Clarett Group closure makes Court Street site a hole lot of nothing

Clarett Group closure makes Court Street site a hole lot of nothing
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A cavernous Carroll Gardens development site is in purgatory — and neighbors are mad as hell.

It’s already been years since The Collection at Court Street was unveiled, but the future of the seven-story condo and 11 townhouses is in doubt now that The Clarett Group has shuttered its New York office.

Residents said they continue to be dismayed by the project, whose great blue wall of fencing “is terrible, a blight, and a waste of space,” said Julie Hurwitz, speaking for many neighbors.

On Friday, someone had defaced a sign reading, “Another fine Clarett Group Development” so that it read, “Another fine disaster.”

But those familiar with the project said that a property this large will not simply be abandoned, and that Clarett’s partner, Prudential Real Estate Investors, would see the project through.

“Prudential will get another partner,” the person said. “But Clarett still has some skin in the game.”

Calls to Clarett’s offices in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. were not returned.

But Prudential spokesman John Chartier said that the company “remains committed to fulfilling its obligations related to 340 Court St. [and is] evaluating several options that will allow the project to proceed in a way that benefits the community and our investors.”

Clarett abruptly closed its Manhattan office last week, after founder Veronica Hackett left to work for commercial developer Brookfield Office Properties, according to The Real Deal.

Staff has been leaving the company for the past few months, and in January, the remaining workers were either fired or quit, according to the magazine, which said that an inability to line up financing for new projects catalyzed a gradual implosion.

Residents weren’t surprised that the project is in jeopardy.

“When they knocked down the buildings there, times were good, and we didn’t know we were in a recession,” said Debra Laks, a longtime Union Street resident.

“But that all came to a grinding halt and now we’re stuck with a huge hole in the ground.”

She said the hope is that someone comes along to develop the site “hopefully, into something decent.”

Neighbors said the project helped give momentum to a rezoning effort to prevent out-of-scale development — even though the project’s size conformed to the zoning before and after the change became law in 2009.

The project’s foundation has been poured, but little else has happened at the stalled site since project renderings — criticized for their sleek design — were revealed in 2008.

Long Island College Hospital sold the massive property in 2007 for $23.75 million, a huge sum paid just before the borough’s real-estate boom went bust.

The Clarett Group leaves Brooklyn with Forte Tower on Ashland Place in Fort Greene, and the borough’s tallest building, The Brooklyner, a 51-story skyscraper located on Lawrence Street in Downtown.

Instead, it’s just a mostly empty lot.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini