Community Meeting about 23 Caton Place

My notes from our recent meeting. Please email corrections, responses, recommendatons for further action to stablebrooklyn@yahoogroups.com. (Join the listserv if you aren’t already a member!)
–June

As most of us know, 23 Caton Place is a 7-story, 107-unit unfinished skeleton of a condo building. On Thursday, February 5, 2009, a large group of neighbors met to discuss their concerns about the site and the possibility of finding a responsible developer to complete the project. The meeting was sponsored by Assemblymember Jim Brennan, Councilmember Bill deBlasio, Community Board 7 (CB7), and the Pratt Center for Community Development. Representatives from the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Department of Transportation (DOT), and Department of Sanitation (DSNY) also participated, along with the court-appointed Receiver for Corus Bank.

Current status of site:
All permits from DOT expired by April 2008. DOB stop-work orders are in place. When the contractor left the job, he informed the Department of Buildings (DOB). DOT has a stop-work order that forbids the developer from acquiring any permits in the city (is this correct?). Corus Bank is suing the developers to recover its loan. One owner/developer has filed for bankruptcy in CT.

The Receiver was appointed in December 2008 to protect and maintain the property. She is starting to put a plan in place to clean up and secure the site. By the end of February, the street and sidewalk will be returned to normal working order and the construction fence will be moved back behind the sidewalk. 

Community concerns:
Overwhelming sentiment to tear the building down. Residents of 71 Ocean Parkway, the coop building next to the site, brought complaints about damage to their building and concerns about the structural integrity of the shell. Many people expressed skepticism that the construction was adequate, especially whether the concrete was poured correctly and is safe.

Action/Follow-up: Randy Peers, Chair of CB7, asked that 71 OP email CB7 about the damage of their building. CB7 has a very effective Housing and Construction Committee that has built a good relationship with DOB, which can help in working toward a positive resolution of problems (current and future).

Action/Follow-up: Asm. Brennan, CM deBlasio, and CB7 will request that DOB inspect the building as soon as possible to determine its safety. 

Action/Follow-up: Advocate for legislation that would make developers accountable for their projects when they fail. [Bond issue bill currently in the Assembly. Ask Asm. Brennan’s office for more information.]

Future plans:
Brad Lander, Director of the Pratt Center for Community Development, recommended that the community think about what we want for the site in the long term. It is likely that Corus Bank will eventually own the property. If we do nothing, it is possible that another developer will eventually buy the site and complete it without community input. Can we take advantage of the current economic climate and find a developer who would work with the community to develop the property for affordable housing? (This on the assumption that DOB does not order the building torn down.)

Reps from HDC described some of their lending programs. HDC provides financing for a continuum of affordable housing programs, ranging from low income to moderate income and mixed income rental housing.

Community suggestions for the site included:
*intergenerational housing with supportive services; units for families, seniors, singles
*mixed use housing, possibly with manufacture, artists studios, horse turnout area

Concerns about the site included infrastructure overload if/when all 107 units go “on line.” The community and CB7 have long been concerned about this and are advocating for infrastructure improvements.

Action/Follow-up: Brad suggested that Stable Brooklyn form a small working group to put together a list of possible developers. We could work with Pratt Center, interview developers, talk with Corus Bank. CB7 would also be happy to convene meetings with developers.

Action/Follow-up: Anyone want to volunteer to organize this working group?

UPCOMING MEETING
CB7 Transportation Committee meeting concerning PARK CIRCLE and surrounding blocks. NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) is conducting a study on pedestrian/vehicle/horse and rider safety and wants your input!

Thursday, February 19, 2009, at 6:30pm
International Baptist Church
312 Coney Ilsnad Avenue

Members of the community are invited to attend and share ideas and opinions.
For further information, please contact CB7 at 718-854-0003 or email communityboard7@yahoo.com

 

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