You may have driven past — and gawked– at the outrageous looking house whose exterior is filled with holes. It’s located on the corner of The Esplanade and Lester Place, in the Beechmont neighborhood of New Rochelle. With million-dollar homes sitting opposite, this derelict property is called the ‘Swiss Cheese House’ by neighborhood kids, but it’s no joke.
How did it get that way? According to former neighbor and attorney Steven G. Sonet, “It all started over 4 years ago in a New Rochelle court case: Deutsche Bank National Trust v. Laura Fields, et. al. The case languished even before the pandemic and was delayed further while the homeowner, Laura Fields, ex-husband’s bankruptcy proceeding progressed to its final stages.”
During all this time, neither the Plaintiff, Deutsche Bank National Trust, nor the defendant, Laura Fields, seems to have shown any concern at all about the condition of the premises, with structural damages to the building, overgrown lawns, dead tree limbs, various forms of garbage, raccoons, vermin, and deer grazing happily in the tall grasses and shrubs.
Of course, the horrendous condition of the property, which is now suitable for occupancy only by wildlife, has an impact on the values and beauty of surrounding homes. Myra Glajchen, who lives on the opposite corner, says that she has to look out her windows every day at this horrible mess. She hopes a new City mayor will take action. Meanwhile, the neighborhood continues to receive emails about court dates that are never kept and empty promises about auctioning the property.
According to Paul Vacca, New Rochelle Commissioner of Buildings, “The case is still in City Court for the violations we have issued and the owner owes a substantial fine whenever the property is auctioned, and from what I know that is way overdue. The City would like this resolved as well…we are all hopeful that this will be completely resolved.”
But when? After 4 years, some neighbors are angry. Ross Gilardi, who lives nearby, says, “It’s not clear to me why it requires a united chorus of neighborhood complaints every single year to get the process of maintaining this property restarted again.”
Most recently, Attorney Sonet has asked Judge Nancy Quinn Koba of Westchester County Supreme Court to bring the case to a close.