Archive for the tag 'department of buildings'

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.

hockejos

There are at least a dozen cameras between these houses.

John Hockenjos successfully won his freedom after fighting a false arrest in 2011, but he remains mired in a legal battle that threatens to see his property turned over to what he says is an unscrupulous developer. This month, a Queens-based state senator joined the battle, saying Hockenjos is another in a long line of victims of malfeasance and incompetence at the Department of Buildings.

Hockenjos and his wife, Irina, have been fighting with their East 23rd Street neighbors Elen and Argo Paumere since June 2009, when the Paumeres purchased the home next to them with plans for an ambitious overhaul. According to the Hockenjoses, red flags flew fast when they were approached to sign documents turning over a two-foot easement to their new neighbor.

They didn’t sign, and that triggered an all-out war between property owners, according to the Hockenjoses, which includes allegations of physical violence, corruption and even involvement in the false arrest. It has also cost them their jobs, their health, and more than $150,000 in legal fees, they say.

“We’re jobless. We’re money-less. Our health was destroyed tremendously. We lost our reputation,” Irina Hockenjos told Sheepshead Bites. “[The neighbors say] we’re criminals in all kind of ways. We’ve sued them in civil court because they’ve said we’re insane, and that John is a Russian mobster and he walks naked in the street.”

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Source: www.ny.curbed.com

Source: www.ny.curbed.com

The ‘Bright N’ Green’ environmental building project being constructed at 67 Brighton First Lane is nearly complete, according to a report by Multi Housing News.

The 6,500-square-foot building, which features solar panels, wind turbines on the roof and insulated panel walls, will house six apartment units and a commercial space on the ground floor. As we previously reported, the ec0-friendly structure was being developed by controversial architect Robert Scarano, has run into hot water in the past after being banned by the Department of Buildings for submitting misleading and false paperwork.

When we last reported on the progress of the structure in December, we noted the incredible statement by Scarano, who claimed that it was the only building in the neighborhood to be unaffected by Superstorm Sandy. Scarano had taken the preemptive measure of raising the foundation of the building 4 inches higher than the 100-year flood level building code requirement.

Multi Housing News noted the interesting heating, cooling and plumbing systems of the futuristic building:

The structure’s geothermal-based heating and air conditioning systems will help keep temperatures ambient with a relative humidity of about 50 percent. Although the community will be connected to a municipal water source, the building will also include a water catchment system that will utilize storm water for toilet flushing and irrigation and maintenance needs.

That is all very fascinating but one question remains, what will the rent be like?

CORRECTION (9/26/13 5:39 p.m.): Originally we had reported that the building was 15,000 square-feet, not 6,5000 square-feet. We also stated that Robert Scarano was the architect of the building when he is actually the developer.

Marty Golden, Photo By Erica Sherman

Marty Golden, (Photo By Erica Sherman)

State Senator Marty Golden is hosting a town hall meeting tomorrow night for people in Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Gerritsen Beach who were affected by Superstorm Sandy. Brooklyn News is reporting that Golden has invited a slew of officials representing various city, state and federal agencies to interact with attendees and answer questions relating to the continuing recovery effort.

Brooklyn News listed the agencies that the officials will be culled from as well as Golden’s remarks encouraging residents affected by Sandy to make it to the meeting:

Senator Golden will welcome officials from Build It Back, National Flood Insurance Program, Small Business Administration, The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Financial Services, The Army Corps of Engineers, The New York City Department of Buildings, The Health Department, City of New York, The New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and The New York City Department of Transportation.

“Almost 11 months after Hurricane Sandy, many residents still need help with rebuilding, insurance, and getting back on their feet,” said Senator Golden (R-C-I). “I urge all residents of my district who are still facing Hurricane related issues to come to this meeting and take advantage of all the different agencies present. By working together, we can make sure that all those who were affected by Hurricane Sandy get their lives and homes back to normal.”

The meeting is schedule for tomorrow, September 25, at 7 p.m. at Public School 277 located at 2529 Gerritsen Avenue.

Photo by PayPaul

Photo by PayPaul

This evening marks the first night of Sukkot, and observant Jewish families across the community are erecting booths – called a sukkah – where they will gather, eat and (in some cases) sleep for the next seven days.

Some neighbors, however, are irked by one storefront congregation’s sukkah, which bulks out into the middle of the sidewalk.

Congregation Bnei Shelomo Vyaffa at 1305 Gravesend Neck Road has set up a sukkah that takes as much as two-thirds of the sidewalk, leaving less room for pedestrians to slip by.

Reader PayPaul sent us the following e-mail, expressing his displeasure:

Could this Jewish Temple on Neck Road and East 13th Street shown some more tact and respect towards their neighbors by informing them in advance of their installation of a Sukkot tent that blocks the sidewalk considerably in front of their East 13th Street entrance? They could have at least apologized for the inconvenience in advance. That would have gone a long way in ameliorating any upset people.

You and others have to see it for yourselves. I even asked them about it. First they claimed to have a permit and then changed their story to say the 61st precinct told them it wasn’t worth the time as it would take too long to process. Meanwhile I know their next door neighbor is very upset over it. Imagine some elderly or handicapped people trying to get by this obstacle?

Another person took to Reddit to say the same:

It’s that time of year again! Sukkot. My friend took this picture of a Sukkot Tent outside of a business in Brooklyn. I live in Midwood so I see these everywhere but it’s usually on residential property and not always out on the sidewalk like this.

I know that certain laws have variances and loopholes for religious observance but I’m not sure this qualifies as legal. IT’s a pretty unsafe obstruction! My dad used to get tickets because he had a SIGN on the Sidewalk by the Curb. This just can’t be legal can it?

Anyone have more info on the issue?

We reached out the Department of Buildings to find out if there are any regulations concerning this. They said they do not oversee the construction of structures this small, but that we should reach out to the Department of Transportation to see if they have any policy’s regarding the sidewalk use. We haven’t yet heard back from them.

We could not find contact information for the congregation to seek their input.

Until we hear back, we ask our readers to remember that New York City’s greatness is predicated on its diversity. The city government makes occasional, understandable exceptions to accommodate the various religious, ethnic and cultural needs of its residents. Sometimes, a balance needs to be struck between meeting those needs and the needs of the bustling masses at large.

It’s not for us at Sheepshead Bites to say whether this sukkah is too large, or poses a danger to those with disabilities (in fact, I’m more bothered by the garbage against the utility pole, which, if it were not there, would give far more space for passersby). If neighbors are bothered by the structure, we hope they continue to politely press the issue with the congregation, and in the future the congregation look to make adjustments to address those concerns.

Who knows? Sukkot is a holiday in which those who celebrate are encouraged to invite neighbors and friends to their sukkah for food, drink and celebration. Maybe if you politely mention your concerns, you’ll be invited inside for a drink, and then it won’t seem large enough.

sukkot2

Photo by Lisanne

forum

A sweeping City Council candidates’ forum hosted by the Manhattan Beach Community Group last Wednesday touched on topics including stop-and-frisk, discretionary funding, and the overhaul of the Riegelmann Boardwalk. But the audience, which included active civic association leaders from around the district, was eager to question the candidates on their plans to wrestle some local control back from City Hall and back into the community.

The Democratic candidates vying to replace term-limited Michael Nelson in the 48th District fielded a volley of wonkish questions about Community Board reforms, community-based planning, and a potential dismantling of a city agency that many civic boards fault with turning a blind eye to over-development in the area.

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