Down to the first floor as of this morning.
A little over one year ago, this website was the first to report the start of demolition work at the former Elks Lodge in L.I.C. Over the course of this last year, we often posted updates on the building’s status to Twitter. The destruction of this building was slow and methodical.
Windows removed in January, 2017
Asbestos was cleared from the building last summer. Interior walls, plumbing and electrical wires were pulled during the fall and winter, leaving nothing but structural walls and the outer brick shell. When viewed from the outside, many assumed nothing had changed. Only this last January did work finally begin on removing the roof, the start of a slow top-down demotion job with a crew removing each floor of the building, brick by brick. Today, only the shell of the ground floor remains, and even that will be gone by April.
Press conference, March 2016
Aside from a single press conference held last spring when the initial illegal “developer” sponsored vandalism took place, there were no further updates on the building. Local Councilperson Jimmy Van Bramer’s office issued no updates. There were no further news stories about it – not even when the original stop work order was rescinded later that spring.
Only around 50 civilians showed up for the original presser – which was held on a weekday afternoon. Even if triple that amount of people showed up, we’re still talking about a very small segment of the L.I.C. population. Given this observation, I can’t help but feel that stating ‘the community tried to save it’ is actually not true. A single press event took place. A small group of aware activists brought attention to the issue, but did not sustain the effort. What could any of us actually do though? Unless a historic building is bought before it falls into the hands of a greedy developer, or landmarked well in advance of such a transaction, the options for protecting it are slim. Local activists are all volunteers, with limited time and no budget. The local historical society is apparently similarly hobbled by a lack of funding, resources and volunteers. L.I.C. on a whole is an area of explosive population growth that lacks a significant enough base of long term residents that are attached to their community. The developers and politicians of course are taking advantage of this, running amuck and doing whatever they please (the ridiculous sunnyside yards proposal is a prime example).
At the time of the illegal vandalism of the building’s facade, Jimmy Van Bramer stated he would push two new laws – one would impose fines on any developer who alters or vandalize a building under consideration of being landmarked, and another would increase fines for any developer performing work without a permit. The status of either of these pieces of legislation is completely unknown to me.
Pages 162-163 of 7 Line L.I.C.
Late last year I wrote a book about buildings along the 7 Train in L.I.C. (aptly named 7 Line L.I.C.). The Elks Lodge is chapter 16 in this book. During my research, I found that one of the ‘developers’ responsible for the vandalism and demolition of this building is a disbarred lawyer and known associate of a slumlord.
The Elks Lodge would have made a fine community center for L.I.C. Space within this building could have provided for a large number of worthwhile community based causes that will likely develop as L.I.C.’s new population takes root. Instead we’re getting more housing, with no new infrastructure to support it. This will not lend itself well to creating a sustainable community.
An ugly apartment building will be constructed on this site, and the adjoining lot just to the west. There will be no significant trace of this building left. Only two photographers are known to have gotten photos from inside this building.
Taken from Inside