A ‘Ten’ shun! City rejects Enrique Norten’s Park Slope project

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Internationally renowned architect Enrique Norten’s Carroll Street proposal was dealt a death blow on Friday when an obscure city board rejected his argument that he needed to expand the size of the Park Slope project to make it financially viable.

In a unanimous ruling, the Board of Standard and Appeals ruled that Norten’s Ten Arquitectos did not conduct “due diligence” at the site, and that “the claimed hardship [is] self-created.”

Norton, an internationally known Mexican architect, had sought approval for an amended plan that would allow him to add three four-story townhouses to his 17-unit five-story building — an addition that he said was necessary to turn a reasonable profit. The architect cited the discovery of underground concrete bunkers during excavation of the site in 2008 as an extra expense that led to the need of additional homes.

But that argument failed to sway Community Board 6, which claimed that the would-be developer’s should have foreseen those engineering issues. The board also cited concerns about the allegedly out-of-context contemporary building between Fourth and Fifth avenues.

But the developer sought to explain that the contemporary design actually sought to accommodate the differing aesthetics of two neighborhoods.

“As the site of a former glass factory, the character of the building is very much a new typology that is a bridge between the more industrial Gowanus neighborhood to the east and the heart of Park Slope’s Brownstone Brooklyn to the West,” Norten’s firm said in a statement.

But for now, that bridge is in doubt.

“[The developers] can’t go ahead with what they proposed to do,” said Craig Hammerman, the district manager of CB6. “But they can build with what zoning would allow — decrease the bulk of the building and redistribute it. At the moment, their intentions are unclear.”

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Reader Feedback

Max from Carroll Gardens says:
How did the obscure Board of Standard and Appeals vote this down but allow the 7 story monstrosity on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens to be built despite numerous violations and less than 20% of the foundation down when the stop work order was issued by the DOB? It strikes me that the difference might have a lot to do with money and influence because on the aesthetic front I'd happily take the Enrique Norten building over the revoltingly second rate Scarano piece of crap.
March 15, 2010, 8:39 am
Charles Boxenbaum from Park Slope says:
I think your first sentence says it all: "Internationally renowned architect" and "obscure city board". Why bother to continue, we know this is not an article but an editorial from just those two phrases.

And just for the sake of informing your readers: The Board of Standards and Appeals is one of the most influential city agencies when it comes to building. It is only obscure to someone who knows very little about building in New York City.
March 15, 2010, 4:29 pm
Frank from Around... says:
Charles got it right!

Where's the reporting in this fawning advertorial? Was it too much trouble to read the ruling, even? Or to report that this was the 3rd time this developer had appealed to the Board, each time saying something more stupid? Including that he didn't know how to read a city surveyor's map that clearly indicated the "concrete bunkers" that unexpectedly caused all the expense, or that he didn't do any soil sampling and was surprised to find it was looser than he expected? Clearly reporting is still not to be found in this rag.
March 15, 2010, 6:43 pm
Relax from Park Slope says:
Um, I'm not sure how the Brooklyn Paper is deserving of the complaints above. Seems to me that this was a pretty straight reporting job, and Stephen Brown has his facts straight. Yes, the BSA is influential, but it is nearly opaque, so calling it "obscure" isn't off-base. And Norten is surely the most famous contemporary architect to design a new Park Slope building.

I'm glad the BSA rejected the variance -- the facts were in favor of a rejection. But getting all hysterical about the way this article was written is, well, hysterical.
March 15, 2010, 9:20 pm
Tina from Park Slope says:
I actually like Enrique Norton's building, but it would have been a strange mix on Carroll Street
March 16, 2010, 1:11 am
mnm from fort greene says:
the Board of Standard and Appeals rejected an EXPANSION, not the project itself, which is already built...
March 16, 2010, 3:42 pm

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