No love loft! G’point warehouse tenants get the boot ahead of hotel conversion by fallen starchitect

The Brooklyn Paper
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Tenants of a Greenpoint warehouse are getting the boot to make room for a hotel designed by an architecture firm with a long history of pushing the limits of legality, according to plans filed with the city.

Artists and business owners who rent loft space in the three-story industrial building at 233 Norman Ave. say that word of their imminent eviction to make way for camera-toting tourists has them scrambling to find a new place, never mind the fact that the guy responsible for the hotel’s blueprints is a “bad boy” architect who a judge in 2010 said nearly committed “out-and-out fraud.” To avoid having to ply their crafts on street corners, some tenants are considering taking drastic measures — such as moving to a less-hip borough.

“It looks likely that we will have to go to Queens,” said Adam Sliwanski, a member of the quartet So Percussion, which spent seven years practicing in a studio in the top floor of the building between N. Henry and Russell streets.

Scarano Architects filed plans with the city proposing adding another story to the building for the hotel, a plan which, because the changes fall within the current zoning, does not require city approval. The big-name firm is run by fallen starchitect Robert Scarano, who a judge attempted to take down a peg three years ago by stripping him of his ability to certify his own work in a ruling that detailed a long list of sketchy-but-legal dealings, including installing easily removable building plywood stages to skirt floor area limits. Scarano’s firm made headlines more recently for failing to mention in construction paperwork that pizza giant Grimaldi’s, famed for its coal oven, was going to burn the black rock at its new location.

Building owner Joe Torres originally had the hotel plans drawn up in 2006, but put them on hold until shortly before the approval earlier this month. Tenants on the top two floors at 233 Norman Ave. say they were given a month’s notice to clear out, but ground-floor dwellers say they are facing even more uncertainty, having not heard a word about their future from Torres.

Torres has not given everyone the silent treatment, though. One tenant said that not only is he in touch with Torres, but the landlord has gone so far as to offer a place to land in another one of his buildings.

“He has helped out a little bit,” said artist Joseph Bone, who has worked out of 233 Norman Ave. for six years. “He seems to have a heart buried in there somewhere.”

The landlord also owns the Box House Hotel, a mile away from the warehouse on Norman Avenue in a similarly industrial (or, if the hotel’s web site is to be believed, “industrial chic) part of Greenpoint, where guests are shuttled to the nearest G train station in private, 1970s checker cabs.

A clerk at the Box House Hotel said she did not know Torres’s plans for 233 Norman Ave., but that he does plan to expand the Box House Hotel by adding more rooms and a restaurant.

“We are always expanding,” clerk Jennica Hernandez said.

Both Scarano’s office and Torres did not return repeated calls and emails for comment.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Updated 4:38 pm, December 10, 2013: Confusing language reworded.
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Reasonable discourse

Eliot from Brooklyn Heights says:
How the hell is Robert Scarano still in business? Wasn't his license revoked? The man is a criminal. At least 3 construction workers have been killed working on projects he fraudulently signed off on.
Sept. 18, 2013, 10:36 am
Dot from Greenpoint says:
I really don't want hotel around the corner from my peaceful block. As a lifelong resident of Greenpoint I see no need for a hotel in an out of the way place. And with this Robert Scarano's reputation he should just stay away.
Sept. 18, 2013, 12:39 pm
Heather from Greenpoint says:
Wow. I blogged this almost a week ago...
Sept. 18, 2013, 1:36 pm
Northside Ned from Greenpoint says:
I own a condo around the corner. I'd welcome the hotel.

Dot, it's not out of the way. Greenpoint has a large TV and Film production industry blocks away. The hotel would do well.
Sept. 18, 2013, 2:09 pm
Phyllis from Greenpoint says:
Northside Ned, It may not seem out of the way to you but it is. The point is the man behind the construction has a questionable reputation. Monitor st, North Henry st and Russell St are all residential homes with families that have lived here for over 40 years. They are quiet blocks and a hotel would not be in the best interest for the area.
Sept. 18, 2013, 5:59 pm
Northside Ned from Greenpoint says:
I may not seem out the way to me who owns property on the street and lived there for two years? It's absurd of course, 'out of the way' is a relative term. But I recognize commie babble when I hear it. If the hotel is TRULY 'out of the way' or 'unneeded' it will go out of business.

From what I've read, Scarano is mostly a corner cutter. I would argue that he might actually be the best/safest guy to have on the project as everybody will be watching him like a hawk.
Sept. 18, 2013, 9:55 pm
Northside Ned from Greenpoint says:
I love the 'quiet block' Mayberry portrait being painted too. Are you afraid the probably affluent and productive hotel guests are going to disturb the Polish junkies shooting up in Winthrop? Was that coffee shop that was a front for a weed business part of family life? Would the hotel guests have kept Donia open? How about the spaces that The Place and K&Z's place currently occupy? those places are CONSTANTLY empty. Think they could maybe benefit from activity in the area? I mean, my god, what if things really pick up and there is someplace nice to buy food instead of the funky Met Food and the even nastier Busy Bee?

People whose fears trump their hopes are lousy neighbors.
Sept. 18, 2013, 10:21 pm
Hal from NoBro says:
Northside Ned from Greenpoint says " I recognize commie babble when I hear it."

Oh grow up.
Sept. 19, 2013, 1:45 am
Chazilla from Greenpoint says:
Northside Ned: I'm a longtime Greenpoint resident and have been shopping in Met Food and Busy Bee for years and have found neither to be "funky" nor "nasty." Either provide examples to support your descriptions or hire a lawyer to defend your libelous statement.
Sept. 19, 2013, 8:38 am
Northside Ned from Greenpoint says:
If you think Met or Busy Bee are somehow clean or 'nice' you have some very low standards.
Sept. 19, 2013, 8:45 am
logicalguy from Brooklyn says:
gosh, Ned, can't imagine why you moved to such a horrible place two years ago.
Sept. 19, 2013, 9:41 am
Northside Ned from Greenpoint says:
I stopped living in that condo two years ago and bought a house on the other side of the park. I've lived in the neighborhood for thirteen years. It keeps getting better and better. This hotel would be good for the area.
Sept. 19, 2013, 9:43 am
Chazilla from Greenpoint says:
It's not what I think, but what the Board of Health thinks. In all my years here, I've yet to hear other than spotless results to inspections.

If it's so bad in Gpt., perhaps you should consider migrating back to the Northside.
Sept. 19, 2013, 10:10 am
pete from Park Slope says:

Scarano? Expect a lot of violations.
I negotiate an illegal cut-in on my block every
day thanks to Scarano. That means we have toworry about cars comming out of an (illegal driveway every
time we walk down the block now.
Sept. 19, 2013, 10:26 am
diehipster from Knifing Neds says:
ahahahahahaha poor Ned - he never fit in & never will.

These out of place yups like Ned just can't understand what Brooklyn is all about. (and we will never let them know either) hahahahahaha
Sept. 20, 2013, 7:46 am
Brooke from Greenpoint says:
I'd also like to point out that they did/are doing the same thing at the Sutton St. Lofts (International Cork Factory) which has been dealing with shady (and probably illegal) renovations for the past few years.

My roommate and I were one of the last long-term tenants squeezed out of the building. They've been raising the rent, pushing out tenants, and dividing up the apartments in a matter of weeks (and renting each half for the same amount or more).

In our final months (July-August) there, we were living inside a full out construction zone. Our floor alone saw 6-8 new apartment doors appear. When we opened our door to leave the apartment we would startle about 5 construction workers as if they were shocked people were still actually living there.

Now we hear they are renting these shotty-ass plywood boxes out as fully furnished, short term, luxury apartments.

Something seriously needs to be done.
Oct. 1, 2013, 10:24 am
Kia from greenpoint says:
I have a studio in 231 norman and have been dealing with excessive jackhammering 6 days a week for 6-7 hours at a time ! My whole place shakes thanks to this god forsaken hotel. When i went to the site to see if any compliance with the DEP was posted and there was NOTHING! Nobody spoke english, no foreman to be found, and none of the equipment seems to have the noise muffling required. I am on the first floor of 231 norman so literally share a wall with this nightmare. Please email if you have a similar story or have any advice. It seems like all the workers are illegal and no notice was given to the surrounding tenants who practically are in the same building.
March 21, 2014, 11:18 am

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