Bed-Stuy block struggles against fires, floods, squatters

September 24, 2013 01:34PM

Several vacant properties between Marcus Garvey Boulevard and Lewis Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant have caught fire, flooded, attracted rodents and become havens for squatters in recent months, neighbors and officials say.

The problems began when an April three-alarm fire ripped through 857 Lafayette Avenue, a property purchased in February by Oval Holdings Corporation for $3,000, Lafayette Avenue Block Association President Paulette Moorehead told DNAinfo. (Public records confirmed the price.)

An accounting firm representing Oval Holdings declined DNAinfo’s request for comment, while a phone number for the company’s listed owner, Eli Maor, was disconnected, according to DNAinfo.

Then on August 14, water began to pour out of the basement at 874 Lafayette after a squatter tried to steal pipes. The water flooded the basements of neighborhing homes, destroying sheetrock and personal belongings.

Neighbor Yvette Welsh, who lives across the street, tried contacting owner Yolie Schwartz, who was not receptive to reimbursing her, she told DNAinfo. Schwartz, for his part, denied to DNAinfo that he received such a request.

“No one’s talked to me about it, no one’s asked anything,” Schwartz told DNAinfo, adding: “If you’re talking about a million dollars, the answer’s no. If you’re talking about a couple hundred, OK.” He confirmed to DNAinfo that pipes were stolen from the building, and has since sold the property for $175,000.

Area residents have also complained about rats and racoons rummaging through backyard garbage at 874 and 880 Lafayette Avenue, also noting that locks have been broken off the building’s doors.

“We did not leave the property abandoned,” Mike, the owner of 880 Lafayette, who would not give his last name, told DNAinfo. “There were squatters stealing pipes, which happens with many properties.” [DNAinfo]Julie Strickland