The developer responsible for an illegal — and out-of-scale — condo project on Kimball Street wants the city to set aside its rules and give him permission to complete his monstrous building in a move that’s brought outraged Marine Park residents to a boiling point.
“[The developer] screwed us and now he’s asking us for leniency?” asked Marine Park Civic Association president Greg Borruso. “That’s not fair.”
In 2006, the city halted work on the project between Avenues U and V after residents complained that the oversized building broke zoning rules. Since that time, the building has remained half-built and in a state of disrepair, as the developer has refused to tear down its illegal fifth and sixth floors.
On April 8, the developer filed a “hardship” waiver with the city, asking the Board of Standards and Appeals to forgive his sins and allow him to complete the project. The request was brought before Community Board 18 last week, where an architect pleading the case of Kimball Group was shouted down by angry residents.
“He built this disaster, left it vacant for seven years and we should just allow him to finish?” Borruso said. “That’s not going to happen.”
Michael Benjamin, whose father lives next door to the property, agreed.
“If you look at this building from different angles, it looks like it’s giving the community the finger,” Benjamin said. “Now the developer is asking us for compassion. It’s bizarre.”
But architect Margery Perlmutter of Bryan Cave LLP explained that it would cost the developer around $500,000 to remove the two floors — money he doesn’t have. The developer’s already sunk more than $2.8 million into the unfinished project, she claimed.
But Community Board 18 District Manager Dorothy Turano remained unmoved by Perlmutter’s sob story.
“We’re not interested if he doesn’t have the money,” Turano said, claiming that the developer is probably spending that much in legal fees as he tries to get the project moving again. “He should get what he deserves.”
The board voted unanimously against the waiver and demanded that the size of the building be reduced to fit the local zoning.
Yet the community board’s decision is only advisory — the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals will make the ultimate decision this summer.
Still, Kimball Street resident Johanna Mitchell saw the board’s vote as a victory in a never-ending war.
“We’ve been fighting with this developer since 2001,” Mitchell said. “When the stop work order was issued, I thought he was gone for good, but now he’s back again.”