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Corbin Place is one of those rare streets in our neighborhood where all the homes look eerily similar, built around the same era, and have a lot of identical features. They all have garages, driveways, porches – even a bit of landscaping in most cases. Walking down the block, you might get the idea that someone actually planned something in this city.

But then 156 Corbin Place has to go and screw it up.

“This is something sticking out like a tumor or something,” a neighbor told us about the construction.

Look at this monstrosity! This is one of those fantastic examples of how New York City zoning laws fail – epically – at taking into account how neighborhoods are actually developed. This construction site may be a giant middle finger extended to neighbors, but as far as we can tell, it’s totally legal.

Zoned for R6, the owners are building out to the maximum height allowable, even though nearly all the homes on the block are one story less. And say goodbye to the sweet front-porches – as you can see in the photo, they’re extending the front of the house forward to make maximum use of the land.

Now, we understand the idea of property ownership, and though it may be inconsiderate, an owner has every right to expand his property within the law to better accommodate his family. Why blame them?

Here, the failing is with the city. This block happens to be in an area that mandates contractors to follow “Quality Housing Progam” (QHP) guidelines. At least that’s what’s indicated in the job filing. Here’s a blurb about the program:

[QHP] encourages development consistent with the character of many established neighborhoods. Its bulk regulations set height limits and allow high lot coverage buildings that are set at or near the street line. Quality Housing buildings must also have amenities relating to the planting of trees, landscaping and recreation space.

So there’s a nice attempt, in theory, to protect the character of the block. That’s why they can’t build all the way to the property line – they need to preserve the driveway space to match the other houses on the street.

But it doesn’t work. Boy, does it not work. Though the QHP blurb mentions trees, landscaping and recreation space, the actual guidelines refer to space space around the building, size of indoor recreational area, “windows are required” (!!), and the planting of, um, a tree. Except for the tree (!!), there’s really very little that protects the look and feel of the neighborhood – most of the rules seem to deal with the interior of the house. Which seems backwards, since the outside of the house is what mainly contributes to the character of a neighborhood.

So another ineffectual law dictated from Manhattan-based wonks sits on the books. Meanwhile, local communities who have to live with these phallic monuments to poor planning, who bought into a neighborhood because of its feel, and who know which architectural elements define their block’s identity, get no say in the look and feel of their community.

So, residents of Corbin Place prepare to say goodbye porches, goodbye landscaped driveway dividers, and heck, those brick exteriors have got to go. The city doesn’t think these things contribute to the character of your block.

Instead, get ready to say, “Hello, tumors!”

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  • brightonresident

    This is the second house on the block to extend upward. We can thank Councilman Nelson for the lack of zoning controls in the neighborhood. The developers didn't want them so the council withdrew them. Just look around Brighton and Sheepshead Bay amd see all the out of character building that has gone on in the last few years.

  • Local Broker

    I will say it again im pro development when done right but this just looks way out of place of this street. There is a 6 story building directly across the street but this thing really sticks out.

  • Ray Johnson

    Corbin Place is such a tight road already, so this platform sky terrace will only add to that tightness.
    Ned, you made me chuckle with this one: “This construction site may be a giant middle finger extended to neighbors”

  • local resident

    You should make comments after the construction is finished as all not finished constructions look bad. Instead of complaining about construction on the street, you should tell people to clean up the dog shit and the garbarge they throw on the streets. All the wonderful buildings on the street (look at their backyards, they are filty). Peopel should just consentrate on their own lives at how to make them better and not comment on others.

  • local resident

    This is what is called “America land of opportunity”. The reason this country flourishes is because of things like this.

  • brightonresident

    “Opportunity” does not mean you can destroy the character of a neighborhood! Just because the zoning law allows this, does not mean you should. What about the neighbors? This house will probably cast a large shadow upon its neighbors. You have to think of others, not just yourself!!!!!!!!!

  • sbr

    community: the people with common interests living in a particular area (Merriam-Webster)

    It's not productive to be completely self-centered when we all live in such a dense urban environment where we impact each others lives so easily.

  • Buying House

    There's another sore thumb on E27 b/w X & Y, I believe and yes it looks horrendous, but the zoning in this area is really peculiar. The houses are old and often need updating. Yet, the zoning laws are structured in a way that don't let you make minor and often necessary adjustments such as extending the back of your house, for example or increasing the size of the deck in your backyard, or removing a wall inside your house. You need to spend between $3,500-$4,500 to legalize an existing deck that matches the size of all your neighbors, half of which don't have permits. Zoning Laws FAIL!

  • Local Broker

    Actually i own a dog and clean up after him every time. It does disgust me that walking around here is like a minefield of shit and garbage. We have meter maids why not have doggy poo maids. I do mind my own business but at the same time i am allowed to have an opinion. I like when nice buildings are put up and believe that people should be able to extend their homes but this thing just looks funny. There is another house on the same side of the street near Ocean View and it also sticks out looks nice but sticks out.

  • local resident

    Caring about your community. I understand if you make it worse by destroying it but to make value of houses better and better. If I get thrown out on the street with no where to live, I am sure that these days my neighbors and my community will not help me. I am sure that if the owners of a property will not be able to pay their mortgage, their neighbors will not help them to pay. This is not what it used to be years ago. Look at the streets, how broken they are, look at the dirt of dog poo on the same block, look at all the garbage. Look at all the unkept homes on the block. This is what is disgusting, not making something better. Someone that buys a Property with their own hard work should be able to make a better living space for themselves.

  • Local Broker

    It was not just developers that didn't want the proposed rezoning it was the home owners. When they realized that their houses are not worth anything with out the higher zoning they backed off. The proposal the city gave was just stupid. I know the market and the area inside out and it made no sense for what the area needs now. I wrote about the zoning on this blog a year or so ago i will try to find it and post it here.

  • area resident

    The neighbors who don't care when they sit on the front porches till 1 am or their backyards and make tons of noise. That is what is incosiderate. I am sure that people don't just buy homes to make their neighbors happy. If you were not able to build at all you would be living on the street. First it was an issue about highrises, then it is about something else. Where would you live now if people weren't able to build. The city calls properties that you cannot change Landmarks.

  • Local Broker

    A list came out the other day of major cities with the best quality of life and NYC came in 39th i believe and San Francisco came in 1st. Why because of very strict zoning laws that does not allow people to go nuts. If they wanted a bigger home they could have bought one in Manhattan Beach where all the houses are different. Its great when people can build and enjoy with their families but this totally changes the way this block looks.

  • local resident

    I think the houses that are not kept or dirty on the block look much worse. In addition, even if you build on Manhattan Beach, everyone still complains. People just complain because you can't make everyone happy. I am sure that that if you are a local broker, and the owners of the house decide to sell, and come to you, you wouldn't turn them away because you didn't think this house belonged on this street.

  • Local Broker

    Its funny because i have never sold a 1-4 family home. I only do commercial deals. One of the reasons i never wanted to do residential was because there is to much bullsh– involved with peoples feelings. Think about the other side how some people wont want to live next door to that home it works both ways. Im not really blaming the home owners for anything i think its the cities fault for allowing it. Just go stand across from that house and take a look its funny.

  • local resident

    I have dealt with a lot of construction and they all look funny when they are being built but look great when completed. I also wonder how many people that make comments about things like this are actually homeowners. You can't please everyone unfortunately. People should just be more positive in their lives and not such pesimists.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      Go ask the homeowners on that block how they feel about this piece of work.

      This is about being positive. It’s about keeping a sense of pride in the place you live.

  • Local Broker

    Being in real estate i have a pretty good idea about construction. No one is saying its going to look bad its just going to stick out and out of place even if its covered in gold and diamonds. What difference does it make if you own or rent?

  • frankiev

    Dirt can be cleaned up.
    This eyesore is permanent!!
    It's just a ME, ME, ME attitude in this neighborhood.

  • Fern C.

    Ugh…..I live in Forest Hills, Queens, where we have row houses like this that have been purchased by immigrants from Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan and other former soviet states in central Asia…..they have proceeded to our cement over the little front ardens and put up ornate high concrete and metal fences and gates…..little mini-fortresses. Some of them have bought detached houses with land in back and cemented over the front yards and then expanded the house straight over what used to be the lad in back……McMansions that have no curb appeal and forget about any pretty gardens in the neighborhood. Nobody knows their neighbors anymore because nobody sits out on stoops — there are no more stoops. They go from house to car [which is behind the big concrete gate.]. You could literally live next door to people and not know what they look like. No matter we see shocked neighbors on the news that didn't know the guy next door was a terrorist and planned to blow up Times Square!!

  • http://xr.com/fern Fern C.

    ha!! think of others? not a chance these days!!

  • BrooklynBus

    That's why it's nice to watch “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” and see all the neighbors in a small town come out to support their neighbor. And they don't only do it just to be on television. I read a story a few years ago in Reader's Digest how someone applied for the show and was turned down, so the neighbors all got together and rebuilt his house for him as if he were chosen for the show. Imagine that happening in New York.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=839675042 Holly Renee Reinhardt

    IAWTC

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    That's a better living space? Oh please, if that was so then the original builders wouldn't have bothered with front lawns and back yards.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    We did pretty well before people started uglifying the landscape. And in the past we have reacted quite strongly when attempts to build monstrosities were made.

    Please don't sully the meaning of American opportunity.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    Wrong, in fact a law has just been passed making it illegal to pave over the front area of a house.

  • local resident

    I am curious how old you are Lisanne.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    Old enough to remember farms in Sheepshead Bay.

  • local resident

    Then you are definitely not someone who would understand change.

  • local resident

    Amen! This is what is should be but people these days are miserable and want others to be that way.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    You miss the point. Change which occurs in a vacuum is not acceptable. The individuals who are building this extension are showing no consideration for the aesthetic effect of what they have done.

    Change is not always good.

  • BrooklynBus

    Funny you should say that. I made a very similar comment yesterday on another forum in regard to subway vandalism saying that people instead of trying to solve their own problems, like to destroy things instead so that no one should have anything nice .

  • bagels

    My 15 year old son said it was butt ugly.

  • http://nabewise.com/nyc/brighton-beach Brighton Beach Guru

    This may hurt the already mediocre reputation Brighton Beach has on Nabewise and other neighborhood review websites. http://nabewise.com/nyc/brighton-beach

  • http://nabewise.com/nyc/brighton-beach Brighton Beach Guru

    This may hurt the already mediocre reputation Brighton Beach has on Nabewise and other neighborhood review websites. http://nabewise.com/nyc/brighton-beach

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