An unpopular developer surprised his critics and faced down a crowd of protesters in Park Slope on Monday night, taking questions from those who are demanding that the city reject the builder’s request to exceed the density limits at the Carroll Street site.
Black House Development says it needs to build three extra townhouses in addition to the 17 luxury units already underway because of “economic hardship” caused, allegedly, by the underground remains of a power plant.
“We had no idea there was a Con Edison substation,” Ashwin Verma, a partner in the firm, told several dozen protesters who were rallying at the construction site, which is between Fourth and Fifth avenues.
Verma and his partner — both admittedly inexperienced in New York real estate — added that they want to “cooperate with the community.”
“We will put in trees; we will support a park,” said the partner, Sean Ludwick.
But the assembled residents still object to the size and design of the original plans — which were created by renowned Mexican architect Enrique Norten — and called for the Board of Standards and Appeals to deny Black House’s application for a variance to the zoning rules. That hearing was scheduled for today and a decision is expected next month.
Norten’s first design called for a large garden-area in front of the five-story apartment building. Now, the developers want to fill in that area with the additional townhouses, four stories tall.
“The major issue is the density,” said Al Tessier, an opponent who lives on Carroll Street, who was not swayed by the developer’s claims of financial woe.
“That’s not a good enough reason for us to suffer in perpetuity,” said Tessier.
Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Carroll Gardens) and Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope) have urged the Board of Standards and Appeals to turn down Black House’s proposal. In June, Community Board 6 passed a resolution asking the Board to reject the plans.
Relations were already strained between the developers and neighbors because of allegedly reckless construction. Neighbors claimed work has cracked sidewalks, flooded basements and sent nails and other debris raining onto the street
“They’re not responsible,” said Johnny Werbe, a carpenter, who lives next to the project’s rear side, which extends to Garfield Place. “This has been a disaster.”
©2009 Community News Group
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