Korea Business Owner Stymied by Landmark Status

Cheonsoo Park showing the damage to his dry cleaners shop in Crown Heights (Photo via Korea Daily)

Cheonsoo Park showing the damage to his dry cleaners shop in Crown Heights (Photo via Korea Daily)

An SUV crashed into a dry cleaning store owned by a Korean man. While no one was injured, there was significant material damage, because the vehicle entered the right side of the shop and smashed laundry machines. The owner is unable to move forward on repairs, however, because the building is a New York City designated landmark.

According to the police, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, on May 20 at around 7 p.m., an SUV heading toward southern Nostrand Avenue lost its balance when it was changing lanes and rammed into the dry cleaners on Nostrand Avenue.

The owner, Cheonsoo Park, said in the interview with Korea Daily, “As a result of the accident, three glass doors and brand new laundry machines were broken. The estimated amount of damage is more than $80,000.”

Richard Park, who was at the scene of the accident, recounted the moment: “I was packing my belongings to follow my father out of the shop, and then there was a big ‘bang’ followed by an SUV ramming into our shop. It was like a war situation. I came very close to being severely injured or killed.”

Last year, Park signed a 10-year lease for the building and nine years and six months are remaining on the lease.

The Fire Department of the City of New York and the NYC Department of Buildings ordered the building vacated, prohibiting Park from entering because the vehicle rammed into a pillar, making the building unstable. [Coupled with the landmark designation, this has prevented Park from even trying to clean up.]

The building was designated a landmark on June 28, 2011 as a part of the “Crown Heights North Historic District II” by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). It is one of the 600 buildings in the area that were built mostly from the 1870s to the 1940s.

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According to the LPC, when a landmark building needs reconstruction or repair, permission from the LPC is mandatory and the owner needs to send another application for permission to the New York City Department of Buildings. [The owner of the property, located at 687 Nostrand Ave., is Lowren Management Corp, according to the LPC.]

For this reason, the time for a full recovery for the dry-cleaning shop will be longer than in most cases. LPC Communications Director Damaris Olivo said in a phone call with Korea Daily that in this case, he needs to send an application to the LPC for the approval of the reconstruction only after the withdrawal of the order of vacation by the FDNY.

Grants to help with reconstruction may be provided, depending on income levels of eligible applicants. Check details here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/html/about/staff_historic.shtml

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