A starchitect no more.
Architect Robert Scarano, perhaps the most prolific building designer in the borough, reacted to news of being barred by the city from filing building plans by musing that he might appeal the decision… or retire.
“I don’t really know what I’m going to do… fight or appeal or take early retirement,” said Scarano.
On March 3, Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert Limandri issued an order prohibiting Scarano from submitting any building documents, including permit applications and construction plans, with the city two days after a city Administrative Law Judge ruled that Scarano knowingly and repeatedly submitted false and misleading documents in order to have several buildings approved by the DOB.
“Licensed professionals must understand they have an obligation to follow the law so the safety and quality of life of our neighborhoods are not compromised,” said Buildings Commissioner LiMandri.
As a result, the Buildings Commissioner is recommending that the State Education Department revoke Scarano’s license, preventing him from working in New York.
Scarano. who characterizing the decision as “unjust and unduly harsh,” was far from apoplectic, celebrating his latest project, 9inety North 5th, a glossy 23-unit Williamsburg condominium (90 North 5th Street), with dozens of friends and clients a mere 24 hours after learning about the city’s announcement.
“There are hundreds of jobs that need to get finished, five to six hundred jobs, people who depend on me for work: engineers, contractors, surveyors,” said Scarano. “We’re a little engine of the economy.”
Scarano’s portfolio includes hundreds of buildings throughout Brooklyn, though three projects, a utility pole on 145 Sneidiker Street in East New York, an L-shaped building at 158 Freeman Street and 1037 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, which ultimately earned the DOB’s and Department of Investigation’s (DOI) scrutiny.
In 2008, both departments filed administrative charges against Scarano alleging that he made false statements on documents on those two cases. At 145 Sneidiker Street, Judge Joan Salzman ruled that Scarano submitted photographs and documents indicating that a lamppost had been moved though building inspectors determined that the pole was still obstructing a driveway. At 158 Freeman Street, Judge Salzman ruled that Scarano submitted amended plans to his designs that misrepresented compliance with zoning regulations in a bid to gain approval for buildings that were too large to occupy the zoning lot.
“In matters affecting public safety there is no tolerance for shady practices,” said DOI Commissioner Gill Hearn. “Professionals who intentionally file misleading documents to deceive the City betray the public trust.”
Scarano characterized the lamppost at 145 Sneidiker Street as “kind of petty” and the Freeman Street building in Greenpoint as a “complicated zoning issue that went back 10 years down the road.”
“There’s a statue of limitations for murder but there’s no statue of limitations for architecture,” said Scarano. “I’m hopeful this will get resolved.”
For now, many of his developers, including Williamsburg developer Aaron Gertz, are standing by Scarano through thick and thin.
“Bob Scarano is an extremely gifted man,” said Gertz. “I don’t know what the city is trying to do. We find him to be fair and extremely talented and a good organization to work with.”