Monday, July 31, 2006


As promissed, today's the day that we begin our crack monitoring of 1504 8th Avenue.
31 July, 2006 @ 6pm Eastern.

Lets start with #1,#2,#3, and #4...

Ladies and gentlemen,
Get your thixotropic epoxy adhesive ready...
Let the crosshair shifting begin!

For my gentle readers who wish to try this at home, I have included product/price information at left.

For as little as $59.91 per CrackPAK, you can get your structural engineering thang on in the privacy of your own crack infested building. Complete satisfaction guaranteed. Product arrives via USPS in a plain brown wrapper. Your neighbors will never know!

Friday, July 28, 2006

100% amateur crack monitoring

To satisfy the insatiable appetite for new architectural voyeurism. IMBY will begin offering today's visitors a little taste of future courses, (all of the masonry kind), at no extra charge. We plan on bringing you the finest in amateur architectural masonry crack monitoring. All of our cracking "bric-pics" are Guaranteed 100% Active.
Loose Mortar Cohesiveness! Cracking Lintels! Step Cracking! Close-ups! We promise new crack-updates each week. All our masonry is vulnerable to short term structural failure! Amateur engineers and crack monitoring aficionados... enjoy.

Visit our exclusive "Crack Next Door" thumbnail gallery. Seeing is Believing! Click on any image to engorge.

Latest word on the fate of 1504?
Three families have moved back in.
The Department of Buildings will be installing 15 crack monitoring devices that will be examined on a daily basis. Furthermore, a surveyor will go out every two days to make a survey and report the findings to the DoB.

"The Architect" will have to submit structural plans for 406-408 15th Street before the Stop Work Order is lifted on the site.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


This comes directly from State Assemblyman Jim Brennan's office.

"We were just informed by the the Brooklyn Borough Office of the Department of Buildings that the DoB engineers concluded their inspection and lifted the vacate order; tenants can now move back in. We also believe that a crack monitor will be installed. We will continue to monitor the situation."

Brennan had sent off the following letter just to be on the safe side

What could be worse than being forced out of your home? In this case, how about being forced back in.
Would you want to move into a place where the landlord requires you to sign a liability waiver in case the building collapses?
Knowing that the only thing between me and a permanent resting spot overlooking the Statue of Minerva, was a DoB issued "crack monitor" I think I might pass on that offer to move on in.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

There's got to be a morning after.

If you happened by 1504 8th Avenue you might think they were filming a low budget remake of some 1970's Irwin Allen disaster flick.

In the background, you have your government officials trying to reassure the angry survivors that everything was under control, while in the foreground you see panic stricken people running out the door and down the steps carrying a television set, Thomas the Train pillows, and a potted fern, all at the same time.
I distinctly heard a woman yell to Ken Lazar, "Officer, officer, they're looting the Food King" in an attempt to distract him long enough to try and retrieve one last possession from her apartment before they sealed the door to the building. "Hey, come on guys, this is my job!" Lazar pleaded as another tenant scooted by carrying a Lazy Boy recliner. "No, seriously!"

Department of Building officials weren't to happy to see moving trucks in front of the building. "I got 3/4 of my stuff out before they stopped me. This stuff is going into storage and I'm going to be staying with friends," said a young man covered in perspiration.

Others have already signed new leases. Mothers standing guard over their baby's crib as reporters lined up for their chance at an interview.

Still no official word as to when or if the building will be repaired. Oh yeah. Ken Lazar is Brooklyn's Community Liaison Person with the Dept. Of Buildings. That's him standing in the doorway with the dark green shirt. (top photo) Can you possible think of a more difficult job right now? I think he is eligible for combat pay.

Late Breaking News From Officialdom: Behind the scene efforts produce great results. Community Board 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer and Tom Gray from Council Member Bill deBlasio's office have managed to find temporary housing for 6 of the 7 families forced to vacate the building yesterday afternoon. The 7th person is still weighing their options before making a decision. More good news as a mediation session for the tenants and the landlord has been arranged by the Red Hook Community Justice Center to settle any remaining financial and legal issues. Finally, the Dept. of Buildings is offering, by appointment, to supervise the safe removal of any belongings that were left behind. Bravo!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Imminently perilous to life"

Eight families are homeless tonight. Earlier today, at 3pm, the DoB determined that 1504 Eighth Avenue was no longer safe, and ordered a building wide VACATE ORDER. After re-examining the side wall, inspectors for the DoB found that the cracks in the facade were indeed growing larger. With the Stop Work Order in place at 406 15th, and the drilling rig silent, the building continued in its path to ruin.

The ousted tenants were told by their landlord to collect their things and to start looking for new apartments. One woman, her baby in tow, was told that the Red Cross would find her a room in a motel for two or three days in Sheepshead Bay. Another woman, tears in her eyes, was worried whether they would let her bring her birds to the motel fearing they would turn her away when she got there. A man on the second floor refused to leave his rent controlled apartment, saying "I have paid my rent, I have the right to be here, they will have to force me out''. While some feared for the things they will leave behind, other wasted no time and started packing everything they could jam into backpacks, shopping carts, and car trunks.

A hundred questions and not a single government agency to answer any of them. No police patrol car. No DoB officials, only the Red Cross van parked out front arranging to find temporary housing. "What about my first and last months rent plus security deposit? The landlord owes me $6000.00!" Others wonder why this had to happen at all since they have been complaining about the strong vibrations during the recent construction. They wondered why no one was over-seeing this work and looking out for their safety. After IMBY made a phone call, John Burns from Community Board 7, came by in person to see what he could do. He said he would make sure Council member Bill de Blasio, General Welfare Committee Chairperson, would be made aware of the situation. The General Welfare Committee deals with, among other things, the Department of Homeless Services. Seems appropriate.

IMBY has been blog-umenting the ongoing construction of Bricolage Designs' Armory Plaza on the vacant 406 15th Street parking lot for some time now. Time after time, the developer Jack LoCicero, his architect Henry Radusky, and their gang of construction workers have operated in a way that can only be described as contemptuous. Prior to this disaster, there have been four other occasions when neighboring properties were damaged during these pile installations. Two of those resulted in ECB violations. Of those two violations, one resulted in a $5000 fine, the other is still pending. That seems like a whole lot of warning that something was not being done correctly. The neighborhood has gotten very little help from the Department of Buildings. In most cases it has been after the fact. But you can't blame some DoB plan examiner or field inspector entirely for this mess. The stink rises much higher. Personally IMBY is disgusted by the smell. Seeing people thrown out into the street for what, the pursuit of more underground parking spaces? Is this Gen. LoCicero's plan to March on to the Avenue, destroying everything in his way?

Just as the community celebrates today's Board of Standards and Appeals victory over yet another dangerous developer who builds by any means necessary, we are reminded that the war is not over. Today's casualties are proof of that.

Studying for the test.

DoB Soil Testing Report Card: INCOMPLETE

"Before we start digging our foundation we better make sure we know whats down there...It would be a shame if someone's property got damaged in our haste to get started." Is this too little, too late?

Monday, July 24, 2006

No rest for the wicked.

Clusterfucked: No other way to describe the torrent of paper unleashed by the Brooklyn office of the Department of Buildings in response to the collateral damage caused by last Friday's piling installation. Hardest hit was the owner of 1504 Eighth Avenue with a "Failure to Maintain Building" violation. Description of said violation is as follows: "Rear exterior wall of building out of plumb, noticeable diagonal vertical crack approx. 1/2 inch wide 12'' deep 30ft length on West side. Rear interior bedroom apt. 1L various cracks around rear doors, windows bulging out of plumb at North facing exterior wall at rear." REMEDY/REQUIREMENTS: "Obtain all necessary permits for repairs." I do not believe there has been an order to vacate the building as of yet. Tenants were seen coming and going during the day. Is it too late to apply for renters insurance?

Next in line was The Memorial Baptist Church. "DESALOJO, NO ENTRE" or for you English speakers, "VACATE, DO NOT ENTER".
As Sunday services were being held, DoB inspectors were busy stretching yellow caution tape from one end of their garden parking lot to the other preventing anyone from entering to remove their cars. Was the side wall of 1504 going to collapse? "THE DEPARTMENT OF BUILDINGS HAS DETERMINED THAT THE CONDITIONS IN THIS PREMISES ARE IMMINENTLY PERILOUS TO LIFE" which you got to admit, kind of sucks. Everyone knows that those multipassenger church vans have a high fatality rate, but who would think you could be killed in one even while parked?

Last but not least, the DoB rightfully placed a Stop Work Order on the entire job site of 406-408 15th Street. Did you know that it is illegal to tear down, remove, or deface that magical little sheet of paper with Borough Commissioner, Magdi Mossad's name attached? My bet it will be down by 6:30am Monday morning when the instigators arrive.

It is interesting to see that the burden of making the repairs rests on the home owner, and not the company doing the next door construction work. The owner of 1504, turns out to be Arnold Rosenshein of Park West Realty. For those Slopers with good memories, Park West Realty was busted and fined $40,000 back in 1995 for "engaging in unlawful real estate practices by refusing to show apartments to certain applicants based on race" according to an article by New York Times reporter Dennis Hevesi.

Why do I have the feeling that Blue Monday isn't going to take the heat for this shit. Black Friday could not be reached for comment.


Right hand, meet left hand. Left hand meet right hand. Is the DoB setting up the owner of 1504 to "take the fall".

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Chicken Little v. DoB

This weekend more bad news for the Armory Plaza gang. It seems the heavy rain on Saturday excellerated the settling of the ground surrounding the tube pilings set last week, causing new sink holes to appear in the Memorial Baptist Church's garden. It's always like this. The ground sinks a few hours later leaving a sizeable crator. Worse still is the sinking happening along the fence line near the rear corner of the four story apartment building 1504 8th Ave. Three large cracks have formed in the side facade, one extending some thirty feet from the foundation. There also seems to be a shift happening in the front facade around the windows as cracks are visible and the brick facing has started popping off the surface where the window gates have been mounted. Looks like another expensive underpinning job will need to be scheduled a.s.a.p. The minister called 311 on Saturday a.m. to make a complaint. On Sunday morning DOB inspectors arrived to inspect and make an evaluation of the damage. It seems the DoB perfers to show up after the damage has been done rather that heed our warnings about the unsafe methods of those doing the foundation work. It has come to our attention that the DoB never received our letter of objection about the lack of soil tests and failure to protect property. I'm interested in whom the engineering firm is on this job. It seems that Friday is the day when the bricks hit the fan. On more than one occassion the workers have quit for the weekend only to have the sink holes appear as soon as they leave. There is also a new report that Bricolage Designs has filed another new set of plans on July 18th. Are these changes in response to a DoB audit or is this just a way to keep everyone guessing as to what is really planned for the site.

Seems they are hard at work preparing for their future hardship case before the Board of Standards and Appeals when this underground parking facility gets poo pooed by the DoB. Damaging your neighbors property and "unexpected" soil or water conditions are two proven "carrots" the BSA will follow.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Work continues at a feverish pace behind 1504 8th Avenue as they make their way around the Eastern side of the parking lot.

Boring. We are still getting a lot of that bad, bad, bad, bad vibration.

Towards the end of the day a severe thunderstorm blew in as they were about to lower one of the steel tubes into the hole. Lightening bolts lit up the sky, the rain came down by the bucket, yet they still worked it through to completion. The whole time I kept thinking that steel piling would make one hell of a lightening rod!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Just last Sunday I was waxing poetic on New York City's O.A.S.I.S. mapping site and how green our neighborhood is, or maybe I should say was. Brooklyn is a little less green today as our favorite neighborhood contractors yanked out the tree growing in the backyard of 1504 Eighth Avenue. It is not often that one witnesses an Arborcide in broad daylight. Even if the owner gave his permission to remove it and even if the tree was most likely a "weed tree'' or Ailanthus altissima, it still made a pretty nice screen. I wouldn't trade it for a view of a 5 story cinderblock facade 10 feet from my window.

If you look at the map you will see a band of green surrounding three sides of the parking lot (the open white space) on 15th Street. The second grey building in from 15th St. on Eighth Avenue is 1504. If you look closely you will see a tiny rectangle within the green section at the back of the building. This is an irregular backyard space that projects out into the parking lot and belongs to 1504.

Here are two photos of the recently departed "Tree of Heaven".


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mad dogs and Englishmen

They're back at work in the lot today. As the temperature hovered around 95 degrees the foundation contractors were busy at work boring piles. Earlier in the week a shipment of the hollow steel piles was delivered and neatly stacked. The crane lifts a pile and waits for its hole to be finished. The D.O.B. building information site still indicates that the plans are being audited. Was there a revokation or Stop Work Order in place? There is an unusual amount of vibration today, especially when the boring rig is fully lowered.

Meanwhile, back at 400 15th Street, what a difference a month makes. Progress made since their hardship case was won before the Board of Standards and Appeals.

The basement starts to take shape as cinderblock walls are constructed.

You can see what most likely will be the elevator pit in the foreground. The restraining order must still be in effect as work continues at a safe distance from 396 15th Street. I'm not sure how one goes about constructing half a building, but it will be fascinating to watch. You can see the stair-stepping in the cinder block and exposed reinforcement rod that are to connect up with the rest of the building at some future time.

Like some terrible crime scene or fatal auto accident, a blue tarp went up covering the section of 396 that has severe cracks in the sidewall. I have noticed that the cracks in the masonry are still active and seem to be getting wider.

The owner of the neighboring building, damaged during foundation work on 400 15th street, has filed a "lis pendens" or "a suit pending" which will expire in 2008.

"Recording a lis pendens against a piece of property, alerts a potential purchaser or lender that the property's title is in question, which makes the property less attractive to a buyer or lender. After the notice is filed, anyone who nevertheless purchases the property decribed in the notice takes subject to the ultimate decision of the lawsuit,"
Thank you again, Elle Woods