Quicklink/A New York Shitty Op Ed: 173 Green Street

Or: Breakin’ The Law!

stonerscYesterday morning I had this article (which is screencapped at left) brought to my attention by my comrade over at Queens Crap. I pointed and clicked my way over to Brownstoner. This is what they elected to say about 173 Green Street:

An unusually shaped building designed by architect Natalia Donskoy is going up at 173 Green Street in Greenpoint. The front of the building is not straight across but angles in four directions.

The Alt-1 permit calls for four stories and seven units. Donskoy, a former employee of Robert Scarano, is becoming known for sometimes mold-breaking designs in North Brooklyn. What do you think of the design?

This, their post, left me absolutely flummoxed for a number of reasons. Follows are two:

1. Although it is clearly discernable in the second photo they elected to publish, no mention whatsoever is made of the Stop Work Orders. Yes, this property has not one— but two.

2. As it would happen I reside in the general area. I have seen the shitshow that is 173 Green unfold. A number of my neighbors/buddies have as well. Aesthetic considerations aside, we all agree on one thing:

These Stop Work Orders issued were well-deserved.

Speaking for myself, the first sign that 173 Green may be a less-than-professional operation was when they commenced demolishing modifying the original structure which graced this lot.

side view

You can get an indication of what it was in the above photograph: it is a vestige of a one story extension of 1020 Manhattan Avenue.


This extension sported two storefronts and a (questionably legal) studio apartment. I know this because I know the fellow who called it his home. Then the building sold and out he went.

ACRIS 1 nys

ACRIS 2 nys

ACRIS 3 nys

ACRIS 4 nys

Note the address: 543 Bedford Avenue #264. Interesting things turn up when one “Googles” it. This and this to name a couple.


Anyway, with him went this rather charming Polish travel agency. It was operated by two brothers: twins who not infrequently wore matching outfits. For wont of a better way of putting it, it was vaguely reminiscent of something one would see in a David Lynch movie. But of course this was real life and that is what made Seweryn even more awesome— but I digress. Let’s get back to what I saw which gave me the impression that something may be amiss at 173 Green.

One morning I walked by and beheld three – four men wielding sledgehammers. These they used to break down cinder block walls. The rubble which resulted was taken, on foot/in hand, and dumped into a truck which was idling across the street.  Speaking as someone who has resided in north Brooklyn for fourteen years (and blogged about it for over eight) I have seen more than my fair share of questionably professional “construction”. Bearing this in mind, I feel compelled to note this may well have been the worst. In any case it is certainly in the top three— and given what I have seen I can attest they come out on top of some mighty stiff competition. This is no small accomplishment.

173green7302014 anno1

But why take my word for it? Let’s consult the professionals: the Department of Buildings!

stop work orders

Surely they must have something to say about 173 Green Street since they have seen fit to post not one— but two Stop Work Orders? It has been my observation this is reserved for the most select of scofflaws.



  • eleven complaints
  • three DOB violations
  • fourteen ECB violations
  • civil penalties due and
  • violating of a Stop Work Order

That’s pretty impressive. Let’s keep digging, shall we?


A $5,000 fine. Hilarious. Let’s plow on!




Holy shitburgers!


So help me, I think I am beginning to see a pattern here.


Wow, this was less than two weeks ago! In any case, it would appear that the powers that be behind 173 Green Street harbor apathy— if not total and utter contempt— for the law.

I for one find this rather ironic given who the architect is for this project. Once again (from Brownstoner):

…Donskoy, a former employee of Robert Scarano…

That name, Robert Scarano, sounds familiar. Oh wait now I remember!


It was his “Scarano Special” which straddles Tommy’s Tavern (addresses 1037 Manhattan Avenue and 158 Freeman respectively)  which resulted in Mr. Scarano being banned from filing plans in our fair city! You see, he decided to fudge with the facts a bit. He stated 1037 Manhattan Avenue and 158 Freeman Street  were one contiguous lot. He did so in order to build taller than what is legally permissible. Whoops. And now the punchline…


This masterpiece of the ethically-challenged is a mere block away from 173 Green Street! This begs the question (in my mind, anyway) if his protege is following in his (rather dubious) footsteps. By all appearances, this would appear to be the case. But it is time to wrap this up— and answer the question:

What do you think of the design?

After I got done taking the photographs which grace this post, I bumped into a friend of mine who happens to live on the same block as 173 Green Street. A neighbor, if you will. A neighbor who informed me that he/she has in fact lodged a number of complaints about 173 Green Street. Among the things this person has observed:

  • Construction in violation of a Stop Work Order— at 6:00 on Sunday morning.
  • Violation of Stop Work Orders has been the modus operandi at 173 Green Street. One time even the police showed up.
  • The adjacent Green Oaks Club property was inadvertently (?) divested of some of its aluminum siding. Those of you who know this community’s affection for the aforementioned product understand that this is probably a hanging offense.
  • The use of step ladders for workers to get from floor to floor. What would OSHA say about this?
  • And a litany of other offenses which generally make people upset and call 311.

Once this person was done giving me the 411, I told him/her that Brownstoner published an article about 173 Green Street yesterday— and the question they were posing was whether or not folks liked the design. Before I tender his/her answer, I will tender my own verdict:

Of course it will be ugly. That is the Greenpoint way!

And now— with no further ado— the most apropos answer: that of someone who calls 173 Green Street a neighbor. It went (more or less) as follows:

Are you fucking kidding me?

Well said.

UPDATE, August 1st 2014: Thanks to Queens Crap linking back to this tome  we have some very interesting advice/analysis from a commenter:

diggin your cross promotion here crappy.

lets start at the top:

#1, it’s four floors and a mezz, the half floor above the 2nd is clearly a mezz.

#2, concrete enforcement is on it. those guys don’t screw around and they’ve got a direct line to the borough commissioner and people with serious leverage. 

#3, CEU is under the umbrella of tim lynch, the mythical god of DOB who will not stand to see the city get embarrassed. he will go there and put a fence up himself if he has to, because he’s a little crazy, but he is not someone you want to see on a job site, ever.

#4, DOB can and will post a vacate on the building, which would subject any violators and the developer to major civil and CRIMINAL penalties. FDNY and NYPD are bound by these, and these things happen.

#4, if they violate the SWO, in addition to $5k per violation, the city will generally walk around and ticket every loose guardrail, every missing screw from the job, every person not in a harness, everything. all of it. write that check for $15k to the city of NY please.

#5, the developer will never get a CO unless all these fines are paid. they’ve got a roughly $20k tab right now.

so what do you do? keep calling 311. 

BIS listed a phone number for concrete enforcement in one of the complaints — 212-393-2730. it’s a cell phone, but you’ll get someone who knows the site and what’s going on. but be aware, many in CEU are very intimidating and they WILL ask how you got the number. it’s on BIS.


New York Shitty Day Ender: Moving Day

October 23, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Just another day at 239 Banker Street (taken today, October 23, 2012)*

*For those of you who are wondering, “Mike” is still advertising this very-much-illegal bit of residential space on Craigslist.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Dispatch From 239 Banker Street

October 23, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

A person we’ll call “J” writes:


It’s been great reading about 239 Banker Street after I had moved in from your blog. Already planning my move out.
Work restarted this morning: lots of workers all over the building working on apartments. Of particular interest were the bags of cement in the lobby ready to be turned into concrete, and a work permit that expired in July explicitly prohibiting concrete work. So they took down a STOP WORK order to put in an expired work permit that doesn’t even permit them to do what they’re doing in the building.

What a goddamn mess.

New York Shitty analysis: I suppose posting a permit (even an invalid one) is a(n albeit deceptive) step in the right direction. Hilarious.

Highlights From Community Board 1: Let’s Talk Trash

One of the more provocative parts of last week’s convocation— and there were quite a few, I assure you— were two ladies speaking on the subject of illegal garbage can holders.

More specifically: these garbage can holders. Behold the Community Board 1 action regarding them for yourselves, gentle readers (start at 7:28).

New York Shitty analysis:

1. Exactly what constitutes a “beautiful” garbage can holder? If there is in fact such a thing, it in the eye of the beholder.
2. While certainly nice, they are placed on public property (READ: the sidewalk). This is a big no-no.

As these ladies noted, their neighbor is obeying the law:

3. This is not to suggest I am not sympathetic to these ladies’s plight. I am. They brought up a very salient point: the developer of their respective properties did not consider trash collection when designing their respective condominiums. This is clearly a problem. One which should have been prevented at the “planning stage”. Which brings me to…

Yesterday I decided to see how 239 Banker Street’s illegal garbage fixture cum bicycle rack was faring.

Not only is it still there, but among the assorted detritus I found something of interest.

Not one but two boxes which formerly contained stoves. (For those of you who are not in the know, “estufa” means stove in Spanish. Somewhere my high school Spanish teacher is smiling!)  As you can see the powers that be behind this illegal conversion are scarcely concerned about getting caught. What’s more, I learned at last week’s proceedings why.

So there have you: fines are simply part and parcel of “doing business”. Given the “lofts” at 239 Banker Street are going for anywhere between $2,700 – $3,400 for 700 square foot (if that) of “living space” nowadays, well, it has become all too clear how effective these “penalties” have been as a deterrent against this landlord continuing to illegal legally lease out this property as residential space.


In closing I will leave you, gentle readers, with the latest bit of “immaculate construction” I spied at 239 Banker Street.

As the screencap of a video I shot on June 3rd of this year indicates, what is now an “apartment” used to be a doorway.* But don’t take my word for it: view the video for yourself.

*For those of you who are wondering, this is perfectly in keeping with the plans for this “hotel”…

Plans: This is what a "hotel" looks like at 239 Banker Street

in 2009.

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