‘Hell House’ still bedevils neighbors

A once-grand Voorhies Avenue mansion remains the neighborhood “hell house” more than four months after it was purchased by a new owner vowing to solve the problem — and neighbors remain furious.

The dilapidated house, which was bought in late April, still houses tenants in the shoddy rooms.

Multiple violations, which range from trash and debris to more serious infractions like lack of heat and electricity, have been tacked up next to a March, 2010, eviction notice near the front door of the house.

The violations suggest that someone is monitoring the situation, yet nothing changes.

“The yard is full of trash,” said Frances Koch, who lives next to the old houses. “The squatters in the house throw trash over the wall into our yard.”

The house, a formerly grand two-story colonial between E. 18th and E. 19th streets, was built in 1931 and is often called “The McCay House” because it is believed to have once been owned by famous cartoonist Windsor McCay.

But the place got a new nickname in early February, when mischief-makers (or unhappy tenants) scrawled “Welcome to Hell” and “Bed bugs paradise” in spray paint all along the front walls of the rooming house.

A month later, a fire that police labeled “suspicious” raged upstairs, causing damage through the upper floors and flooding the downstairs rooms.

“The fire soaked my apartment, flooded everything,” said Vakhtang Muskheladze, who lives downstairs and said he made the necessary repairs to his room on his own.

The new owners say that their goal is to renovate the building and make it livable after evicting the existing residents, who haven’t been paying rent since the change in ownership — an indication that the new owners have no intention of keeping them.

“There’s a protocol — we can’t just kick them out,” said Isaac Itah, whose EEI Properties bought the ultimate fixer-upper for $250,000.

Community Board 15 Chair Theresa Scavo, who gets frequent calls about the house from disgruntled neighbors, has called Sanitation enforcement officers repeatedly. She believes that the owner could do more to improve the dilapidated house.

“A landlord [may] not have money to demolish and put up condos, but [he] can get a hose and soap,” Scavo said. “It’s filthy.”