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Shaky building closes stairs at Bayside station

Police tape and wooden signs bar riders from accessing Bell Boulevard at the Bayside train station as the Long Island Rail Road waits for the nearby Rani Salon & Spa to fix structural damage to the building. Photo by Phil Corso
TimesLedger Newspapers

A stairway leading to Bell Boulevard from the eastbound platform of the Long Island Rail Road station in Bayside has been closed as a precaution after a nearby building was found to be unstable, city officials said.

According to the LIRR, an inspection by the city Department of Buildings found that Rani Salon & Spa, at 41-17 Bell Blvd., found the building to be in danger of collapsing last month with two cracks in its walls and shaky beams in its basement. The city placed a full vacate order on the property and the LIRR closed one commuter staircase next to the building to ensure the safety of its riders, a spokesman said.

“The city did not request that we close the stairway. It was simply a precautionary measure,” said Salvatore Arena, spokesman for the LIRR. “We cannot reopen it until there is some plan for shoring up that building in a way that would protect the people walking near there.”

The city had the property vacated Aug. 29 after it found the building was shaking and vibrating due to an unstable structure, the DOB said. A report on the full vacate order cited two cracked walls and cracks found on beams in the basement, compromising the structural integrity of the building that were not properly maintained, particularly in the basement’s beams. The report also said some shoring work had been done on the property without a permit.

Community Board 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld said the platform would remain closed until the building’s owner, Land Equities LLC, acts to alleviate the structural problems with the property. No official plans have yet been reported to either the community board or the Buildings Department, Seinfeld said.

“It is up to the owner to do something about it,” Seinfeld said.

According to CB 11, Executive Director Lyle Sclair, of the Bayside Village Business Improvement District, was in talks with the building’s ownership to ensure that plans are put in place to make the building adhere to city standards.

Sclair could not be reached for comment.

In the meantime, Seinfeld said commuters would have to avoid the stairway, which would probably results in a more crowded train platform when ridership is at its heaviest.

So far there has been no visible maintenance work done on the outside of the building and the stairway alongside Rani Salon & Spa remains closed by the LIRR.

“This is the Department of Buildings’ game,” Arena said, reiterating that the LIRR will voluntarily keep the stairway closed until an update on the building’s standing is confirmed.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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