Nobody knows what will end up in this gaping hole on Court, between Sackett and Union streets
Photo by Joshua Kristal
Article by Jed Dougherty
UPDATE, Thursday, March 24: Last night, at the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association meeting at PS 58, Vincent Joseph of the Union-Sackett Block Association talked about the stalled development at 340 Court, between Union and Sackett streets in Carroll Gardens–the massive hole surrounded by a blue fence that has sat vacant for the last three years.
Neighbors are rattled because many people worked hard to get the former developer, The Clarett Group, to agree to a seven story height limit on the planned condo building for the site. A zoning law with a height limit was passed after Clarett started its development project, slated to include townhouses along Union St. in a luxury project that concerned some about the changing character of the neighborhood. It’s now not clear whether the new developer will build the same thing that Clarett was planning, or will come up with a new development plan. A new plan would have to comply with the zoning regulation.
Back in 2007/08, Clarett tore down the historic Longshoremen’s Union building named after Anthony (Tough Tony) Anastasio to make room for the condo building. The early morning drilling shook the old homes on Union and Sackett near the site. Then the worked stopped.
It’s unclear how long the site will sit vacant.
“It’s my feeling it will move faster now,” Joseph said. But City Councilman Brad Lander, who attended the meeting, said, “I’m not so optimistic this will move quickly.”
Lander said that he’s proposing to charge a fee to developers when projects stall, like several along Court and Smith streets have. The fee would encourage developers to move things along and offset the cost to the city for building inspectors to continually visit sites.
“Right now it’s pretty easy to keep your permits alive and keep up sidewalk sheds,” Lander said. “Why should we lose our sidewalks for all this time? There should be a fee.”
Lander told me about his website, www.stalleddevelopment.com, that provides information on stalled development projects in his district, which spans Red Hook, Carroll Gardens and the surrounding area. As it says on his site, “Many of these developments are causing real hazards for their neighbors, with fences falling down on sidewalks, loose construction debris that can become deadly in high winds, and unsecured sites that are dangerous for children and an invitation to squatting.”
On that note, our writer Jed Dougherty provided this roundup of unsightly stalled construction projects in the Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill areas earlier this week:
232-240 Smith Street
The decrepit, drunken and angled fencing surrounding this lot on the corner of Smith Street and Douglass Street is in violation of DOB code and must be repaired or torn down, according to the Department of Buildings. No permits are placed on the fencing and Son Claire Realty LLC., the apparent owner, has currently incurred over $15,000 in unpaid fines. A stop work order was levied in 2009 because the work permit expired in December 2007. Since then the still-vacant lot has incurred several violations, mostly for the fencing, which is illegally built over the sidewalk. The most recent violation was posted on Jan. 12, but on March 13, the owner had not picked it up from the site or made any repairs to the fence. An effort to contact the owner was not successful, as it appears the firm does not have an office or office phone.
408-412 Court Street
Vinzee’s Magic Fountain, a new Carrol Gardens burger joint located on 412 Court Street, is nearing its grand opening after the city dismissed an earlier stop work order on March 10. The burger joint’s website and twitter feed claim that the restaurant could open within the month. Also, they’re hiring. Check them out at vinzees.com or @vinzees on twitter.
337 Degraw Street
A new duplex at the empty lot on the corner of Smith Street and Degraw Street broke ground in January. The project, which is designed by Boro Architects, appears from Department of Buildings’ records to be purely residential.
250 Smith Street
The owner of this boarded up space on Smith Street in between Douglass and Degraw filed a permit application in 2010 to convert the first floor of the residential complex to a restaurant and bakery, with an area for eating and drinking in its cellar. The work permit expires in April, at which time the owner must be finished with his renovations or renew the permit.