Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents were shocked to learn that Joshua Guttman, the notorious developer whose Greenpoint Terminal Market mysteriously burned down last May, has been pursuing new projects without being held accountable for a host of building violations.
Guttman (right) has yet to repair the market building, and he faces $4.7 million in fines for failing to maintain the piers and bulkheads of his Greenpoint waterfront property, city records show.
“People are outraged that the Greenpoint Terminal Market — which many people thought landmark-worthy — has been left in ruins,” said Evan Thies, chairman of Community Board 1’s Environment Committee. “Guttman should not be allowed to be building in Greenpoint, Williamsburg, or anywhere else.”
Guttman and his family also owe the city $59,000 in fines, and he has some $52,000 in unpaid property taxes, the New York Post reported on Monday. Despite all this, he is continuing to work on new developments.
Brooklyn residents are especially fixated on Guttman. Including the still unsolved Greenpoint fire, five other Guttman-controlled structures in the borough succumbed to suspicious blazes in the last two decades — but the developer was never implicated in court.
Some critics say the Department of Buildings should be held responsible for keeping up with the number of fines developers have, but Phyllis Arnold, the agency’s deputy commissioner for legal affairs, said the city was on top of the situation — as much as it could be, at least.
“Mr. Guttman received permits to the extent his applications were compliant,” she said, adding that the department was “looking into other options that may give us the authority to refuse permits in the future.”
Thies said that the city should track ownership and prevent developers from building if they have excessive fines.
“Guttman is unfortunately not alone in his delinquency,” said Thies. “There are many developers that get away with this sort of bad behavior.”
The developer is still moving ahead with projects at 189 Plymouth St., 53 Bridge St., and 58 Jay St. in DUMBO, plus his grander plan for a 35-story condo at the ruined Greenpoint Terminal Market site.
Guttman’s lawyer did not return calls.
©2007 Community News Group
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