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.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

333 Carroll Street, Carroll Gardens

(between Hoyt and Bond Streets)

Project Type: Existing building

Project Description: Conversion of manufacturing building to residential, with additional floors built

Status: Frozen with vertical extension incomplete, Stop Work Order in effect

UPDATE: DOB adds to "Stalled Sites" list for extra monitoring: 2/16/2010

Background: The plan, initiated in 2005, was to convert and enlarge a historic manufacturing building to condos. The design was by architect Robert Scarano. The building was controversial because of its height and the impact on a landmarked block. The design was also challenged, as extensions that the architect called mezzanines were challenged as illegally expanding the permitted Floor Area Ratio. The DOB agreed and a Stop Work Order was issued in September 2006. Scarano was removed from the project and replaced by Karl Fischer. Permits expired, and after they were renewed, another SWO was issued because of after-hours work. There has been no activity since March 2008.

The project – nicknamed by blogs as the "Hell Building" – contributed to community demand for a downzoning. The Carroll Gardens/Columbia Waterfront Contextual Rezoning was approved in October 2009, and the DOB determined that the project was only 15% complete. Therefore, the project was not sufficiently advanced to be grandfathered under the previous zoning and construction was ordered ceased. The steel structure of the top floors remains but cannot be completed, and although permits are current the owner has not indicated when/if he will amend plans and remove the non-compliant structure.

824 Friel Place, Kensington

(between East 8th Street and Coney Island Avenue)

Project Type: Existing building/renovation

Project Description: Rehabilitation of a 2 family home

Status: Open pit, no activity

UPDATE: DOB adds to "Stalled Sites" list for extra monitoring: 2/16/2010

Background: As a result of a tax foreclosure, the City took possesion of this 1-family home in 1990. In 2005, Just Homes LLC, a small developer, bought this property from the City and the Community Preservation Corporation as part of an affordable housing program. Plans for renovation and expansion of the building were approved in 2005 and amended in 2007, but there is no indication of a demolition permit. The building was either demolished or decayed, and all that remains are a pit with partial cement walls and a stoop that leads to nowhere.

Until recently, there was no construction fence, so access was open. A homeless veteran has been living in the pit. The Land Disposition Agreement between the City and Just Homes states the terms for default, which include failure to complete construction within a reasonable time period. There are 24 outstanding violations, but the site is not formally classified by the DOB as Stalled.

Councilmember Lander's office intervened, and now there is a new plywood fence and Common Ground's Street Outreach Program (funded by the City's Department of Homeless Services) arranged for a shelter placement and services for the homeless veteran. The property will be developed as part of an HPD affordable housing program.

174 Garfield Place, Park Slope

(between 6th and 7th Avenues)

Project type: Existing building

Project description: None (vacant building)

Status: UPDATE 8/2010: Site sold to new developer who plans on building at the site. See Brooklyn Paper article here.

UPDATE: DOB adds to "Stalled Sites" list for extra monitoring: 2/16/2010

Background: In 2006 and 2007, partial demolition work was undertaken without a permit. The work ceased, and the building was sealed. The building has 15 unresolved violations, the most recent of which indicated that the brickwork and cornice are defective and loose. There have been complaints about the building being open and accessible, but the DOB has determined that it is sufficiently closed. Windows and doors are cemented, but the front yard is open and accessible, in poor shape and has debris. Permits have expired.

149 Kane Street, Cobble Hill

(between Henry Street and Hicks Street)

Project Type: Existing building

Project Description: Extensive repairs required, not addressed

Status: Vacant and sealed

UPDATE: DOB declared "Stalled": 2/16/2010

Background: This townhouse has received 36 violations since 2005, with the vast majority due to unsafe conditions and continuing deterioration, including numerous fa├žade cracks, a hanging cornice, cracks in the stairs, roof decking separation, and blocked exits. A full vacate order was served in May 2009 and a full Stop Work Order was served in July, with violations for failure to comply with the vacate order.

In September permit applications were filed for a full interior and exterior renovation, but the plans were disapproved. All windows and doors are cemented, a sidewalk shed is up, the scaffolding company’s sign indicates that the permit was valid 12/31/2009, but no DOB permits are posted and there is no activity.

100 Luquer Street, Carroll Gardens

(between Hamilton Avenue and Clinton Street)

Project Type: New building

Project Description: Construction of new 11 story, 20 unit building

Status: Stop Work Order in effect

UPDATE: DOB added to "Stalled Site" list 2/19/2010

Background: This building project started in 2005. Designed by architect Karl Fischer, 100 Luquer Street is the tallest building in the area. Neighborhood residents have cited it as out-of-context and as a factor in the 2009 downzoning. The DOB has issued 19 violations for infractions including unprotected holes in floors, components not conforming to approved plans, unlicensed riggers, unsafe scaffolding, inadequate fencing, and lack of a sidewalk shed.

The exterior is significantly complete, but activity has stopped. There have been multiple Stop Work Orders. A violation was issued in August 2009 for failure to obey a Stop Work Order. The latest permit expired in October 2009. When we visited the site in late October, fencing was intact, and though some construction equipment remained onsite, there was no activity.

455 12th Street, Park Slope

(between 7th and 8th Avenues)

Project Type: Existing building alteration

Project Description: Vertical enlargement, adding additional floor to 3 story, 6 family apartment building

Status: Partial Stop Work Order in effect

UPDATE: DOB adds to "Stalled Sites" list for extra monitoring: 2/16/2010

Background: Plans were filed in 2008 to add an additional floor. Gut renovations were undertaken. Violations were issued for unsafe working conditions. Inspectors noted men working on open flooring throughout the site, floors exposed and with no safety equipment. Stop Work Orders were issued in February 2009 due to unapproved plans and March 2009 for failure to provide guard rails around the floor openings. In October 2009 excavation of the backyard for a rear extension was halted due to failure to provide protection at the sides of the excavation, which was 8 feet deep.

359 3rd Avenue, Gowanus

(between 1st and 3rd Streets)

Project type: Demolition, planned development site

Project description: Demolition of idle Con Edison building; planned for future development (no immediate plans)

Status: Portion of site in use; demo delayed but scaffolding installed late 2009

UPDATE: DOB adds to "Stalled Sites" list for extra monitoring: 2/16/2010

Background: Con Edison is demolishing a 1 story warehouse adjacent to its parking lot and plans to sell part or all of the property for development. Demolition permits were issued in mid-2009 but work did not proceed until early 2010. The site was where the Brooklyn Dodgers played in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, prior to building Ebbets Field. There is speculation that parts of the exterior wall are remnants of the Dodgers’ stadium, but others believe that the Dodgers’ stadium was fully demolished when the Dodgers left in 1912 and that the wall is from the stadium built for other teams shortly afterward. All agree that the site is important to baseball history, and Con Edison has promised to not demolish the historic wall.

In late December 2009 a sidewalk shed was erected. The adjacent parking lot is still actively used for Con Edison vehicles.