‘Finger’ stretching upwards

‘Finger’ stretching upwards
Richard Femia

A notorious 16-story apartment project on North Eighth Street that has been holding steady at 10 stories for seven months was cleared for takeoff this week.

The city’s Board of Standards and Appeals on Monday granted developer Mendel Brach his long-sought extension to finish the Robert Scarano-designed project at 144 N. Eighth St.

The vote on the so-called “finger building,” which earned its nickname because some residents think the finished building will be so tall that it will resemble an upraised middle finger waving at the neighborhood, came despite a rejection of the variance by Community Board 1.

“The community is extremely disappointed in the board’s decision,” said Evan Thies, a member of the CB1 land-use committee. “If there was ever a clear example of a developer that didn’t deserve a second chance on a project, this is it.

“It’s representative of everything that is wrong with development in North Brooklyn,” added Thies, who, coincidently, kicked off his run for the City Council in 2009 with a party on Tuesday night.

The long saga of the “finger building” began in 2005, when Brach successfully completed the foundation of the building before the city rezoned much of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Completing the foundation exempted Brach from the new zoning, which limited the height of new buildings to 50 feet.

But Brach had to complete the project, which is located between Berry Street and Bedford Avenue, in two years.

That time ran out this May, so construction was halted by the city. Brach’s path to Monday’s BSA extension first took him to CB1, which rejected his request this fall.

But community board votes are only advisory.

Activists vowed that the fight is “not over,” said Phil DePaolo, a “finger building” opponent.

He and others claim that Brach illegally acquired air rights to build up to 16 stories.