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Community group Save the View Now this week sued developer Toll Brothers and Brooklyn Bridge Park over the height of the Pierhouse hotel and condos, now under construction in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The group alleges the height of the buildings has illegally violated the park’s own General Project Plan. State Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Knipel issued a temporary restraining order preventing construction on a section of the development south of the Squibb Bridge, the group announced Thursday.

The details are complex, but suffice to say at issue is whether or not the three-building condo and hotel development at 60, 90 and 130 Furman Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park is blocking views of the Brooklyn Bridge in violation of any laws.

Brownstoner broke the story in September that the northernmost part of the development, 1Hotel at 60 Furman Street, has angered preservationists because it is, in fact, blocking a view of the Brooklyn Bridge a 2005 agreement between the park and another community group, the Brooklyn Heights Association, sought to protect.

But — whether or not the height of the three buildings violates any laws is another question — and one this lawsuit seeks to answer. (more…)

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Landlords Joel and Aaron Israel were arrested Thursday on criminal charges for allegedly intentionally destroying apartments they own in Greenpoint and Bushwick and lying to the court about it,  the Times and many other outlets reported yesterday. The brothers have been in the news for about two years after reportedly destroying kitchens, baths, gas lines and hot water heaters of longtime tenants at several buildings in Brooklyn to force them out and increase rents to market rate for newcomers.

The cases have been winding through housing court. Criminal charges in such cases are unusual — but then so are the alleged actions of the accused. (more…)

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As the building boom continues, more cases of shoddy new construction are coming to light, some the result of unseasoned, inexperienced developers, according to The New York Times. The story dove into problems at two buildings in particular, 500 4th Avenue (above) and 550 Grand Street.

At the former, a big new condo building, the cement cracked off the facade and balconies developed alarming cracks three years after opening. At the latter, a condo conversion of a 19th century brick building in Williamsburg, the roof leaked, the storm drainage system was not hooked up to the sewer system so the building frequently flooded, and “fire stopping measures” were missing.

The story mentioned two developers who have been named in lawsuits for construction defects in more than one building: Isaac Katan and Shaya Boymelgreen. It also recounted the travails of condo buildings that try to hold developers or sponsors accountable, and said ongoing litigation may make it difficult to sell.

Would you buy in new construction?

Construction Defects Follow a Brooklyn Building Boom [NYT]
Balconies Unsafe, Structural Problems at New Build on 4th Avenue [Brownstoner]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

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In a rare decision, a Brooklyn Housing Court judge has barred landlord Joel Israel from his own building and appointed an administrator to repair and manage it. The building at 300 Nassau Avenue in Greenpoint has been in the headlines since the rent-regulated tenants were forced out in December 2013 because the landlord destroyed their apartments, water lines, gas lines, and hot water heaters, according to a press release from the tenants’ laywers. Tenants will return when the building is fixed.

The same landlord also owns 98 Linden Street in Bushwick, where he allegedly destroyed kitchens and baths in two rent-regulated apartments, as we’ve reported previously. He’s also been accused of destroying his building at 324 Central Avenue in Bushwick and other properties in Brooklyn.

Landlords Destroy Their Own Buildings to Push out Rent Regulated Tenants [Brownstoner]
Tenants: Bushwick Landlord Tears out Kitchens, Bathrooms to Get Tenants to Move [Brownstoner]
Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

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The State Department of Corrections planned to concentrate all parole reporting for Brooklyn at its new offices at 15 2nd Avenue, but now that will not be happening. The department agreed to see only a third of parolees there and to decentralize parole reporting throughout Brooklyn, in exchange for community group Gowanus United dropping its lawsuit against the department, the state and the city, Gowanus United announced yesterday.

The location will serve 2,000 parolees — not 6,000, as was previously planned — for at least two years. The department will also meet regularly with local representatives and provide statistics on the number of parolees assigned to the office, Gowanus United said in a press release we received.

When we attended a planning meeting for Gowanus development in November, local business owners and growth advocates said they were concerned the office would have a negative effect on the area.

Construction on the offices is supposed to wrap this month, and the building will open in April, as we have previously reported. Above, the building in August. It is located between 5th Street and the Gowanus Canal, just behind Whole Foods.

Brooklyn Paper was the first to report on the settlement.

15 2nd Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]

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The condo building at 50 Bridge Street, built in 1894 to house a soap manufacturing company, is wrapping up a $3,500,000, two-and-a-half-year exterior restoration project. The update to the 58-unit luxury building, which went condo in 2004, involved waterproofing and stripping paint off the original brick facade.

“We are thrilled by these significant renovations that have resulted in the restoration of much of our building’s original character,” said the condo’s board in a press release. “The building is a beautiful example of 19th century industrial architecture and we have worked closely with Landmarks throughout this project.” Cowley Engineering and Flag Waterproofing and Restoration did the work.

We presume this fixes all the construction problems that were the subject of a 2007 lawsuit against developer Joshua Guttman. The condo owners received an undisclosed settlement in 2012 from Guttman over construction defects such as a “defective roof and other waterproofing issues,” a press release noted at the time. Click through to see a photo of the building in 2012, before the restoration.

50 Bridge Street Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo above by 50 Bridge Street; photo below by Sunita Mungol for PropertyShark (more…)

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Forest City Ratner and Skanska are discussing a buyout deal and have already set a price, although other terms are still under negotiation, according to a letter Skanska sent to the judge overseeing the former partners’ lawsuits over the stalled modular B2 tower. In fact, a closing date was set for Monday, Atlantic Yards Report reported. There has been no announcement from either party, so perhaps the closing has not yet taken place.

Forest City would buy out Skanska, freeing up Forest City to restart construction on the stalled tower. A buyout deal could include compensation for cost overruns the two have been fighting about in court and put the lawsuits to rest.

Forest City Seems Ready to Buy out Skanska’s Interest in Closed Modular Factory; Deal Could Close Tomorrow [AYR]
Skanska Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Field Condition

Update: We have just received a statement from Skanska. It says: “Today FCRC Modular LLC and Skanska Modular LLC announced that FCRC Modular LLC will purchase the ownership interest of Skanska Modular LLC in their jointly owned modular factory business in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, FC+Skanska Modular LLC, for an undisclosed amount. The agreement, achieved through mediation with Roger J. Peters, Esq., marks the end of the companies’ partnership at the modular factory and makes FCRC Modular the sole owner and manager of the modular business. Litigation between the companies over the B2 Project will continue and is not impacted by this agreement.”

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Community group Gowanus United today filed a lawsuit to halt the construction of a three-story, 61,000-square-foot parole reporting facility at 15 2nd Avenue, between 5th Street and the Gowanus Canal, just behind Whole Foods. The suit claims the state’s Department of Corrections didn’t perform an environmental review to examine how the building and its day-to-day operations would affect the community. A press release sent out by the group did not say in which court the suit was filed.

As previously reported, the state department lost its previous headquarters downtown several years ago to development and has been housed in three different downtown locations since then. The offices serve about 5,000 parolees, or 400 a day. The state signed a contract over a year ago and construction is well under way (we took the above photo in August). Construction is supposed to finish in January, and the building is supposed to open in April.

The lawsuit also seeks to overturn a zoning waiver granted by the Bloomberg administration late last year, which allows the state to build fewer parking spaces than the site’s zoning requires. The group’s press release argues that the site isn’t served well by public transportation, and a lack of off-street parking would only make nearby traffic and parking worse.

BBP Adams: Parole Office Should Be Downtown, Not in Gowanus [Brownstoner]
Steel Rises Next to Gowanus Junkyard [Brownstoner]

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By all accounts, Tuesday’s Community Board 9 meeting was a doozy. From what we can piece together from some half dozen accounts in the media and what others have told us, since we weren’t present, in short, a huge number of opponents of upzoning Empire Boulevard disrupted the meeting, and Community Board 9 members responded in kind. Total chaos reigned, with lots of shouting and name calling; the board could not keep order and fanned the flames.

CB9 District Manager Pearl Miles yelled “shut up” at the crowd repeatedly (there is a video), District Leader Geoffrey Davis refused to relinquish the microphone, and the police were summoned multiple times to keep order. (For a play-by-play, including an outrageous exchange between the crowd and District Leader for the 43rd Assembly Diana Richardson, read the story on Brooklyn Brief.)

Eventually, under pressure, the board took a vote on whether or not to rescind an earlier decision to study the rezoning. The vote to rescind passed, but then it turned out that it really didn’t, according to New York City rules for community board votes.

In the words of Q at Parkside blogger Tim Thomas, who favors the rezoning (or at least is not opposed to it):

Karim Camara and reps from every major official, from the Mayor on down, were there and they were absolutely floored, speechless. The guy from Yvette Clarke’s followed me out to the parking lot with eyes wide saying “how could you let this happen? this was INSANE!” I told him L’shanah Tova and rode home.

Meanwhile, upzoning opponent and MTOPP member Adrian Untermyer filed suit yesterday to get a copy of the community board’s bylaws.

At issue is whether Prospect Lefferts Gardens will rezone to end high-rise development, which has recently taken off in the neighborhood. Some residents blame tall buildings for gentrification while others say high-rise development will bring much needed affordable housing to the area.

CB9: Chaos and Cacophony Leave Empire Boulevard Vulnerable and Fate Uncertain [BK Brief]
If You Want To Know How Things Got Outa Hand…[Q at Parkside]
Wow. That Was Weird [Q at Parkside]
Correct That. The Motion Didn’t Pass [Q at Parkside]
Alicia Boyd: Proud Townhome Owner, Anti-Gentrification Activist [Q at Parkside]
Vote to Rescind Crown Heights Rezoning Study Sparks Confusion [DNA]
Residents Rip Proposed “Upzoning” on PLG-Crown Heights Border [NY Daily News]
Prospect Lefferts Gardens Residents Fight Rezoning on Empire Boulevard [Brownstoner]
Photo by DNAinfo

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As Skanska and Forest City prepare to meet in court tomorrow, Atlantic Yards Report has unearthed documents that detail a long list of problems with the construction of the modular tower, B2. To make a long story short, the tower could leak.

In more detail, there have been lots of problems with the alignment of the modules, according to Skanksa. For example, one problem is the tolerances between match plates, which tie together the modules. The original drawings called for a 1/4 inch tolerance but in the field the bolt holes only allowed a tolerance of 1/16th of an inch. To correct this flaw, the holes were enlarged, but apparently they became too big (1 and 3/4 of an inch), which “created the potential” for misalignment, according to the documents. The factory in the Navy Yard was also too small to allow for efficient production.

A hearing for a preliminary injunction to reopen the factory takes place tomorrow morning in Manhattan. Click through to Atlantic Yards Report for tons more insight on the construction issues Skanska is alleging. Also, the problems with the modular construction could freeze lending for modular projects in the area, according to a story in The New York Daily News.

Skanska Warns of Possible Leaks in B2 Modular Tower [AYR]
As B2 Tower Sits Unfinished, Debate Over Modular Construction Rises [NY Daily News]

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Late Friday Forest City Ratner issued yet another salvo in the war with Skanska over their jointly operated and now-shuttered modular factory. “FCRC Modular representatives tried to enter the factory today and were barred by Skanska,” said a press release we received.

So, the release goes on, yet another lawsuit has been filed — this one by FCR Modular, the Forest City half of the partnership that with Skanska Modular runs the joint venture called FC+Skanska, according to the release.

To make a long story short, it alleges breach of contract by Skanska for shutting down the factory and asks the court for an injunction to reopen the factory “immediately.” Perhaps last week’s request to take over the factory was laying the groundwork for this suit?

In any case, it occurs to us that the merits of the case — even if, say, the allegations of both parties are true and they are both at fault — Skanska for poor management and Forest City for a non-workable modular design — may not matter. The winner may well turn out to be the one who can prove breach of contract.

Photo by Curbed

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The judge overseeing the case against the Hudson Companies’ development of a 23-story mixed-use building at 626 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens has lifted the temporary restraining order against construction on the site, saying the plaintiffs “have not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits” of the case.

The case is still ongoing, but a lengthy written decision said the environmental review that was already conducted was adequate. Read the full text of the decision here.

Rendering by Marvel Architects