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]
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.
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]
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
Early Friday morning, a group of opponents to the 23-story tower Hudson Companies plans for 626 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens spontaneously blockaded some cement trucks that had arrived to pour the building’s foundation, according to a protestor who was present and sent us these photos. The protesters prevented the cement trucks from entering the site for about an hour or more, until the police arrived. One person was arrested.
Later that morning, at a previously scheduled hearing at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against the pouring of the foundation while a court case concerning an environmental review of the project is proceeding.
A rally against the project is planned for this Friday, June 6, at City Hall.
While the lawsuit is likely to be dismissed, said Hudson Companies principal David Kramer, in any case the as-of-right project will proceed even if litigation requires modifying the financing. “While some neighbors might be unhappy that a new, 23-story building is being developed next to them, there’s no reason to demonize Hudson in all their inflammatory comments,” he said. “We’re very proud of this development, which will offer new housing, new affordable housing, new retail stores for Flatbush Avenue and new community facility space for nonprofit use.”
The Prospect Park East Network (PPEN) contends Hudson could put up a shorter building with the same square footage but a different foundation on the existing lot.
To see the press release issued by the Prospect Park East Network about the temporary restraining order and rally, Hudson’s full response, and more photos of the protest and the site Friday morning, click through to the jump.
Tenants at Homewood Gardens Estates in East Flatbush claim their landlord is trying to push them out in favor of white tenants willing to pay higher rents, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court. The suit alleges that landlords Yeshaya Wasserman, Shay Wasserman and Yitzchok Rambod ignored repair requests, forced evictions and offered cash buyouts, the New York Post reported. The East Flatbush residents also say the landlords consistently refuse to make repairs for black tenants, fail to cash rent checks and delay the delivery of front door keys.
“In contrast, white tenants move into renovated apartments, their rent checks are cashed, they receive monthly rent statements and they are not subject to harassment,” the suit states, according to the Post.
The lawsuit also claims black residents have seen their rents double, while white tenants have seen minimal rent increases at lease renewal time. Wasserman and his partners bought the buildings on Brooklyn Avenue and Hawthorne Street in 2009. The state’s Tenant Protect Unit has been investigating Wasserman since last fall, when it subpoenaed documents from all eight of his properties in Brooklyn.
Image via Google Maps
A settlement has been reached in the Long Island College Hospital court case, both parties announced yesterday afternoon, but the details of the settlement will not be available until this afternoon.
The battle over the future of the hospital is a familiar one in Brooklyn these days, as the rising value of land here prompts libraries, churches and, most recently, Junior’s Cheesecake to sell all or a portion of their properties to developers to make over into bigger, denser buildings of luxury residences.
So far, what is known of the LICH settlement is that SUNY (LICH’s owner) must solicit new proposals for the property. SUNY will be required to give more weight to proposals that would keep LICH a full-service hospital. SUNY will be allowed to withdraw from running the hospital in May. Bidders must meet a minimum price in line with the value of the property, estimated to be around $228,000,000 or $278,000,000, said The New York Times.
In recent days, community groups proposed a community-based co-op health care system throughout the borough. Hospital boards of directors, including at struggling Interfaith in Bed Stuy, would be replaced by new boards made up of local residents, patients and employees, DNAinfo reported. LICH advocates are also calling for a study of the health care needs of the LICH service area, The Brooklyn Eagle said.
SUNY has been accused of contempt of court for ignoring a judge’s orders to remain open and operating at the same level of service as it offered in July. Developers who put in bids are now saying the process is unfair, said the Eagle. LICH supporters and plaintiffs include the Brooklyn Heights Association, Boerum Hill Association, Cobble Hill Association, Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, Wykoff Gardens Association, Riverside Tenants Association, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), Concerned Physicians of LICH and 1199 SEIU.
Mayor de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James will announce the details of the settlement this afternoon at City Hall.
A partial steel structure is up at 297 North 7th Street, where the project is the subject of a lawsuit. The building is supposed to be a nine-story school with 34,827 square feet, according to new building permits.
We’re not sure if the site has been active recently. When we went by we didn’t see any workers, but it was after hours on a weekday. After building permits were initially approved in August, days later two real estate firms sued the developer for allegedly failing to pay a commission they were due for finding a tenant for the space, private school company MetSchools, as The Real Deal reported at the time.
The developer is Harry Einhorn — yes, that same Harry Einhorn we wrote about yesterday. He was convicted of fraud in 2002 and has been in the news for raising the rent on a senior center and day care nearby as well as plans to build a huge condo development on 4th Avenue.
Last night we received a copy of this letter from Broken Angel creator Arthur Wood to developer Alex Barrett. The rather ominous letter says the foreclosure at 4-6 Downing Street isn’t final. “I am sure Madison did not tell you that,” the letter continues. “I advise you to get your money back from Madison good luck with that!” Wood concludes: “Be further advised that if you ignore this and go ahead with your renovation, you are taking the risk of the lose [sic] of this property and whatever money you put into it.”
The return address on the letter also revealed that Wood is now residing in Beacon, N.Y. (or at least is receiving mail there). We reached out to Barrett for comment but have not yet heard anything.
Update: Barrett told us he has not received the letter. Otherwise, he had no comment.
A group of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens residents gathered yesterday at Chester Court to explain their lawsuit against a developer who wants to construct a 23-story luxury and affordable development on the lot next door. The neighborhood activists and their lawyers are requesting a court order to require the state housing agency to conduct a more thorough environmental impact study for 626 Flatbush Avenue, because developer Hudson Companies is receiving $72 million in public funds for the project. They’re also requesting an injunction to prevent the developer from demolishing the two-story commercial building on the property or moving forward with construction.
The 80/20 development is an as-of-right project that doesn’t require a variance for the height. However, community members insist that the building will fundamentally change the character of the neighborhood, which is mostly low-rise four- and six-story buildings. The basis of their challenge is that the property is right next to two nationally recognized historic landmarks, Prospect Park and Lefferts Manor, and the state Housing Financing Agency didn’t take that into consideration in their environmental review.
Prospect Park East Network hopes they can negotiate the tower’s height down to nine stories, distributing the same units over a wider footprint, according to a petition on its website.
“Our clients are concerned that this tower will lead to tenant displacement, as landlords see new opportunities in a high rent market,” said Rachel Hannaford, senior staff attorney at Legal Services NYC. “In recent years, developments like this one have changed the character of Brooklyn neighborhoods and forced the most vulnerable out of their homes and communities.”
Those who live on Chester Court are concerned that the building will not only cast a shadow over their little block but ultimately force them to move.
“When we look at a studio apartment building in this building, it’s $1,900 or $2,000 a month,” said 2 Chester Court resident Derek Edwards. “We’re solidly in the middle class — my wife works as a nurse in a hospital. And we just couldn’t afford it.”
“We are disappointed that opponents of development in the neighborhood have resorted to a lawsuit against an as-of-right project that will bring over 50 affordable units to the neighborhood, as well as new retail and community facility space,” said Hudson Companies principal David Kramer. He also told Crain’s, “Nothing says happy holidays and welcome to the neighborhood like a NIMBY lawsuit in the guise of an environmental challenge.”