Harlem building in explosion previously cited for housing violations

harlem fire
Firefighters respond to Wednesday morning’s fire and building collapse in East Harlem.
Credit: Gwen McClure/Metro

City records show that the collapsed East Harlem building destroyed in Wednesday’s explosion was recently cited for 13 different violations including missing smoke detectors and at least one blocked fire escape.

The building at 1646 Park Ave. has a litany of living condition violations tracked by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, at least 60 violations dating back to 1967.

The violations are unrelated to any concerns about the building’s infrastructure, and there are no indications they had anything to do with the suspected gas leak that destroyed it and its adjacent building. City records also showed that the only construction violation at 1646 Park Ave. was related to a crack in the building’s exterior from 2008.

Records show that a woman identified as Kaoru Muramatsu owned 1646 Park Ave. as well as the Absolute Piano store on the first floor.

A man answered a call to the piano store but hung up after he was unable to confirm if the store’s staff was safe an accounted for.

Con Edison said that residents at 1644 Park Ave. had complained about a gas leak before the explosion. The company responded to the call shortly before the explosion but was not able to determine leak’s source.Between them, the two buildings had 15 family units.

City officials confirmed, however, that neither had any open gas or plumbing related violations nor were they undergoing any major structural work.

“Theres no indication that it’s related to construction work,” Acting Buildings Department Commissioner Thomas Fariello said Wednesday, adding that the building had no open permits before the blast.

Records also revealed that the owners of 1644 Park Ave. — registered as Spanish Christian Church Inc — were approved to install 120 feet of gas piping from the basement to the fifth floor.

The Rev. Thomas Perez, who operates a storefront ministry on the first floor, is listed as the second building’s owner. There are no recent violations attributed to 1644 Park Ave.

Coincidentally, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez — who represents a nearby section of northern Manhattan — introduced a bill into the City Council shortly after the blaze. The bill, which is now in committee, would stop landlords from receiving any new permits until existing complaints are adequately addressed.

Anna Sanders contributed reporting.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.


PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.