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Burned: Kings Plaza bigwigs slapped with violations for illegally storing unregistered cars in garage

Slow burn: Three weeks after a fire ripped through a Kings Plaza parking garage, damaging dozens of cars stored there by local dealerships, city officials charged the mall with illegal vehicle storage.
Brooklyn Paper
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Kings Plaza is feeling the heat after last month’s garage fire.

The Department of Buildings has issued violations to the owners of Kings Plaza Shopping Center on Oct. 11 for illegally using its parking garage to store cars for local dealerships — a practice brought to light when the Sept. 17 fire damaged more than a hundred the cars.

Agency officials slapped Brooklyn Kings Plaza LLC with violations because the parking garage’s certificate of occupancy only allows for “accessory parking” for the mall — meaning shoppers and mall employees — and not for vehicle storage, according to department spokesman Andrew Rudansky.

A buildings-department inspector found multiple new cars being stored at the garage by auto dealers during an Oct. 11 visit, less than one month after more than 135 such cars were torched in an alleged arson that caused an inferno to billow through the multilevel parking lot on Sept. 17.

The owners of the building told the department that they are in the process of removing the cars, but if they remain at the site, the owners could be subject to more violations, according to Rudansky.

Evon Stephens, a 23-year-old Flatlands man, was federally charged with arson for allegedly starting the blaze two days after the fire — which injured 26 people, including 20 firefighters — but one local community leader has cast blame on the owners in light of these violations, adding that issues regarding fire safety had come up at community board meetings in the past.

“The seven-alarm fire that almost devastated the garage is proof positive that if the agencies acted on our complaints, and if Kings Plaza management cared about our safety, the spaces would never have been illegally leased, and the seven-alarm fire would never have happened,” said Community Board 18 district manager Dottie Turano in a statement.

In September 2016, senior property manager Steve DeClara of Macherich Management, which runs the mall, told the community board at its monthly meeting that the company leases a large part of the garage for new cars from the Brooklyn Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealership on Flatbush Avenue between Utica and Fillmore avenues, according to Turano, but insisted that the mall had no issues with lack of parking as a result.

And the recent efforts by the management to remove the cars was too little too late, according to Turano.

“Simply put, they shut the stable door after the horse bolted!” she said.

The manager of the Brooklyn Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealership, Daniel Del Negro, previously told this paper that it stores between 500 and 600 of its inventory on the third, fourth, and fifth floors of the parking garage.

Neither Del Negro or officials at Macherich Management could be reached by press time to comment on the specifics of the deal they had to store unregistered cars.

The city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings will hold a hearing on the violations in the coming weeks and determine whether Macherich Management will be fined, and if so, how much the fine would be.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 1:41 pm, October 12, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Boris from Borough Park says:
This is an example of ridiculous government overreach. They were storing cars in a parking garage. Nothing wrong with that.
Oct. 12, 6:57 am
Alma de Cubano from The Slope says:
Boris from Borough Park -- Can I park my old cars in your driveway, you silly fool?
Oct. 12, 8:40 am
Boris from Borough Park says:
The owner of the parking garage agreed to this you dope.
Oct. 12, 2:16 pm
Building Code & Zoning from Brooklyn says:
Building Code and Zoning dictates use, not owners, not tenants. Further the law requires that both are held accountable. In addition to violating building code and zoning, this should be looked at for an infringement on public, perhaps even the publics right of way. There are vehicles being stored illegally everywhere in Brooklyn, both in the public streets and on properties with out permission for it. Take a look at Red Hook, Clinton St, Court St, Bay St, Beard St, commercial buses are stored on the street and on adjoining lots. Cars too, on Clinton St, the sidewalks have been paved over by property who have created their own stall parking spaces. It's a free-for-all and there's no enforcement taking place. Guess you have to light a fire under Uncle Sam's butt to wake him up.
Oct. 12, 7:29 pm

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