Thursday, April 03, 2008

Carroll Gardens Not Exactly Loving Clarett's 340 Court Street Design

Daniel Hollander of Clarett (left) with general contractors
Architect Rob Rogers of Rogers Marvel
Vincent Joseph of Union-Sackett Block Association

Proposed 340 Union Street development

"If you stand in one spot long enough, they'll build on your head"
Celia Cacace,
Long time Red Hook/ South Brooklyn Resident
( She doesn't like the gentrified Carroll Gardens name for the neighborhood )

The Clarett Group faced a very skeptical crowd at P.S.58 last night. This is a community that has been to one too many meetings about planned developments lately.
In front of roughly 150-200 people, Mr. Daniel Hollander, Clarett Senior Managing Director, introduced the new 340 Court Street design to the neighborhood, prefacing with the fact that by right, Clarett could build much higher than what they are proposing. But to Carroll Gardeners who have been pushing for a 50 foot hight limit, Clarett's 70 foot building seems plenty tall.

Designed by architect Rob Rogers, of the firm Rogers Marvel, the development includes 4 townhouses on both Sackett and Union Streets, 3 Maisonettes towards Court and a 70 foot building on Court.
Mr. Rogers must have been a bit stunned by the neighborhood's reaction to the design.
You see, dear reader, what he proposed was a pretty massive box building that is clad in sand-blasted cement board which in the rendering looked rather dark. Raising my hand, I suggested that the structure resembles a mausoleum. And I believe I was not the only one who had that thought.

The townhouses on the side streets did not prompt the same ire from the public, but they were described as bland and in need of details such as cornices.
Though Rogers claimed to be "comfortable understanding the fabric of our 19th century neighborhood inside and out" his design showed none of the sensitivity he claims to possess.

Most of the audience questions were well phrased and pertinent:
-How long will construction take? (about 18 months)
-Where will the parking garage be? ( on Sackett Street)
-Do you intend to use union labor ? ( Yes)

Some of the questions seemed to make the Clarett group slightly uncomfortable. It took a few tries to have the architect and Mr. Hollander admit that the 70 foot Court Street building will be more like 85 feet once all the bulkheads and equipment are added to the roof.
Another source of confusion was the question if Clarett's contractor was going to underpin the neighboring brownstones and why there was digging on an adjoining lot which does not currently belong to Clarett.
Mr. Hollander's response?
" I don't like to be tarred about a specific issue."

Kudos to Clarett for even agreeing to meet with the community. Lets see if they will take the neighborhood's concerns and address them. Will they meet with us again?
If they are smart, they will. The neighborhood is not being unreasonable, just protective of its historical brownstone neighborhood.

Vincent Joseph, member of the Union-Sackett Block Association and last night's moderator states that the association is "very hopeful and has offered to work with the Clarett group to bring a revised plan for 340 Court St back to the community. We are also actively working for the over-all contextual re-zoning of Carroll Gardens."

Hopefully, Clarett will accept the offer!

Thanks to Vincent Joseph and the Union-Sackett Group Read their blog here.

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