Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Unbuilding the South Slope: 359 15th Street get's a DoB "Beat Down".

Brooklyn Department of Un-Building's
It used to be that when you heard officials from the Buildings Department say "take some off the top" they couldn't possibly be talking to anyone other than their barbers. How risky a business to throw those words around? Remember being considered "difficult and overbearing" by builders can end up costing you your job. That's why it's so surprising to see the D o B playing it tough.

Self inflicted wounds?
On our little 15th Street it appears they are doing just that, taking some off the top. The builders are busy removing a significant portion of the upper floors, brick by brick, from what had been in all appearances, a completely finished building. Is this another case of not building according to the official filed and approved plans on record or, is this just one more South Slope top heavy condo, its mezzanines busting at the seams with way too much extra floor area?
It would be interesting to calculate how much F.A.R the 60 cubic foot dumpster out front contains. Floor area is in square feet of coarse, while a container dumpster holds cubic feet so someone will definitely need to do the conversion. Math is not one of my strong suits. I suspect that 's a pretty expansive dumpster though. Last week they even disposed of two iron spiral staircases. Oooouch!

So what does the recent disaster at 300 20th Street in Greenwood Heights have to do with the recent unbuilding of 359 15th Street?

In both cases the "Current Applicant of Record" is Sandor Weiss, RA. license # 14318

300 20th Street

359 15th Street

The NYC Department of Buildings-IAD Disciplinary Actions for Architects and Engineers listed a Sandor Weiss, R.A., as one of only five professionals penalized in 2006. He was fined and surrendered his "D-14" or Directive 14 of 1975- a Department granted privilege of limited plan review by examiners. D-14 covers such things as zoning use and egress issues.

In 2002 Sandor was disciplined for misconduct by the New York State Education Department- Office of the Professions.

Sandor Weiss, Brooklyn, NY
Profession: Architect; Lic. No. 014318; Cal. No. 19641
Regents Action Date: February 12, 2002
Action: Application for consent order granted; Penalty agreed upon: 1 year suspension, execution of suspension stayed, probation 1 year, $5,000 fine.
Summary: Licensee admitted to charge of failing, on three separate occasions, to prepare a thorough written evaluation of architectural plans to which he affixed his signature and professional seal but which were neither prepared by him nor by an employee under his supervision.
Of coarse no one ever sees an architect operating a back hoe.

There's incompetence and then there's incompetence!

"Good Neighbors"

I have seen some disorganized, dangerous work sites before but this one may be one of the worst. There's a big pile of tires and concrete still on the site. It appears they just started digging without first clearing the lot of debris and some small trees. The hole itself is filled with standing water. No protective shoring is evident anywhere despite considerable excavation. The construction fence is leaning way out over the sidewalk.
In Brooklyn one day you're working as a (fill in the blank) the next day you're in the foundation/excavation business. The Buildings Department special teams deserves credit for stepping in and taking control away from these guys before they hurt themselves or someone passing by.

Unfortunately it looks like another financial hardship for the owners of 472 6th Avenue and the proprietors of the K&H Deli. There appears to be a fresh crack in the 20th Street side wall indicating that the rear extension of the grocery store is starting to pull away from the main building, after having been sucked into the neighboring hole. Damage may be much more extensive than a collapsing rear wall. They will need to hire an engineer, and an architect, and a builder, and a lawyer, and a therapist. It's time for the City to "disrupt the business models" of all the companies irresponsbly involved in any way with 300 20th Street. We have the laws, now lets see how well we can enforce them.

The Special Enforcement Plan operationally complements a recent legislative initiative that will enable the Buildings Department to further deter abuses of the professional certification privilege and hold repeat offenders accountable for their actions. Bolstering the Department’s enforcement abilities, the New York State Assembly signed Assembly Bill 7746 into law on August 17, 2007, enabling the Buildings Department to refuse applications filed by professionals who, after due process, are found to have filed false or fraudulent documents.

Under Phase I of the Enforcement Plan, $6 million was allocated to the Buildings Department to create 67 new staff lines to support the Department’s new multidisciplinary enforcement model. The new staff lines are distributed among three new units: the Special Enforcement Team; the Excavations Inspections & Audits Team; and the Professional Certification Review & Audits Team. Of the 67 enforcement positions, the Buildings Department is still accepting applications for 19 positions as it continues its recruitment drive.

Here is some more information on 300 20th street for your consideration. Click to view.




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