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In the doghouse: Developer says huge Avenue T house is for a ‘family with one dog,’ gives us peek inside

The block: The developer of the large and controversial property on Avenue T near Hendrickson Street says the structure, though different from some other houses in the area, will be a gorgeous single-family home when completed.
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The huge and controversial Marine Park structure that neighbors worry is going to be a synagogue, yeshiva, or multifamily building is actually just an unconventional single-family home, insists the developer — and for a very small family at that.

“It’s for a family with one dog and no kids,” said David Halberstam of DH Construction, who gave this paper an exclusive look inside the unfinished building.

The interior of the house on Avenue T between Hendrickson Street and Flatbush Avenue doesn’t appear too close to being finished — it’s mostly steel beams, concrete, and open space at this point. Halberstam would not allow photography inside, but floor plans shown to this paper show a kitchen, foyer, and a large living room on the ground floor, and a master bedroom, another bedroom and a large dressing room upstairs, plus a basement. The reason the two-story home reached the neighborhood’s 35-foot upper limit for height is merely the buyer’s preference for high ceilings, Halberstam said.

“It’s a private home. There’s a lot of nonsense that we’re building some synagogue,” said Halberstam, characterizing some of the social media chatter about the property as “anti-Semitic.”

Regardless of what the floor plan says, some Marine Parkers still contend that the massive building’s outward appearance — a boxy, concrete and steel structure that fills nearly the entire lot, suggest that it’s not meant to be a single-family home, and even so, it doesn’t fit with the rest of the neighborhood, which is more suburban than other parts of Brooklyn.

“Steel doesn’t belong. People in Marine Park are not happy. It’s obviously not a one-family house,” said Marine Park resident Barbara Wagner. “Residents are up in arms and I don’t blame them.”

Halberstam said he’s building with steel and concrete at the request of the eventual buyer — who he said is a Marine Park native — because he wants the structure to have staying power.

“He put a lot of money into the house,” Halberstam said. “He wants it to last 100 years.”

One of the building’s two immediate neighbors is a wood house, while the other is brick, and Halberstam acknowledges the new house will inevitably stand out from other homes in the neighborhood.

“It’s gonna be different,” he said. “But in a nice way.”

The project has drawn scrutiny and criticism from neighbors since work began more than a year ago. Last January, the Department of Buildings issued a full stop-work order on construction because workers were building without appropriate guardrails, netting, or a construction fence — and because they failed to show the inspectors their approved building plans.

Then in October, the Department of Buildings again halted work because inspectors found that the garage “greatly exceed the specs in the approved plans,” according to a department spokeswoman. But in December, inspectors returned to the property to find that the violating conditions had been corrected, and rescinded the stop-work-order, the spokeswoman said.

One next-door neighbor, who said she has filed two complaints with the city against Halberstam, claims the new construction work has damaged the roof of her home. And she said she’s still unconvinced that the structure will be a single-family home, citing the developers changing plans and intention to install an elevator.

“At first there was a sketch of a small home, which I thought was quite ugly. Now I can’t even make out what it is. It’s huge — it looks like a fortress,” said Lydia Migliaccio. “Why do you need an elevator to go on the roof?”

Halberstam said he has offered neighbors the chance to tour the property and see the floor plans, but Migliaccio said she was not approached with such an offer. She did confirm that Halberstam offered to fix damage done to her Hendrickson Street home.

The developer wants to reassure locals that when finished, the house will ultimately be an asset to the neighborhood.

“It’s only going to increase the value,” said Halberstam. “It’ll be beautiful.”

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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