THE BRONX - Residents of Mount Hope have been waiting for a new community center for many years, but the Department of Buildings says they will have to wait even longer.

The $14 million state-of-the-art facility has been ready since June, but it cannot operate because the building encroaches on the sidewalk by less than an inch.

The directors of the center say 300 children could be using the facility daily in a neighborhood with a growing population of underprivileged immigrants.

The community center will be able to open its doors only once it's licensed, but in order for that to happen, the DOB must issue a permanent certificate of occupancy.