BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Following 12 years of community outcry, Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) is calling on a property owner to address an Elmhurst “zombie property.”
According to Dromm, 1 Claremont Terrace—located at 84-09 Grand Ave., formerly the home of Samuel Lord, of Lord and Taylor—was purchased by Dr. John Ko more than a decade ago and has since been an eyesore.
After purchasing the house, Ko knocked it down and built a six-story apartment building in its place that has yet to be completed, resulting in a number of complaints to Dromm’s office.
“The building is covered in graffiti and has been vacant for years,” said Dromm. “It has become a home for criminals and vagrants, and is in danger of going up in flames.”
On May 25, 2016, Dromm sent Ko a letter to relay the community’s concerns and request that he remove graffiti at the site, clean and seal the entire site, and resume construction.
According to Dromm, Ko did not respond to the letter. However, he noted that Ko responded to an email in July 2016 stating that he had contacted his contractors, and all of Dromm’s requests were being resolved.
A year later, Dromm’s office contacted Ko again. On Feb. 9, 2017, Ko emailed Carolyn Tran, Dromm’s chief of staff, explaining the issues he has been facing at the property.
“Although the construction site is secure, vandals continue to draw on the building,” Ko wrote. “The police have been able to arrest 18 individuals so far. The major problem now is that there are many homeless individuals inhabiting the street.
Claremont Terrace is a city street and is poorly maintained. The asphalt is crumbling and dangerous. Cars are illegally parked all the time, which make the street look like an alleyway. These problems have made the area very unsafe. Claremont Terrace is a poorly lit street, which adds to the deterioration of the street and its surroundings.”
Ko said that contractors were being harassed and equipment had been stolen from the site. He requested help from Dromm’s office.
Ivia Cardozo, Dromm’s director of constituent services, responded to Ko that the Department of Citywide Administrative Services was looking into Ko’s concerns.
On Feb. 15, 2017, Ko responded to Cardozo and stated that the property would be completed in February 2018.
However, Dromm noted that the development remains in the same state as it was two years ago. Local residents—with the councilman’s support—plan to protest the “zombie property” at the site.
“The only thing we can do is put pressure on him to either fix the property or sell it,” said Dromm.
Ko could not be reached for comment.