The developer of a long, drawn-out condo conversion next to Ramon Aponte Park on W47th Street has opted to place the building under bankruptcy protection to delay a foreclosure auction. 

Ramon Aponte playground
The derelict building on W47th Street overshadows the Ramon Aponte Park. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The Department of Buildings website revealed that the four-story building at 343 W47th Street (between 8/9th Ave) has 40 complaints going back to 2011, along with nine currently open violations that mostly pertain to safety on site. The bankruptcy protection was filed with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday, July 11 — the same day the foreclosure auction was scheduled.

Filing for bankruptcy protection will give the firm more time to straighten out its finances, said Jonathan Pasternak, an attorney for the owners, told Crains, adding that a seven-story condo is planned to replace the four-story site, though no offering plan has yet been filed. “COVID slowed down my clients, but we believe this project will be back on track shortly,” he said.

Elke Fears, president of the 47-48th Street Block Association, says she saw what appeared to be construction workers illegally removing the top floors of the building “a couple of years back.” The property is located within the Special Clinton District zoning, which prevents residential buildings from being torn down unless deemed to be hazardous. The Department of Buildings subsequently issued a stop work order to halt the work. 

“It’s been at a standstill,” said Fears. “We don’t want to lose these buildings, especially if they’re still viable.” 

Ramon Aponte playground
Some of the Department of Building notices at 343 W47th Street. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Fang Zou is the listed managing member for the building and part of Midtown West 47 LLC that purchased the building in 2018 for $6.1 million. The building currently has an outstanding balance of $4.6 million and has several notices posted — ranging from stop work orders, expired permits for construction equipment and inadequate lighting for pedestrians. 

While the property has been draped with construction netting for years, Chris LeBron, a community advocate and resident on W47th Street, doesn’t believe there is any current construction work going on. LeBron said the building has had multiple owners over the years and that underneath the scaffolding are “remnants of previous campsites and dumping” along with a “really bad smell,” adding that it’s a safety concern for the residents in the area. 

343 W47th St in July 2018
343 W47th Street (right) and Ramon Aponte Park in July 2018 before the construction. Photo: Google Streetview

“The lighting is terrible at night, absolutely terrible. Most of the residents refuse to walk on the north side of the block once the sun goes down,” said LeBron.

Ramon Aponte Park opened in 1979, named in honor of the president of the W47th (now 47th/48th) Street Block Association who organized a group of concerned citizens to transform an empty, unused lot which was at one time earmarked for a fire station. It came under threat in the late 1980s but was saved thanks to a concerted campaign of letter writing to the then Mayor Ed Koch. The playground became an official NYC Parks property and in 1991 was reopened after an extensive program of improvements which are still enjoyed today by the neighborhood’s youngsters. 

Ramon Aponte playground
Ramon Aponte Park on W47th Street between 8/9th Avenue. Photo: Phil O’Brien

In recent weeks, Mathews-Palmer Playground, just a couple of blocks away, has had its own set of problems with scaffolding that sparked safety concerns in the community.

Join the Conversation


  1. My son always loved the “train park” growing up. But it got taken over by drugged out adults and I stopped feeling safe.

  2. Actually, just around the corner at the “official” Hells Kitchen Playground on Tenth between 47-48, the basketball and handball courts have been torn up for months thereby eliminating another HK play area off-limits during the summer months.

  3. Could we use this opportunity to talk about “drugged out parks”?

    The park on 9th Ave between 56th and 57th streets is in shambles. Full of people smoking drugs today, including the corner children’s play area. Despicable. The city does not seem to care. Have witnessed people smoking bath salts here before. That was mildly terrifying.

    Help us

  4. Here’s an idea: A swap. In return for amnesty for the Midtown West 47 LLC tear down the building and enlarge the playground to include a
    public swimming pool, to be paid for by Midtown West 47 LLC.
    Hell’s Kitchen needs its own swimming pool.

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