Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Homeless Shelter For Scarano-Designed Building On West 9th Street In Carroll Gardens?

2012-10-04 Aguila 165 West 9th Street copy
Late last week, Craig Hammerman, Community Board 6's district manager distributed the letter above that was sent to his office from Housing Solutions USA/Aguila Inc., a Bronx-based non-profit organization that provides services  to homeless families in the Bronx as well as in Manhattan.
The organization intends to submit a proposal to the Department of Homeless Services to house 170 single adults at 165 West 9th Street  right at the corner of Court Street near Hamilton Avenue.

The 7-story building in question was built in 2002, but its 10 residential units and commercial space have remained mostly empty to this day. (According to a resident of West 9th Street, some of the upper apartments have been occupied off and on for the past few years.)

Why the units at 165 West 9th Street have never been rented or sold at market value may have to do with some problems with the construction. The project appears to have been self certified by Robert Scarano** of Scarano & Associtaes Architects. Long the darling of Brooklyn developers for his creative floor-area calculations and use of illegal mezzanines to maximize building height, floor area, and lot coverage, Scarano eventually lost his license after he went too far. In permits filed in 2001 for this particular building, there is mention of mezzanines.   It is interesting to note that a final Certificate of Occupancy has only been issued in 2010.
Recently, construction work has been performed on the interior.

Daniel Kreitzman, owner of Fat Cat Wines at 538 Court Street, just around the corner from this  building,  expressed his concern to Community Board 6 in an email.  He writes:  "We were all expecting a free market rental building to open in that space to really increase business and revitalize the neighborhood. Instead this is the worst thing that could possibly happen to businesses with an already fragile economy. There have been so many positive changes in the neighborhood because hard working people have been willing to put there life savings and heart and soul into opening businesses here at the bottom of Court Street."

Acording to a response from Craig Hammerman: "We are in the process of setting up a public Informational Meeting for the Community Board and community to learn more about this proposal firsthand, and will be sending out a followup announcement as soon as the meeting details are confirmed."

**Carroll Gardeners may better remember Scarano for the 'tumor building at 333 Carroll Street and the mezzanines at the Satori Building on Bond Street.


Anonymous said...

170??? How do they even come up with that number? That building is not that big. Is it really only 10 units? How would this even be possible? Also, is there any kind of leverage with the International School being so nearby? And what about resources from the local precinct, who already have to work the Red Hook Houses. Seems like a strain on a part of the neighborhood that has finally come to life.

Anonymous said...

ohhh noooooo

Anonymous said...

That letter doesn't say that they plan to shelter 170 people there. It says that they plan to offer services to 170 people there, and that it will offer transitional housing. It's not clear just from reading the letter whether they plan to offer drop-in shelter for the night.

If they're offering transitional housing (short-medium term housing) in order to get homeless people back on their feet with support services, and into long-term housing situations, then that's a great thing, and our community should support it. If it's a 170 person drop-in shelter, then that would have a pretty adverse impact on the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Homeless shelter with a liquor store around the corner. Sounds like a party.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 1:37
As a matter of fact, it does. The letter is quite clear - "...submitting a proposal to the Department of Homeless Services to provide social services to 170 single adults that will be living at 165 West 9th Street...."

They will offer transitional housing to 170 in a space designed with 10 apartments.

Sounds like this plan is doa, to me.

Anonymous said...

It says "170 adults that will be living at..." I'm not up on my bureaucracy jargon but that sounds like a lot. A smaller transitional facility I think would be fine. Lord knows time are tough. But a drop-in shelter? Hope the Treats Truck guys aren't locked in to a long-term lease if that's the case.

Anonymous said...

This stretch of Court is getting on its feet after years of neglect. Some nice businesses and new apartment are bringing it back to life despite some shadiness from the prostitution on Hamilton and the meth clinic on Court (see the zombies walkind around in the early morning).

It wouldn't take much for this part of our neighborhood to fall. I can't imagine how the nearby businesses and families must feel. The International school is just a block away. This is a family neighborhood!

The area has done more than it's share, why add problems on top of problems? What is the benefit for homeless to be relocated next to 2 Methadone Clinics, the projects and prostitution? There is no job for them in the neighborhood! Are they just here to stare at all the money on display in Carroll Gardens?

Kevin said...

I spoke with Brad Lander's office today and they have no response to this except we should wait for the public hearing and pose our concerns to the Department of Housing Services and the firm responsible for this project, Housing Solutions USA.

There is something not right here. Apparently, there is a law which allows housing organizations for homeless men unrestricted access to communities, regardless of the residential profile of families in the vicinity.

I am informed Housing Solutions USA has 30 days to move in and will only be required to provide a community forum to answer questions and concerns.

I have a concern. Who will be responsible for providing additional security to the area around the shelter? Will there be more police posted in the area? I have three young children and the proposal to simply integrate a men's homeless shelter without accounting for the impact on the commmunity is reckless.

Anonymous said...

170 would literally make it the densest housing unit in the whole neighborhood, save the projects across the BQE.

Anonymous said...

Brad Lander is a mealy mouthed self serving sad excuse for a human being.

Trumbull Bully said...

Bully Here...

Katia, I'm a little disappointed you would post a comment like that one made about Mr. Lander at 7:58 PM...

Perhaps Bully is being naive, but shouldn't we hear this group out before we light the torches or hightail it out of CG? The letter is obviously vague, shouldn't we hear what is planned, exactly? What kind of folks will be receiving services there? I doubt the commenters on this board would say such things to their faces. Maybe someone who lives around one of these facilities can give their point of view.

We live in a great community, but should we be sheltered from the realities in which some people live (and not too far away, mind you)? Not everything can be swept under the BQE.

Anonymous said...

This is obviously a hot topic. What do you think is the likelihood of this project getting the green light?

Anonymous said...

First the DOB aproves this completely out of place building before they realize it is illegal relative to zoning code.
Then (condo) residential use is declared unlawful and leaves the community with a homeless shelter as the only option.

The city needs to get their act together and fix this mess!

Anonymous said...

Wow...Scarano...the gift that keeps on giving.
This is insane. Lower Court Street is really coming into it's own with all the great new businesses breathing life into a formerly slow and depressing area...and now this? it's like a kick in the stugots.

Anonymous said...

Richard Hess is connected to the sponsor of this project. He is an ex Bloomberg administration official who tried to do something similar in Manhattan. His outfit channels city money.

The local pols are trying to sneak this one through.

Anonymous said...

Are we a community that demands 30% affordable housing for any new development on contaminated Canal property and then blocks 100% affordable housing!!?


Anonymous said...

This is horrible and I hope people come out in record numbers to the faux town hall meeting that C6 will be holding. I'm sure we don't have much of a say anyway, but someone should start a petition against this travesty. I know everyone who lives in the surrounding area and doesn't want their beautiful neighborhood ruined would sign.

Anonymous said...

All male shelter including sex offenders ???

Michael Reiss said...

You're acting like a bunch of scrooges. None of you seem to know anything about what it's really like to be screwed and have no support network, cut loose and homeless. But here's an example, the documentary "Dark Days" (released by Adam Yauch's Oscilloscope Films a few years ago):


Arnold said...

This screams of subverted funds,linked to pass the buck city practices, do a deal for a friend (Richard Hess) and the local residents have to pay the price. Why not convert this Scarano monstrosity to help 10 families in need of a new start. We have great schools here. Transition housing for 170 men, with the drug and prostitution problem we have in our neighborhood is going to kill this community and take it back 15 years...........

Anonymous said...

Robert Hess not Richard Hess is associated with this.

All 501c3 orgs are required to file a Form 990 to the IRS detailing their activities including salaries paid to officers. See http://nccs.urban.org/. It is worth checking out all the orgs the people associated with this fiasco.

Aguila is a Bronx based outfit that has merged with Housing Solutions, per Hess's letter. As Housing Solutions was created in 2012 little information is available beyond their tax payer ID number. For what it is worth the public disclosure for Aguila's Executive Director, Peter Rivera, is that he paid himself a salary of $107,000 in 2011.

I would encourage folks to do background checks on the people associated with Housing Solutions.

The people associated with Housing Solutions and Aguila might well be free of corrupt practices. However, the fact of the secrecy-shrouded and shady way this matter has been handled (Brad Lander, hope you are reading this), should make us concerned. Without a full engagement with the community, corruption related questions should continue to arise.

Per their website, the following individuals are associated with Housing Solutions: Robert V. Hess, Cara Pace, Alex Brussovansky, Adam Huron, Jennifer Lim, Carl F. Schwartz, Esq., Charles Wertman, Esq., Daniel G. Murphy.

It is reasonable to research these individuals as much as we can.

Anonymous said...

This is a complete nightmare. I live incredibly close to this building, and I'm dreading this development. Is there any sign that we can get this shut down? Or is this meeting just going to be a sounding board where I complain and everyone tells me it's happening anyway? This is a step in the wrong direction for this neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if this petition is legit? I suggest people review this for talking points during the meeting next week.


Anonymous said...

Found this petition online...


Anonymous said...

The neighborhood has a drug and prostitution problem already?
Why am I always the last to know??

C.G. since before St. Agnes said...

I've written this before & I'll write it again -

1) If the building can't pass inspection, how do we place people in there?

2) If the place has only 10 units, HOW do they plan to fit 170 grown men?

3) Why not a Homeless FAMILY building: displaced kids and thier parents?

4) With the many people POST Sandy - why not a Sandy Victim Homestead; with our displaced neighbors from Red Hook?