Thursday, October 22, 2015

Trying to figure out what is going on at 98-100 Avenue A

Ben Shaoul's new building going up at 98-100 Avenue A between East Sixth Street and East Seventh Street continues to intrigue and confuse local zoning enthusiasts.

We've gone through the various DOB permits and have come away generally confused.

EVG reader something structural shares our curiosity and confusion... so we took another step-by-step look here to see if we can figure out what is going on, mainly how many stories will this thing end up?

1. A new building permit was filed for and issued for a total floor area of 27,693 sf and a total FAR of 3.41. The description is "APPLICATION BEING FILED TO CONSTRUCT A NEW 6 STORY BUILDING." That suggests a pretty standard filing in R7A. Maximum FAR of 3.45 inclusive of commercial. OK!

2. A complaint was filed "NB UNDER CONSTRUCTION EXCEDS THE BULK AND HEIGHT OF THE PROPOSED 6 STY BLDG" on 9/28/15. A cursory look at the accepted ZD-1 confirms it looks nothing like what's out there. With us so far, right?

3. DOB (BEST Squad High Rise unit) stopped by 9/30/15 and issued a partial Stop Work Order. There's no indication if this was for zoning, or one of the other 8-10 violations they received for safety, protection of adjacent properties, etc.

4. Two weeks later, on 10/14/15 their Architect of Record filed a new PAA. The documents haven't been scanned yet, but:
- The residential floor area went to 30,399 sf with an additional 6,775 sf for commercial. Total FAR is 6.60, up from 3.41.
- The comments on the filing? "FILING PAA HEREWITH TO AMEND PW1: FLOOR RANGE, JOB DESCRIPTION, ZONING CHARACT ERISTICS, BUILDING CHARACTERISTICS, SCHEDULE A AND REVISE PLANS." AKA: filing for a different building. And the city approved this amended plan exam just yesterday, per DOB records.

Meanwhile, the structure was topped out before they even filed the amendment. So there you go. Plenty for zoning enthusiasts to mull over.

The new building's Schedule A shows 38 units ... and retail stores on the ground floor. Last month, it was announced that the building will house 33 condos, ranging in price from $1.3 million to $2.3 million. In addition, as previously noted, the retail space will house a 12,000-square foot Blink Fitness center.

Previously on EV Grieve:
A little bit of Hollywood on Avenue A

Inside the abandoned theater at East Village Farms on Avenue A

New Facebook group is advocating for a Trader Joe's on Avenue A

Workers back demolishing what's left of 98-100 Avenue A

Rest assured, there isn't a fire in the hole at 98-100 Avenue A

Ben Shaoul's 98-100 Avenue A emerging from the dewatering hole

Life next to 98-100 Avenue A

Condos at Ben Shaoul's 98-100 Avenue A will start at $1.3 million; high-end gym eyed for retail space


Anonymous said...

Like when "cafes" get liquor license then turn into rowdy bars? Is this a building switch and bait?

Anonymous said...

I read this, then looked out my window where I have a full view of the construction. Workers are on the roof now, looking like they are starting with another level

equilibrist said...

I saw an interview with him in the business section of the Times the other day where he was quoted as saying he now wants to focus on building "affordable" apartments for NYC residents. When asked what affordable was, he said one-bedrooms in the $1 million range and two-bedrooms in the $2 million range. So I guess these new units are just perfect for local young families!

blue glass said...

it is hard to believe that in this neighborhood apartments starting at $1 million plus are now selling like hotcakes. in the early 1960s it took me over a year to find my truly "affordable" apartment on east 13th street. there were no luxury buildings, nothing was $1 million or more, condo was a word i never heard, and co-ops were rare, and most of the then small buildings were owner occupied.
the change was slow at first, now it's completely washed over the neighborhood.
too bad for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Original tipster here. I haven't reviewed the approved application (was approved after I sent the tip, but thanks for the heads up EVG).

Three things:
1. The building is in an inclusionary housing area which is almost certainly being taken advantage of.

2. ACRIS shows a lease was indeed recorded with a fitness center but that seems to conflict with the filed use group... I'm not sure though I'm not an architect.

3. somethingstructural is stylized as one word ;)


DrGecko said...

Don't worry, folk. They'll be caught out and fined maybe $5000.

And, yes, those fines are tax deductible.

Anonymous said...

Shady Shaoul up to no good.

Edmund “Dubai-Not Havana- On The Hudson” Dunn said...

As a Sty (no, that’s not a typo) Town resident who has seen many of these DOB permits, I am more and more convinced that the corruption of this RE industry rubber stamping city agency is systemic and the corruption now almost irreversible .

Giovanni said...

Who hasn't added a couple of extra floors to an apartment building now and then?

Anonymous said...

WHO ARE these people...a million bucks for a one bedroom on Avenue A?

No thanks. Even if I had the money.
Affordable not even close.


nygrump said...

The numbers on this small project are incredible, can we expect nothing more than the total destruction of this neighborhood? 38 units at ~1.7 MM each. Are they getting the property tax exemptions?

Giovanni said...

To be fair, when Ben Shaoul said the apartments would be "affordable" he meant that their ridiculously high sales prices would allow him to afford to buy anything in the world that his little heart desires.

Anonymous said...

Please report this shit. Keep our eye on it. This guy's fucking scum.

Anonymous said...

The more money you have the less laws apply to you. apparently.

Anonymous said...

I meant fewer laws, not less. Sorry 'bout that pheaux-pas.

Anonymous said...

@ Giovanni - Ben Shaoul has no heart. Just a black hole where one ought to be.

Fipper said...

He'll probably file for a 10 story building permit in a few months; after they're built of course.

Fashion By He said...

should contact ny post to get it in the paper...there was obviously a plan the builders used for constructing something that was not approved...someone in the permitting office should be fired, or in jail

Anonymous said...

This construction has opened a floodgate of rats and mice into my mother's apartment in 96 Avenue A. A real nightmare

Anonymous said...

From what I can tell, yes, this building is in an Inclusionary Housing Program zone. (Take a look at the map for our neighborhood Unless I'm missing something, the east side of Ave. A between 6 and 7 is in the zone.)

There are plenty of loopholes but . . . that building would _have_ to have some sort of Inclusionary Housing Program filing/plan . . . right? Right?

Is this the kind of thing you inquire about/report on to 311?

Anonymous said...

Angry neighborhood lawyer here. Anyone else want to put in a little time with me and fight this?

Anonymous said...

Neighborhood lawyer posting again. I'm totally willing to go file an Article 78 challenging the revised DOB 8-story permit, but this isn't exactly my area of expertise, so would welcome assistance.

Anonymous said...

Annonymous Lawyer at 8:40 PM. I'd be willing to help you, though I've only dabbled in zoning. I think we would want to file on behalf of someone who lives close to the building. How can we contact each other?

Anonymous said...

Original tipster here. You're probably best off waiting until the amendment documents are scanned in a day or two. The new ZD-1 is supposed to tell you everything they are claiming. It never does, but that should at least tell you if pursuing legal remedies is worthwhile.

For what it's worth, the residential FAR is 4.6 which aligns with R7A under inclusionary housing. The commercial FAR is 2.0 which aligns with the maximum for a C2-5 overlay. The issue is - it seems and is my understanding - the commercial FAR is supposed to be concurrent with the residential, not "in excess of". Worth looking into.

Anonymous said...

Neighborhood lawyer here. You can email me at seth at nypia dot org.

Taking into account that I don't really know a ton about zoning, it appears from DCP that:

"Mixed Building
A mixed building is a building in a commercial district used partly for residential use and partly for community facility or commercial use.
When a building contains more than one use, the maxi­mum FAR permitted on the zoning lot is the highest FAR allowed for any of the uses, provided that the FAR for each use does not exceed the maximum FAR permitted for that use. In a C1-8A district, for example, where the maximum commercial FAR is 2.0 and the maximum residential FAR is 7.52, the total permitted FAR for a mixed residential/commercial building would be 7.52, of which no more than 2.0 FAR may be applied to the commercial space.

@Somethingstructural, I also read the zoning map to have this lot as a C2-5 overlay of R7A. (I don't know what the "100" on the lot means, however. I'm guessing depth, but unsure.) Given that the max FAR of R7A is 4.6 (including the bonus .6 for inclusionary housing --- another issue that no doubt bears investigating), it would seem that the building cannot be any larger than this, based on the above "mixed building" description.

Again, I'm far from an expert on these things. But I don't like when developers flout these kind of rules, so would be happy to put up some resistance, if feasible. Feel free to send me an email and we can talk.

Anonymous said...

I confirmed with the Dept. of City Planning (Zoning Hotline) that the residential and commercial FARs do NOT get added together for this building. So it appears that they are trying to give themselves an extra 6,775 square feet. Is that possible? You would think someone in authority would have noticed...or that the architects would have known and followed the rules.

If there is going to be an legal action, I would suggest that someone who lives close to 98-100 Avenue A and is interested in being a party to a lawsuit send an email to seth (see 12:07 AM.)

Anonymous said...

Now that they're doing construction on the 7th and 8th floors, the noise extends way further into the neighborhood, over the roofs of our poor old tenements. It's a 7am wake-up call every day, even a couple of blocks away.

Anonymous said...

From my point of view, noise is an annoying thing but a fairly pedestrian problem that will go away in the long run. However, these two things, it seems to me, might cause serious problems for the developer:

1. The building is simply too large (on the residential side, right?) to possibly comply with current zoning regulations.

2. The building is in an inclusionary housing zone and does not have any obvious plans to comply with that. (In short, a slice of the building should have been publicly announced as low to moderate income housing, through the appropriate agencies, etc. and/or other modifications for, ahem, the public good.)

Perhaps it would be useful for someone (who knows a lot more than me) to spell out (as much as possible with what's known so far) the issues?

(This is funny, given the rash of buildings that are obviously a bit out of bounds: "You would think someone in authority would have noticed...or that the architects would have known and followed the rules." However, it does beg the question: Can architects be held responsible for building plans, and signing off on construction, that is obviously illegal?)

Anonymous said...

I read the original post, and I honestly don't know what the problem is. Even if there are two additional floors, as some have speculated, what's the problem with that? The East Village needs more housing.

Anonymous said...

The noise is driving me crazy. I just want them to be done with it. Legal action will slow them down. They've already peaked, hurry up and be done.

Anonymous said...

Fuck off, Ben.

Anonymous said...

If there were a way to make assholes like this rent their illegally overbuilt top floors (98-100 Av A; 515 E. 5th; 514-516 E. 6th) as TRULY affordable units, it might prevent the wasteful, annoying & loud overbuild/demolish cycle -- or create bargain 'penthouses' to increase housing (as Anon at 5:01 points out is needed).

Anonymous said...

"If there were a way. . . "

Presumably, Mr. Shaoul and his colleagues are pretty sure there's no way the zone laws will be enforced in such a way that he will lose money. Either eventually the paperwork will change to match the building or, or, or what? He'll leave the extra construction in place until everyone forgets about it or the zone laws change around it?

Anonymous said...

It's very possible he's "waiting for the laws to change around it" because I secretly suspect that this would be legitimate under the REBNY-backed "Zoning for Affordabity", which made the argument that It would allow for better livability (like higher ceilings) and increased affordabile housing. Looking at the ZD-1, I'm not sure these are even 9' ceilings. So compare the 6 story building with 8.5' ceilings and 20% affordable housing to the 8 story building with 8.5' ceilings and 20% affordable housing, then ask whose interests the REBNY is really interested in protecting.

I man hats off to DeBlasio because 20% of those extra two floors is probably one more unit. That eyesore would definitely be worth one unit of housing.

Anonymous said...

Makes no economic sense for him to obey zoning rules. If the only recourse from the city is to fine him they would have to fine him in excess of at least 10 million dollars for him to blink. Anything less than that he can easily pay and will make back ten fold in sales. So why bother playing by the rules?

I suppose there's a risk that he will lose some epic battle brought forth from well-meaning locals and be forced to amend the building in some way to placate them. That will take many years and financially he will still win.

The issue isn't that BS is an amoral prick, it's that the City has allowed people like him to reap buckets of wealth because of their, at best, inadequate enforcement, or at worst, purely corruptible laws.

Oh, and a 12,000 square foot gym? WTF! Is that what the neighborhood needs?! It boggles the mind....