It took 40 years for Athanasios “Tom” Pantazis to save up enough money from his work as a waiter and bartender to take out a mortgage on a two-story house at 3640 Oxford Ave.
But since laborers began demolition work on the property next door this past summer — part of plans to construct a three-story garage for a large new medical facility — Mr. Pantazis is worried about changes to his street and to his livelihood.
“This is going to generate money for them,” Mr. Pantazis said of developers from Montefiore Medical Center, which is building the new facility. “But I live a nightmare. I think day and night about what’s going to happen.”
Mr. Pantazis said he is concerned future work to remove bedrock on the site of the medical center’s proposed garage will damage his own home’s foundation. While Montefiore representatives said only two to three inches of rock will be removed, insisting it will not affect Mr. Pantazis’ property, the homeowner spoke in dramatic terms at a Nov. 7 meeting of the Community Board 8 Land Use Committee.
“If I sacrifice myself, if the bulldozers… bury me underneath and it saves Riverdale, I will do it!” Mr. Pantazis said at the meeting.
However. he spoke in more subdued tones during a visit to his property the next day. “They didn’t do anything yet that makes me worry,” Mr. Pantazis said. “What is going to make me worry is the dust and stuff like that. The problems are going to start when they start excavation” of the bedrock.
Still, demolition work so far is prompting a young couple that rents the top of Mr. Pantazis’ home to move out at the end of the month. The 69-year-old Greek emigrant worries the construction site will discourage new tenants from moving in, and the loss of income will make it difficult for him to pay his monthly mortgage installments.
“I’m not a young guy who’s going to get a new job,” said Mr. Pantazis, who retired two years ago. “What am I going to do?”