Monday, December 20, 2010

With Scaffolding Finally Down, 360 Smith Street Now Fully Revealed

KSQ Architect' design for 360 Smith Street/ 132 Second Street

As seen from Second Place

As seen from Smith Street at First Place

In the last few months, the controversial Carroll Gardens development at 360 Smith Street/132 Second Place, once known as 'Oliver House', has slowly risen to an imposing 70 feet. Now, the scaffolding has finally come down, revealing a rather uninspired building that is not only out of scale, but out of context with the rest of the brownstone neighborhood.

The building was designed by Armand Quadrini of KSQ Architects. Developer Bill Stein hired Quadrini after firing controversial architect Robert Scarano whose proposed asymmetrical, modern design for the lot at the intersection of Smith and Second Place met with loud opposition by the community.
Construction started in 2008, but came to an abrupt halt in July of that year, when developer Bill Stein's "Oliver House" was slapped with a Stop Work Order immediately after the City Council passed the Carroll Gardens Wide Street Zoning Text Amendment, which limits permitted building density in Carroll Gardens.
Developer Stein promptly took his case in front of the Board of Standards and Appeals, that oh-so-contentious board that grants developers exemptions in cases such as this.
In order to be able to continue, Mr. Stein had to prove that a significant portion of the project's foundation had been completed before the Stop Work Order went into effect. Though inspectors from the NYC Department of Buildings determined that only 20% of the foundation had been completed, the BSA gave Stein what he wanted at a hearing in November 2008. The Stop Work Order was lifted. He was now free to proceed. By September 2009, construction resumed.

How unfortunate for historic Carroll Gardens. The one block stretch on Smith Street between First and Second Places, with the bright orange stuccoed Hannah Senesh School building on one corner and 'Oliver House' on the other, is now rather fuggly.

Time to landmark, folks!


South Court Streeter said...

If I had to choose this or an empty parking lot, this wins. Its not so out of context with the neighborhood. I mean, right across the street is a gross auto shop with what looks like mob vehicles parked outside. Lets face it, no one is going to build brownstones anymore - so lets all get over it. Okay?

bklynsam said...

Agree with comment #1. Across the street is a disaster - why not posts about that eyesore. Also, what is worng with Hannah Senesh? i find it to be a pretty attractive building. Sorry, but we can not preserve the neighborhood in amber.

Anonymous said...

I choose the empty parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Same anon here again. That sounded too flip, so let me clarify.

First, what was there before wasn't a parking lot -- no cars parked there. It was a plaza.

Second, it wasn't empty, nor was it unused. It was public space. People waited there and had their coffee while watching for the train. It allowed an open view down beautiful Second Place. There were even some trees, although granted they could have been better maintained.

I don't agree that a large, solid, private building is automatically an improvement over an open public space. Room to breathe is an important, integral and valued aspect of our neighborhood. It's fast disappearing.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Obviously better then the empty lot. Hopefully some nice retail will fill out the ground floor. Further, this building is far better then most new construction.

Anonymous said...

No, let's not get over it. This is my neighborhood, where I want to raise my family, and I am investing a lot of money into buying and maintaing my property here. So I think it's up to me and other similarly minded people who live here to do what we can to protect this neighborhood from powerful developers empowered by the city, who will put profit before community and quality of life.

This neighborhood is ours to lose. All of the issues raised this year by Oliver House construction, and the attempts at expansion by Hanah Shenesh, make the argument for landmarking.

And while you are so quick to lament the loss of the parking lot on the 360 site, let's not forget that we, as a community, once had a plaza there, and the developer got to take it, and is selling the equity and pocketing the profit.

Anonymous said...

Any idea when the subway entrance will open?

Vintagejames said...

The auto shop is in context. It is part of the neighborhood and is a needed service to many. 360 Smith is just fugly. Totally out of context.

South Court Streeter said...

what! Clearly you needed to open your eyes. Behind that little plaza with the newspaper man and tree was a chain link fence and a dirt lot filled with cars. How soon you forget. You'll soon forget about the little plaza when, you know they take down the boards and there's a new one. jeez. Over reactors....

Anonymous said...

Why do people keep making the argument that the parking lot and plaza and car repair looked crappy so everyone should be happy with this building?

It's such a short sighted argument. There are so many more factors in play that how much nicer it looks.

Where will the kids that live here go to school? Where will tenants park their cars? How many more people on the F train in the morning? How much more raw sewage to float on top of the Gowanus?

The city only cares about increasing revenue from property taxes, but we need to be very aware that Carrol Gardens does not have the infrastructure to support this kind of development.

If one developer gets an exception to build onto a courtyard, the FAR will allow huge buildings on the Place blocks.

I'll stop overreacting when we get landmarking.

Anonymous said...

As far as new buildings go I don't find it to be ugly. It's actually not a bad design. Does it fit on this block? No, and mainly because it's too big. if they made it a couple of floors shorter it wouldn't be so bad and hulking.

What's done is done. At this point all we can hope for is some retail on the ground floor and not some ugly steel garage door.

Anonymous said...

Walking to the subway this morning, the building was already starting to fit in better. It doesn't totally disrupt the facade line, though the white wall facing west isn't awesome.

A peek through the construction fence shows the subway plaza will return. (After all, Carroll Gardens front yards don't actually belong to the building owners.) So all the belly achers can rejoice, a "public plaza" without a crappy old parking lot next to it.

The MTA destroyed this section of CG in the 1930s when they built the F. Nice to see 360 Smith and Hannah Sanesh making this stretch feel like a neighborhood again.

Anonymous said...

It hurts my heart to look at this abomination. When I think of the many hours I've spent daydreaming in sunlight whilst looking up at the tracks to see the train coming....
I'm so saddened for all the commuters. That small plaza with it's few shrubby trees and the news stand was a haven, a platform to rest on before plunging into the subway system and all that that entailed. One more small slice of civilization that has been eaten up by a butt-ugly troglodyte of a building which has nothing at all to recommend it design wise, and which absolutely is an eyesore. How does this style of building (Clearly no architect could have been involved) even fit into our neighborhood? NB

Anonymous said...

The NIMBYs in Brooklyn are ridiculous. I live on Second Place, and as someone who walks past this building every day, this is a major upgrade compared to the empty lot it once was. And the comments about more people riding the F train and more sewage in the Gowanus-- give me a break. What's another 150 people in a neighborhood of thousands? NIMBY logic is so out of whack.

MDMG said...

I live on 2nd place and walk by this lot everyday...I can't compare it to whatever was there before since all the time I have been living here it has been under construction../
I have to say that I first hated this building, very very ugly and bulky and out of context...I also don't like the garage on Smith, come on, someone take care of that place..!!
Now, the building is little by little growing on me and I am eager to see when it is done and if that new "plaza" and access to the train brings something nice to that corner...Let's hope it does
BUT, something needs to be done with that side of Smith, it looks like crap...I don't care how long the garage has been there, OLDER doesn't make it better....

Katia said...

Actually, that garage was once a very cute movie theatre. Its just been neglected for a very, very long time.

Anonymous said...

That is so interesting! When was it a movie theater? Would love to know more.