Homecrest ‘monstrosity’ in final days

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The wrecking ball cometh!

City officials have confirmed that the owner of a stalled construction site in Homecrest will finally raze the house that has caused neighbors headaches for nearly a decade.

“That is the best news I’ve heard in a long, long time,” said Betty Travitsky, who lives next to the 1882 E. 12th Street site.

The Department of Buildings said an attorney for property owner Joseph Durzieh handed the city a letter on April 25 committing to the demolition and indicating a formal application could come as early as next week.

Engineer James W. Feuerborn of firm Thornton Tomasetti will draw up plans to tear down the structure, department officials said.

The bizarre two-story home is built atop a crumbling bungalow, and at 43 feet tall, it towers over nearby homes which stand a little over 20 feet tall. The building is cantilevered — so most of its support comes from struts jutting out of a single wall built on the north side of the lot — which led to fears the structure was not sound.

Neighbors appealed the project twice — even winning a case in state supreme court — but the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals ultimately determined that work could continue despite admitting the permit was approved in error. Architect Shlomo Wygoda filed for an alteration permit despite clearly constructing a new building over a new site, critics said.

“It’s a gaming of the system which produced this awful monstrosity,” said Walter Maffei, an architect who advised neighbors fighting to bring the building down. “The application was pure fantasy and total disregard for any policies and procedures required by the DOB.”

The city issued a stop-work order on the site after one neighbor dug up a portion of her cellar to show that the disputed building’s underlying slab was only meant to support a porch, not a two-story building.

“We really had to get to the bottom of this,” said neighbor Bella Center.

Neither Durzieh nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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