Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Minutes from 12/21 Meeting

Reposted from

Meeting Summary, 12/21
Location: Scotto's Funeral Home
Notes taken by Gian Trotta/Ms. Morley Morley

Partial List of those in attendance:
Local Politicians:

Assemblywoman Joan Millman
Paul Nelson, her chief of staff
John L. Heyer, Special Ass't to Borough President Tom Gray, representing offices of Bill De Blasio (De Blasio unable to attend on what Tom referred to as family business in Iowa) Deanna Bitetti district representative from office of Yvette Clarke Buddy Scotto

For the Clarett Group:
Mr. David Lowin, Development Director
Mr. Daniel Hollander, Senior Managing Director

For Union-Sackett Block Ass'n:
Fred Caruso
Robbin Slade
Ros Morley
Gian Trotta

Other representatives included
Maria Pagano of Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association Oscar Jonas - deputy Chief of Staff for Martin Connor Jeff Strabone, CB6

Other concerned neighbors:
Tom Diller 285 Sackett
David Kruth, Clinton Street

Mr. Hollander began meeting by noting that Clarett Group had decided to abandon an earlier tower-based plan as "not appropriate" for the neighborhood in favor of a combination of four story brownstones and a seven-story mixed retail/condo unit building.

He and Mr. Lowin then passed around a prototype draft of the proposed building and a drawing of the elevation for all to see. Later on when asked if we could have a copy of that drawing he said no.

The architect is Rogers Marvel PLLC, who have done the State St.
townhouses and are currently working on the building at 3rd and Bond Streets.

Back on Court St., the basic structure of the latter building is an L-shape that begins on Court St. just south of Apple Bank building and turns corner onto Union. Further West on Union, the building will slant gradually backwards join the setback strip of four townhouses in such a way that it will not create a right angle.

In the main building, the sixth story will have private terraces and the seventh story will have shared and private rooftop space.

The total number of units are: 10 townhouses (four on Sackett, six on
Union) on 100x20 plots. The buildings will be set back ten feet from property line, be 50 feet deep, and have 40 foot long backyards.

The 30 condo units condos will average 1900 square feet and be mostly 3 bedrooms. Some on Union St. will be configured as maisonettes with ground-floor entrances and small outdoor spaces; the second floors in the back of these structures will stick out to create a private outdoor area.

The building will be excavated to a depth below 10 feet to create a 10 foot downlevel for parkign for 70 cars.

Mr. Hollander noted that Clarett and the current Apple Bank building owners could not agree on a price, which is why their property was not purchased and included.

On building, Mr. Hollander said Clarett plans to use "Materials consistent with neighborhood; a lot of brick, and panel system that may be cementitious but will look like stone."

Mr. Hollander adds the the first floor of the condo building on Union Street will have a number of duplex condos with high ceiling and double-height windows that will break up an large expanses of slab wall.

Buddy Scotto noted that too many architects wish to do signature pieces that stand out, and they succeed to the point it was ugly. He cited State St., however as a pretty good example of modern architecture.

Mr. Hollander notes the entrance for cars will be on Sackett St. about 100 feet back from Court St., just behind the current Apple Bank building. The garage, which will be excavated 10 feet below building, will have 70 spaces or "maybe a few more."

Ms. Morley asked if the building would have a loading dock?

Mr. Hollander noted that while the city requires a loading dock for the retail establishments planned on the first floor of the building on Court Street, Clarett has not decide if they will put in int the building or garage space, but in any event, such a facility would not be for loading as the businesses would work via curbside deliveries on Court St.

Anoher question: Are there any plans to hire a leasing group to help move the 13,000 sq foot of retail space in the less-than-booming Court St. market?

Mr. Hollander: We will hire agent, don't know if local, could be someone like Corcoran, one of three real retail specialists.

Assemblywoman Millman then noted that the neighborhood could most use a supermarket and/or a post office.

It was noted that post offices cannot afford to pay high rents currently in effect in neighborhood. The turned to what supermarkets that were moving into the area and why the currently vacant former Blockbuster building wouldn't be suitable -- it's two-level format is not useful for supermarkets (although it is for drugstores) -- but the assemblywoman noted that the neighborhood did not need any more drugstores.

Mr. Hollander noted that contractor is aware that they can only work between 7am and 6 pm Schedule as they plan it:
January - demolition
around March - excavation
about 15 months from start to finish

Robbin Slade, who lives on Sackett very close to construction site, noted that her driveway was blocked in four times by Utility trucks.

She also noted that demolition work was done at night, and her son was very afraid.
She requested that Clarett notify them in future.

Mr. Hollander said that they were not aware of this situation and that it was probably due to LICH moving out of the parking garage and clearing the building of their property.

Tom Diller: noted that when Clinton St. was ripped up to run new gas mains, there was notable damage to homes. Was Clarett aware they were dealing with a really old infrastructure?

Mr. Hollander said Mr. Lowin will be the "point person" for problems. He added that "there will be damage but we hope that it will be kept under control."

Tom Diller that antiquated sewer pipe made of clay as seen at the time the sewer main was redone on Clinton Street, could be especially vulnerable.

Mr. Hollander noted that a construction protection survey, is part of the process, typically immediately upon building, and they document existing condition of homes and take pictures. He said they will do this before the demolition.

Ms. Morley Morley described how disconcerting both lack of warning and actual technique used by backhoe operator -- dropping claw onto macadam in parking lot was. she asked why they did not use a diamond saw or jackhammers instead.

Mr. Hollaner noted that this happened because macadam was found to have concrete underneath, and that's the way they break it up. He said that they are working with contractor to make them aware of this issue.

Again Mr. Lowin will be the point of contact with the community, and there will be onsite office.

What precautions are being take for asbestos removal?

Mr. Hollander: It will be abated as per standard practice by a licensed asbestos-removal firm. He notes that the demolition will be done from within, with small bobcats taking down walls in inside building rather than the old-style wrecking ball.

Ms. Morley asked if any of the materials in the building salvageable in accordance with emerging green building standards of reuse

Mr. Hollander: Basically no. LICH group did a pretty thorough job of removing anything usable; neighbors concur, noting they even took out stained-glass windows.

Back on the asbestos front, the air will be monitored and all results filed.

Robbin cites fact her son suffers from asthma and this could be a problem.

Gian Trotta asks Mr. Hollander to explain what kind of procedure the asbestos-abatement teams will follow and what kind of oversight they are subject to.

Mr. Hollander said they will follow all established procedures applying to asbestos-removal firms licensed by New York State. Asbestos will be bagged inside of building and brought out in special sealed bags into a secured container.

Ms. Morley and Robbin raised specter of vermin during demolition -- how will that be controlled?.
Mr. Lowin: They have put out poison and are monitoring its effectiveness.

Ms. Morley and Deanna Bitetti asked when plans would be filed.

Mr. Hollander: They are currently more focused on layout than the particular details, but expect them in early spring to coincide with breaking ground in March.

Tom Gray askes if the building's exterior will have Fedders-style boxes:

Mr. Hollander: No, compressors are located within each unit.

Gian: Will there be rooftop compressors or other mechanicals that will generate noticable noise on a regular basis?

Mr. Hollander: No, this is not in plans; all mechanicals are encapsulated in house. Compressors are the noisy parts of the system and they will be in each unit. On the roof will be a "cooling tower"
which makes only a small noise.

Fred Caruso asked if the locust trees on Union Street be knocked down?

Mr. Hollander: asked where they were located (ie sidewalk or on the
property) but couldn't say yay or nay.

Tom Gray asked : Has Clarett sought LEAD certification?

Mr. Hollaner: Yes, they will seek it at its lowest level, but there is a whole long list to follow to get this (which they already have), such as
closeness to transportation
use of certain building materials

Assemblywoman Millman: Notes that 70 parking spaces for 42 units will leave a surplus.

Mr. Hollander acknowledges, and says unused spaces could be sold by Clarett.

Assemblywoman Millman notes some other Clarett project, including one not well-received in Chelsea. Tom Gray asks if Clarett has secured funding yet?

Mr. Hollander: No, they're on bridge loan in pre-construction phase but lender (Prudential) is expected to come in when all parties are ready to start building.

When building starts, how will damage be minimized? How will you document current status of properties?

Assemblywoman Millman: notes need to expand this to much larger groups of affected homeowners.

Mr. Hollander declined a request from Gian Trotta to provide a copy of the massing diagram to posts online for other residents to see, on grounds that they feel the design is not finalized enough. Noted that building by committee makes ugly buildings such as those at Columbia University built in last two decades which are less-than-desirable results of architecture by committee.

Gian detailed for Mr Hollander and Mr. Lowin how the Union-Sackett Block Association's communication means (blogs, wikis and telephone
hotline) can be used for notifications of meetings and news and dissemination of information

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Heyer said DeBlasio had "family business" in Iowa? He said this with a straight face? Does he seriously believe that this would be accepted as a credible statement? Shameless. Absolutely shameless.
DeBlasio's negligent attitude towards his constituents is disgraceful.