Williamsburgers are off the beaten path — and they want to get back on it!
A derelict construction site has been covering the sidewalk at Bedford Avenue and N. Seventh Street for more than two years because the current owner no longer wants it — and says it will remain that way until someone purchases it and starts building again. But locals say they’re already sick of shuffling around the eyesore at the bustling intersection and want something done now.
“This is one of the busiest corners in the district,” said neighborhood resident Jonathan Burkan. “Why is it taking two years to do something about this?”
The Salvation Army, which owns the land, says it is now in the process of selling the site to developer Thor Equities, which will finally revive construction at the long-derelict site, erecting retail stores and sidewalk to run in front of it.
But the red-bell-ringing outfit could not give concrete details of when that will happen or why it has taken so long.
The quasi-military-structured church once operated a thrift store at the corner, but demolished the building and tore up the pavement in front of it in 2012, with plans to build a new retail space there. But at some point — a lawyer for the organization could not say when — it abandoned the construction and decided to sell the property instead, leaving it and the sidewalk to languish behind a construction fence
The group finally inked a deal to sell the property to Thor for around $36 million in March of this year, according to a Real Deal report, but eight months later, the site remains a pile of rubble.
The hold-up is at least in part due to a long-standing violation at the property — for the busted pavement, ironically — according to a spokesman for Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg), who got involved after Williamsburgers complained about the long-stalled site.
The Department of Transportation hit the property with the violation back in 2013, and the site has since accrued a lien — meaning the owner can’t sell until it puts in a new walkway or sets aside cash for a future one — a process the councilman has been trying to speed up, he said.
“It’s been a complicated issue because of that lien,” said Casey Adams, Levin’s deputy chief of staff.
The Salvation Army claims it only found out about the violation this year when it tried to sell because the infringement was issued to its old contractor, but that it will pay what it must to get the city to lift the lien, according to its lawyer.
“At the end of the day, whatever the Salvation Army is told to do, it will do,” said attorney Dennis Lynch.
Thor Equities did not return requests for comment.