Friday, September 12, 2014

Record Breaking Price for Sweet Sixteenth Street.

IMBY Summer Hours.
When summer comes we flee north where we can rest our head in the magnificent, bountiful bosom of the Hudson Valley.  Look for we up top Silver Mountain ye shall find we sans pants, gardening. 
Green Donut
There was a time when my bucolic Brooklyn garden plot was more than enough to sustain my sanity and recharge my psychic batteries but,  like my Apple iPhone 4,  it seems there is a limit to the number of discharge and charge cycles … I'm  upgrading.   I'm trading in the abusive nonstop roar that spews from the Park Slope Armory's roof top air handlers for the hypnotic night time serenades of the cricket and the tree frog.  
New Brooklyn is a lot louder than "old" Brooklyn and by old I mean 20 years ago, damn it. 
There is so much more peripheral noise now.  Ambient noise pollution. 

Flight Path
On privileged Sunday mornings in times of old, you could sit in your rear yard with its 30 foot setback and hear the individual sounds of neighbors fixing the big breakfast, the cast iron ringing, water running in the sink, soft voices conversing.  Now its just an irritating mash of machine noises and old man growling sounds.

Down State IMBY
So we're back in the city and what is news?   
Looked in our mailbox to find we're a million dollars richer!  House prices on OUR block just broke the TWO MILLION DOLLAR mark.  Ok, hating the noise a little less. 

Yes,  375 Sweet Sixteen Street just closed for $2,080,000,  deed recorded August 29th,  2014.  Welcome to the neighborhood Mr. Thomas Lee.  Yes current sellers purchased the house back in 2000 for $399,200.  What a difference 14 years can make.

Of course we were excited for our block of two family brick and wood framers between 7th and 8th Avenues back in 2006 when 391 16th Street fetched $1,275,000, but that was during crazy bubble market frenzy times.   Certainly buyers would come to their senses and demand a return to sanity.  "Brownstones half off!"

In 2012 two more  home sales reset the price point again for Sweet Sixteenth.   362 16th sold for $1,010,000 and 373 sold for $1,275,000.  Both good bones fixer-uppers requiring a six figures amount of updating. Both converting from two to one families in the process.  

Jump forward another twenty years into the future and I guess we will all be lamenting the day we should've, would've, could've stolen that house when it was only two million.


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Greenwood Heights: Conjoined Twin Lots Seeking $2.6 Million.

Greenwood Heights For Sale
Last post time we reexamined our vacant Greenwood Heights stalled site on 325 Twentieth Street just up the slope from the intersection of 6th Avenue.  Today lets roll downhill to another vacant 20th Street lot being marketed towards speculators.  This parking lot is probably less subterraneanly troubled but will require the mutual acquisition of it's conjoined twin currently occupied by a two story wood frame residential building. All or nothing, the deal requires buying both identically sized lots each asking $1.3 million.   That's 5200 square feet of R6B zoned land for $2.6 million dollars.

276-278 20th Street 
Someone commented that 20th Street is a major truck route.   Yes, that's true.
In 2010, after years of  community complaints concerning the dangers of greatly over sized, speeding non-local trucks using the narrow 33' wide two-way street Community Board 7 requested the Department of Transportation to conduct a traffic study.  In 2012 the DOT came back with the results of the study with recommendations that 20th St. be turned into a one way Eastbound only route with Westbound neighborhood truck traffic rerouted down 7th Avenue to Prospect Avenue. LINK

Community Board 7 voted 32 to 0 to reject the DOT proposal.

"However, CB7 does not believe the proposal presented by DOT at our May 30 Transportation Committee that would reroute westbound trucks to Prospect Avenue satisfies the needs of the community as a whole;
Therefore, Community Board 7 asks that DOT continues to study the 20th Street truck route for viable alternatives that are safe and efficient, without pursuing the current Prospect Avenue proposal. Community Board 7 also calls on DOT to work with the community to develop an alternative plan, as they did for the 4th Avenue corridor with a short time-­‐frame for study and implementation. Additionally, CB7 calls on DOT to reconstruct the roadbed of 20th Street that wasn’t designed for such heavy vehicles which cause vibrations and damage to surrounding properties and finally, and most urgently, CB 7 calls on DOT and the NYPD to immediately begin vigorous and sustained enforcement efforts against oversized, off route, speeding and non-­‐local trucks throughout Community District 7."

I'm assuming the DOT study soldiers on as there is/was traffic monitoring equipment attached to the stop light pole on the corner of 7th Avenue and Prospect in front of Public School 10 until very recently.  So even though dangerous 20th Street truck traffic continues to vibrate, damage, and pollute, the wheels of government continue to turn slowly.  Anyone betting that 20th Street will one day be  pleasantly traffic calmed and tree lined anytime soon?  

So back to our twin lots for sale.  Interesting note, back in 2007 Gowanus hotel developer Alex Shtromandel (Union Hotel, Gowanus Inn and Yard) submitted plans (link) for both of our Greenwood lots proposing to build two residential apartment building, but alas, the plans were rejected by DOB examiners and were eventually withdrawn in the Fall of 2012.


Friday, May 02, 2014

Greenwood Clusterkerfluffle asking $1.475 million

325 20th Street in Greenwood Heights is up for grabs.    Long time IMBY crack addicts will remember this site as a major pain in the ass to both adjoining property owners and the Department of Buildings back in 2008.  

 Stalled site 325 20th Street is asking $1.475 million.   Back in 2007 Architect Henry Radusky's plans to build a 4 story building collapsed after faulty foundation work led to ECB violations and stop work orders.

Today back filled and overground.

I-beam raking shores still in place now concealed by mother nature.

Flashback:  Excavation without shoring allows neighbor's garden to cave into the hole.  These photos document post violation remedial repairs.

Flashback:  New shoring after the fact.

Crack epidemic:  Plastic monitors placed over the stair step cracks in adjoining property.  The building's wall had to be reinforced with steel i-beam rakers to control any additional movement.

Raking Shores

From the IMBY Archives:

325 20th Street: The Tao Construction, Inc./Henry Radusky / Louis Sanchez cluster-kerfuffle, now seeing red, again.

Full Demolition For 288 19th Street

288 19th Street not long for this world full demolition permitted. Plans for a new  4 story, 3 dwelling unit  residential building awaits R6B zoning approval.   This property sold for $895,000 back in January 2014.  The lot is 25'x100'.

Under a new program called Hub Self-Service, New York State-licensed architects and engineers can professionally certify plans for small construction projects (Alteration 2 and Alteration 3) without visiting a Department office. Through the Department’s website, applicants can create online accounts, complete the necessary electronic forms and upload the proper documents in order to receive approvals and obtain construction permits. Alteration 2 and 3 applications are typically submitted when there is no change in use, occupancy or egress.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Violator 192 15th Street: Stop Work Order Rescinded Excavation Backfilled

Archival, back in day before the shovel hit the soil. 

 Received an anonymous tip informing us that the new building going up at 192 15th Street between 4th and 5th Avenues was slammed with a Stop Work Order Violation by the Department of Buildings back on the 14th of April.  According to the complaint, a full Stop Work order was served after the next door neighbor reported to 311 that workers had drilled holes into their property.  Upon inspection,  the DOB found an 8x10x15 foot hole had been dug with a backhoe, apparently in order to begin underpinning the adjacent home's foundation.  Inspectors reported no protective sheeting or shoring had been installed prior to the dig.  The stop work order was lifted on April 28th after the hole was back filled to grade.  Permitted contractors MUST notify the Building Department at least 24-48 hours prior to the start of any earthwork.  The Department also conducts random on-site audits of excavation work to be sure that work is being performed safely according to approved plans.  See this link (PDF)

192 15th Street 


I guess this is where I mention that this new 4 story residential building is being developed by Mark Zeldin, who has erected a considerable amount of buildings in the South Slope.  He should have at least learned by now of the many hazardous pitfalls that lurk beneath Brooklyn's unpredictable, water slogged sandy glacial till that comprises most of the S Slope.  Expeditious cost-cutting seldom pays off.  Neighbors get pissed.  Inspectors are summoned.

One thing I have noticed recently is that there is now a significant delay between the issuing of Environmental Control Board  violations and the time it takes for them to actually show up on the DoB BIS web site.  Not sure what that's about… ?  


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Embellished: Standing Seam Copper Siding

In My Back Yard  396 15th Street has plated itself in sheets of copper.   In the evening as the clouds are singed pink 
by the setting sun  the last light of the day catches the building on fire.

If one were so inclined, the rooftop copper might be equally stunning during a 6am workout if viewed from the YMCA treadmill directly across the street. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Wood Frame Restoration: The Bracketed Porch

New money revitalizes the South Slope.     297 15th Street's freshly bracketed porch and crisply painted facade shine.  This ornamented South Slope wood frame restoration is brought to you by the Brooklyn architectural firm Ellis + Donnelly Studio and builder/general contractor,  B.O.S.S. Associates, Inc.

For so many years these wooden homes have been stripped bare of their crowning jewels by homeowners promised cheap maintenance free solutions against the ravages of time by fast talking tin men and faux-stone stucco-teers. 
I get a lot of emails asking if I know someone with the skills and talent to perform a historic style full face lift.  This team seems more than capable.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Violating a Stop Work Order

413 17th Street:  A Stop Work Order Violation for work without a permit from July of 2013 was disobeyed leading to the issuing of  another violation in January 2014. 
Metal lath has been fastened to the exterior wood siding and then a thin veneer of red brick has been set on top. The installation of the brick veneer has stopped leaving an unfinished border around the windows. The front parlor level doors have been removed.     

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stop Work Order Wednesdays: Speculator East River Partners 342 10th Street 15 Day letter to revoke.

432 10th Street in South Park Slope (center with brown cornice) sold for $1,600,000 back in March 2012.

  A great deal of the building is making its way into the dumpster.  Stop Work Violation posted.

The owners and developers of 432 10th Street, the East River Partners have received the dreaded Department of Buildings complaint notice


Not sure what the Stop Work Order Violation was issued for but the application is under current review.   The SWO violation paperwork is now posted on the fence but the website shows no DOB violations or Environmental Control Board violations or fines.

It could be something as simple as not filing all the correct paperwork like the Building Pavement Plan (BBP) or something much stinkier like a zoning issue or floor area kerfuffle.   
As of today a proper construction fence is up and contractors have started demolishing the front facade by removing the wooden bay. but  I can't vouch for what's going on behind closed doors or in the rear yard at this time.  You can see sky through the upstairs windows so the roof has been removed.  It appears that the interior has been gutted.  What appears to be an engineering monitor of some sort has been fastened to the front facade maybe to detect cracks or movement.  I would guess that the house next door may have been built at the same time so there may be some interconnectedness going on that they are watching.     There are no other complaints on record.  
A tedious 10 minute scan of the building's DoB property profile tells us that this Alt 1? job is hoping to engorge both horizontally and vertically an additional 4,434 square feet.  That's basically doubling what's there now.

They're getting two more floors on top as well as to push out into the rear yard.  So the residential  zoned R6B multifamily structure will go from a 3 to a 4 family and rise in height from 30 feet to 50 feet with permitted obstructions like bulkheads adding 10 feet more.  There will be a new Certificate of Occupancy. 

What complicates the buildable square feet equation some is that the developers have joined tax lots into a single zoning lot with their next door neighbor 430 10th Street.  This is usually done to increase the total size of the new building, if it works.  You can check out the zoning diagram below to see how the rear extension will line up to the neighboring properties.
Mezzanines...You heard me, there are going to be mezzanines with open floors looking out into the rear yard extension.  I think when the DOB plan examiners see that on the plans their eyes spin around in their heads.  This appears to also be a professionally self-certified job. That's like throwing gas on the fire.  
Foundation excavation work will be required for the rear extension.   It's looks like it's going to be a quadruple duplex with cellar recreation space.

The East River Partners have been getting a lot of press on how they have been aggressively investing in Brooklyn buying up non regulated multi-families for all cash and gut renovating them for the "bugaboo set".  ER Partners paid $1.6 million for 432 10 Street back in March of 2012.
 The Real Deal ran a story on them back in 2012.  

Extensive demolition taking place.  The roof is gone, the inside is gutted and I'm guessing the front facade is not far behind.  Can't see how the old faux-stone veneer can be removed from the brick without the walls crumbling.  How is it that there can be this much demolition of the existing structure and not have to be filed as a "New Building"?

Rendering: Christopher V. Papa Architect

Zoning Documents
4 dwelling units with Square Feet diagrammed

Friday, March 14, 2014

Stop Work Order for 383 12th Street

 South Slope Brooklyn

The owners of 383 12th Street, a long vacant hole in the ground, started work on a 4 story, 40 foot tall, 8 unit building, but then were stopped by the Brooklyn Department of Buildings.   Inspectors responding to a complaint apparently determined excavation for the building was encroaching on the neighboring property's foundation.   Currently there are 17 open Environmental Control Board violations on the property, 9 of which are for work without permits.  LINK

Stop Work Order: 426 17th Street

426 17th Street     Plans call for this diminutive 2 family to expand out through the roof with the existing attic converted to a full third floor.   This Alt-1 job is being professionally certified by the architect.  The Stop Work Order Violation was served after The Department of Buildings performed a compliancy audit and found work being done not according to approved plans. An Environmental Control Board Violation of $2,500 was served and paid by the contractor.   Interesting note, this building will be fully sprinklered.

Add caption

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Fourteenth Street Renovation: LOCALbrooklyn

14th Street South Slope Brooklyn: 

L O C A L brooklyn   Meret Lenzlinger Architect

Is this a trend in Park Slope South? I have noticed that in recent years quite a few two-family residential buildings in my neighborhood are being turned over by old timers and then converted into single families by their new owners.  There are four houses on my block alone that have made the transformation.  Back in the day, when the neighborhood was not so nice as they say, two family homes not occupied by their owners were often illegally sliced up into three units or more.
Is this just part of the gentrification process?  Do new homeowners no longer need the additional income from a rental apartment to help pay their mortgage? Maybe they don't want the headache of being a landlord.  
Or, maybe it's because a growing  family needs the entire 2,300 (plus or minus) square feet  these two story, basement, and cellar row houses can provide.  The South Slope did vote to limit it's building boom recently by down zoning from R6 to R6B.  The Floor Area Ratio (FAR) dropped from 2.43 to 2.00 with height and setback restrictions reducing the allowed buildable floor space and making it harder to add on stories to an existing home.  With all the new multifamily residential development built in Brooklyn in the last decade, I wonder how many housing units have been lost to three and two-family down sizing?  

Reducing Family Units to Increase Family Space
This house on 14th Street purchased back in November 2012 for $1,050,00 is doing just that. Architect Meret Lenzlinger of the firm LOCALbrooklyn has filed plans to change the certificate of occupancy from a two family to a one family.  Plans also call for a small single story addition off the rear of the building. I think it is common for new home owners to move the kitchen to the basement garden level and then opening up the rear facade with glass to allow more light into what is usually a dark floor.  There are a good number of residential renovations that can be seen on LOCALbrooklyn's website.  Their portfolio shows many such kitchen spaces.  

Looking forward to the restoration of the wood frame house.  No doubt it will be a great addition to the street scape.

In Process.  Tyvec has been installed after the front stoop and old layers of aluminum siding have been removed from this two story wood frame house.  The building was already missing its crowning cornice, but still has the original iron fence and gate.  This mid block house is the last in a row of similar wood frames probably all built at the same time.  The facade on the home next door looks as if it has been recently restored and is in perfect shape.
In comparing the upper story fenestration to the ground floor's,  you can see how much more interior light  will be gained by removing the old double hung aluminum windows and replacing them with new full frame windows installed stud to stud..  This works best, of coarse, when you don't have to worry about moving interior wood trim and moldings. 
I'm going to guess that the stoop will be rebuilt and the upper and lower entryways kept in place.  This is a great opportunity to reconfigure the basement entry under the stoop, usually a dark, damp, and cramped space inhabited by spiders and mosquitoes.  Many of these spaces are open to the weather and behind iron gates with restricting swings that make moving any kind of large piece of furniture almost impossible.  You really can't afford to waste even the tiniest space especially one near the front door.  
Front Yard   Plans call for a small green space in the front yard which I greatly prefer to the concrete one now in place.  As there is no street tree directly in front of the house, an appropriately sized, shade loving tree would be a welcoming addition.