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Why are people living in the Novo condos?

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Whatever happened to the deal between the city and developer Shaya Boymelgreen that barred tenants from moving into the Novo condos on Fourth Avenue until after — after — Boymelgreen completed his renovations to the cement playing area at J.J. Byrne Park?

Turns out, there never was such a deal — no matter how many community activists claim they heard there had been one.

“There’s no agreement that we’re aware of about people moving in only after the work was done,” Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson told The Brooklyn Paper this week.

Back in 2005, the Parks Department granted Boymelgreen permission to use the park’s southern end as a staging area for construction of his Novo tower in exchange for a $1.6-million renovation of the dour cement play lot.

Many believe that the agreement required the work to be completed before the Department of Buildings would allow Boymelgreen’s tenants to move into the building at 343 Fourth Ave., at Fourth Street.

They believed wrong.

“The Buildings Department was not part of any agreement between the Parks Department and the developer,” said agency spokeswoman Carly Sullivan. “A temporary Certificate of Occupancy was issued after the Department determined that [Boymelgreen’s application for a C of O] complied with all regulations.”

As of this week, nearly three-fourths of the building’s 113 units are occupied. Yet the renovation is not finished — in fact, the city has gone ahead and started tearing up the northern part of the park as part of its own renovation.

“We’re very upset,” said longtime handball player and former high school champ Mike Martinez. “A couple of times, the city told us that in no way will the courts be torn down until the other courts were built up. And, then, all of the sudden, this [situation] happened.”

Boymelgreen missed his first deadline for reconstruction in 2006 and another in August, 2008. Yet the city has granted the building two temporary certificates of occupancy since June. As a result, at least 84 units have closed since June, a Novo sales agent confirmed this week.

Naturally, local officials and activists are howling.

“The Parks Department assured us that they had sufficient leverage to ensure that Boymelgreen would finish the job,” Hammerman said. “There was a clear expectation that people would not be allowed to move into the building until the work was complete on the portion of the park that they were responsible for.”

To hold Boymelgreen somewhat responsible for his delays, the city demanded in June that the developer put up $350,000 as a security deposit. Abramson, the Parks spokesman, said the developer will get the money back if renovations — which include new basketball courts, a dog run, a garden, and a skate park — are completed quickly and up to city standards.

In other words, he’ll get the money back.

“We’re pleased that great progress has been made in the work over the last six weeks,” said Abramson.

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Reader Feedback

Scoob from Park Slope says:
Take heart. Even if the Buildings Department did have an agreement to bar people from moving in...

...they would never have enforced it.

Also, the reporter of the story should be advised: the Buildings Department sometimes lies about its past agreements.

Who knows what they actually agreed to?
Oct. 8, 2008, 9:28 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
This developer stole sunlight and air from the children of Park Slope, and doesn't even have the decency to put the park back before his profits are made. Pathetic.

Facilitated by the city's zoning change, tax abatements, and false promises, the middle class in the city has once again been deceived and used. Shame on all of us for not protecting our children, and shame on them for the greed that snuffed out again the good name of Brooklyn and the middle class.

Oh, and finally, lets me personally thank the developer for the great looking building. Really, we appreciate the unique stamp on a beautiful neighborhood. Who would have known a low cost Lego brick luxury condo unit could add, or might I dare say, take, so much.
Oct. 9, 2008, 11:47 pm
Robert from Park Slope says:
Enough already. Novo is built, people are living there, and the park is nearly finished. Move on with your lives.

But just out of curiosity, how could the developer have finished the park BEFORE he finished the building? A staging area means materials were staged there. The park is looking better and better everyday - and Fourth Avenue is better for having the Novo, the Crest, the Argyle, etc. It brings revenue to local businesses, and occupies what was for many years a vacant lot. When the developeres start knocking down 35 PPW and some of the Montgomery Place limestones, then there's cause for concern.
Oct. 27, 2008, 1:19 pm

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