Archive for the tag 'alex levin'

loehmanns

ONLY ON SHEEPSHEAD BITES: The owners of Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza (2027 Emmons Avenue) have submitted plans to the Department of Building to construct a new extension to the controversial building, leaving those who fought its initial construction nearly 20 years ago in a state of shock.

The proposed extension would add a new story of commercial offices, totaling 10,000 square feet. The plans are in violation of zoning and the property’s current variance, and will soon be considered by Community Board 15 and the Board of Standards and Appeals.

One of the property’s owners, Alex Levin, confirmed the expansion.

“We’re looking to expand office space,” he said. “We’re going to bring the elevator up to [a new third] floor. We have our reasons.”

The project’s architect, Robert Palermo, declined to discuss the plans.

“It’s privileged information. When it comes before the board, it’ll be public,” he said.

There is no date set yet for a public hearing at Community Board 15, the first step to obtaining any variance. Chairperson Theresa Scavo said she had not yet been notified by the Board of Standards Appeals.

As a resident, though, she was shocked to learn of the plan.

“Speaking personally, it was against the special Sheepshead zoning district to begin with, and to add a floor is a slap in the face to the people of Sheepshead Bay,” she said. “I cannot believe that adding another floor is going to give the Bay a better look with that monstrosity there.”

The building sits within the Sheepshead Bay special zoning district, which limits the size and use of structures along the Emmons Avenue waterfront. The area is limited to waterfront and tourist-related activities, and special density and height limits govern development.

Many longtime Sheepshead Bay activists credit the development of Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza in the 1990s as the death of the special district, having won a variance that, according to those who fought it, resulted in it being 800 percent larger than legal limits. The exception was won due to the promise of the retail giant Loehmann’s as an anchor tenant, justifying jobs and commercial draw in exchange for its waiver.

Loehmann’s went bankrupt and vacated the property last month.

Bay Improvement Group Steve Barrison, one of the development’s most vocal opponents, said the new application is history repeating itself.

“It’s the same thing all over again. The use exceeds the zoning by 800 percent. It was granted specifically for Loehmann’s and Loehmann’s went out. So that’s it. Unbelievable,” he said. “We’re talking about a special district. We’re talking about the waterfront. We’re not talking about any where else in the community. It’s disgusting.”

Barrison added that there’s little legal justification to allow the variance simply for office space. According to the law, a developer must show that they suffer from certain hardships, as found in section 72-21 of New York’s Zoning Resolution.

“It’s insensitive to the whole community after Sandy,” said Barrison. “All of the people who haven’t moved in or are still rebuilding and trying to get their lives together. Now [this developer] wants to go and build and increase zoning some more when people can’t speak up.”

If Bay Improvement Group decides to fight the variance, they’ll be fighting a different developer than they did in the 1990s. The building was sold to Levin in 2008 for $24 million, a local real estate record at the time.

Pat Singer in the BNA's storefront, which they're scheduled to vacate. (Photo by Erica Sherman)

As the headquarters of the Brighton Neighborhood Association, Pat Singer’s colorful, tchocke-laden storefront has served as the relief center for embattled Brighton Beach tenants for 34 years. But after damages from flooding, a landlord dispute and year-after-year of budget slashes, the non-profit is vacating the space for more humble accommodations.

The tenant advocacy organization says their landlord is kicking them out. Keep reading.

BNA Founder Pat Singer, left, continues to assess the damage from the flood.

An old photo showing a small fraction of the photos and memorabilia on the walls, now taken down or thrown out. Source: BNA (Click to enlarge)

The water seeped through a hole in the roof, flooding the 1121 Brighton Beach Avenue storefront overnight. It was gushing through ceiling tiles and dripping down walls when the Brighton Neighborhood Association’s Russian liaison opened the office Tuesday morning, finding what she described as a “rainstorm.” The group’s office is well-known in the community for its colorful office, crowded with historic photos and memorabilia collected during its 34-year-old history.

Now it all lays in ruins.

There were the photos of Mayor Beame, State Senator Chuck Schumer – “when he had hair” – and other assorted tchotchke’s of the group’s history. Office workers, led by BNA Founder Pat Singer, pulled things off walls and shelves, wrapping in garbage bags what could be saved, and taking to the curb what couldn’t. They also worried about asbestos, mold and other contaminates that could put them in harm’s way.

“We were just trying to salvage what we could,” said Singer.

But the organization – a tenants advocacy group – said this flood is no accident. They’re pointing fingers at the landlord.

(The BNA, a 510(c)3 is seeking tax-deductible donations to replace equipment and aid in the cleanup. More information is at the end of this article.)

Read why Singer thinks the landlord might be out to get them, and what you can do to help in the group’s recovery.