Archive for the tag 'joseph durzieh'

1882 East 12th Street (Source: Google Maps)

1882 East 12th Street (Source: Google Maps)

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz admonished the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) for allowing the continued construction on the reviled “Homecrest Tower” (1882 East 12th Street). In a press release, Cymbrowitz cited issues of safety as a major complaint in his opposition to the construction.

Earlier in the week, we reported that the BSA ignored the recommendations of Judge Yvonne Lewis, who ruled that the BSA should reconsider their initial decision to grant permits to owner Joseph Durzieh. The BSA gave Durzieh the go ahead, declaring his permits valid and dismissing community complaints and declared that any errors made in the approval of the original permits were “administrative.”

In the release, Cymbrowitz cited his history of opposition against the structure:

In late June, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz wrote to BSA urging the board to “heed the community’s strong concerns” and rule against the five-story home, which towers well above its two-story neighbors. He had previously written to the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) asking the agency to revoke its approval of the building’s plans, which were filed incorrectly as a renovation instead of new construction.

Cymbrowitz went on to note that the issue of safety was the primary concern as to why the structure shouldn’t be built.

“This isn’t a case of neighbors’ word against BSA. BSA is choosing to ignore a court order to review a project that was admittedly filed improperly and may have serious construction issues that compromise safety. Who’s protecting the residents here? The lack of accountability is extremely troubling,” Cymbrowitz said.


An angry neighbor in front of the “Homecrest Tower” (Source:

The Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) ignored a state judge’s plea to re-examine the plans put forward by the shady developer of the so-called “Homecrest Tower” (1882 East 12th Street). Reports indicate that the BSA declared that developer Joseph Durzieh does have the right to continue building the enormous addition to his home, much to the consternation of his neighbors.

The last we reported on the building, which is a 53-foot tribute to horrendous taste, 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.

When the BSA finally ruled last week, they declared that Durzieh’s permits were indeed valid, stating that architect Shlomo Wygoda made an error by not filing for a “new building” permit. The BSA decided that this error was “administrative” in nature, effectively giving Durzieh the go ahead on his plans.

Brooklyn Daily described the angry reaction of State Senator Tony Avella:

Tony Avella, a state senator from Queens who crusades against unscrupulous developers, visited the tower on E. 12th Street earlier this year and cited the agency’s decision as further evidence of why the mayor should get rid of it.

“This is one more example of why the Board of Standards and Appeals should be abolished,” said Avella. “It’s just incomprehensible that this developer got away with this huge building. It’s a monstrosity, and not only that, but its a dangerous accident waiting to happen.”

In fact, the board appears to have performed no additional investigation or review beyond the consulting the buildings department, and based its decision largely on the testimony of the department it is supposed to police.

Attorney Stuart Klein, who represents the neighbors opposed to the structure, spoke to the unfair relationship between the Department of Buildings (DOB) and the BSA.

“This decision says that the BSA is going to rubber stamp anything the DOB does,” Klein told Brooklyn Daily.



A fight that has stretched over seven years might finally be ending as a state judge has ordered the city to re-examine building plans from a shady developer who has attempted to build a 53-foot addition to his Homecrest home. The New York Daily News is reporting that Judge Yvonne Lewis has sided with neighbors who have spent years complaining that the home in question (1882 East 12th Street) was illegally altered.

We last reported on the 53-foot eyesore in October of 2010. At that time, Joseph Durzieh, owner of the house, was arguing that he had the proper permits to construct the enormous additions because he was merely altering his house and not building a new structure entirely. Neighbors argued that Durzieh actually tore down most of his house to set up the new addition to rent out condos. Durzieh maintained that the addition was meant only for his family but many were skeptical considering that plans called for an elevator and exterior staircase.

While Judge Lewis doesn’t have the authority to order the tearing down of Durzieh’s tower, she informed Durzieh to prepare to do so when the city properly re-examines the case. Neighbors were thrilled at Lewis’s decision but still livid at the nightmare they’ve had to live with.

“The site is in an appalling state,” neighbor Betty Travitsky told the Daily News. “There has been no upkeep. To live next to this is horrible. People walk by and laugh.”

Despite the judge’s decision, the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) still has the final say when they again re-examine the building plans and will provide a final decision on July 23.

Still, optimism is strong that the BSA will reverse its previous decision.

“Common sense says anyone in their right mind would rule to tear this aberration down because it is not and never was an alteration,” said Walter Maffei, an architect consulting with the neighbors. “But it’s lack of common sense and respect that got us to this point.”

Abraham Travitsky lives next door to Joseph Durzieh's home, which he’s renovating to the dismay of his Homecrest neighbors.


I’d say “There goes the neighborhood,” but the neighborhood came and went so many times that I’m beginning to suspect it’s a well-heeled prostitute.

Neighbors on a Homecrest block are outraged over what they call a hulking eyesore rising in their midst.

City officials decided last week to let owner Joseph Durzieh go ahead with a 53-foot-tall house that towers over other homes on the E. 18th St. [sic – It’s East 12th Street] block – and gets so close to a house next door it blocks the windows.

“It’s a monstrosity,” said lawyer Stu Klein, who is representing neighbors on both sides of the building challenging the project.

… The project would be illegal under current zoning, but the city Board of Standards and Appeals voted last week to let the owner go ahead because he started work before zoning rules changed to bar buildings so high.

Why does the Board of Standards and Appeals continue to vote against the wishes of the community? What do its members have to gain from scorning – so routinely and so callously – the residents of the neighborhoods it shapes?

While agencies like the DOT and the MTA are supreme examples of bureaucratic incompetence, the BSA is the paragon of institutional malice. It needs to go.

But back to the house…

Neighbors challenged the move, charging Durzieh’s permits were no good because he got permission to renovate an existing house – but actually tore down most of the house and put up a new building.

… Durzieh has maintained the three-story structure will be a single family home for his family.

But Theresa Scavo, chair of Community Board 15 – which voted overwhelmingly against the plan – suspects Durzieh really plans to turn it into condos, noting that plans include an elevator and an exterior staircase.

Durzieh and his contractors have also been fined $9,200 for construction violations on the site, according to DOB records. He did not return calls.

And so it goes. Another ugly condo on another block in which it doesn’t fit. And no, I’m not against condos or the area developing, I’m just against the stupid ones.