BREAKING: DOB Files Charges Against Robert Scarano

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The city just released a press release saying it has filed “administrative” charges against architect Robert Scarano, “alleging that he made false or misleading statements on applications submitted to the Buildings Department in connection with two new buildings in Brooklyn.” The charges have to do with one of the most frequent criticisms Scarano’s critics have had of the architect: That he has used a very creative interpretation of zoning regulations in his building filings. Per the press release: “The administrative charges are in connection with documents for two Brooklyn apartment houses that Scarano filed with the Buildings Department in 2000 and 2002. Scarano is alleged to have improperly divided a zoning lot into two smaller lots for the two new buildings, 158 Freeman Street and 1037 Manhattan Avenue, resulting in the construction of two noncompliant buildings. With the two independent zoning lots, 158 Freeman Street could not have been legally built at all as a residential building and 1037 Manhattan Avenue as designed would have been smaller by approximately 2,000 square feet.” Scarano may be suspended from filing plans with the DOB, and he’s going to have to present a defense to an administrative law judge. Full press release on the jump.
Scarano: Licensed to Ill? [Brownstoner]

CITY FILES CHARGES AGAINST ARCHITECT ROBERT SCARANO

Architect Filed False Documents to Improperly Construct Two New Buildings

Acting Buildings Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri and Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn today announced administrative charges have been filed against licensed architect Robert Scarano, alleging that he made false or misleading statements on applications submitted to the Buildings Department in connection with two new buildings in Brooklyn. The charges are the result of a partnership between the Department of Investigation’s Buildings Special Investigation Unit and the Buildings Department’s Special Enforcement Team to identify and build cases against repeat offenders who flout building and zoning regulations.

The administrative charges are in connection with documents for two Brooklyn apartment houses that Scarano filed with the Buildings Department in 2000 and 2002. Scarano is alleged to have improperly divided a zoning lot into two smaller lots for the two new buildings, 158 Freeman Street and 1037 Manhattan Avenue, resulting in the construction of two noncompliant buildings. With the two independent zoning lots, 158 Freeman Street could not have been legally built at all as a residential building and 1037 Manhattan Avenue as designed would have been smaller by approximately 2,000 square feet.

We will not tolerate anyone who knowingly attempts to mislead the Department with false documents. Our Special Enforcement Team is identifying repeat offenders and building cases against them. Flouting building and zoning regulations undermines the quality of life for all New Yorkers, and we will continue to identify and hold accountable individuals who abuse the rules, said Acting Buildings Commissioner LiMandri. I’d like to extend my thanks to Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn for her full commitment to our partnership to crack down on misconduct in the construction industry.

DOI will continue to work with the Department of Buildings to root out licensed professionals whose word cannot be relied on to protect the public safety and the integrity of the City’s Building Code, said DOI Commissioner Gill Hearn.

Scarano has been charged with knowingly or negligently filing false or misleading documents with the Buildings Department and displaying negligence, incompetence or lack of knowledge with regard to building and zoning regulations. The charges were filed under regulations made possible by State Assembly Bill 7746 that authorize the Buildings Commissioner to exclude licensed architects from filing applications for permits if they are found to have knowingly or negligently submitted false documents. With these charges, Scarano faces possible suspension or revocation of his ability to file documents with the Buildings Department. Scarano may respond to the charges and present a defense to an administrative law judge at the Office of Administrative Tribunals and Hearings.

The Special Enforcement Plan, announced in July 2007, is the result of a collaborative effort by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Housing and Buildings Chair Erik Martin Dilan, City Councilman James Oddo, and the Buildings Department to raise the bar for construction standards citywide. Under the Special Enforcement Plan, eight new multidisciplinary enforcement units, one construction monitoring program and one research group have been created at the Buildings Department to conduct proactive inspections of construction sites, crack down on repeat offenders who repeatedly skirt building and zoning regulations, and strengthen oversight of the professional certification program. Since the Plan’s inception, these new units have inspected over 4,700 construction sites, identified approximately 85 individuals or companies for possible disciplinary action, and reviewed over 2,300 professionally-certified plans for compliance with the Building Code and Zoning Resolution. Since July 2007, these teams have issued over 1,200 Stop Work Orders and nearly 4,000 violations to sites in all five boroughs.

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  • this guy is really such a creep.

  • Finally, the chickens are coming home to roost!

  • Even a chicken would be foolish to roost in one of his buildings!

  • thanks Scarano—my hood—prospect heights/crown heights border is filled with your half-completed projects.

  • so now the DOB is under fire… quick get a scapegoat.
    I’m not in anyway condoning Scarano’s actions, but at the end of the day his buildings that have gone up, started constructions, or even been approved have all passed through the DOB and received their OK. Instead of blaming him, the responsibility should be shared with the examiners who are apparently uneducated enough to let this stuff fly.

  • great, is mendel brach next on the list?

  • I live on freeman and I kept trying to figure out how that building complied. What a mofo

  • What about Josh Guttman too? Take down all the real estate bogeymen

  • daveinbedstuy

    “The charges are the result of a partnership between the Department of Investigation’s Buildings Special Investigation Unit and the Buildings Department’s Special Enforcement Team”…sounds like layer upon layer of bullshit beauracracy.

    I agree with 2:21. Isn’t it the DOB’s JOB to review and approve the applications based on the zoning laws and then to inspect the actual progress during construction? What a bunch of idiots…same quality as the MTA management.

  • Hey – I have the same tie! Amazing.

  • Biff Champion

    But do you have the same pocket protector and mad scientist haircut?

  • Check this story on the corrupt DOB crane guy. who’s to say the same isn’t happening with plan “examiners?”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/12/nyregion/12crane.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion&oref=slogin

    I wonder if all of this mess is simply the result of plan examiners and others in power taking bribes – These DOB clowns have been continually stamping plans that violates zoning laws, building codes, you name it. Stop work orders tend to disappear, even when fines aren’t paid. Illegal sites that damage neighbors houses continue to operate and are eventually signed off on.

    It reeks.

  • Mendl Brach SHOULD be next. He claims to be building student/faculty housing for Yeshivas, receives special permits for such and builds it. The the Yeshiva sends the DOB a letter stating they no longer need the housing & he gets to sell the condos on the open market. Has happened in SEVERAL buildings in Brooklyn.

    Though, technically, the DOB is negligent because they keep letting it happen.

  • guest 2:43 PM,

    tie will be worth big money on ebay

  • “But do you have the same pocket protector and mad scientist haircut?”

    HELL no! I’m grooomed for the ladies, man. I look GOOD. That’s why I was so amazed this schlubby dude is rocking my stilo.

  • I do believe that the troubles he’s been going through have aged him somewhat:

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/08012007/photos/news019b.jpg

    Heh, heh; couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

  • Seriously, it’s about time.

  • How are things going at the Spencer St. condos? Have not heard anything in awhile. Have they made the repairs as promised? C of O yet? The Yeshiva bait and switch game was used by a lot of different architects. (Bricolage for one) After the buildings were over built the schools would cancel their leases.

    Someone should check to see if there are any DoB plan examiners who tend to make the same “mistakes” over and over again.

  • The DOB plan examiners are not responsible for errors they dont catch. If amistake is caught during the construction or after, the project must be altered to comply. The real tragedy is anyone who is trying to do basic renovation work, it takes too long in my opinion and generally you get nonsense onjections that further prolong the process. Im amazed anything gets built.

  • Oddly enough both of these buildings sold this month to Capital Real Estate Partners in Manhattan.

  • Live by pushing the envelope, die by the zoning resolution.

    Not laughing, just smiling.

    And 4:38pm
    “If amistake is caught during the construction or after, the project must be altered to comply.”

    Have you been reading anything on this blog or in the news in the past 5 years? It gets built and stays built. Buy air rights, adjust a bulkhead, remove a room (or in this case a mezzanine or two) and here’s your C of O.

    DOB’s in the business of building, not demo’ing. Well, except for new building.

  • Man are you all a bunch of know-nothings.

    Scarano abused a DOB process called “self-certification.” This process was set up specifically to allow Architecture to swear that the design is up to code. Using this system means that THE DOB DOES NOT REVIEW THE PLANS. The Architect takes full responsibility for the code compliance. Some % of projects are audited, so there is no way anyone can get away with blatant flouting of the code for long. Somehow he thought he could.

    This system, also known as Directive 14, was set up to help developers get permits faster, eliminating the lengthy wait for DOB review and approval.

    AMERALEED

  • I don’t believe this “looking for a scapegoat” stuff. Scarano’s been whistling in the dark for a long time. The guy built his practice, his success, on – let’s be generous – flawed interpretations of building and zoning laws. Developers went to him because they could get more. Other architects lost out on all of his projects because they respected the law, and couldn’t promise developers as much. I’m glad to see him crash and burn. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • 5:05 and 5:06 have said everything that’s relevant.

  • Zoning is about interpretation, change the zoning laws so they’re clear or take down every architect in New York. The zoning rules are a joke not even dob understands them half the time & the new commissioner I guess hes not looking for press, he’s just a good guy trying to save the world & I was born yesterday!!!!!!!!

  • Always the same cast of characters, John, Jackson and Jon. Lets see what the three amigos have done….ah yes thats right just critize others, how about becoming productive citizens of the community and worry that your elected officials couldn’t run a candy store much less the government we have and get off this guys back.

    Can anyone fiqure out why they moved the spot light on Robert again, could it be that LiMandri, their fearlous leader at the DOB, has no qualifuications for the job and should not be there??

    He can’t even shine Scarano’s shoes much less speak about his abilities.

    Jon be a man for once and open your f’n eyes to what is really happening or are you just too worried about flea markets at this point?

  • 5:05 – Directive 14 and Self-Certification are not the same process and were instituted 20 years apart. Under Directive 14, DOB reviews and approves the architect’s drawings for compliance with zoning and building egress. Under self-certification, the architect certifies such compliance.

    Live and learn

  • 5:05 – yes, this goes back to self-cert and a very generous interpretation of the zoning code. But by now, pretty much every one of his projects has been audited, but none have had to come down or be radically reduced. The developer (who hired the architect for his zoning “expertise”) always seems to get away with buying air rights or lowering a ceiling height.

    The list of zoning dodges is myriad, and by no means limited to Bob Scarano. 9:45 is right, the zoning code is so open to interpretation that its ripe for abuse. And the abuse is facilitated by DOB and developers. Scarano was just the best at it, but you could audit 75% of the new buildings in Brooklyn and find seriously flawed zoning interpretations.

    Yes, 10:18, the timing of these charges sure looks like someone looking for a fall guy, but that doesn’t mean the charges are unfounded.

  • I dont know scarano personally so I dont know what his motivations are or anything.

    As an atty, I understand when someone attempts to exploit technicalities to maximize value.

    As a person walking by, I think the architect who designed many of the buildings built recently in NY should be punished for aesthetic crimes against humanity.

  • He’s been charged, but not yet convicted on two of his recent projects. All the rest of your blather about his history and everyone else for that matter is meaningless unless they are charged and convicted. Whether you like the designs or not (I personally am not a fan), doesn’t mean he has done anything wrong as yet. Maybe slick the ATTY can chime in here. As for the designs out there in general and the builders subsequent construction of it, if the market is willing to buy it, then maybe Slick again can speak to Caveat Emptor. I am all for the Market speaking to what is wanted and needed not some bunch of granola eating, community gardening, elitist thinking, “you haven’t given to the community” socialist idiots. BLOW ME!

  • 9:05 = pompus a’hole

  • to “dave in bedstuy”

    you can’t be more right. i have been dealing with the mta “inspectors” for the past month.

    the dob and mta are pathetic.

  • What about all those workers killed on all those job sites and the families forced to evacuate their homes because he signed off,no doubt fraudulently, on his submissions to the DOB. In one case an elderly woman had to be placed in a nursing home. That is criminal negligence in my book and he should be PROSECUTED to the fullest extent of the law. The Brooklyn DA’s office should take notice and i am assuming they already have.

  • You guys are all stupid. Get lives. Scarano’s the man!

  • LOVE the haircut and tie, seriously! It shows that he’s a real person that’s just trying to do what he loves- be an architect! All you dirt bags care about is having robots live in a perfect, evenly built city- BORING! Leave Scarano alone already.