One of the city’s largest immigration advocacy groups is fighting a claim by the contractor on its new Queens community center that it’s owed more than $4 million — as construction violations by the contractor have also slowed down the work.

Contracting company KBE-NY placed a mechanic’s lien on the new Corona offices for Make the Road New York in July, according to court documents. A lien is a legal maneuver that allows a creditor to place a claim on a property in order to secure a debt.

Last week, Make the Road moved to have a judge toss that lien and offered to pay more than $4.4 million, or 110% of what it allegedly owes, according to a filing in Queens Supreme Court.

Make the Road’s lawyer, Anthony Riverso, wrote the court that the payment was backed by an insurance company and hoped the lien would be lifted soon, according to the filing. 

The location on Roosevelt Avenue near 104th Street had been set to open sometime this year, but it’s still under construction as of early October.

And also last week, the city slapped a partial stop work order on it for worker safety violations, according to Department of Building records. 

On Oct. 4, the DOB issued $10,000 in fines to KBE-NY, writing that a construction supervisor “failed to perform inspections and correct unsafe conditions as required per code” and “allowed work to take place while worker’s compenstation (sic) and disability are expire[d].”  

Construction continued after insurance expired Sept. 30, according to the violation.

Multiple calls and emails to KBE-NY were not returned. A spokesperson and lawyer for Make the Road declined to comment.

Building Support

Make the Road is one of the largest nonprofits working with immigrants in New York City, with offices in three boroughs, as well as on Long Island and in Westchester. Their current Queens office, a few blocks away on Roosevelt Avenue, serves as a community hub and resource center for people with immigration and other issues.

The organization, which also advocates for non-immigrant New Yorkers and worker protections, has also helped with the city’s response to the recent issue of migrants being bused in from states on the Mexican border.

Supported by Make the Road, immigrant workers excluded from government help during the pandemic held a demonstration in Albany. Credit: Courtesy of Make The Road New York

Fundraising for the new space began in 2016 because the organization wanted a permanent Queens location after renting their current offices, according to an internal audit released released by Make the Road.

They began construction on the project in February of 2019, and the organization celebrated a “topping out” on the building in June of this year. 

The 24,000-square-foot, three-story building, also on Roosevelt Avenue, will be more than double the current space and will include a commercial kitchen, legal and health offices, a childcare space and an outdoor area, according to the organization’s website

The new space is being funded through private donations, grants, and other debts, according to the audit, and is expected to cost $29 million. 

“We launched our Here to Stay campaign in 2016 with the vision of a permanent home for our communities of immigrants and Black and Latinx New Yorkers,” the group’s directors posted on their site on April 28 of this year. 

“Now, we are months away from finishing construction and we’ve raised 95% of the funding with the support of so many!”

The organization has worked to expand in recent years, according to an internal audit. 

Make the Road also purchased two mixed-use buildings in Brooklyn in February for $5.5 million, taking out a $4.5 million mortgage, the audit said.