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Illegal construction at 565 St. John's — Brooklynian

Illegal construction at 565 St. John's

imageAnyone live in or near 565 St. John's?  It's visible to us from our backyard on Sterling Place.  Workers have been adding two floors to the four-story structure since last fall.  It's quite a sight, as the structure is very skinny, and the two extra floors make it look rather like a medieval tower more than an apartment building.

Work has seemed to stop in the last few months.  I always had a hunch that what was being done here wasn't completely in accordance with the DOB, but I decided to have a look.  Indeed, there's a pile-up of SWO's and violations of SWO's, a partial vacate on the property, and the only permits applied for seem to do with the installation of a sidewalk shed.

It's kind of amazing that someone would try to do something of this scale without a permit!


  • edited February 2014
    They likely had a work permit initially, but then violated it in several ways.

    It should be interesting to see what happens with this site.

    Sometimes DOB has their act together to the degree that they (via the courts) are able to seize the property and sell it at auction.

    The buyer buys it under the condition that all fines are paid, the thing gets up to code or the addition is removed.

    I'd would not be surprised if some the cites were around using an unlic'd contractor. Lots of that is reportedly happening in order to get stuff built quickly.
  • That damn thing blocks my sun.  I'll be sure to keep the DOB appraised of any developments.
  • Sadly, while the construction has clearly run afoul of the DOB in some way, the fundamentals of this abomination seem to be approved.



  • edited April 2014
    So, it is safe to say that even if the fines are huge and the building ends up being seized and sold, that addition isn't going anywhere.

    The surrounding area can build high (and ugly) if they desire.

  • Interesting to note that on the work permit it states that the building is presently four stories and eight families and the addition is changing it into six stories and ten families meaning the top two floors only have one apartment each. Also, I'm wondering if some kind of elevator would have been added since that's a loooong walk up. And there's what appears to be a satellite dish on the roof in the photo of the back of the building.
  • edited February 2014
    Fifth and sixth floor walk-ups are not unheard of.  I doubt there's any elevator.  Those are big bucks, you don't limit yourself to slapdash work like this if you're putting in a lift.  

    This is clearly driven by the appetite to get another $5000 per month in rent rolls and possibly to help put some rent controls to pasture with as little work as possible.  
  • edited February 2014
    Yes, with some creativity, the owner might be able to state that the entire building needed new plumbing and electrical prior to the addition, and then apportion enough of the "alteration expenses" to the Rent Stabilized units to get them above (or very close to) the $2500 cap.

    When combined with a vacancy bonus, the units could become market rate when this adventure is done.
  • edited February 2014
    It is my understanding that  six floors and up require elevators.  There was a time in the 70's and early 80's when these things were kept track of less, especially in certain areas and they have been allowed to be ignored.  I should look it up to be sure but am feeling lazy.

    ETA: Maybe they argued the 1st floor was a ground floor a la a brownstone.  This would allow them to sneak on the 6th floor without an elevator.
  • In any event, I hope the folks that buy that top floor apartment don't have to carry much in the way of groceries up there. And the poor moving men that have to get their furniture in will not be too happy either. Maybe they could have an arm with a pulley installed so they could pull things up much as was done at factories and such before freight elevators were in common use.
  • edited April 2014
    Still no work occurring.

    Notice of Hearing, SWOs, etc remain on door.

    Needless to say, the former rent stabilized tenants are now long gone. I hope they rec'd good buyouts, but suspect they did not.
  • Watch for cracks in the settling walls if the foundation cannot handle the ADDED load. Neighbors beware! Saw plenty of this behavior in PSlope not long ago. Often the added floors were removed.
  • Four months down the road, the view hasn't changed much from this perspective, other than some of the plastic having blown off the windows.
  • edited October 2014
    Sometimes, the DOB work stopages take so long to resolve that the developer defaults on their construction loan, and the property is resold to a new developer able to sort out the mess.

    In other instances, the DOB levies so many fines on the property that the city obtains ownership and then sells it at a gov auction.

    Hopefully, the property won't get stuck, like 314 St. John's has been since around 2007:
  • One year later, there is still no sign of life at this site.  The plastic sheets covering the windows have long since been blown to bits, and the shell is now exposed to the elements.
  • edited June 2015
    @eastbloc -
    If this case is a good comparison, it might take a few more years before DOB can get the authority to demolish the illegal floors:

  • March 2016:
    No visible progress.

  • Ditto in March 2017. And it is not getting any better with age.
  • Any signs of squatters?    Late at night, you'd see flash lights or candles.

    You'd also see bottles of urine and bags filled with feces.     Sometimes they throw it on to adjoining properties, other times they are nice and put it with the trash of other buildings.

  • Another year has not done this building much good. I do occasionally see lights on the third floor, suggesting squatters are taking advantage of the permanent cessation of further development.
  • It is a form of permanent affordable housing.