Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Sorry to my loyal reader for not posting more often, and a big you're welcome to those of you thanking me for not posting as often as I used to.  

I'm back for a while, anyway, until I get a real life.  IMBY

p.s.  Please forward any stories I may have missed while AFK.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Record Breaking Price for Sweet Sixteenth Street.

IMBY Summer Hours.
When summer comes we flee north where we can rest our head in the magnificent, bountiful bosom of the Hudson Valley.  Look for we up top Silver Mountain ye shall find we sans pants, gardening. 
Green Donut
There was a time when my bucolic Brooklyn garden plot was more than enough to sustain my sanity and recharge my psychic batteries but,  like my Apple iPhone 4,  it seems there is a limit to the number of discharge and charge cycles … I'm  upgrading.   I'm trading in the abusive nonstop roar that spews from the Park Slope Armory's roof top air handlers for the hypnotic night time serenades of the cricket and the tree frog.  
New Brooklyn is a lot louder than "old" Brooklyn and by old I mean 20 years ago, damn it. 
There is so much more peripheral noise now.  Ambient noise pollution. 

Flight Path
On privileged Sunday mornings in times of old, you could sit in your rear yard with its 30 foot setback and hear the individual sounds of neighbors fixing the big breakfast, the cast iron ringing, water running in the sink, soft voices conversing.  Now its just an irritating mash of machine noises and old man growling sounds.

Down State IMBY
So we're back in the city and what is news?   
Looked in our mailbox to find we're a million dollars richer!  House prices on OUR block just broke the TWO MILLION DOLLAR mark.  Ok, hating the noise a little less. 

Yes,  375 Sweet Sixteen Street just closed for $2,080,000,  deed recorded August 29th,  2014.  Welcome to the neighborhood Mr. Thomas Lee.  Yes current sellers purchased the house back in 2000 for $399,200.  What a difference 14 years can make.

Of course we were excited for our block of two family brick and wood framers between 7th and 8th Avenues back in 2006 when 391 16th Street fetched $1,275,000, but that was during crazy bubble market frenzy times.   Certainly buyers would come to their senses and demand a return to sanity.  "Brownstones half off!"

In 2012 two more  home sales reset the price point again for Sweet Sixteenth.   362 16th sold for $1,010,000 and 373 sold for $1,275,000.  Both good bones fixer-uppers requiring a six figures amount of updating. Both converting from two to one families in the process.  

Jump forward another twenty years into the future and I guess we will all be lamenting the day we should've, would've, could've stolen that house when it was only two million.


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Greenwood Heights: Conjoined Twin Lots Seeking $2.6 Million.

Greenwood Heights For Sale
Last post time we reexamined our vacant Greenwood Heights stalled site on 325 Twentieth Street just up the slope from the intersection of 6th Avenue.  Today lets roll downhill to another vacant 20th Street lot being marketed towards speculators.  This parking lot is probably less subterraneanly troubled but will require the mutual acquisition of it's conjoined twin currently occupied by a two story wood frame residential building. All or nothing, the deal requires buying both identically sized lots each asking $1.3 million.   That's 5200 square feet of R6B zoned land for $2.6 million dollars.

276-278 20th Street 
Someone commented that 20th Street is a major truck route.   Yes, that's true.
In 2010, after years of  community complaints concerning the dangers of greatly over sized, speeding non-local trucks using the narrow 33' wide two-way street Community Board 7 requested the Department of Transportation to conduct a traffic study.  In 2012 the DOT came back with the results of the study with recommendations that 20th St. be turned into a one way Eastbound only route with Westbound neighborhood truck traffic rerouted down 7th Avenue to Prospect Avenue. LINK

Community Board 7 voted 32 to 0 to reject the DOT proposal.

"However, CB7 does not believe the proposal presented by DOT at our May 30 Transportation Committee that would reroute westbound trucks to Prospect Avenue satisfies the needs of the community as a whole;
Therefore, Community Board 7 asks that DOT continues to study the 20th Street truck route for viable alternatives that are safe and efficient, without pursuing the current Prospect Avenue proposal. Community Board 7 also calls on DOT to work with the community to develop an alternative plan, as they did for the 4th Avenue corridor with a short time-­‐frame for study and implementation. Additionally, CB7 calls on DOT to reconstruct the roadbed of 20th Street that wasn’t designed for such heavy vehicles which cause vibrations and damage to surrounding properties and finally, and most urgently, CB 7 calls on DOT and the NYPD to immediately begin vigorous and sustained enforcement efforts against oversized, off route, speeding and non-­‐local trucks throughout Community District 7."

I'm assuming the DOT study soldiers on as there is/was traffic monitoring equipment attached to the stop light pole on the corner of 7th Avenue and Prospect in front of Public School 10 until very recently.  So even though dangerous 20th Street truck traffic continues to vibrate, damage, and pollute, the wheels of government continue to turn slowly.  Anyone betting that 20th Street will one day be  pleasantly traffic calmed and tree lined anytime soon?  

So back to our twin lots for sale.  Interesting note, back in 2007 Gowanus hotel developer Alex Shtromandel (Union Hotel, Gowanus Inn and Yard) submitted plans (link) for both of our Greenwood lots proposing to build two residential apartment building, but alas, the plans were rejected by DOB examiners and were eventually withdrawn in the Fall of 2012.


Friday, May 02, 2014

Greenwood Clusterkerfluffle asking $1.475 million

325 20th Street in Greenwood Heights is up for grabs.    Long time IMBY crack addicts will remember this site as a major pain in the ass to both adjoining property owners and the Department of Buildings back in 2008.  

 Stalled site 325 20th Street is asking $1.475 million.   Back in 2007 Architect Henry Radusky's plans to build a 4 story building collapsed after faulty foundation work led to ECB violations and stop work orders.

Today back filled and overground.

I-beam raking shores still in place now concealed by mother nature.

Flashback:  Excavation without shoring allows neighbor's garden to cave into the hole.  These photos document post violation remedial repairs.

Flashback:  New shoring after the fact.

Crack epidemic:  Plastic monitors placed over the stair step cracks in adjoining property.  The building's wall had to be reinforced with steel i-beam rakers to control any additional movement.

Raking Shores

From the IMBY Archives:

325 20th Street: The Tao Construction, Inc./Henry Radusky / Louis Sanchez cluster-kerfuffle, now seeing red, again.

Full Demolition For 288 19th Street

288 19th Street not long for this world full demolition permitted. Plans for a new  4 story, 3 dwelling unit  residential building awaits R6B zoning approval.   This property sold for $895,000 back in January 2014.  The lot is 25'x100'.

Under a new program called Hub Self-Service, New York State-licensed architects and engineers can professionally certify plans for small construction projects (Alteration 2 and Alteration 3) without visiting a Department office. Through the Department’s website, applicants can create online accounts, complete the necessary electronic forms and upload the proper documents in order to receive approvals and obtain construction permits. Alteration 2 and 3 applications are typically submitted when there is no change in use, occupancy or egress.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Violator 192 15th Street: Stop Work Order Rescinded Excavation Backfilled

Archival, back in day before the shovel hit the soil. 

 Received an anonymous tip informing us that the new building going up at 192 15th Street between 4th and 5th Avenues was slammed with a Stop Work Order Violation by the Department of Buildings back on the 14th of April.  According to the complaint, a full Stop Work order was served after the next door neighbor reported to 311 that workers had drilled holes into their property.  Upon inspection,  the DOB found an 8x10x15 foot hole had been dug with a backhoe, apparently in order to begin underpinning the adjacent home's foundation.  Inspectors reported no protective sheeting or shoring had been installed prior to the dig.  The stop work order was lifted on April 28th after the hole was back filled to grade.  Permitted contractors MUST notify the Building Department at least 24-48 hours prior to the start of any earthwork.  The Department also conducts random on-site audits of excavation work to be sure that work is being performed safely according to approved plans.  See this link (PDF)

192 15th Street 


I guess this is where I mention that this new 4 story residential building is being developed by Mark Zeldin, who has erected a considerable amount of buildings in the South Slope.  He should have at least learned by now of the many hazardous pitfalls that lurk beneath Brooklyn's unpredictable, water slogged sandy glacial till that comprises most of the S Slope.  Expeditious cost-cutting seldom pays off.  Neighbors get pissed.  Inspectors are summoned.

One thing I have noticed recently is that there is now a significant delay between the issuing of Environmental Control Board  violations and the time it takes for them to actually show up on the DoB BIS web site.  Not sure what that's about… ?  


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Embellished: Standing Seam Copper Siding

In My Back Yard  396 15th Street has plated itself in sheets of copper.   In the evening as the clouds are singed pink 
by the setting sun  the last light of the day catches the building on fire.

If one were so inclined, the rooftop copper might be equally stunning during a 6am workout if viewed from the YMCA treadmill directly across the street. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Wood Frame Restoration: The Bracketed Porch

New money revitalizes the South Slope.     297 15th Street's freshly bracketed porch and crisply painted facade shine.  This ornamented South Slope wood frame restoration is brought to you by the Brooklyn architectural firm Ellis + Donnelly Studio and builder/general contractor,  B.O.S.S. Associates, Inc.

For so many years these wooden homes have been stripped bare of their crowning jewels by homeowners promised cheap maintenance free solutions against the ravages of time by fast talking tin men and faux-stone stucco-teers. 
I get a lot of emails asking if I know someone with the skills and talent to perform a historic style full face lift.  This team seems more than capable.