Neighbor happy that derelict building, owned by Knox supervisor’s company, is torn down

— Photo from David Murphy

Taken from David Murphy’s backyard in July, this photo of 148 Beach St. in Staten Island shows that the roof caved in and the structure was collapsing. 

David Murphy says, after more than two years, he has peace of mind since he no longer has to worry that the roofless brick building next to his Staten Island home will collapse.

Murphy had contacted The Enterprise this summer because the derelict building at 148 Beach St. in Staten Island was owned by Shaw Funding, Vasilios Lefkaditis’s company.

 Lefkaditis is the Knox supervisor.  Lefkaditis wrote in an email to The Enterprise this week, “I used my experience with blighted properties to commence the conversation regarding blight in the town of Knox which subsequently led to the passing of our blight law.”

Murphy was vacationing this month in Spain for two weeks. “I came back on Sunday and the building was down,” he said. “It felt great … Now I don’t have to worry about it collapsing.

“There’s no more scaffolding,” Murphy reported on the scaffolding that he said had encroached on his property since May 2017. The scaffolding was put up after a storm took the roof off of the brick building.

Murphy said this week, “They put up a wooden fence along the property line. I now have my patio back and I have some peace of mind, finally.”

Records show Shaw Funding acquired the property in May 2014.

Murphy had said this summer that, for the last two years, the building has been in a condition that has put his own house at risk. 

The New York City Department of Buildings had issued violations against Shaw Funding, saying that the building is a safety hazard and should be demolished. In July, city records showed five violations issued against Shaw Funding between May 2017 and July 2018 were still unresolved, with over $30,000 in penalties due. 

Current online city records show a penalty balance of $3,125 although Norell Drone, with the city’s Department of Buildings, told The Enterprise on Monday that the property still has four Department of Buildings violations, and 11 open Environmental Control Board violations.

Reached by phone on Monday, Lefkaditis declined to comment and asked that The Enterprise email him questions. He responded to one of the six emailed questions, quoted near the start of this story.

Lefkaditis, answering Enterprise questions in an email in July, wrote that he and Shaw Funding hoped to remediate the violations and move forward with demolishing the building in the next three months.

“Half of the outstanding violations predate our ownership by as much as 13 years and the permitting and violation remediation process has been costly and daunting,” he wrote.

Murphy told The Enterprise in July that promises from Lefkaditis over the years to fix the situation have not been followed through on. He also said that Lefkaditis contacted him, asking him to rescind a letter to the Enterprise editor, complaining about the derelict building. Lefkaditis denied that he asked Murphy to do this.

Lefkaditis told The Enterprise in July that Shaw Funding has spent about $65,000 to clean up the building.

“It was a literal junkyard,” he said.

He said that the process has been a “typical Staten Island transaction” in its length of time and complications. Other properties he has managed have gone through processes lasting five years, he said. The company manages almost 1,000 different properties, he said.

Lefkaditis also said that, following the demolition of the brick building, he plans to put up four two-family homes in its place.

Murphy told The Enterprise this week, “I think the letter to the editor and the article is what got him moving.”


More Hilltowns News

  • The Berne Town Board voted, with the needed majority of 3, to formalize the town’s planning board, which Councilman Mathew Harris said in May was illegitimate. 

  • A state audit has revealed that Knox Town Clerk Traci Schanz failed to deposit more than 300 fee collections within the legally required timeframes and made reporting errors that left the town with an unremitted cash balance of more than $3,000, according to a report from the Office of the New York State Comptroller. Schanz said she is grateful for what she learned from the audit and new procedures have been put in place.

  • Rensselaerville resident Sarah Gordon is calling on local businesses to take a stand against racism by pledging — on a public, digital spreadsheet — to call out racist behavior that occurs on professional property and to denounce the slogan “all lives matter,” which exists to diminish the anti-racist “Black lives matter” slogan. 

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.