Archive for the tag 'department of buildings'

loehmanns

A special public hearing originally slated for tonight on the proposed expansion of Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza, whose owners seek to add a new floor of office space, has been postponed to allow further scrutiny of the plans. However, the zoning committee of Community Board 15 is still moving forward with a special meeting to consider nine other projects in the community.

The meeting will kick off at 6pm in the faculty dining room (U112) of Kingsborough Community College (2001 Oriental Boulevard).

The plans for Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza (2027 Emmons Avenue), as first reported by Sheepshead Bites, call for an additional 10,000 square feet of commercial offices on an entirely new floor of the building. The owner said he needs the additional revenue it would create to offset losses from Superstorm Sandy.

Already built far outside of zoning allowances, the building’s developer needs to obtain approval from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, which asks for a recommendation from the Community Board before deciding for itself.

A hearing was added at the last minute to Community Board 15′s agenda for its final meeting before summer recess. With cooperation from the developer, the Board voted to table the matter so it could gather more public input.

With many boardmembers and local community group leaders on vacation, the Board struggled to coordinate an on-site visit with stakeholders.

“[Councilman Chaim Deutsch] and the Community Board want to have the opportunity to really examine this. Over the summer, it was difficult to get the zoning people together and set up meetings,” explained CB15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo. “We want to get all the community groups together and on-site before any decisions are made … and determine any possible downside.”

The developer agreed to postpone his plans again.

Still, the Board is moving forward with a long list of hearings on other projects tonight to make next week’s regularly scheduled meeting more manageable.

Tonight’s agenda will review the following projects:

  • 1601 Gravesend Neck Road – An application to legalize an existing physical culture establishment. This project, for FG Fitness Gallery, was previously denied by the Board after owners failed to send representation in June 2013. The Board at that time also voted to refuse to consider the matter again in the future.
  • 2442 East 14th Street – An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 2137 East 12th Street - An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 4167 Ocean Avenue - An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 325 Avenue Y – An application for a special permit to allow a school within a M1-1 Zoning District
  • 1937 East 14th Street - An application for a special permit to allow the conversion of a two family dwelling into a single family dwelling.
  • 1981 East 9th Street - An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 1977 Homecrest Avenue - An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 2268 West 1st Street – An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement and conversion of an existing two family residence to a single family residence.
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Gnomiki Day Care at 2221 Ocean Avenue, which was closed due to its history of violations. Its sister site at 2623 Ocean Avenue has been recommended for closure as well. (Source: Google Maps)

The operators of nine child care facilities – seven in Brooklyn and two in Staten Island – were charged last Friday with submitting false documents to the city to cover up a slew of health and safety problems, according to Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation Mark Peters, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, and Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, Jr.

At the centers, which served about 400 children, investigators said they found a long list of egregious conditions, including rat droppings, poison, a mountain of trash, and a fire alarm falling off the wall, the Daily News reported. Additionally, the DOI said they discovered owners had submitted fake educational degrees, forged medical records, and falsified letters stating employees had been trained in child abuse identification.

The city recently closed four of the centers:

  • Gnomiki Day Care, Inc., 2221 Ocean Avenue, closed due to the site’s violation history, city officials said.
  • Next to Home, 1123 Flatbush Avenue, was shuttered due to a city Department of Buildings vacate order issued in response to multiple DOB and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene violations.
  • Next to Home, 1159 Flatbush Avenue was closed because investigators said the program had been operating under an expired DOB certificate of occupancy.
  • One of a Kind Child Care, 6318 Amboy Road, Staten Island, ended operations after DOHMH petitioned to revoke the permit.

At the remaining five sites:

  • Next to Home, 5566 Kings Highway, was “never leased and never provided services to children,” the DOI said
  • ABC Little Star, 2345 85th Street, is still operating and city officials said DOHMH inspected it this week, finding no new violations.
  • Gnomiki Day Care, Inc., Group Family Day Care, 2623 Ocean Avenue, has been recommended for closure.
  • Next to Home, 353 Ocean Avenue, closed after the owner stopped operations, city officials said.
  • One of a Kind Child Care, a group family daycare operating at 6306 Amboy Road in Staten Island, is operating, but the owner that was arrested will be excluded from the program, officials said.

The site owners who were arrested were:

  • Viktoriya Federovich, 38, of Brooklyn, was the owner of Gnomiki Day Care, Inc. She was charged with presenting fraudulent documents to the city, including two Certificates of Completion for Identification and Reporting of Child Abuse and Maltreatment for an assistant teacher and a volunteer, the DOI said.
  • Elena Kaplan, 53, of Brooklyn, was the owner ABC Little Star Day Care, and, according to the DOI’s investigation, she allegedly submitted a number of false documents to the city, including a a fake public school teacher certificate for herself and state Nurses Association Certificates of Completion for various members of the staff confirming they had received training in identifying child abuse, when, in fact, they allegedly had not, the city officials said.
  • Owen Larman, 41, of Brooklyn, a convicted felon who was found guilty of operating a $12 million mortgage fraud scheme in 2007 and who was also charged in this case with stealing close to $60,000 in public funds. He was the owner and operator of Next to Home Child Care, which provided services at three locations in the borough. Next to Home also obtained a registration to operate a fourth child care program at 5566 Kings Highway, but the DOI said this site did not actually provide any services.
  • Gina Schiavo, 44, of Staten Island, was the owner of One of a King Child Care. According to the DOI, she allegedly introduced an individual to a DOHMH inspector under another teacher’s name and fraudulently provided documents with the name and qualifications of the teacher. When the inspector questioned the individual about her identity, Schiavo allegedly admitted that the individual was using another person’s name.

“These defendants forged and falsified documents in order to cover up safety risks and steal money intended for actual child care, as charged,” Peters said in a prepared statement. “Our investigations underscore the importance of continuing to vigorously police the integrity of the city’s child care systems, an effort that is very much continuing.”

In his statement to the press, Thompson too issued harsh words for the defendants.

“Each day parents throughout the city count on child care providers to protect the safety of their children,” he said. “It is disgraceful that greedy operators would circumvent safety provisions for their own benefit. Our parents and children deserve better and that’s why we worked so closely with the Department of Investigation on these cases.”

1882 East 12th Street (Source: Google Maps)

1882 East 12th Street (Source: Google Maps)

For eight years Homecrest residents have been bemoaning the erection of what has come to be known as “the monstrous tower” or “Homecrest tower.” The owner of the residential building, located on 1882 East 12th Street, Joseph Durzieh, called it an addition. Call it what you will, the unsightly structure will be removed, according to a report from the Brooklyn Daily.

Back in March, the Department of Buildings ordered the structure to be taken down or submit new plans. The owner chose the latter, and engineer James W. Feuerborn of firm Thornton Tomasetti will draw up plans to tear down the structure, department officials told Brooklyn Daily.

It’s hard to know where to start with such a controversial erection. But one thing can be said for sure, it sure is an ugly appendage. The two-story home is built atop a crumbling bungalow, and at 43 feet tall, it towers over nearby homes that stand a little over 20 feet tall, which led to many residents calling the structure unsafe.

In summer in 2o13, residents of the community won a long-fought victory in their battle against the landlord when a state judge ordered the city to re-examine building plans from “a shady developer” who, at the time, had attempted to erect a 53-foot addition to his Homecrest home.

At the time we wrote:

Judge Yvonne Lewis had sided with neighbors who called for a halt to the project. The judge didn’t have the authority to tear down the structure but had ordered the BSA to re-examine the case. Durzieh had argued that he had the proper permits to make the alterations, claiming that he was building a new addition for his family. Neighbors argued that this was unlikely considering that Durzieh tore down most of his house to accommodate the addition and that his plans called for the installation of an exterior staircase and an elevator. The speculation was that Durzieh was looking to build and rent out condos.

Around the same time, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz expressed his distaste for the extra large piece. In a press release he admonished the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) for allowing the continued construction. He also cited issues of safety as a major complaint in his opposition to the construction.

For now, everyone can breathe easy and not have to live life in the shadow of such a huge object.

Ed Eisenberg will be remembered with a street co-naming in Manhattan Beach.

Bullet Points” is our format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Ed, Immortal: Community Board 15 unanimously voted to support a proposal to co-name Kensington Street at Oriental Boulevard after longtime activist Ed Eisenberg, who passed away in March.

The proposal came at the request of Eisenberg’s wife, Eileen, who still resides on the block, and his sons Leigh and Glenn, through the offices of Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

When the proposal came up at Tuesday night’s meeting, it received resounding support from the Board members who cheered on the idea of honoring the local mensch who devoted so much of his life to Manhattan Beach and the surrounding communities.

Eisenberg passed away suddenly in March at the age of 79. He’s fondly remembered for his 40-year record of advocacy on behalf of local parks and civic groups, as well as his personal quirks and amusing costumes.

“I think if anyone deserves it, it’s him,” Chairperson Theresa Scavo told Sheepshead Bites in an interview after the meeting. “He loved this community and did everything he could to make it better.”

A letter stating the Board’s support will be sent to Councilman Deutsch’s office, who will bring it to the City Council for review by the Parks Committee, and ultimately a floor vote. It’s expected to pass without resistance.

Zoning Items:

  • 3540 Nostrand Avenue: The McDonald’s location on this had to request a special permit to continue running a business here because there is a drive-through, which can cause dangerous traffic problems if it isn’t run correctly. The Board approved the permit since there have been no recorded incidents – like a car accident – in relation to the drive-through.
  • 116 Oxford Street: The board approved a proposal to enlarge the living space of a residential home. This residential building was hit by Superstorm Sandy. As part of the new city regulations, houses in flood zones must be raised four feet, causing some, including this one, to lose its basement. The homeowners sought to raise the house to 35 feet, which will push the rear and side yards out.
  • 174 Falmouth Street: This building is “another obvious Sandy victim,” the lawyer that represented this and the other two applicants. The Board voted to allow this home increase its floor area ratio, which requires a special permit.

Other information:

  • The Board shared the news that the building on 1882 East 12st Street is going to be demolished.
  • Board member Ira Tepper pointed out that Councilman Chaim Deutsch hasn’t visited any of the Board’s meetings since being elected. “Is there any reason why he’s dissing us?” Tepper asked Deutsch’s representative.
  • Con Edison will be pruning trees over the next three months to keep limbs from rubbing up against electric wires.
  • Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo railed against the fact that liquor stores are not required to inform the Board upon their opening. The Board then passed a resolution to urge local politicians to pass a law requiring liquor license to notify the Community Board.
  • The Sanitation Department will be power washing the Sheepshead Bay station to remove all the “muck.”
  • On the debate of who’s responsible for that small, but annoying, sliver of land under the train overpasses of the B/Q lines: The area, according to the Sanitation Committee, is a problem all-year-round. Who is in charge of cleaning the waste that collects there? And in the winter, who is in charge of shoveling the snow? The committee is trying to settle this debate; although, exactly how something like this is solved wasn’t explained.

Correction (May 1, 2014): The original version of this article originally stated that the Board passed a resolution urging legislation requiring liquor stores to seek approval for their license through the Community Board. That was inaccurate; the resolution they passed was urging legislation that required notification only. Also, there was a typo in the address of the home to be demolished. Both have been corrected.

Source: Murdock Solon

Source: Murdock Solon

A real estate management company linked to the owner of one of the city’s leading necktie manufacturers and wholesalers has taken over a swath of Kings Highway real estate, with plans to redevelop the property into a five-story retail and office development.

Several stores on the northern side of the corridor, from East 16th Street to East 17th Street, have shuttered in recent months, including the area’s McDonald’s restaurant. The building appears to still be owned by Kingsway Realty, according to city records, which has had its name inscribed on the facade since taking over the property in 1973.

1601-1607 Kings Highway, where several stores have shuttered in recent months to make way for redevelopment.

1601-1607 Kings Highway, where several stores have shuttered in recent months to make way for redevelopment. (Photo by Ned Berke)

Now plans are being considered by the Department of Buildings to tear down the two-story structure occupying the 17,880-square-foot lot, originally built in 1930, and replace it with a brand new facility, anchored by two floors of retail shopping and three floors of office space.

The building is being designed by the architectural firm of Murdock Solon. Renderings on their website show an ultra-modern design, featuring large bulked-out windows, a patterned facade and setbacks with rooftop gardens to be viewed by the office workers on the upper levels.

With escalators drawn into the middle of the retail space, it appears the developer may be aiming to attract a large retail tenant to occupy the bulk of the space.

There is parking for 25 vehicles and five bicycles in the basement level of the property, according to documents submitted to the DOB. The new building will stand 79 feet tall, and have 67,355 square-feet of space.

Although Kingsway appears to still be the owner of the property according to ACRIS, the online database of the City Register, the plans were submitted to the DOB on behalf of Lake Realty Inc., naming Walter Schik as the officer.

Schik is an Austrian-Jewish immigrant who fled Nazi persecution. Resettled in New York, he founded Bentley Cravats in 1947, which manufactures neckties, bow ties and other neckware.

Lake Realty Management LLC, which appears to be the official name of the company as registered with the state, manages a handful of properties in Brooklyn and Manhattan, including a nearby apartment building at 1233 East 19th Street.

Calls to Schik’s office were not returned.

The plans for the new five-story building were rejected in March, with the Department of Buildings stating that the drawings were incomplete. Calls to Murdock Solon for a status update were not returned.

Photos via Murdock Solon.

A residential development on Banner Avenue has changed hands for a second time after a dramatic turnaround under its previous owners.

GFI Capital Resources Group’s Irongate Realty Partners has sold the two adjoined apartment buildings to Hudson Companies for $39.5 million. The company purchased the then-beleaguered site for $17.5 million in January 2012.

Boasting 102 units at 2750 East 12th Street and 1125 Banner Avenue, the buildings began construction in the real estate boom in 2006. When the market tanked construction stalled, and it appeared there was little interest in the condo units that began in the $300,000 range. At the time, one building was 95 percent complete, and the other 70 percent.

Irongate purchased the property, completed the construction and went forward with an upscale, exclusively rental approach. It is now 90 percent occupied.

“GFI’s strategy created an attractive buying opportunity for The Hudson Companies, who saw a rare opportunity to acquire a best-in-class new construction asset with waterfront views in a prime Brooklyn location,” GFI Realty Services’ Yosef Katz said in a statement, reported by the Commercial Observer.

We’re not sure where those waterfront views might be, but it’s nice to see a stalled site reactivated, and turned into what might be one of 2014′s biggest residential real estate deals in the area.

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.

1882 East 12th Street (Source: Google Maps)

1882 East 12th Street (Source: Google Maps)

After a long and bitter battle with Homecrest neighbors, the Department of Buildings has ordered the owner of a home being built on East 12th Street to submit new plans or tear the house down, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz announced today.

The home at 1882 East 12th Street has been the site of sour relations for eight years, with local advocates and neighbors saying that the building is not only built outrageously beyond zoning restrictions, but in a dangerous manner.

The property owner, Joseph Durzieh, classified the construction as an alteration when filing plans to do the DOB. But the building appears to be a entirely new structure built around a one-story bungalow – but without the necessary foundation to keep it stable. Critics say it should have been classified as a new construction – and forced to seek permission to construct a building that towers over its neighbors.

The property owner has previously received stop work orders and restraining orders, and a Kings County Supreme Court judge called the city agency’s decision to allow construction to proceed “arbitrary and capricious.”

“For eight years the people of East 12th Street battled the Board of Standards and Appeals, battled the Department of Buildings and battled a bureaucracy that seemed stacked against them even though common sense was on their side,” Cymbrowitz said in a press release. “Anyone who saw this five-story monster of a house at 1882 East 12th Street knew it didn’t belong there. Neighbors lost sleep because they imagined the structure falling down around them. At last, justice has prevailed.”

Cymbrowitz met with Brooklyn Buildings Commissioner Ira Gluckman in January, during which Gluckman expressed “deep concerns that the architect’s plans did not accurately deal with structural issues in the building,” and the agency issued a stop work order.

Now the department has requested an emergency declaration to raze the building, giving the owner 60 days to submit new plans or tear down the home. If Durzieh fails to comply, the city will send a wrecking ball – and a bill to Durzieh for the work.

BEFORE AND AFTER: 2801 Brown before construction began (Source: Google maps; 2801 Brown in a recent photo (Source: Community Board 15)

BEFORE AND AFTER: 2801 Brown before construction began (Source: Google maps; 2801 Brown in a recent photo (Source: Community Board 15)

Bullet Points” is our format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Bunga-no! Community Board 15 voted last night to deny an application for a special permit to enlarge a single-family, one-story bungalow on Brown Street into a two-story residence, although much of the work appears to have already been completed.

According to the attorney representing the property, Alexander Levkovich, the owners of 2801 Brown Street are seeking to elevate the bungalow to comply with FEMA flood map recommendations. To do so, the attorney said, they’d have to see an increase in the permitted floor-area-ratio (FAR) – the formula used to determine how much square footage can be constructed on a given property.

But the attorney let slip seemingly contradictory statements that soured the Board’s opinion of the project.

A photo of the property was shared with the Board showing the property, which has already been elevated and a second story added. The lawyer stated that work “up until what’s been approved by the Department of Buildings” was completed, leaving boardmembers to wonder why a FAR waiver was needed since the building has already been raised.

Bullet Points is our easy-to-read rundown of Community Board 15 meetings. Keep reading to learn what happened.

Sleep Inn Hotel

Construction site for the Sleep Inn Hotel (Source: Amusing the Zillion)

Amusing the Zillion reported last week that Sleep Inn Hotel is now under construction on Stillwell Avenue and Avenue Z, just north of the Coney Island Creek, making it the first new hotel in the neighborhood in decades.

The site reports:

A sign on the construction fence says “Anticipated Completion: Fall 2015.” Mahesh Ratjani, one of the partners in the project, tells ATZ: “We are hoping to have it completed by the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015.” According to DOB records, a 12,989 square foot, four-story hotel will occupy the 13,000 square foot lot. Sleep Inn is a member of the Choice Hotels Group.

Documents on the Department of Buildings website show the hotel will have 53 guest rooms.

The problem is that the 2590 Stillwell Avenue lot, which was purchased in 2007 for $1.9 million, isn’t really part of Coney Island. ATZ says it’s the border of Gravesend and Bath Beach, and I’d agree. Regardless, it’s far flung from the amusement district, and ain’t the kind of hotel we were thinking when we heard hotels were coming to Coney Island.

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