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.  

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Bride Stripped Bare: 413 17th Street Unveiled.

17th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues is a cornucopia of architectural stylings.   Our 413 sits smack in the middle of the block sandwiched between its two recently restored  neighbors 411 and 415.  There are lots of tiny two story wood frames in the area but few remain historically intact, unable to withstand generations of irreversible remudelings.  Cornices fall or are removed to make the application of aluminum siding easier.  Iron work "disappears" overnight never to be replaced.  Facades are completely stripped of wooden details and then replaced with synthetic stucco slathered Styrofoam. In our recent speculator times many stand alone wooden homes sitting on lots over 24 feet have been demolished and replaced by shoddy ill mannered condominiums. 

Some time in the past someone got talked into covering the wood with faux brick inspired asphalt shingles.  With the asphalt siding removed and the multiple layers of paint stripped it certainly is a turning out to be a diamond in the rough. 
New double hung windows... wonderfully detailed cornice.

Original stone stoop is in fine shape with its intact cast iron newel posts and floral inspired balusters hermetically sealed in metallic green auto paint.
It has been mentioned that the property has been recently sold but I find no records on ACRIS.  The DoB  site shows a Partial Stop Work Order is in effect due to unpermitted excavation work and interior demolition.  311 complaints indicate the neighbor's property may have been harmed in some way bringing on the Full Stop Work Order and ECB violation ($400 paid) back on the 17th of July.  Permits were recently applied for and granted on November 25th after most of the work has been completed...Anyway the sign indicates Brooklyn masonry contractor Michael Buscarello is doing the work and may also be the new owner.  What are the chances this property will flip?

What did $2.372 million buy?   For those old timers on the block here's something from the IMBY ARCHIVES.  Not so long ago the neighborhood still had a few properties left to decay by absentee owners... VACANT FOR DECADES recently restored 411 17th Street as it looked prior to a gut renovation.  LINK

South Slope: Prospect Views worth $1,139 a square foot.

Here's 379 Prospect Avenue conceived in 2007.  This 7 unit boutique condominium between 7th and 8th Avenues is the work of Moss and Sayad Architects.      Corcoran has the listing for four of the seven units with pricing set between $1.8 and $2.1 million.  Unit 1B with half its livable space in the cellar comes in at an affordable $743 per square foot, while Unit 3C breaks the bank at $1,139 per square foot...Ambitious for a Prospect Avenue property located on a busy truck route and directly across the street from PS10 Elementary School's playground.  There are floor plans and kitchen/bath photos up on Corcoran.

Corcoran says, "The 379 Prospect Avenue Condominium is a boutique, seven-unit building situated in tree-lined South Park Slope. Each home has a large open concept kitchen with Caeserstone countertops, gray-washed Italian Cabinetry, ocean glass backsplash, and stainless Viking appliance packages. There are over-sized windows, plenty of closet space, and large baths with ceramic tile, walnut Italian cabinetry, and Grohe fixtures. Each unit has video intercom, its own gas-fired water heater and Daikin split heating and cooling systems. The building is pre-wired for cable and offers outdoor parking spots for sale, additional basement storage for sale, and a lovely landscaped common garden for residents. Situated near Prospect Park, subways, specialty food shops, restaurants, boutiques, and night life, you will experience all that Park Slope has to offer for living and entertaining." 

The DoB web page indicates there is currently no Certificate of Occupancy.      Up for grab$,  off $treet parking $paces and cellar $torage.

2008 Archives:  The offices of Marcus Roofing.    Prospect Avenue street scape.  This unusual L shaped property extends up behind the two adjacent apartment buildings on the right heading up towards 8th Avenue.  The 60 foot wide property sold for $1.6 million to a local South Slope developer Mark Zeldin.

Spring 2008 Mechanical Demolition of the office and garage as remembered.


The Legend of Zeldin

Prospect Views

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

IMBY: Massive Tree Removal

My neighbor is taking down this massive Pin Oak tree in her backyard. I believe the new 15th Street apartment building is funding all or part of it's removal as a great portion of it extended over their back yard patio spaces on the second floor. The base at chest height is easily 5 feet in diameter which could mean this tree is close to 180 years old. The houses on our block date from the 1890's. This could be the oldest tree in the South Slope. It survived both the 2010 tornado and Hurricane Sandy basically undamaged.  

It was one spectacular forest of a tree especially with a stiff breeze behind her coming off the harbor.  The sound of the wind rustling through her leaves produced a soothing sound that would drown out everything unnatural including our frequent roaring airplane traffic passing nonstop overhead.  Its spectacular canopy was so large that you could trace the passage of the wind as the waves moved through the leaves and bent the branches in succession.  Every year a murder of crows would stop for a week or so and perch on this dead branch at the very top of the tree before being chased off by the locals...  

Sorry to see you go.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

396 15th Street: A South Slope saga of destruction, resurrection, and finally, conversion.

Pre Birth Certificate 396 15th Street 


IMBY is proud to announce the rebirth of one of our first adopted foster crack children, the little brick building that could, 396 15th Street.  We're excepting visitors, the scaffolding is down but the sidewalk shed is still in place. You can't be too safe. Do you mind washing your hands first? And please don't make any sudden moves or look it directly in the eyes.   Thanks.

Reincarnated 396 15th Street seen here sandwiched between it's nearly completed nemesis 400 15th St. on the left and a prewar walk up apartment building on the right. This will be the third full frontal facade transplant in less than a decade.  Current owners are seeking a change in the certificate of occupancy from light manufacturing/garage use into a more civilized R6B zoned residential two family with off street parking.

Textural brickwork and fenestration details.  Yes ladies, those are real 6 over 6 double hung sashes!  The two story addition constructed of light steel and stucco is setback and concealed from the sidewalk view* as required by R6B sky exposure plane codes.  (As seen from the entrance to the Park Slope Armory YMCA directly across the street)
You know it's been our our raison d'ĂȘtre documenting the architectural folly of Park Slope South for almost a heartbreaking decade now and we can think of no other job site that best represents the misfortune one must endure at the hammy hands of real property speculators, literally brain injured engineers, and their hack-job foundation excavation minions. But somehow this little garage has persisted, and in three different incarnations no less...
So let's celebrate this tenacious survivor by looking back at all its trials and tribulations captured over the last 10 years or so in one of IMBYBRANDS glorious archival photo albums.

 Hubris is not a soil type.   In the beginning 396 or "The GaRage" seen on the right of this stagnant pond cohabited for years next to a large one story warehouse, its address was 400 15th street.  The functioning warehouse was destroyed to make way for a new residential apartment building.  At this time back in 2004 the neighborhood had not been downzoned yet and was still naively zoned R6.  Foundation nubes almost immediately had trouble excavating the glacial till, sand and clay, deposited some 20,000 years ago by the Wisconsin Ice Flow.   Not being able to learn from past mistakes seems to be par for the course.    Both adjoining properties suffered drastic injuries to their 100 year old foundations.

Complaints, violations, stop work orders and remedial reparations.  A frequent sight here in the Slope, metal i-beams shoring the shifting foundation of  The GaRage... Department of Buildings steps into the mess.   This neighborhood's decade of construction debacles made rock stars out of some members of the Department's Forensic Engineering team and supplied construction lawyers with seemingly unending billing cycles.
The Blumpkin.   How does one even get into this mess?   Follow this link to a brief description of the case by lawyers involved in the civil suit.   You can see the entire 100' long foundation and 1st floor wall of adjoining property 402 15th St. (Rojas Mexican Bakery )  has already been replaced.
The GaRage on crack.   The entire building heads for the hole.  Note the enormous crack over the right second story window.  This facade along with the entire side and rear walls will have to be replaced.  Old tax photos show this to be most likely the original facade except for roll down gate wihch replaced a nice set of wooden ones.
Progress!!!???   The GaRage undergoes extensive restoration shown here without walls.  At the same time new constructions continues on basement cellar of 400 15th St.
The Posterchild's Poster.   This is our favorite photo of all time representing the legendary "double blumpkin" that is construction in the South Slope.  If we ever get around to publishing our IMBYBRANDS calendar this year this will be January. I'm not sure how this was even done and I witnessed it with my own eyes.
After years of reconstruction this is the finished GaRAGE.  Not as nice as the original but good enough to put up on the market where it will eventually sell for 1.5 million dollars.   The current owner filed for a change of use and certificate of occupancy in order to convert to residential.  The work will mean that fifteen feet will need to be removed from rear of newly fixed building with jack hammers in order to comply with rear yard setbacks.  Two additional floors ( +2300sqft) are added on top with even more additional outdoor patio space.  
Parting Shot: Wiping away tears from my eyes, a view from my rear window.