The city has forgiven a Sheepshead Bay developer who admitted to performing an end-around landmark laws when he illegally updated the historic Lundy’s building to make room for an upscale supermarket — and residents say they knew he was flaunting the law, and would get away with it, all along.
In 2008, David Isaev began converted a portion of the landmark space at the corner of Ocean Avenue from a restaurant into a gourmet grocery with a sidewalk café — and racked up a half-dozen violations in the process.
The city cited Isaev for work he did on the historic tiled floors, the sidewalk near Emmons Avenue, and the addition of awnings advertising his new Cherry Hill Gourmet Market.
But on Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Committee approved the owner’s request for a new air conditioner and sidewalk on Emmons Avenue and legalized all the renovations he made.
Residents who had protested the alterations in the past, arguing that Isaev desecrated the historic building, were upset with the ruling, but said they saw it coming.
“It was done illegally and it does not add beauty to our area,” said Edmund Dweck. “From day one, we knew his intentions and what he wanted to accomplish — and he got away with it.”
But the city says the changes won’t harm the building’s legacy.
“These changes are a major improvement for the building, while allowing the owner to clean up the record and clean up their act,” said Landmarks Chairman Robert Tierney during the hearing.
And the owner says he’s willing to pay the price for his infractions.
“We are committed to pay whatever the fines are at our expense,” said Isaev’s attorney Howard Hornstein. “Eventually everything will be legalized.”
Now, Isaev plans to apply for a zoning amendment that would allow food storage at his building — something he thinks will allow him to keep the grocery store and its adjacent sidewalk café there indefinitely.
But some community leaders are furious with the owner for skirting the landmark process and with the city scheduling the hearing with too little notice.
“This is an outrage,” Bay Improvement Group President Steve Barrison told Sheepshead Bites on Monday. “Our members have called 311 to complain [about the violations] for over a year. I have called to Landmarks Preservation Commission and never received a call back.”
Opened in the 1930s, Lundy’s was a beloved seafood eatery that was once the largest restaurant in the United States before it closed in 1977. The building sat vacant until 1995, when different owners unsuccessfully attempted to revive the brand in a smaller portion of the building before it finally closed again eight years later.