11 February 2008

Is This the End of Rat-Squirrel House?




As much as I am disinclined to revisit the rat-squirrel controversy of the decrepit heap that is 149 Kane Street in Cobble Hill, I must report this momentous news.

The red-brick disaster—a landmarked building so poorly kept by its whacked owner that the stoop is crumbling, the roof leaks, the cornice sags and half the windows are boarded up—may be a-comin' down. Walking down Henry Street at 4:30 PM today, I saw a gathering of fire engines by 149. Upon closer inspection, I saw the sidewalk in front of the slum to be cordoned off and a big "X" and "RO" spraypainted on the facade. Looking up, the facade was more droopy than I remember. "RO," I soon learned, stood for "Roof Open."

A number of neighbors were gathered on the sidewalk heatedly discussing the recent events. From what I could gather, a considerable part of the roof had come showering down, spurring the arrival of the authorities. An inspection of the house—in which the owner still dwells!—revealed alarming conditions. A local landlord said a protective shed, which would cover up the facade, was on its way, as well as a building inspector, who would determine if the structure was a danger to the public. (Duh.) If it couldn't be repaired, it would have to come down. This worried the landlord, because he had been told that, if the address was torn down, it would take one or two buildings with it. That's up to three landmarked, century-old buildings, all gone due to some old lady's carelessness.

The Department of Building, pretty swifty when it comes to computer records, has already recorded its finding: "STRUCTURAL DAMAGE AT THIS ABOVE LOCATION. PORTION OF THE BUILDING IS CONSTANTLY FALLING OFF THIS BUILDING. ROOF IS CAVING IN, ETC... BUILDING SHAKING/VIBRATING/STRUCT STABILITY AFFECTED."

Asking around the neighborhood in the past few weeks, I was shocked to learn the owner of the residence, Arlene Karlsen, was not an absent landlord, but actually lived inside, with the rat-squirrels and everything. She also owns a brownstone on Henry Street, in equally bad shape.

2 comments:

eddieleewilkins said...

I live on Cheever Place, and have wondered many times, how such a nice building in a relatively affluent neighborhood could get to this state. My girlfriend have seen many pigeons and squirrels, and they are squirrels, living there, and can't imagine what it is like inside. There is a woman who from time to time, would go in there, but not very far in and not for a long time. I hope they can salvage what they have, and not have to tear it down, but if you look at that roof, it is ready to fall in any second. On Sunday we saw two guys from "Flip this House" on the Cafe on Clinton. Maybe we will all get to see what they do to it.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

I'd like to get in there just to get to the bottom of the rat-squirrel thing. Bet I would find examples of both, perhaps fighting to the death in the middle of the parlor!