Archive for the tag 'eric palatnik'

loehmanns-rendering

Rendering of the proposed expansion. Provided by architect Robert Palermo.

Community and civic leaders met with representatives for the owners of Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza to discuss a plan to add a new floor to the development. The heated discussion boiled down to whether or not the plan was an investment in the community’s viability post-Sandy, or a bailout for a landlord who made a bad buy.

The invite-only meeting, organized by Councilman Chaim Deutsch, was attended by the owner’s attorney, architect and traffic engineer to explain the project and its impact. Members of Community Board 15′s zoning committee were in attendance, as well as members of the Bay Improvement Group, Manhattan Beach Community Group, and the Sheepshead Bay Plumb Beach Civic Association – all of which have expressed concerns about the project.

loehmanns

What’s the plan?

The property’s owner, Alex Levin, filed plans in March to add a new story of commercial offices to the building, totaling 10,000 square feet, as Sheepshead Bites was the first to report.

The news reignited a contentious fight with roots back to the early 1990s when the building was first proposed. Far outside the size limitations for the area’s zoning, and with proposed uses that didn’t match the Sheepshead Bay special zoning district, community groups fought to limit the scale of the project – largely without success.

The new plan to go even larger requires a recommendation from Community Board 15 and approval from the Board of Standards and Appeals. Originally set for a hearing in June, the developer agreed to two postponements to meet with concerned community members.

“We are sympathetic to your neighborhood; we’re part of your neighborhood.”

 

–Robert Palermo, architect.

The proposal asks not just for additional office space, which will fit four to five tenants, but also a waiver on the number of required parking spots. Zoning requires a minimum of 215 parking spaces with the additional office. There’s currently parking for about 183 cars, and they plan on increasing that to 198 spaces.

Although locals who live off Emmons Avenue said parking remains a top concern, the reps said this would have no significant impact on the surrounding area, since the offices would be used during the day when the building’s garage is nearly empty. According to their studies, parking peaks in the evenings and on weekends, when visitors come to patronize local restaurants and cruise boats.

The design includes 15-foot setbacks for the new floor making it invisible from the street, and is done with gabled roofs to keep it in line with a fishing village theme, said architect Robert Palermo. He shared a rendering of the proposed addition, seen at the top of this story.

“It’s impact visually on the neighborhood is minimal,” Palermo said. “We are sympathetic to your neighborhood; we’re part of your neighborhood.”

Construction would take a year or two to complete after approval, the representatives said.

Councilman Deutsch led a tour of the vacant Loehmann's space, where the meeting was held.

Councilman Deutsch led a tour of the vacant Loehmann’s space, where the meeting was held.

“This building is on the verge of failure.”

The purpose of the plan, the developer’s representatives said last night, is to make up for income that will never be regained after Superstorm Sandy devalued the sub-level storefronts.

“If this building fails … it’s not going to help a soul.”

 

–Eric Palatnik, attorney.

The 14,000-square-foot basement level of Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza, which houses the Seaport Buffet and New Cats Cafe, among others, turned into an eight-foot-deep pool following the storm. Since then, the landlord has had to slash rents by 40 percent in order to attract businesses back to the area.

The bottom line, said attorney Eric Palatnik, is that the building is no longer commercially viable.

“We’re having a hard time of it,” said the owner’s attorney, Eric Palatnik. “We’re here to tell you that we lost income as a result of downstairs. And in order for us to make up that income, we need space upstairs.”

The 10,000-square-foot space will bring in about 60 percent of the rent the basement commanded prior to Sandy, while the basement will continue to draw about 40 percent.

“It’ll never get market rent again,” said architect Palermo.

In sum, they said, the expansion plan is necessary because if the project goes belly-up the entire community will suffer.

“If this building fails, which it’s on the verge of failing, it’s not going to do anything for this community. It’s not going to help a soul,” said Palatnik.

The landlord has been unable to find a new tenant for Loehmann's since they went bankrupt nine months ago.

The landlord has been unable to find a new tenant for Loehmann’s since they went bankrupt nine months ago.

“Why should we bail you out?”

The argument that the exception ought to be granted for the building’s viability has historical roots, Palatnik noted. The basement level was opposed by community advocates like the Bay Improvement Group as well as by City Planning, all of which warned that a flood posed a significant risk. But the Board of Standards and Appeals agreed with the developer in 1995 that it needed commercial space in the basement in order to make the project viable.

“[Loehmann's] was a failure. We now know, the experiment is over.”

 

–Steve Barrison, Bay Improvement Group.

To the project’s opponents, this is a case of buyer’s remorse and they shouldn’t be rewarded for a bad investment. Levin and his partners bought the property from the original owners in 2008 for $24 million, a local real estate record at the time.

“We’re not saying it after the fact. We’re not Monday morning quarterbacks,” said Bay Improvement Group President Steve Barrison. “[The owners] bought it with their eyes wide open, and now they’re saying, ‘Oh we bought it. Look what happened. I’m a schmuck, I got stuck.’ And the community is saying ‘Why should we bail you out?’… Nobody is bailing any of us out.”

Some expressed skepticism that there was demand for office space in the area, but both Palatnik and Palermo said that the increasingly white-collar, Eastern European demographics are looking for professional spaces near their homes – and other projects prove it.

“Offices will rent. The B’ay Tower that I did two years ago proves it. You give a quality office environment in a good location in Sheepshead Bay, there’s a need for office space,” said Palermo, referencing the new tower at 1733 Sheepshead Bay Road that he designed and is now fully leased.

Palermo and Palatnik argued that the community must grant the waiver because it will help stabilize commercial property values. As a bonus, area businesses stand to gain from the expansion, since office workers will provide a new lunchtime client base for restaurants and other small shops.

But Barrison said that’s the same argument used to allow Loehmann’s department store into the space contrary to zoning, and it no longer holds water.

“It was a failure. We now know, the experiment is over. Loehmann’s came in, people shopped, and they left,” said Barrison.

Loehmann’s went bankrupt nationally  and vacated the property in February. A new tenant has not been found, though Palermo said it will remain a department store use.

Councilman Deutsch said he’s yet to take a stance on the project.

“I think it’s important for the members of [Community Board 15's] zoning committee and the community groups to know what they’re voting on, and that why went to take the tour,” said Deutsch. “I still have to discuss it with everyone, see what their position is, and their feeling is, and then I’ll take my position if need be. Or maybe I’ll just let the Community Board zoning committee vote on it, because that’s what they’re there for.”

Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo said much the same.

“I see a difference on Emmons Avenue [after Sandy,] and there isn’t really the life that used to be two years ago,” she said. “So I understand it probably is a heartache [for the landlord]. Down the road, let’s see what happens. I want to hear from the general population of Sheepshead Bay.”

The project is not yet scheduled to come before Community Board 15, but Scavo said it’s likely to come up in January.

Built for expansion: This owner of this Beaumont Street home violated the terms of their special application, so they tore down their home and rebuilt this structure so they could apply again. (Source: CB15)

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.

Enlargement denied: Community Board 15 said a Manhattan Beach homeowner’s request to expand his home would set a bad precedent after learning that the homeowner previously dodged zoning laws, got caught, tore down his home and rebuilt it – all to try for the permit for a second time.

Owners of the home at 282 Beaumont Street, one house in from the water, sought to expand their two-story home by adding a third story, bulking out the building in the front and the rear, and doubling the floor area allowed by zoning standards. But, during questioning at the public hearing, Community Board members expressed concern that the homeowner had previously got caught dodging zoning, and rebuilt a shoddy house with the intention of coming before the Board for a new application.

“Since [violating zoning laws and having the permits revoked,] the owners constructed a new home that appears to be purposely built to be destroyed,” said neighbor Samuel Falack, who lives on the block and also spoke on behalf of the Manhattan Beach Community Group. “It has a shabbily built second floor and a flat roof that has pipes leading to what they hope will be an attic or a third floor with the expectation that a second special permit will be granted.”

Falack called the application disingenuous, and urged the Board to oppose it.

Keep reading to find out what happened, and other information from the Community Board 15 meeting.

We reported last week that the Sunoco gas station at 2701 Knapp Street is proposing to shutter its automotive service station and replace it with a new 24-hour convenience store.

In the video above, the owner’s attorney Eric Palatnik elaborated on the business’ needs to make the switch, saying that service station revenue has been dwindling nationwide, while convenience stores have been popping up in their place. Following his presentation, Community Board 15 voted to approve the proposal.

Palatnik adds in the video that the gas station will remain open, though they will be filing with the Department of Environmental Protection to replace the underground storage tank.

We called the service station this morning to ask if, when and where they would be moving, but the owner wasn’t on site. His nephew said he did not know of any current plans to replace the service station with a convenience store.

The owners of the Sunoco gas and service station at 2701 Knapp Street are seeking approval to open a 24/7 convenience store at the location, right across the street from 7-Eleven.

Representatives for the property owner will come before Community Board 15 tomorrow night, where they will ask for the go-aheadto remove the automotive service center and construct a convenience store. They will continue to operate the gas station.

“[The owners] are shutting it down because all around the country that’s the way of automotive service centers,” said Eric Palatnik, the owners’ attorney. “They can no longer run in a lucrative manner without providing a secondary means of income. It’s no longer the case that cars are serviced at service stations,” he said, adding that cars are often leased and brought back to dealers when problems arise.

Community Board 15 is required to make a recommendation to the Board of Standards and Appeals for the conversion since the property has been without a Certificate of Occupancy since 1965, when the BSA first gave approval to construct the gas station and required them to obtain one.

“Sometimes the Certificates of Occupancy aren’t obtained when they should be,” said Palatnik, who did not represent Sunoco in any of their previous filings. “I don’t know why they didn’t. They should have, and that’s wrong,” he said, adding that they will obtain the certificate when the convenience store is built.

The conversion to a convenience store mirrors Sunoco’s nationwide business strategy of emphasizing their retail offerings.

“An area of opportunity for us to unlock even more value out of our real estate is by changing our mind-set from a fuels retailer that also sells some convenience items, to a convenience retailer that retails fuels,” said Sunoco’s CEO Lynn Elsenhans in 2010. “We do a good job of retailing fuels and believe we can up our game in convenience retailing.”

But it also puts the store in direct competition with 7-Eleven, directly across the street. Regardless, the conversion – combined with an overhaul and rebranding effort on the premises – will help reinvigorate a blighted intersection, said Palatnik.

“It’s going to improve the heck out of that corner,” he said. “It’s going to be nice.”

UPDATE (3:56 p.m.): We clarified the article by noting that the gas station will continue to stay open. It is only the service station – ie. the mechanic – that will be converted to a convenience store.

Image courtesy of reader Niklas M.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
 
Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

– Excerpt from Jabberwocky, by Louis Carroll

The photo you see above is a compelling enough reason why children should go to school, study hard and, for the love of all that is holy, learn how to read and write basic English.

Reader Niklas M. sent us the image of a sawhorse, situated “at the intersection of Jerome and E21, behind Rite Aid,” with the non-words “COOS SIDEWOCK” painted in white letters, and accented with baby blue paint to give it an eye-pleasing 3D effect, across the plank. Niklas writes: “On the other side, on Ave Z, is another ‘funny’ sign. It’s [sic] says something like ‘no porck’.”

We’re fairly certain there are no kosher restaurants in the area advertising “no porck” on their menus — at least not any longer — so let’s analyze a little further.

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The sidewalk in front of LS Auto Clinic, which neighbors say is a consistent problem. This photo was taken late last year showing a before-and-after, when Sanitation officials ordered them to clean the property.

The Board of Standards and Appeals is rewarding a garage that has operated illegally since 2003 with a permit to do business, ignoring objections from the community that they’re bad neighbors and blighting the area.

Sheepshead Bites first reported on the garage – LS Auto Clinic at 2102 Avenue Z – last September, when a reader wrote to us describing it as an “eyesore to our community.” After Community Board 15 unanimously voted to recommend that the BSA reject the garage’s application, Chairperson Theresa Scavo predicted they would be disregarded. “The BSA has a tendency of siding with business owners,” she wrote to us.

Sure enough, that’s what happened.

The Brooklyn Paper reports:

On July 12 the Board of Standards and Appeals renewed the lapsed variance of LS Auto Clinic on Avenue Z in Sheepshead Bay, letting it continue to fix and hand-wash cars despite the fact that residents have been complaining about the shop since it opened more than 10 years ago.

… The city’s five-year permit does comes with several conditions that call for the shop, which is on a triangular-shaped property bordered by Avenue Z, E. 21st Street and Jerome Avenue, to become a better neighbor. Property owner Arkady Nabatov must keep the site clean, line the property with a fence and allow about half as many cars — 13 instead of 24 — to park on the property.

When the Courier visited the auto clinic on Tuesday morning, we saw litter on the sidewalk, but the rest of the area was tidy and organized. Nabatov also followed the city’s conditions, including putting up a fence and parking only six cars on the street. An illegal car wash shed, which was built last year without a permit, was also taken down.

“I have always kept the area clean,” LS Auto Clinic manager Serge, who declined to give his last name. Neither Nabatov nor his lawyer, Eric Palatnik, could be reached for comment.

And Scavo doubts that the property will be tidy for long.

“He just cleaned it up to get his permit renewed,” she said. “I guarantee the place will be back to its filthy old self in a few weeks.”

Residents, board members and local politicians chewed out a developer’s plans to construct a nine-story, 115 foot tall building wedged between Sheepshead Bay Road and Avenue Z at this week’s meeting, amidst concerns about parking, traffic and safety.

The board voted unanimously to turn down a request for special permits to reduce the amount of parking required for two buildings by the same owner. The special permits sought to combine the parking for both buildings (1401 Sheepshead Bay Road and 1501 Sheepshead Bay Road), and reduce the number of required spaces by 40 percent.

But the height, location and car capacity of the new building, as well as the developer’s own statements to the Board of Standards and Appeals, came under attack during the Tuesday night meeting.

“When we bring up downzoning in this area, this is the kind of project we’re talking about,” said a representative for Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz.

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