Joel Sweet, a lawyer who lives two doors from the building, is skeptical. He said the owner's tactics were delay and broken promises, adding that the structure can't be rehabilitated at a reasonable cost and that demolition was the best solution.
Sweet and his neighbors have endured an unnatural rain of paint chips, glass shards and plaster in the months since Arnav removed the building's
windows. Vandals continue to break in, Sweet said.
Recently, some neighbors filed suit in U.S. District Court seeking damages, Sweet said.
Primavera said the owner would soon begin the enormous task of sealing the entire building. "It'll be safe and secure, a showcase," he said, noting that his client has a $5 million investment in the historic structure.
Bennett Levin, commissioner of the Department of the Licenses and Inspections, cracked, "Yeah, showcase, for X-rated films." He said the owners "promised a lot of things, but they haven't done much.
"They did get their taxes reduced, though at the same time taxes for their neighbors went up," Levin said.
City tax records show that the building's market value was reduced from $3.3 million to $500,000. Taxes were reduced by 85 percent from $87,000 to $13,000.
If the judge won't allow the city to start demolition Monday, Levin said he would ask Judge Nigro to require Arnav to pay an estimated $18,000 in liens,
put up fencing, establish security, clean up the grounds and post a sizable bond.
"I see this as a fight to protect the people who live in the neighborhood. If the owner has a development plan, fine," Levin said. "Then he ought to
put up an extra $100,000 to protect his property."
Even if a developer is found, Levin warned that the building's zoning may have lapsed because the property was abandoned.
"The neighbors will have a chance to comment on any proposals. It will be a whole new scenario," he said.