Thursday, January 27, 2011

16th Street Plowed After Snow

16th Street Brooklyn 
Memorial Baptist Church

Powdered Doughboy


Standing guard over the  8th Avenue entrance to the 14th Regiment Armory Sports Complex and Women's Homeless Shelter.   Park Slope South,  Brooklyn

Bronze Sculpture by Anton Scaaf       Dedicated 1923

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Windsor Terrace Two Family Membraned

534 17th Street is a three story, two family house designed by Baxt Ingui Architects, PC.   The  architect of record is Benjamin H. Baxt   Owner: Ellen Baxt    This 20' x100' lot is zoned R5B.   Building height is thirty feet.


 Before: Building Green                                                       For those of you familiar with the block's bucolic past, this is what you probably remember...  This tiny brick ruin of a building sitting waaaaay back at the rear of   the lot.   A sixty foot deep front yard is certainly a bygone luxury.

Premeditated Deforestation


DIY Homebuilding.
Not to many two family homes being built from scratch these days in this part of Brooklyn. Not that much vacant land left to develop. Building new almost always means tearing down something old.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tree Sweater Weather

South Slope: Sixteenth Street's tree trunks bundled up against the cold.  

Resident Artist Laurie Russell

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I've got a bad feeling about this.

Windsor Terrace Edition, or should I say addition.

Troubled remudling job over in the heart of Windsor.  This charming row of well maintained 1940 single family homes is located on 11th Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets in Brooklyn just a half block off the Prospect Expressway.

Rana Partners, LLC purchased the house, 1715 11th Avenue,  in November 2008 for $510,000 and soon after  filed plans to add on this second story in February of 2009.   Looks like Stop Work Orders and building code violations for "Construction in Progress With Out Approved Plans" got  this little project placed onto the Stalled Construction Site Hall of Shame back in April of 2010.   Never fear, they have finally submitted plans for that 4 ton HVAC unit plopped up on the roof.

Here's my guess... Someone picked this house up at an estate sale under market with the big get rich quick idea of maxing out the FAR and flipping it... Pretty big mess for just  an additional 515 sq. ft. of living space, no?

The nearly identical homes on this R5B zoned block stand just 14' tall and have vintage basement level garages, slate roofs, and rusticated brick walls.      For flavor...

And now, The Official Paper Work... Click on image to expand.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Grand Prospect Hotel and Parking Garage Presents Preliminary Plans

Direct from last nights Community Board #7 Land Use/Landmarks Committee meeting held in the auditorium of P.S.10 Magnet School for Math, Science and Technology,  IMBY presents The Grand Prospect Hotel and Parking Garage.      Estimated crowd size, including CB #7 members, The Press, District 39 Councilmember Brad Lander and assorted concerned citizens... Lets say 50 people tops.  General feelings openly expressed about the project, mostly positive.

The proprietor of the Grand Prospect Hall, Mr. Halkias.

Make their dreams come true, for a change.
Before we start, understand that these pre-preliminary architectural renderings are just that, very preliminary. They can and most likely will change. We're talking colored pencil here, not cinderblock.  No actual Buildings Department filings have been made yet. No environmental impact, shadow or traffic studies have been executed. Soil boring tests haven't even been undertaken. What we are looking at then is what the developers, the Halkias', say is essential for their business' survival in the 21st century... What they want to continue to make their dreams come true, as they say in their flyer.

"Think of it as a magnificent cake with a cherry on top."
Dream if you may a magnificent garage... Four hundred off street parking spaces to be contained within five floors, one at cellar level and four more to be street level and higher. On top of the garage will sit the hotel, 166 rooms on seven additional stories to top off somewhere below 120 feet or eleven stories total, not including bulkheads and other permissible roof obstructions like AC chillers, cell phone antennas, and elevator control rooms of coarse.

This grand vision all depends on acquiring a crucial zoning variance upgrade from their current R6B residential zone. Possible requests may include a site specific commercial overlay up-zoning to C4-3, C4-D, or less likely C8-4.

A variance is a discretionary action by the Board of Standards and Appeals which grants relief from the use and bulk provisions of the Zoning Resolution to the extent necessary to permit a reasonable or practical use of the land. A variance may be granted, after a public hearing, when unique conditions on a specific parcel of land would cause the property owner practical difficulty and undue hardship if it were developed pursuant to applicable provisions. 

In this case, according to their own lawyer, The Grand Prospect Hotel developers would have a hard time proving "undue financial hardship" in order to get a variance. GPH is a thriving business.

Public Review

Take a look for yourself at the pictures below and feel free to comment. I suggest you contact Mr. John Burns, the chair of Community Board #7s  Land Use Committee directly with any questions or suggestions.  Link to CB#7 email.
Public input is being welcomed at this point.  You might actually play some small part in the way this turns out. Speak now or forever hold your peace.

One general impression is that some South Slopers are salivating over those 400 spaces.  They would gladly live each day in the shadows if it meant there was a warm parking space awaiting their Volvos each night.  My only wish is that Mr. Halkias and Doban Architecture understand that this new hotel building will essentially define our skyline forever. 

Please don't make something shitty.

Grand Prospect Hall & The sunken Prospect Expressway below

The proposed 11 story hotel/garage is on the left. Existing GPH building on the right.

There's the gold, and then there's the shaft.  GPH owns two homes along 16th Street it intends to demolish  providing rear access to the parking garage.  They are 188 and 190 16th St. Service and supply vehicles will enter the hotel from 16th St. as well. I do not recall seeing any rear elevation drawings present.
Grand Prospect Hall's current parking lot.  Visible at back of lot, one and two family homes along 16th Street.

 Current 16th Streetscape:  The two homes to be demolished are on the far right.  Left stranded in between driveways will be this recently restored/remodeled white 2 story wood frame house.  Corcoran sold this house, 192 16th St. in 2007 for $1.35 million. From this photo you can see that at 2pm the low January sun casts long shadows into the middle of the street.  
How far might the shadows extend from the 120' tall Hotel?

Post Script: I guess that when I wrote yesterday that the feelings expressed during the presentation were "mostly positive" I should have mentioned that there were a few people in attendance who voiced serious misgivings about the impact this new hotel will have on the already overburdened surrounding infrastructure.   One individual in particular gave testament to how this section of the South Slope, 16th Street below 6th Avenue, is the ground zero for real property speculation.  There are at least a dozen new buildings within a block's circumference.  Hundreds of new units have or will soon be occupied straining an already taxed water, sewer, and electrical grid.  

These new residents, with young children, generally more affluent then those before them, own automobiles.  There is a perception by some that a serious shortage of available  on-street parking spots exists now that did not exist a decade ago.  This is the carrot that Mr. and Mrs. Halkias are holding out to our community in the hopes of garnering enough public support to get his zoning variance pushed through.  They know the B.S.A. would never permit their project unless it had significant political muscle behind it.   Here's one reason why the presentation was made... To judge the neighborhood's temperament.  Otherwise they would have gone strait to the Board and made their appeal.   Just a short five years ago, the South Slope had one of the fastest downzonings for any neighborhood in recent NYC history.   The folks at The Grand Prospect understand the power the community wields and it seems neighborhood opposition to the proposed hotel/parking garage in it's current configuration is now mounting. 

To be continued...

Thursday, January 06, 2011