Stalled Development in the 39th Council District

We need to make these sites into assets for the community. Many of these developments are causing real hazards for their neighbors, with fences falling down on sidewalks, loose construction debris that can become deadly in high winds, and unsecured sites that are dangerous for children and an invitation to squatting.

Help the effort to convert local blight to community benefit by providing feedback and tracking the progress of each site.
Leave comments below on a individual site to update us on the conditions. If you call 311 about an issue, please leave a complaint number in the comment.

Monday, March 15, 2010

22 Caton Place, Kensington

(between Ocean Parkway and East 8th Street)

Project Type: New building

Project Description: Construction of a new 7 story, 58 unit building

Status: Fenced lot. No activity.

UPDATE 3/15/2010: DOB added to "Stalled Sites" list for extra monitoring

Background: Demolition of the previous building was started in 2005. Numerous violations were incurred during the demolition phase, citing non-compliant and damaged fencing, and failure to properly store combustible materials. The developer sought an upzoning from R6 to R7A to enable construction of an 8-story building. There was significant neighborhood opposition. Community Board 7 voted unanimously to disapprove the ULURP application, and the Borough President disapproved the application, recommending R7B instead. City Planning approved the R7B designation, and the developer modified his plans. Plans for a new building were filed in 2007. The design was by architect Karl Fischer.

The developer had difficulties obtaining financing. The site remained idle while permits expired and the job site fence continued to deteriorate. As of late 2009 there were 8 open violations and there is considerable debris on the lot. There is no activity but the site has not been declared as stalled.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

231-233 Ocean Parkway, Kensington

(between Church Avenue & Beverly Road)

Blog reader addition

Project Type: New Building

Project Description: Demolition of house and garage; Construction of 8 story, 12 unit residential building with below-grade parking

Status: Update 714/10: Portion of fenced collapsed.

Vacant Lot, Excavation backfilled, DOB “Stalled” classification

Background: In early 2008 plans began for demolition of a home and garage and construction of a new 8 story building. During demolition and excavation, there were numerous complaints and violations concerning defective and missing fencing.

The site was idle, permits expired in April 2009, and in July 2009 the DOB declared it as a Stalled Site.

In September 2009 the DOB filed an Emergency Declaration noting that the partial foundation had inadequate bracing and water had not been drained. The DOB ordered it backfilled to grade. The owner did not comply, so the city backfilled the excavation and installed a chain link fence.

As of an early March 2010 DOB inspection and our site visit, the lot was graded and fenced, with no activity.

217-225 4th Avenue, Park Slope

(between President Street & Union Street)

Blog reader addition!

Project Type: New Building

Project Description: Construction of a 12 story, 40 unit condo building

Status: Vacant lot, Idle

Background: In 2000 the owner of the Brooklyn Lyceum – a former bath house turned into an arts and event space – and his business partner (Jean Miele, an architect), planned to build a new building on the adjacent lot. Due to financial difficulties, the Lyceum owner defaulted on his stake in the vacant lot, and ownership for the lot reverted to Miele. Miele decided to go ahead on his own, and in February 2008 he filed plans for construction of a 12 story, 40 unit, 61,000 sf condo building. The site was cleared in 2008 (including removal of a historic trolley car); excavation was initiated and then halted. There has been no apparent activity since then.

A website indicates that the owners are seeking development partners “to create a dynamic enclave tower of arts, commerce and residences.”

192 East 5th Street, Kensington

(SW corner of Caton Avenue, formerly 417 Caton Avenue)

Blog reader addition!

Project Type: New Building

Project Description: Demolition of home and garage and construction of a pair of new homes

Status: Vacant Lot, Idle

Background: Two 2 story homes were bought and demolished in 2003, and the lots were merged. The demolition was left incomplete through 2003 and 2004, and there were numerous complaints and violations citing unsafe conditions. Part of one floor remained standing, debris and combustible material accumulated in front, and the plywood fence fell multiple times, leaving the site open and unguarded. A new owner acquired the site in 2005 and completed the demolition, and in they filed plans for the construction of two 3 story condo buildings designed by architect Henry Radusky.

No construction activity has taken place. The fence has been in disrepair during periods and neighbors reported that children were playing on the site, but as of our site visit in early March the fence is now secure and the lot is cleared.

103-105 Kane Street, Columbia Waterfront District

(between Columbia Street & Tiffany Place)

Blog reader addition!

Project Type: New Building

Project Description: Construction of a 5-story 7 unit residential building with community facility

Status: Vacant Lot

Background: In early 2008, plans were filed for a 5 story building with a community facility. The zoning (R6) at the time allowed for bonus floor area (based on height or bulk) if a community facility is provided (though “community facility” is broadly defined to include medical offices); using that bonus, the developer filed for a 5 story, 16,000 square foot building, with a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of about 4.0. Excavation was initiated in June 2008.

The Carroll Gardens/Columbia Waterfront Contextual Rezoning would have only allowed for a FAR of 3.0. The DOB inspected the site and determined that the foundation was not started, and a Stop Work Order was issued.

The site is idle, though not “stalled” under the DOB classification. The covering on the front fence is poorly maintained, but the fence is intact, the lot is in reasonably good condition, and there have not been complaints or violations.

75 Columbia Street, Columbia Waterfront District

(NE corner of Columbia and Warren)

Blog reader addition!

Project Type: New Building

Project Description: Demo of commercial building; Construction of a 6 story 10 unit residential building

Status: Vacant lot, partially excavated

Background: On this corner lot, a one-story warehouse – vacant since at least 2006 – was bought for demolition and the construction of a new residential condo building. Planning began in 2007/2008, with demolition permits approved in January 2008 and underway later in the year.

On 9/15/2008, a Stop Work Order was issued during the demolition phase, as inspectors reported that there were no detailed plans for shoring the walls of the excavation so it wouldn’t damage an adjacent building. Guardrails were also not present to protect workers from the excavation. Limited work was permitted to proceed to install safety equipment.

In November 2008, the contractor presented amended plans, and guardrails were installed. The site was determined to be in safe condition and the SWO was rescinded.

The Carroll Gardens/Columbia Waterfront Contextual Rezoning, which was in development at this time, may have allowed for the height but not the bulk. The building plan was for a 6 story, nearly 20,000 sf building, with a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of about 3.7. The maximum FAR under the new zoning is 3.0. Some other nearby developments were also stopped by the rezoning, though a couple of large ones had progressed far enough that they were allowed to proceed with plans that would have otherwise been out of compliance. This site had not advanced sufficiently and would have to be modified before proceeding.

Currently there is plywood fencing around the site. Inside, there is a dirt pit from the incomplete excavation, along with lumber, other debris and plant overgrowth. There is no current activity, permits are expired and the site is for sale.

277 1st Street, Park Slope

(between 4th Avenue & 5th Avenue)

Blog reader addition!

Project Type: New Building

Project Description: Originally planned a 4 story 2 unit building (1999); new plan for a 4 story 5 unit building (2002)

Status: Building Infrastructure Partially Complete

Background: This project was initiated in 1999 but was significantly expanded in 2003. The 1999 plan was for a new 4 story, 2 unit, 4,000 sf building. The plans were withdrawn in 2003 and new plans were filed to build a 4 story, 14,000 sf building by merging adjacent lots. The plans refer to 3 units, but they may mean 3 units per original lot, thus totaling 9 units.

The Park Slope Rezoning halted work, but the DOB determined that it was sufficiently far along to proceed under the previous rules.

There have been several major safety violations:

- 2004: In May a violation was issued for failure to protect public and property affected by construction operations. The violation noted that one side of the excavation fence and a portion of the side yard had collapsed due to improper sheeting and shoring of the excavation and foundation. In June a violation was issued for failure to provide protection of sides of an excavation approximately 15 feet long in front of the building. In November a violation was issued for failure to provide protection at the side of excavation. Protection was not provided, and along one wall there was no sheeting, shoring or bracing. A Stop Work Order was issued.

- 2005: In May a violation was issued for work contrary to approved DOB plans; a crane was hoisting steel in the wrong position. The contractor also failed to have a permit signed off by an engineer. In December a violation was issued due to the lack of a sidewalk shed. The inspector noted that steel framing for the new building of approximately 50 feet in height had been erected without a sidewalk shed for protection of pedestrians on sidewalk. A Stop Work Order was issued.

- 2007: In March a violation was issued because the sidewalk shed did not meet building code specifications. The shed was missing lighting and a deck enclosure.

- 2008: In February a violation was issued for lack of guardrails along an opening on the roof terrace.

- 2010: In February another violation was issued because the sidewalk shed did not meet DOB code requirements. It was missing a parapet on the top of shed.

Permits are still active.

The building has 4 full floors and a fifth floor that may be a terrace or other structure.

187 7th Avenue, Park Slope

(NE corner of 7th Avenue and 2nd Street; aka 501 2nd Street and 495-505 2nd Street)

Blog reader addition!

Project Type: Existing Building

Project Description: None (vacant building)

Status: Sealed, Vacant Building

Background: This classic Park Slope building was known mostly for the ground floor “Landmark Pub.” The pub closed in the late 1990s and the fa├žade and apartments above fell into disrepair. Since 2003 there has been a steady stream of complaints and violations about the failure to maintain the building and deteriorating conditions. Reports indicate that window frames were splintered and that glass was broken and at risk of falling on the sidewalk.

The city erected an emergency sidewalk shed in 2007, but there were reports throughout 2008 and 2009 that the sidewalk shed was not being adequately maintained and was in Disrepair. Metal bars on the sidewalk shed were bent or missing, and there was a gap between the shed and the building.

In May 2009 then-Councilmember De Blasio intervened to get the sidewalk shed repaired. By January 2010, conditions had deteriorated again, the shed was in disrepair.

There are no active permits for the shed, and the building remains sealed.