Justinianos' Bronx Home is 12 Inches From Apartment Building Construction, and It's Ruining Their View


With its charming red brick exterior, white trim and potted plants, the Justinianos' cozy two-bedroom home in the Pelham Bay neighborhood of the Bronx in New York City is almost idyllic -- that is, if it didn't have a full-blown construction site hugging one side of the home. Just 12 inches from their house are the beginnings of a four-story apartment complex. The structure has been built so close that the Justinianos are able to reach out of their kitchen window and touch the cinder-block wall -- a window that had once overlooked an empty, grassy yard.

"It's an eyesore, and it's utterly ridiculous," Fernando Justiniano, 49, told AOL Real Estate. "Really sad that the city allowed the developer to build that thing so close to another house."

According to Justiniano, the developer of the apartment complex, Anton Tinaj, initially told neighbors he would be building a "little home for his mother" on the 50-by-100-foot lot. But after Justiniano's wife, Patty, 44, did some digging on the internet, she discovered Tinaj was actually planning to build an eight-story apartment building with 16 dwellings. (Since then, the plan has been revised to build a four-story apartment building with 14 dwellings, slated for completion in June).

Justiniano said the structure has been built so close that ten of his home's windows have been rendered "useless" -- directly facing the future apartment complex's cinder-block wall, giving the illusion of perpetual darkness. The Justinianos' dining room now has no exposure to sunlight. Furthermore, the structure is so close that the Justinianos are unable to clean or make necessary repairs to their first- and second-story gutters, which are almost touching the cinder-block wall.

But despite the Justinianos' furor, The NYC Department of Buildings has said that the structure is within legal limits and is entirely compliant with district zoning regulations. The home is zoned in an area that does not require side yards, allowing the developer to build right up to the property line one foot away. (Although in the neighboring neighborhood of Throg's Neck, it is required that developers build six to eight feet outside property lines).

Justiniano complained that even if someone can legally do it, that doesn't mean they should: With free range over a sprawling lot, Tinaj could have easily moved the construction just one or two more feet away.

"It's common sense and courtesy," said Justiniano. "It's not just the fact that it looks bad. Think about what happens when the new tenants move in. There will be 14 tenants living right there, twelve inches away from us, and we'll hear everything."

Considering the home's blocked windows and noise and privacy concerns, Justiniano is concerned that the too-close-for-comfort apartment complex will cause their home's market value to plummet.

"I mean, would you buy this house?" Justiniano said. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that [the apartment complex] will affect our home's resale value."

At this point, Justiniano said, his family has given up hope that Tinaj's construction will halt, or that there's any recourse to get the structure torn down. (Almost three floors have already been built since construction started six months ago). He added that the zoning laws have rendered any fight futile, though they are able to file a zoning challenge, which he said isn't likely to change anything. ("We're grandfathered in," Justiniano admitted). But Justiniano hopes that their family's story will help prevent other similar situations from happening to other homeowners in the future.

"I would never want this to happen to anyone else," said Justiniano. AOL Real Estate reached out to Tinaj, who declined to comment.

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