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.