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Unsafe Retaining Wall Threatens Property on Inwood Block

By Carla Zanoni | April 5, 2011 4:35pm | Updated on April 6, 2011 6:28am

By Carla Zanoni

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

INWOOD — A partial evacuation order issued to 11 buildings in Inwood has residents and property owners scrambling to repair a retaining wall the city says is in danger of collapsing.

The Department of Buildings issued a partial vacate order in early March for the garages and rear yards adjacent to eight buildings on Park Terrace West, two on Seaman Avenue and one on West 218th Street, calling the 10-foot retaining wall that sits squarely in the middle of the properties "unsafe" and "deteriorated."

The city ordered tenants and building owners to remove their cars and property immediately from the area on March 4 and said the wall must be repaired as soon as possible.

"Everybody that abuts the retaining wall is responsible for maintenance of it and have to have it repaired," said DOB spokeswoman Ryan Fitzgibbon.

The shared ownership of the wall, which extends nearly one city block, has made preparations to repair it slow going, as the several property owners involved must agree to one plan of action.

For the time being, the group is meeting with engineers and professionals to properly assess the situation and has asked for privacy in the matter, according to Dan Dillon, whose family has owned one of the properties involved the late 1940s.

"We are making progress on working together as a group to address the issues," Dillon said. "But this will take some time."

According to DOB, inspectors will regularly check on repairs being made over the coming months.

In 2005, a 75-foot retaining wall owned by co-op development Castle Village in Washington Heights collapsed onto the Henry Hudson Parkway and took five years to completely repair.