Rendering vs. reality on Smith Street

Rendering vs. reality on Smith Street
Community Newspaper Group / Daniel Ng

Dude — where’s my courtyard?

That’s a question apartment hunters — and state watchdogs — may be posing after spying the new building at Second Place and Smith Street, whose promotional rendering shows an expansive courtyard that is twice as big as it is in real life.

The centerpiece of the project — and the rendering — is the 47-unit, 70-foot-tall rental building, designed by White Plains-based KSQ Architects, a modern structure that is depicted as jutting out boldly onto Smith Street, another architectural tromp l’oeil.

Critics immediately seized on the overstated parkland when the image was released last week — but now a state lawmaker says she’ll investigate.

“It’s misleading,” said Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Carroll Gardens), suggesting that the broker or developer could face sanctions under a state law that forbids “fraud or fraudulent practices [or] dishonest or misleading advertising.”

Misleading it is.

If the building, whose height is known, is used as the scale for the computer-generated rendering, the garden would measure 131 feet long. In fact, it is about 80 feet.

Planter size is also exaggerated: one is depicted at 35 feet long, but we measured it at 23 feet. The other two are about 15 feet long, but in the rendering, they’re about 26 feet in length.

How skewed is the rendering? Its proportions are so off that if this rendering were actually reality, the average human being would stand at a mere 4-foot-4.

Jeff Gershon, developer of the controversial $14.9-million project, did not return a call for comment.

But real-estate broker Sha Dinour, of Manhattan-based Triumph Properties defended the renderings, offering up an explanation that would make Brunelleschi — the father of linear perspective — scratch his head.

“It’s not that the size is not accurate — it’s that the angle of the camera is not what you can see with the naked eye,” Dinour said.

This rendering of 360 Court Street displays an architecturally more daring building and a much larger public area in front. The reality is quite different.

Besides, he added, the expectation is that prospective tenants will come to the site and look at the building before signing a contract.

“We’re not renting on spec based on renderings,” he said.

Prospective tenants have certainly not been deterred: Fifty percent of the building has been rented in just two weeks, according to Dinour.

The building’s reception is a far cry from its contentious past. In 2007, residents protested the structure’s size, arguing its presence was anathema to the neighborhood’s low-rise aesthetic.

In the wake of those protests, Carroll Gardens was rezoned in 2008, but a city panel ruled that enough of the building’s foundation was poured to allow work to continue — even though the zoning change now caps buildings at 55 feet.

Neighbors were appalled by the rendering.

“When they build buildings like this, they promise you the world, but they don’t give it to you,” said Richard Garbellotto. “But it does look better than it was when there was just a big lot with a bunch of cars.”

Still, tenants should get what’s depicted, added Caroline Cato.

“If this is the plan, then it should be like that,” she said,

Even other developers were bemused.

“The outdoor space is nowhere near that big,” said David Von Spreckelsen, senior vice president at Toll Brothers, which bailed on a massive residential complex along the Gowanus Canal.

And here’s the far less lush reality.
File photo by Stefano Giovannini