CHELSEA — The new owner of a West 26th Street building plans to tear it down to make way for a “high-end” apartment complex — just steps from a stalled construction site that has continued to be a magnet for rats and trash, neighbors said.
Gary Vinbaytel purchased the five-story building at 128 W. 26th St. between Sixth and Seventh avenues, which formerly housed the restaurant Tre Dici, for around $10.1 million in July. He recently filed for permits to demolish the current building and construct a 14-story, mixed-use building in its place, city Department of Buildings records show.
The complex will contain 10 to 12 apartments and have a commercial space on the ground floor, Vinbaytel told DNAinfo New York.
“It’s going to be really nice — it’s going to [have] a high-end finish,” he said.
The former Tre Dici space at 128 W. 26th St., between Sixth and Seventh avenues. (DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani)
Tre Dici was forced to close its doors two summers ago after ongoing construction at 132 W. 26th St. left its building with structural issues, manager Michael Colucci, who now operates Tredici North in Purchase, N.Y., previously told DNAinfo.
The city issued a stop-work order at 132 W. 26th St. in June 2015, records show, but six months later, neighbors said the stalled site had become an eyesore that was attracting rats, accruing garbage, impeding the sidewalk and hurting nearby businesses.
In a recent email, a resident who lives on the block said she felt conditions at the site had “worsened" in recent months.
“Rodents, standing water, broken barriers, foul smells and trash permeate the area,” she wrote.
Neighbor Tina DiFeliciantonio added that the site has become the “perfect home” for rats.
“When you come home and you see four rats in your trash trying to get out, it’s pretty bad,” she said.
A city Health Department spokeswoman said the department issued violations for “active rat signs” at the site Jan. 10, June 10 and June 28 after inspections there.
The department is “aware of the [rat] situation” and has scheduled an extermination visit, she added.
On Friday, Steven Ancona, who manages construction at the site on behalf of owner 132W26 Owner LLC, said the owner is “working toward restarting construction.”
The property owner "has exterminated the site on a regular basis, and also does regular cleanups,” he wrote in an email. “The delay has no benefit to ownership, and due to complicated circumstances has taken longer to restart than ever expected.”
132W26 Owner LLC doesn’t currently have any active permits for construction at the site, as the permit for the 12-story apartment originally planned at the site expired in February 2016, a DOB spokesman said.
Vinbaytel on Friday said he wasn’t concerned about the structural issues the site’s past owner dealt with.
“We do this for a living," he said. "We’ve been doing it for a long time."