I just learned that the BSA has approved the application to resume construction at 144 North 8th Street (the Finger Building). BSA’s decision was based on a letter from DOB Deputy Counsel Felicia Miller, stating in part:
the permit issued in connection with Job # 301784399 for a 16 story building was a validly issued permit. We understand further that there is pending litigation regarding the applicant’s right to use roof top space at 115 Berry and 138 North 8th Street, as reflected in the plans. If they should loose that litigation, then the applicant will be in violation of open space requirements to the extent they decide to continue with construction beyond 10 stories. For this reason, there is a stop work Order in place for construction beyond 10 stories
The building permit for 144 North 8th, issued prior to the 2005 waterfront rezoning, expired in May, 2007 (two years after the enactment of the rezoning). Today’s BSA decision allows construction to proceed on the entire project. However, the pending litigation of which Miller speaks precludes any construction above the 10th story.
Here’s the kicker: for more than two years now local residents have wanted to sue to stop this project. Such a suit would have to be brought before BSA, and would be based on the fact that the building plans were not valid when approved (via self certification by Scarano Architects). But the neighbors can’t bring a case in front of BSA until DOB issues a “final determination” that the permit is valid. Now, one would think that a letter from a Deputy Counsel at DOB to the BSA – the very letter upon which BSA is basing its decision to allow the project to go forward – would constitute a “final determination”.
But it doesn’t.
According to DOB, a final certification can only come from the Brooklyn Borough Commissioner. Until such a determination is made, the public can’t challenge the validity of the permit in front of BSA. However, BSA is free to allow the permit to be renewed based on a not-so-final determination of the validity of the original permit by a DOB deputy counsel.
Deputy Counsel Borough Commissioner has, for over two years now, refused to issue such a determination.