Developer wanted to build three additional townhouses after discovering concrete bunkers during construction of as-of-right development. 25 Garfield Sparta LLC applied to BSA for a variance to build three townhouses on a through-block lot at 580 Carroll Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn. In 2007, the developer obtained permits to build an Enrique Norten-designed five-story condominium at the site that would front Garfield Place, provide open space along Carroll Street, and include nine underground parking spaces.
During construction, Garfield Sparta discovered below-grade concrete bunkers on the Carroll Street-side of the lot that were related to the site’s former use as a Brooklyn Edison substation. In order to compensate for the costs associated with removing the bunkers, the developer proposed building three four-story townhouses on the portion of the lot set aside for open space. Garfield Sparta needed a variance because the proposal exceeded the maximum floor area, maximum lot coverage, and violated minimum rear-yard depth.
At BSA, Garfield Sparta stated that it needed to remove the bunkers in order to follow through with its original design and provide the below-grade parking spaces. It claimed that the presence of the bunkers increased the demolition, underpinning, and foundation costs by $2,896,000.
Elected officials, including City Council Member Brad Lander, Brooklyn Community Board 6, and residents all opposed the proposal. Residents argued that the project’s lack of profitability was due to mismanagement and a failure to perform due diligence on the site before construction. Citing similar concerns, CB 6 also noted that the proposal was out of context with the surrounding neighborhood.
BSA denied the variance, finding that any hardship resulting from the discovery of the bunkers was self-created. BSA noted that Garfield Sparta’s initial boring samples indicated the presence of concrete near Carroll Street, and that Sanborn maps referenced excavation at the site prior to the decommissioning of the substation. BSA found that proper due diligence would have uncovered the presence of the concrete bunkers and enabled the developer to revise its plans to mitigate costs. Rejecting the developer’s claim that the bunkers increased development costs by almost $2.9 million, BSA noted that removing the bunkers only cost $253,940 and that the additional expenses were associated with underpinning and foundation conditions common in older brownstone neighborhoods.
BSA: 580 Carroll Street, Brooklyn. (161-09-BZ) (March 9, 2010) (Rizzo Group, for 25 Garfield Sparta LLC). CITYADMIN