Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"THE VUE" 162 16th Street

"Blending in" during construction.
"The Vue" from Fifth Avenue.

Here are two responses by local activists to "Views at ‘The Vue’ in South Slope Will Never be Obstructed", by Linda Collins of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reporting on the new "The Vue" condominium and it's everlasting panoramic reign over South Brooklyn. I thought I would intercept and post these two letters to the editor on their way to the Eagle just in case they never see the light of day. I have included a link to the Online Petition asking for among other things, the responsible and lawful development in Brooklyn's Park Slope, Greenwood Heights, and Sunset Park, neighborhoods. You can read the petition in it's entirety below or click here.
When I read that headline, ..."Never be Obstructed", I get the creepy feeling that she (well really the developer) means it as a threat to anyone who dares interfere with their vision in any way, the DoB included.

To the Editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle

While I can appreciate your paper’s want to highlight new residential development in the borough of Brooklyn, I feel you have made a grave mistake in publishing what reads as a complete shilling for 162 16th Street, aka “The Vue,” in your article “Views at ‘The Vue’ in South Slope Will Never be Obstructed,” by Linda Collins, published online 10-30-2007 http://www.brooklyneagle.com/categories/category.php?category_id=5&id=16399 .
Shame on you!

Ms. Collins did get one fact right when she interviewed developing partner Barry Katz: “A new 10-story condominium building that may have contributed to the downzoning of the side streets in Park Slope and South Slope.” Yes, out-of-scale buildings such as this were the impetus of the South Slope/Greenwood Heights rezoning in November 2005. Grandfathered in under old zoning, however, 162 16th St. has been and is the poster child for development gone wrong in Brooklyn.

This particular structure has plagued the residents of 16th Street and Prospect Avenue in South Park Slope with a myriad of Department of Buildings and Environmental Control Board violations that have directly affected their, and the surrounding area’s, quality of life. Even though this article appears to be an advertorial, I'd like to point out a few facts in this article that are incorrect or misleading:

1. “ . . . 162 16th St. is set back to match the line of adjacent homes . . . " This is not true. The building is not aligned with the street wall. It is considerably set back from adjoining properties on the block. This tactic, lessening bulk to gain height, is what the developer employed to acquire those "views." While allowed under building code, the decision to set the building back from the street wall was not made for any contextual or aesthetic reason, but solely to maximize the building's Floor Area Ratio in a way to get as much height as possible.

2. “ . . . the developers have created off-street parking with 37 spaces for 45 units, greatly lessening the impact tenants’ cars would have on the street and neighborhood.” New York City building code REQUIRES off-site accessory parking for any building over 10 units. Mr. Katz and his partners are giving no benefit to the community; these parking spaces are a requirement. It should be noted that the developer does not have to allocate these parking spaces for the residents of the building. They may be rented or sold to outside parties, in effect worsening the parking congestion for the residents in the area, not improving it.

3. “And the views will not change. The aforementioned downzoning will ensure a lifetime of unobstructed views.” Mr. Katz’s observation, “The views. We are sitting at the top of the slope and from the third floor up, the views are incredible,” underlines Ms. Collins’s statement. But let’s consider the veracity of these statements.

The rezoning of 2005 mandated lower density on side streets of South Park Slope while deeming the major avenues suitable for higher density, especially Fourth Avenue, with an allowable maximum height of 12 stories. As of this writing, a proposed 12-story building is planned right down the street from the “The Vue” on Fourth Avenue, between 16th Street and Prospect Avenue, which would block the view from “The Vue.” Perhaps Mr. Katz and Aguayo & Huebener Realty, the real estate firm representing “The Vue,” should explain that to potential buyers. There are many more proposed “as-of-right” 12-story building projects on Fourth Avenue, any of which may block those “unobstructed views.”

4. “Designed by Karl Fischer Architects . . .” This is incorrect. The architect of record for the entire project is renowned “bad-boy” architect Henry Radusky of Bricolage Designs. After repeatedly and grievously breaking building and zoning code, Mr. Radusky lost his right to professionally certify in New York City in 2003. With 162 16th St., Mr. Radusky and his firm have not only produced another cookie cutter Bricolage building, but have created countless wasted hours of work at the Department of Buildings with multiple plan exams, refillings and repeat inspections for building and zoning violations, dating back to the summer of 2005. In fact, the property was found to have deficient plans as recently as July 2007 and the DOB’s Stop Work Order in response to this recent plan review was only recently lifted. Reviews are still pending.

Any affiliation with Karl Fischer Architects is a ruse and, in my personal opinion, adds no cache to the condos’ sale value, in the fact that Karl Fischer Architects has its share of controversial projects, many of which blight the South Slope along with those of Bricolage Designs.

5. “The building should be ready for occupancy in late 2007 or early 2008.” The building has yet to obtain a temporary certificate of occupancy and very well may not receive one if its multitude of building and zoning code infractions are not addressed by the development team and approved by the DOB.

In closing, as a community activist who fought this building and ones like it at 182 15th Street (a failed 12-story “sister” project of Mr. Katan’s, which lost its vesting appeal at the Board of Standards and Appeals in 2006) during the rezoning and to this day and now as chair of Brooklyn Community Board 7’s Buildings & Construction Sub-committee, I find it abhorrent that Ms. Collins and this paper’s editorial staff did not do proper research into this controversial project before publishing a one-sided shill of an article on behalf of this development team. It is the written equivalent of spitting in the face of this community and its long-suffering residents.

I encourage you to do further and responsible research on this property and write a more factual and well-rounded article on 162 16th Street, which presents all sides of “The Vue,” not just the view to the bank seen by the development team and real estate agency.


Aaron Brashear
Chair, Buildings & Construction Sub-Committee, Brooklyn Community Board 7
Co-Founder, The Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights


On Wednesday October 30th 2007 you published an article titled-
"Views at ‘The Vue’ in South Slope Will Never be Obstructed" by Linda Collins.
Your paper should be sued for printing this blatant fabrication of lies. The fact that your paper and the writer would make it seem as if the claims in this article had been researched and substantiated, boarders on criminal negligence.
The developer (Isaac Katan) and his Associate Barry Katz have abused the City, the community, and the system, in a continued attempt to rape and pillage their way to millions. The writer (Linda Collins) took the words of, what some believe to be, criminals and without verifying them or asking those affected by their actions, printed them (verbatim) as facts.
Had your paper or the writer done just a very small amount of research you would have found:
-The Architect of this project is the one and only Henry Radusky. The same Henry Radusky who, because of his penchant for violating the building code, was forced (long ago) to relinquish his rights to self certify his work. Also the same Henry Radusky who is being sued (Much the same as his Developer friend Isaac Katan) by just about every one who has bought a building that he was involved in.
-There are not 37 parking spaces and the few spots that exist are not being given to anyone but sold at a considerable profit.
- Your/their claim of making "an effort to blend in" is nauseating. They have done nothing for the community and in fact have shown a total disregard and arrogance toward the concerns of the community. Just go to the block and ask around or take a look at the spot lights blaring into the adjoining properties that they have installed in the parking lot and in front of the building.
-If Mr. Katz (who claims to be doing so much for and with the neighborhood) knew half a much about the community that he has abused as he does about how to "work the system", he would have known that the plumbing supply company was in fact in an old theater, and did not come with the “swath of land running behind the backyards of several of the neighboring houses” . That “swath of land running behind the backyards of several of the neighboring houses” was in fact owned by a fence company who’s owner, and family, lived in the so-called “vacant townhouse” for 4 generations.
It is because of that “swath of land running behind the backyards of several of the neighboring houses” that Mr’s Katz, Katan, Radusky and associates were able to "work the system" to be able to build such an out of context monstrocity on a block of 3 story .
Also it is because of this “swath of land running behind the backyards of several of the neighboring houses” that they should show some consideration for all the neighbors who’s properties are adjoined to this eye sore.
-As for the views. The floor to ceiling windows are in violation of the building code. What will happen when the buyers are forced to lose those views? Also what they aren't telling anyone is that if someone (like Mr. Katan) decides to by on 4th Ave. they would be able to build another 12 story monstrosity to block much of those "VIEWS". Lastly in this regard is the fact that Mr's Katz and Katan have the neighbors to thank for preserving (much of) the views, and yet it the neighbors who they continue to abuse and disregard.
-They (the developers and their associates) have done absolutely nothing to blend in or benefit the community. The open space in the front and again in the back was nothing more than the bare minimum requirement of the building code. What little they did was done in an attempt to comply with the code. Even at that their compliance has been and still is in question. In fact there are still questions as to the legality of everything above the 5th floor.
The community would respectfully ask that you withdraw all of the false claims of this article and publish a new article documenting the truth about this developer and his abuse of not only this but every community that he has done work in.

Thank you

Bo Samajopoulos &

The concerned Citizens of South Slope.


Responsible & Lawful Development-162 16th St.

The petition

Petition for Responsible & Lawful Development in Park Slope, South Park Slope, Greenwood Heights, Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

To Our Elected and Appointed Officials:

We the undersigned request that you bring to bear all resources available at your disposal to help ensure the safety and security of our community in the face of the disregard demonstrated by real estate developers for our concerns.

Many of the developments that have sprouted up in our neighborhood are of questionable stature and have been built with no regard for the community or even the new owners. We would like to make sure that any remaining work to be done abides by all laws, complies with NYC building code and respectful of community concerns and needs.

Specifically, we are asking that:

- any retaining walls that adjoin other properties meet or exceed existing code so that they do not give way or cause drainage problems to the abutting properties.

- Guarantee that access to parking areas are strictly controlled, with a gate and security guards between the street and the lot. Access to many of these parking lots is de facto access to our back yards.

- Prevent light pollution by installing tightly-focused lights of limited height in the parking lots or any portion of the newly developed property that could contribute to light pollution and disturb neighbors.

-Build up the retaining walls to a height (at least 3 foot above the parking lot grade) that is more likely to prevent a car from accidentally, going into the adjoining yards, and possibly hurting or killing any children playing in said yards.

-Allow access (which up until now has been limited) to all utilities so that they may provide and maintain the services which are required for the neighbors day to day living.

AS A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE: 162 16th Street, Brooklyn, NY
Please help ensure the safety and security of our community in the face of the disregard demonstrated by the developer, Barry Katz/Issac Katan of 162 16th Street, Brooklyn, NY aka "VUE." Our points outline above in this multi-neighborhood petition are outlined as specific examples of the illegal activity that Mr. Katz and Mr. Katan have violated, destroying the quality of life of our community at 162 16th Street, Brooklyn, NY. (92 311 complaints / 18 DOB violations / 14 ECB violations / Countless "stop work orders" / DOB BIS page

For almost 4 years many developers has been allowed to totally disregard our lives, our homes and many laws. The community has filed hundreds of complaints with little to no satisfactory results. We ask that these meager requests be addressed, before any Certificate of Occupancy (temporary or otherwise) is given to any new buildings.

Your immediate consideration and response is appreciated and needed.

This on-line petition will be submitted to the following:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez
Borough President Marty Markowitz
Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum
Councilmember Sara M. Gonzalez
Councilmember Bill de Blasio
Councilmember Tony Avella
Assemblymember Joan Millman
Assemblymember James Brennan
State Senator Velmanette Montgomery
Patricia Lancaster, Commissioner Department of Buildings
Amanda Burden, Chair City Planning Commission
Randy Peers, Chair, Brooklyn Community Board 7

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