Saturday, November 29, 2008

Water Problems at The Vue. Brooklyn DoB says: "Failure to Maintain"

New construction problems for 162 16th Street a.k.a. "The Vue".
Can't imagine someone making this 311 Building's Department related complaint unless they actually lived in the building. Could they be renters? Can't imagine a condo owner feeling it was necessary to involve an outside government agency in their unit's problems unless they were having trouble reaching some kind of settlement with the builder/sponsor. Then you know someone had to let the DOB inspector into their apartments in order to find enough damage to write this violation.

And so it begins...
The Local: "Condo Buyers Beg Off"
More buyers, developers litigating their ways out of contracts by Lysandra Ohrstrom

Resident Shareholders Unite
Taking Action Against Sponsor-Controlled Coop Buildings

"In the very loose credit market that has now ended, it might have seemed like sponsor-controlled co-ops weren’t really such a bad thing — after all, if the building is comfortable to live in, who cares that the sponsor is running a free market rental business with half the apartments, or controlling the building finances? Now that we are in an era of extremely tight credit, banks will have much more stringent policies about lending in co-ops, preferring to see over 50% of units owner-occupied.

When shareholders cannot sell or refinance their apartments, the sponsor is causing very direct harm to shareholders."

More information is available here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another Karl Fisher for 182 15th Street?

A new chain link fence has been installed in front of the old dilapidated wooden one that has surrounded the dead construction site at 182 15th Street for... Has it been years already? New building permits have been posted. Some kind of excavation is under way judging by this recent 311/DOB complaint registered on the eighteenth of November.

The Wound

The infamous 182 15th Street, the above pictured gaping hole in the ground, is what remains of the aborted twin sister of "The Vue".
If not for a vigilant, pitch-fork-yielding, community led R6 to R6B Down Zoning, and the citizen financed Board of Standards and Appeals knock down drag out court battle that followed, Isac Katan and Scarrano/Radusky (paternity was never determined) would likely be celebrating their twelve story love child's second birthday by now.

Healing Bedsores.
So the now owner Abe Loffler?, or 15th Street Developers LLC, has seemingly resurrected Karl Fisher's pre approved plans from July of 2004 in order to repackage 31 new dwelling units into a R6B compliant, 4 story, 50 foot tall, 74,385 square foot container. The new building will have 123 linear frontage on 15th St. and another 97 linear feet on 16th Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues. All previous plans for the Katan developed site were recently withdrawn on October 2nd of this year.

The question remains as to how much of the hastily poured almost-grandfathered-in foundation will they be able to reuse.

My thoughts go out to those families living near this site for the next four years. I expect they have all charged up those camcorder batteries expecting the worst.

Another Stop Work Order for 226 15th Street

And they just started crawling out of their hole...

Here's one building violation we see over and over again during the demolition of older attached properties. After tearing down a building, the demo company fails to properly waterproof the adjoining properties, exposing their once protected interior party walls, whether brick or wood frame, to the harmful elements, especially rain water. In most cases in the South Slope repairs can be as simple as covering the wall with a layer of tar paper, and aluminum flashing.

So why do we see this recurring problem? Is it impossible to do a simple 2 story demo in Brooklyn without violating the law? There doesn't seem to be any incentive for developers and their contractors to promptly protect a neighbor's property from harm. DOB Stop Work Orders are almost always immediately downgraded to Partial Stop Work Orders so there is really no time lost if a demolition contractor is caught violating the law by the B.E.S.T. SQUAD. Best to just say fuck it and try and get over on everyone especially the poor homeowner. Then again who really wants a dopey demo contractor to make the repairs on what's left of their most prized possession, their home. Listen to this WNYC report.

Playing the No Show Game: Why the ECB is even more fucked up than the DOB.

Here are three "unresolved" ECB violations on record for this demolition company,
Knockdown Contracting, Inc
79-41 Metropolitan Ave.
Middle Village, NY 11379

Scheduled Hearing Date: 7/28/08 DEFAULT> NO COMPLIANCE RECORD

Scheduled Hearing Date: 3/17/2008 DEFAULT> NO COMPLIANCE RECORD

Scheduled Hearing Date: 9/29/08 DEFAULT> NO COMPLIANCE RECORD

Thursday, November 20, 2008

525 Clinton Avenue: Remembering Jose Palacios

The 13-story tower at 525 Clinton Avenue is nearly finished. The developer, Karnusa Equities, is selling the condos for $650,000 to $3 million.
(Matthew Schuerman/WNYC)

Part 1: The Cost of Doing Business
by Cindy Rodriguez and Matthew Schuerman

NEW YORK, NY November 18, 2008 —Every day, construction workers pour concrete 400 feet in the air, cranes hover overhead and familiar views of the sky disappear. Since 2003, the city has been experiencing a historic building boom. Development hasn’t been this high for 30 years.

But that prosperity has come at a high cost. So far this year, 27 construction workers have died working on private and public jobs in New York City, even as the city and the federal government try to find new ways to improve safety.

In the “The Cost of Doing Business,” WNYC looks at one accident from earlier this year and analyzes why this new attention to construction safety came up short. Reporters Cindy Rodriguez and Matthew Schuerman found that the new regulations were not enforced or couldn't be enforced.

On January 30th, Jose Palacios, a Mexican immigrant, fell to his death when the scaffold underneath him collapsed. This is part one of how and why he died.

Part 2: The Cost of Doing Business
by Cindy Rodriguez and Matthew Schuerman

NEW YORK, NY November 19, 2008 —Construction safety has become all the more important over the past five years, as housing production reached numbers never seen since the city began keeping records in the 1960s. Yet so far this year, 27 construction workers have died on the job. Yesterday, WNYC began telling the story of one of those accidents.

Links to

Part 1
"The Cost of Doing Business"

Part 2 "The Cost of Doing Business"


Slideshow: "The Death of Jose Palacios"

IMBY LINK: "Construction Zone Nightmare"

Lancaster Headshots

Mr. Lattarulo's engineer?

Hertzberg Charged

P.S. 10: New OSHA approved playground safety markings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And the winner is... 308 14th Street.

South Slope contractor, MS U.S.A. Inc., nominated for Least Congeniality Award by neighboring 14th Street peers with 58 votes .
IMBY has learned that DOB Pageant officials were absolutely blown away by the consistency of MS U.S.A.'s epic demolition work over the past two years, going so far as to even award them with multiple Stop Work Orders every chance they got.
"It really is a talent... We, I mean my fellow DOB Pageant officials, didn't want the show to ever end. To perform in such an ultra slow motion that the building's tantric-like demolition is actually perceived, by the untrained eye, as to be moving backwards... Wow we don't get to witness this kind of special professionalism every day, even here in the South Slope, and that's saying a lot. I remember we got a few calls about an illegal cinder block addition being built in the rear yard, but that was just an optical illusion caused by the sun light flickering through the trees and producing a kind of strobe effect. I mean if 18 ECB violations doesn't show our undeniable appreciation, what does."
DOB Pageant Stylist/Spokesperson -Ms. Late Kindquist

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"The Iroquois": Naming 620 10th Street

Mercenaria mercenaria

The name Quahog, also known as the Hard-shelled Clam or the Littleneck Clam comes from the Narragansett Indian name "poquauhock".

Wampum is the Indian name given to the beads crafted from the thick shells of the Quahog and was used like money in trade. Shell beads with purple spots are much more valuable than the solid white colored ones.

Felix Tambasco, of Sears Tambasco Architects

“People of the Longhouse"

When Long Island was first settled by the whites it was inhabited by 13 tribes or groups of Indians. The Canarsee, Rockaway, Merrick, Marsapeague, Secatogue, and Unkechaug lived on the South Shore. On the north were the Matinecock, Nesaquake, Setalcott, and Corchaug. On the east end of the Island were the Shinnecock, Manhasset and the Montauks.

Upstate New York is the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, also known as the Iroquois Confederacy. The confederacy is composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora Nations. Their traditional territory extended from the Schoharie Creek through the Mohawk Valley to the Genesee River. The Haudenosaunee believe that the Confederacy was formed “on the last day that the green corn was ready”, about 1,000 years ago. There is much scholarly debate regarding when the Iroquois Confederacy was established, but historians and archaeologists agree that it was in existence by 1630. The traditions of the Haudenosaunee state that the Confederacy was founded before Europeans first visited their country.


The Iroquois used a style of farming, known today as "slash-and-burn" that requires a community to move the location of its village from time to time. As the soils of the fields became exhausted, and firewood in the neighborhood became scarce, the people had to venture farther afield for these essentials of life. After awhile, the distances traveled for both became too inconvenient and difficult. For these reasons, and because the longhouses and palisades needed more and more repair, the community would decide to create a new village a few miles away.

An Iroquois village was made up of one or more longhouses, which were usually that: long houses. They ranged in length from about 60 feet to well over 220 feet, and were generally about 20 feet wide and 20 feet high. The framework of a longhouse resembled a large rigid basket made of wooden posts set into the ground, with other poles and saplings lashed to these to form the exterior walls and create the arched roof.

Bentancourt Realty
has their new south Park Slope condo "The Iroquois" offering up on it's website.

"This is it. A rare new development in prime Park Slope featuring ten individually unique layouts. Exclusive and personal homes await you at The Iroquois, including townhouse-style units with separate entrances and private terraces. Light and airy simplexes, duplexes, and triplexes including two penthouses with incomparable city views, modern features and coveted privacy make your home as distinctive as your lifestyle."

Unit Beds Baths Size (sq. ft.) Price Status
1A 2 2.5 2,195 $1,750,000 For Sale
1B 3 2.5 2,347 $2,095,000 For Sale
1C 3 2.5 2,303 $1,995,000 For Sale
2A 3 2.5 1,400 $1,450,000 For Sale
3A 3 2.5 1,400 $1,525,000 For Sale
3C 3 2 1,213 $1,325,000 For Sale
4A 3 2.5 1,400 $1,595,000 For Sale
4B 3 3 1,600 $1,825,000 For Sale
4C 4 2 1,638 $1,995,000 For Sale
5A 3 2 1,249 $1,695,000 For Sale

Mortgage Calculator
The story goes that early in the 17th century, Peter Minuit of the Dutch West India Company "purchased" the island of Manhattan from the local Indian tribe, the Lenni Lenape, for 60 guilders in trade goods, or about 24 dollars worth of glass beads, mirrors and iron axe heads.
Even in our current "buyers market" the price of NYC real estate sure has gone up quite a bit since the 1620's, so I was wondering just how many glass beads it would take to "own" unit 4B.

4B asking price $1,825,000. Wow, that's $1,140 per square foot!
Holy Shinnecock, that's a lot of wampum even for Park Slope. I'm going to need a shit load of beads.
Current wholesale price of imported Czech assorted glass beads is .02¢ per gram.
Let's try to convert it into pounds per dollar, shall we.
If there are 454 grams in a pound... at .o2¢ per gram.. that's $9.08 per pound. Looks like I'm going to have to come up with 125.5 lbs of beads for every $1,140 square foot...Or in this case 200,800 lbs (a little over 100 short tons) of tiny glass beads if I want to live in a home as distinctive as my lifestyle. Maybe I should try iron axe handles from China. I can get those for $6 a piece, wholesale. I should have listened to my accountant and been eating more clam chowder over the years. I understand that genuine Quahog shell beads are going for more than $5 a bead.

Closing Documents

Peter Schaghen, the author of the document pictured below, was the representative of the States General in the Assembly of the Nineteen of the West India Company. In the late summer of 1626 he reported the arrival of the ship Wapen van Amsterdam, newly arrived from New Netherland.
In his report to the directors of the WIC he announced the purchase of Manhattan Island for the value of 60 guilders. The Schagen letter is the earliest reference to the purchase of the island which would become the center of New Netherland. The original of this document is held by the Rijksarchief in The Hague.

Transcription of the Schagen letter

Recep.7 November 1626
High and Mighty Lords,

Yesterday the ship the Arms of Amsterdam
arrived here. It sailed from New Netherland out
of the River Mauritius on the 23d of September.
They report that our people are in good spirit
and live in peace. The women also have borne
some children there. They have purchased the
Island Manhattes from the Indians for the value
of 60 guilders. It is 11.000 morgens in size
[about 22.000 acres]. They had all their grain
sowed by the middle of May, and reaped by the
middle of August They sent samples of these
summer grains: wheat, rye, barleey, oats,
buckwheat, canary seed, beans and flax. The
cargo of the aforesaid ship is:
7264 Beaver skins
178 ½ Otter skins
675 Otter skins
48 Mink skins
36 Lynx skins
33 Minks
34 Weasel skins

Many oak timbers and nut wood. Herewith,
High and Mighty Lords, be commended to the
mercy of the Almighty,

Your High and Mightinesses' obedient

P. Schagen

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Roxy's "Erratic" in the Park

More Art in Prospect Park Courtesy of the Prospect Park Alliance and the James Cohan Gallery: Brooklyn Artist Roxy Paine's Erratic (2007) is now on view directly below the Litchfield Villa until March 2009.

Re-releasing his debris load.

You may have seen this sculptural work before along side the artist's other work- spectacularly constructed stainless steel trees- in Madison Square Park in 2007.
As for its title, geologically speaking, an "erratic" is a displaced rock that has been carried off by a glacier and deposited many miles away from its original geographic location. This particular boulder was most likely delivered by truck and not some Pleistocene ice flow. Of course Prospect Park is no stranger to real glacial erratics. The large boulders surrounding the Fallkill Pool were deposited there some 18,000 years ago when the Wisconsin Glacier de-iced.
Actually that's not totally true. It was Olmsted and Vaux, the designers of the Park, who went around and gathered up all those giant rocks in order to landscape, for example, our waterfall everyone is so convinced is naturally falling and not, in reality, just NYC drinking water pouring from a big pipe.

Terminally Morained
Paine's Erratic is pretty darn convincing. One has to imagine that the same amount of brute force that went into scouring the living schist out of Manhattan and leaving it piled up in this, the highest point of Brooklyn, must have also gone into shaping the hundreds of stainless steel plates that Mr. Paine used to construct the sculptural metal surface of his piece of the rock.
Heavy Metal
Take a look at the detailed photos. No one in their right mind is going to be fooled into believing this is the work of Mother Nature. That's not his intention me thinks. This is pure hard core Industrial Process. And besides, he's showing off.
Study the welded virtuosity of that multi-faceted puzzle pieced CAD assisted side.
Feel the mechanical brutality visible in that pneumatically pounded-out- from-within pimpled backside.
See the phenomenally reflective polished liquid mercury-like all over the rest side.
Something for everyone.

There is a Parks Department sign warning against climbing on the art work. It's not working...

Go see for yourself. Near Prospect Park West around 5th Street.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Architectural Voyeurism #19

On Prospect Avenue

I pass by this house twice per day- 8:32 am and 2:35 pm,
Of coarse I'm always interested in shrubbery in general, but there's something particularly exciting about these two overgrown specimens that tweak some hidden fetish of mine, which at this time, I do not fully understand.

I have taken over three thousand candid photos of this modest little house, sir. Yet only recently have I become aware that that window has been peeping back.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

101 Prospect Park Southwest @ 16th Street

Windsor Terrorized

One of the first of the architect Henry Radusky's bricolaged designs to be executed in our area, 99-101 Prospect Park Southwest, is located on a triangular slice of land directly across from Prospect Park. This is how its windowless backside looks to the lucky residents of Sixteenth Street. Next to it, in striking contrast, are these two very colorful single story garages.


You really can't pass by without experiencing its starkness, all five stories of it. There is a massive Richard Serra-esque oppression about the facade. Stand at the base and look straight up. Feel the gravitational pull being given off by the brick?


I know the tip toes of my tennis shoes are much too large now to fit into the alternating zipper-like masonry corner feature. I try and climb it anyway.

C of Oh no
In order to meet the off street parking zoning requirements, the developer proposed a unique solution, a valet parking attendant. It seems, however, they may never have followed through on their scheme. Anyone know if they ever got their permanent Certificate of Occupancy?