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Brownstone battle! Neighbors want to save decrepit building — from its owner!

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Two new members of the City Council have brought a new weapon to a decade’s-old fight to force a homeowner on tony Garfield Place to stop letting his once-stately brownstone fall apart piece by piece — they’re demanded that the mortgage holder take back the beleaguered building.

Councilmen Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) and Steve Levin (D-Boerum Hill) say that the Bank of New York, which holds owner Peter Saltini’s mortgage on the decrepit building at 174 Garfield Pl., must that the property be repaired or sold.

“It is within the bank’s power to urge [Saltini] to fix it up, or put it in the hands of a responsible owner,” Lander told The Brooklyn Paper. “We want to turn this building into an asset to our community rather than a hazard.”

Neighbors have been complaining about the unoccupied three-story house — and its owner, Saltini — for years, and city inspectors have written up the building for dozens of violations.

But Saltini, who lives in upstate Westchester, doesn’t care.

“Let them complain,” he told us. “I’ve been a big contribution to the quality of life on that block and all I get from the neighbors is grief. Whatever liens and citations I have at this point, I will work them out when I [sell it]. I’ve been here since 1969 and dealing with these people has made my skin thick.”

He even threatened his neighbors, saying he would “sue all their asses” if they continue to fight his stewardship of the property.

And what a lordly manor it is! The “brownstone” in question is strewn with bricks, garbage and graffiti in front of its unusable front door. At least six windows are covered over in concrete blocks.

Out back is a jungle of weeds and old construction material so thick it looks like a scene from “Avatar.”

The building is not only an eyesore on an otherwise beautiful block, it’s a threat, thanks to its steady collapse. Saltini bought it in 1969 for home and office use, but has left it to die slowly. In just 10 years, the property has accrued hundreds of complaints, a handful of interior fires, 23 Department of Buildings violations and 20 Department of Sanitation violations.

“We’ve been worried about the place for more than a year — big cement pieces just fell in the front next door,” said Barbara Conn, a resident of the block between Sixth and Seventh avenues, who’s spearheading the campaign to get the unoccupied building either repaired or sold. “People could get killed.”

And once, a tree collapsed onto and destroyed neighbor Silvia Giliotti’s balcony, sending her sprinting in fear.

“It sounded like a plane crashing through the ceiling, so I just ran out,” Giliotti said, saying that she may not have bought her house in the first place if she knew she’d be calling 311 for the next decade.

Saltini claimed this week that he’s in a “verbal agreement” to sell the home, though he has said that before, neighbors said. But for now, he said he’s too busy with his other properties in the area to worry about a few angry neighbors.

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Reader Feedback

Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
Wow, what a great neighbor!

The government is only too happy to condemn perfectly nice buildings for Bruce Ratner under spurious claims of blight. Why, when blight is clear and obvious, will it not use that same power to truly improve a neighborhood?
April 28, 2010, 9:44 am
Joseph from park slope says:
whats the problem with this man???
is he retarded or something.

the city needs to step in and seize this property before someone gets killed. this is not a freaking joke.

the man should be jailed
April 28, 2010, 12:15 pm
top from bk says:
a handful of interior fires? i bet this guy bought the place for $100 back in the day. The city should have a rule that once you reach a certain amount of violations the owner is considered a hazard and they take away his right to own the building.
April 28, 2010, 12:33 pm
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Eric: you are absolutely correct.
The owner is a classic douchenozzle
April 28, 2010, 12:35 pm
Richie rich from parkslope says:
The owner should hang himself because he lives a sad life and clearly hates the world.
April 28, 2010, 1:27 pm
Pacholo from Red Hook says:
Be very careful how you use the word seize.
April 28, 2010, 4:03 pm
Barbara from Park Slope says:
I agree with Eric. Why are community residents put in the position of protecting each other from falling debris while the city fails to act effectively to remedy the problem?
April 28, 2010, 4:07 pm
Mike Curatore from Carroll Gardens says:
The sword cuts both ways. Sounds like the City has done all it could by issuing violations. But when it comes to stepping in, and on, private property they typically have a pretty high threshold. Atlantic Yards was clearly the exception. In the day-to-day world of government, they usually don't just go running out onto private property willy nilly.

Frankly, as a property owner, I wouldn't want them to trample on my rights. But jerks like this owner, and the impact he's had on his neighbors, is the price we pay for our rights to our property.

I think the Council Members deserve a lot of credit for their creativity and energy trying to find ways to do what government can't. Kudos, guys!
April 28, 2010, 4:48 pm
Michael B from South Slope says:
I walk down that block several days a week, and it is sad to see how the owner has let his personal life spill out onto the sidewalk. We have to find a way to stop those who make a mess and don't clean it up. We're starting to do that to Wall Street, now it's time to go local. Kudos to the community for making a stand against this rotten molar in the mouth of our fairest neighborhood.
April 28, 2010, 9:19 pm
SG from Park Slope says:
Mike:
The sword does not cut both ways. With rights come responsibilities, you cannot have your cake and eat it too ... safety first! The building is a danger to neighbors, but also to people walking by, and the homeless and youth that often congregate under the shed.
This is the tale of a decade of attempts to be collaborative with Saltini, and to inform the city of the danger. A certain Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel comes to mind.
April 28, 2010, 9:33 pm
Colin from Greenpoint says:
Looks like this property has a long history of neglect:
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C06E0DB173CE633A25752C0A9649C946396D6CF
April 28, 2010, 10:59 pm
Robert Tefft from Cobble Hill says:
I used to live on Garfield Place and I hope that the
restoration of that building to responsible ownership cures the blot on my memories of the block as soon as possible.
April 29, 2010, 7:43 am
cat from park slope says:
The article tho' has a few holes. Did Saltini ever LIVE in the building? Does he know any of the neighbors? What led to him letting it fall into disrepair? Clearly he could have sold it at any time. What quality of life did he add to the block? I feel like this article leaves us with many many questions.
April 29, 2010, 7:04 pm
bc from Park Slope says:
Cat I'm sorry I really think your questions are irrelevant. Yes he lived on the block years ago and knows some of his neighbors. Mr. Saltini is an architect and developer and assembled and converted some run down buildings on the block to co-ops -presumably at a profit. The pertinent point here is that the building is literally falling apart and a possible danger to all who pass by. Only Mr. Saltini will ever know why he has allowed the building to fall into such disrepair. The issue isn't his motive. Even if he had been a saint on the block that would not be an issue. It's getting the building repaired before someone is harmed.
April 29, 2010, 11:05 pm
BC from Park Slope says:
Today a piece of wood at the bottom of the sidewalk shed started to come down. Its approximately 8 feet long with nails and is dangling onto 174 1/2's front yard. The rest of the shed on that side of the building also looks extremely insecure with just a couple of nails holding it into place.
We have called 311 about this.
How long will this be allowed to go on?
April 30, 2010, 3:53 pm
SG from Park Slope says:
Cat, it is rather alarming that the very same premise (improving quality of life on the block) that Mr. Saltini used to defend moving people out of their homes to convert run-down buildings into co-ops does not apply to HIS OWN building ... 174 Garfield has been deteriorating for at least ten years. Today two large pieces of stone fell from the facade and caused one side of the sidewalk shed to come down. In any case, if you must know, no one has lived in the building for ten years. Whatever Saltini's reasons might be, it remains his responsibility to maintain the building.
April 30, 2010, 7:20 pm
IR from Park Slope says:
Since this article was published the scaffolding has been replaced with one that covers the sidewalk as well. It does however require electricity to power the light fixtures as it is very dark at night. It is interesting to me how this neglect could carry on for over 10 years and only when the community chooses to highlight this egregious lack of responsibility that things are actually taken care of.

This is by NO means a resolve for the dilapidated dwelling. However, it appears that if we continue to press the issue with proper council, Mr. Saltini will finally be forced do something about this mess. His contributions mean absolutely nothing to the Park Slope community, if he can not even maintain proper safety regulations and think about the home owners on either side of HIS disgusting piece of property.
May 3, 2010, 3:03 pm
Sloper from Park Slope says:
Believe it or not, this has been taken to a new level in the past days. The previous shed has been removed and a shed 3 times its size put in front of the house. I wonder when they will start to build sheds over the street and the neighboring houses as well? Mr. Saltini prefers to install hideous sheds instead of taking care of his property. If you google his name, you'll find a NYT article in which he proudly declares how much he has done for this street. Just like in this article. His deeds prove him wrong!
May 3, 2010, 4:04 pm
gemma from Brooklyn says:
As he is letting 174 Garfield fall apart, Mr. Saltini is advertising that his South Hampton cottage can be rented for $4,000-$6,000 a week. How's that for priorities ...?
May 5, 2010, 11:55 am
Gemma from Brooklyn says:
This is where I found his cottage advertised:

http://www.greatrentals.com/rental-property/p112742
http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/p97963
May 5, 2010, 12:06 pm
richie rich from parkslope says:
someone rent his cottage and trash it please.
May 5, 2010, 1:40 pm
Bilbo Baggins from The Shire says:
I think his neighbors are way in over there heads. Saltini is a great man for this community. He has done amazing things. For instance he has let the biggest house on the block rot to the point it is literally falling down into pieces; which, eventually will harm someone unless something is done. That sounds marvelous. His property has also caused a fire, WHAT A GREAT THING FOR THE BLOCK. ALL THOSE FLASHING LIGHTS AND EXCITEMENT...FUN!.
May 5, 2010, 7 pm
dg from East Village says:
I was there when a hundred pound section of the facade fell. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it was frightening to hear it tear through the scaffolding. It's one thing to have thick skin Mr. Saltini, it's another to court injury through neglect. People wonder at your motives. Why not show another side? Why not work toward a solution? You said you worked for the community in the past why not try it again? It wouldn't take much to make all parties feel better. Yourself included.
May 5, 2010, 11:12 pm
Richie rich from parkslope says:
i walk by this morning to check it out and even with the new shed, its still looks like sh*t. the burn rundown property makes the block look like ghetto.
May 6, 2010, 2:33 pm
V from Park Slope says:
I tripped yesterday morning on the sidewalk under the dark scaffolding. The sidewalk turns up like the peak of a volcano. I just wonder why the city has not forced him to fix the sidewalk or the garbage department does not fine him for all the garbage in front of the house? Is it really that much for the community to ask that Saltini at least maintain his property and make sure its safe for the rest of the people that have to live around it until he sells it? Wouldn't those little things make his property more appealing and cause less bad publicity for him as well? It is his responsibility morally and as a property owner.
May 8, 2010, 12:34 pm
Lindsey Lohan from rehab says:
If this house goes down where am I gonna get my crack from?
May 9, 2010, 1:22 pm
wijiboo from park slope says:
what about all the other abandoned buildings in PS? 7th Ave and 2nd St, 3rd St just below 7th Ave, 3rd St above 7th Ave, 8th Ave between 6-7 Sts. etc etc etc. How are these owners allowed to do this?
May 10, 2010, 11:50 pm
Janet from Park Slope says:
Guys like him are the worst kind of parasites. People work hard on creating a neighborhood, and guys like him hold them back. But at a certain point, after everyone else's hard work has made the neighborhood a desirable place to live, he sells the place for a HUGE profit.

He's a parasite, profiting off the hard work of others and the city should fine him so much money that he has no choice but to renovate or sell this place.
Aug. 28, 2013, 7:23 pm

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