Saturday, April 08, 2006

What to expect when you're expecting: A short history of 266 22nd Street.

In 2002 the architect Henry Radusky of the firm Bricolage Designs filed plans for the Brooklyn real estate developer Jack LoCicero to build a 21,173 square foot apartment building on a 36' by 100' lot. The location of the building, 266 22nd Street, is just below the historic Greenwood Cemetery in a neighborhood more recently known as Greenwood Heights. This new building, at 9 stories or 90' tall, would tower over every other structure for blocks and blocks, in an area made up of predominately two and three story wood frame homes.

How is it possible to build so much taller than the neighboring homes? Mr. Radusky and Mr LoCicero were seeking to take advantage of a misunderstood and much abused provision that permits taller, more bulkier structures, than the R6 zoning laws would normally allow for new construction. This provision rewards builders with a bonus, or higher F.A.R. (Floor Area Ratio) for including community friendly spaces in their designs. In this case the building was to be used as a Faculty Housing Dormitory (considered a community friendly use) for the Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel, located at Avenue J and Ocean Parkway. The Certificate of Occupancy also lists an area specified for a "Daycare Facility".

During construction, the builders received violations from the Environmental Control Board (ECB) for such things as working without permits, weekend work without variances, working against approved plans, and unsafe excavation and foundation work for which they received Stop Work Orders and fines.

Finally, in 2004 the building was finished and received a temporary Certificate of Occupancy by the D.o.B..

The final C.o.O. is dated July 27th, 2004 and clearly indicates a CELLAR RECREATION ROOM, a DAYCARE CENTER FOR AGES 2- 6 on the ground floor, and FACULTY DWELLING UNITS on floors 1-9. According to the D.o.B. a Certificate of Occupancy is THE document used to certify the legal use and occupancy of a building by the city of New York.

On 4/26/ 2004 the D.o.B. decided that 266 was not being used as it was intended and issued a violation "for occupancy contrary to that allowed by the Certificate of Occupancy". The D.o.B. found the apartments were never occupied by the faculty of the Yeshiva. Instead employees of Methodist Hospital, doctors and residents, began renting the units.

For us folks on 16th Street, the true meaning of this 266 22nd Street "Monster Building" would not become apparent until April of 2004. By that date, permits had already been issued by the D.o.B. for a much scarier "Monsterbuilding II" planned for the 408 15th Street parking lot behind our homes. Fortunately, we discovered that the DoB had stopped granting extra bonus F.A.R. to buildings claiming a future occupancy for Faculty Dwellings Units and we were able to convince the DoB to revoke their permits.

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