Sunday, October 21, 2007

18 DOB Site Inspections Ignore Major Problem in Sheepshead Bay

We missed this in our sleepy Saturday morning reader yesterday, but the New York Times featured a development story from Sheepshead Bay that could serve as a Poster Child for everything that is wrong with the (non) regulation of development and construction in Brooklyn. It's about a six-story condo development called Homecrest that's going up in a neighborhood of two-story homes. 18 DOB inspections either failed to find or refused to note a major issue. It is so absurd that even the Times, which doesn't normally devote space to one of the biggest issues in Brooklyn, found it worthy of a long story. Here are some excerpters:
a zoning battle featuring bluntly worded threats; an obvious construction flaw unremarked upon by building inspectors on 18 site visits; and, ultimately, a red-faced city agency, confronted with inconvenient facts, reversing itself after a year and a half of insisting on the legality of a widely opposed condominium project.

For now at least, residents of the area, a section of Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn known as Homecrest, have blocked the project, a six-story condo block that they say would be far out of scale in their cozy neighborhood of two-story homes with tidy lawns.

Such fights have become common across the city during this decade-long real estate boom, as residents trying to preserve the feel of their neighborhoods face off against developers seeking to cram as many square feet and stories into a building site as possible. Occasionally, the residents win.

But while the understaffed Buildings Department, outmatched by aggressive developers, has often been shown to fumble inspection and enforcement, rarely has the department so repeatedly rebuffed complaints about a project that it now admits it should never have approved.

Homecrest is a Beat the Rezone project where developers rushed to get a foundation in place before a zoning change happened--only they didn't and 18 building inspections failed to notice. If you missed it, it's worth checking out.

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