Extra! Extra! Newsstand says goodbye; Developer unfazed by looming shutdown

Workers began sealing off most of a popular Paris-style plaza at the F-train entrance at 2nd Place in Carroll Gardens. The newstand in the plaza has closed.
The Brooklyn Paper / Alex Alvarez

The developer of a controversial Carroll Gardens apartment building at the corner of Smith Street and Second Place shrugged off a looming city shutdown of his project.

The City Council will likely halt work on Billy Stein’s seven–story edifice when it approves a zoning amendment next Wednesday that would restrict the height and density of new construction on 15 blocks in Carroll Gardens.

Developers would be stymied under the new code because several neighborhood streets would be reclassified as “narrow” instead of being considered “wide.” Under current zoning, “wide” streets can accommodate larger buildings.

Undeterred by the possibility of an interruption, Stein continues with the plans for a brick and dun-colored terra cotta building, which some neighbors complain is jarringly tall for the surrounding area.

“I know how to build buildings,” said Stein. “I will do everything I can to build the building that is best for that site.”

Until the city steps in to stop it, construction continues on the project, which forced a popular newsstand in the Paris-style plaza adjacent to the subway to close on Tuesday until it can reopen someday as part of Stein’s building.

The kiosk’s closing shocked many, including the man who operates it for his uncle, the owner.

“Today was the first time I’d heard that we were closing. My uncle told me this morning,” said Ashok Patel. “I thought I’d have a heart attack when I heard. I didn’t mind the construction too much at first, because the workers would buy things. But this is unimaginable.”

Worse, say some locals, is the pending closing of the Second Place subway entrance itself, which will be shuttered on July 28, according to New York City Transit.

For his part, Stein said he’s “not comfortable being specific about the details of the construction schedule,” but he might not complete the foundation of the “Oliver House” before the July 23 vote, in which case he should expect a city-imposed shutdown.

“When and if [the amendment] passes, then a ‘stop-work order’ would be issued,” said Jean Weinberg, spokeswoman for Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope). DeBlasio supports the zoning change and the City Council rarely goes against a specific member’s wishes on a local zoning change.

To finish the project, Stein would have to either reduce its scope or get an exemption from the Bureau of Standards and Appeals, which he has vowed to pursue.— with Michael Lipkin

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