February 2015, when contractors were finally given the O.K. to knock it down and rebuild.
However, city officials later denied this plan and instead, in March 2015, gave the authorization [again] to elevate the house.
“Low and behold, Build It Back never applied for a DEC permit,” she said, “so, nobody even looked at it until August of last year.”
Finally, in May, she met with NYC Build It Back Queens Borough Director Rudy Giuliani to discuss the plans for elevation, when the contractor voiced some concerns about lifting the home.
Davino said that when she first purchased the property, 15 years ago, it was approximately 1,600 sq. ft. in size. But, because it wasn’t included on the deed, Build It Back claimed she was only entitled to about 1,200 sq. ft.
“My application has been so poorly mishandled,” she said. “What I am disputing is that Build It Back is not giving me back what I had in the first place… they’re shrinking me.”
According to Davino, despite having just installed new floors, granite countertops, a washer/dryer and a dual-door refrigerator, she was told to get rid of them because every home that goes through the program must be turnkey ready with warranty.
“At least give me the material equal to what you’re taking out,” Davino said.
In response to Davino’s claims, a spokesperson from the Office of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said that Davino is eligible for a brand new home, but had been delayed for the past few months because she is fighting the eligible square footage.
“She appealed to legal and was denied and has been in a holding pattern since,” the spokesperson said in an email. “She can choose to move forward with what we are offering whenever she’d like.”
Adjacent to the house, New York City Department of Design and Construction has been working on a project to raise the roadways along West 11th12th, and 13th roads in Broad Channel. When the project is complete, the streets will be about three-feet higher.
“It’s going to be about eight months before they get to me,” she said. “Here I am, back at where I was in 2014.”
Despite four years of work through the NYC Build It Back program, Davino claims the agency has never sent anyone to inspect the interior of the property, only the exterior.
“It was a ‘sight unseen’ inspection,” she said. “Build It Back never even came.”
However, according to the Mayor’s spokesperson, Build It Back sent someone to physically measure the home during its initial damage assessment, in 2014, after she first signed up for the program.
“In Ms. Davino’s case, we have also done TWO additional official surveys,” the Mayor’s spokesperson said in his email. “Both say the home is 1,162 sq. ft. and only one story…It also includes photos and measurements of the space in question and you can clearly see that this is not habitable space, but some storage space.”
Although Build It Back claims the property is only 1,162 sq. ft., Davino said she recently heard from the builders that the designs will provide more space than they originally allotted.
“I wouldn’t have finished the floors if I knew it was going to be knocked down,” she said. “I just want to get through the program at this point.”
Emails to NYC Build It Back Queens Borough Director Rudy Giuliani were not returned as of press time.

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