The monster next door: Neighbors worry about huge, steel ‘single-family home’ under construction on Ave. T

The monster next door: Neighbors worry about huge, steel ‘single-family home’ under construction on Ave. T
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The city must crack down on an alleged zone-busting developer who has confused neighbors guessing he is constructing a giant commercial building on Avenue T that has no place in a quiet, residential neighborhood.

“The rumors are flying around the neighborhood,” said Hendrickson Street resident Joe Landy. “He’s got away with building whatever he wants regardless of what the existing zoning laws are. If you drive past it, it looks nothing like anything else in the neighborhood.”

The Department of Buildings issued owner David Halberstam, who did not respond to a request for comment, permits to erect a two-story, one-family home between Hendrickson Street and Flatbush Avenue in 2016. But the city halted work at the site twice since January, once because workers weren’t following proper safety procedures, and a second time because inspectors caught them building a garage that had not been approved.

Owners then got plans for the garage approved by the city, but didn’t follow those plans when work on the garage continued, the city claims. So it stopped work on the garage back in August. Meanwhile, work on the rest of the house continues.

Another neighbor claims the new construction — which is mere inches from her property line — has caused damage to the roof of her Hendrickson Street home, and prevents her from getting inside her house. Lydia Migliaccio, who said she has filed more than 30 complaints against the developer, has feared from the get-go that the former single-family home would be turned into some type of commercial or religious building, citing the developers plans to put an elevator inside. Now that workers are putting up a large steel structure, she’s worried her worst fears are coming true.

“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” she said. “Why do you need an elevator to go on the roof? I wish I could look into their heads and see the truth.”

The land is zoned residential with buildings limited to 35 feet, and the developer would need a waiver from the city to build a commercial building there, according to the city. The Department of Building last sent an inspector there on Sept. 13, and intends to send another soon, a spokesman said.

Halberstram did not respond to a request for comment.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Haunting house: This massive building going up on Avenue T is supposed to be a single-family home, but neighbors fear the owner really plans to turn it into something else.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini