CRACKDOWN TARGETS BLIGHT AT TERMINAL CITY IS TAKING OWNER OF LANDMARK TO COURT
INSPECTORS MOVE TO SPUR CLEANUP OF CENTRAL TERMINAL, CASE SENT TO HOUSING COURT; BUILDING’S OWNER SEEKS FUNDS
September 11, 1992
By JAMES HEANEY – News Staff Reporter
Happy days may not be here again quite yet for the abandoned Central Terminal, but the worst may finally be over for the once-proud landmark rail station.
City inspectors are taking the terminal’s owner to Housing Court in an effort to get him to secure and repair the building and clean up the surrounding grounds.
The owner, meanwhile, said he is negotiating with a
Toronto-area developer to obtain funds to stabilize the building and payoff delinquent taxes while a study is conducted on the feasibility ofusing it for a high-speed rail station.
The developments are the latest in a sad saga that began in 1959 when New York Central Railroad sold the East Side terminal, registered as a national landmark and renowned for its art deco architecture. The building has changed ownership several times amid pledges to redevelop it into offices, stores or exhibition space. All those plans died on the drawing board, and in the meantime, the terminal has deteriorated, the victim of vandals, poor maintenance and owners who have sold many ofits prized fixtures.
City officials are saying enough is enough.
“We’ve got to make a stand with this guy,” said Inspections Director Frank Gizzo.
The city inspected the terminal earlier this summer and cited owner Thomas Telesco for a dozen violations, ranging from a leaky roof and broken windows to missing guard rails and overgrown weeds. Telesco has failed to correct the problems, Gizzo said, so inspectors have referred the case to court.
“I haven’t heard from him at all; that’s a primary reason why we’re taking it to court,” Gizzo said.
Telesco said he has taken steps to correct some of the violations and would have done so sooner had the city mailed the notice of violations to a current address.
“We intend to go ahead and work on those violations,” he said. “Certainly we don’t want to get caught up in the current political climate regarding slumlords.”
Telesco, a contractor, was referring to the tough stance ChiefHousing Court Judge Frank A. Sedita Jr. has taken against negligent property owners in Housing Court. Sedita toured the terminal in July and offered to mediate a dispute between Telesco and Sam and Bernie Tuchman over who owns the building, clearing the way for a possible redevelopment.
Although Sedita has not taken an active role as mediator, he will get a crack at the building when the case comes before him Sept. 18.
Telesco has other problems with the Gity. He hasn’t paid property taxes or water and sewer bills on the property at 495 Paderewski Drive since July 1990 and owes $12,950.
“We’ll take care of those bills,” Telesco said. “We’re certainly not going to allow the building to go to tax auction. ”
The tax bill and repairs may be covered by the Toronto-area developer Telesco said he is negotiating with. He declined to identify the developer but said it is one of the largest in the Toronto area. “These people are looking at giving us money by the first of the year to stabilize the building,” he said.
Upwards of $300,000 might be invested, he added.
The developer wants to consider the feasibility of
incorporating the terminal into a high-speed rail network. Both the state and Ontario government are studying the construction of such a system, featuring trains traveling 185 to 300 mph, depending on the technology.
Construction of such a system is considered a long shot, and if constructed, is at least five to 10 years away.
Fillmore Council Member David Franczyk has more immediate concerns. Foremost is stopping the deterioration. Franczyk said the pending court action is a long overdue step in that direction. “Whoever is the owner at this time should be totally hammered by the courts because the terminal is a disgrace,” he said.