Today’s news:

Stop-work order on dorm site

Brooklyn College’s first-ever dormitory is already damaging its neighbors—all before a single brick has been laid—this paper has learned. Work at the site, 1 Kenilworth Place, has undermined a retaining wall at the rear of an adjacent property, 13 Kenilworth Place, according to the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB). On March 3, DOB inspectors responded to a complaint that work at the dorm’s construction site, also listed as 2604-2622 Farragut Road, damaged the foundation of a neighboring home, buckling walls and causing a basement to collapse, according to the DOB. The inspectors observed that the shoring of the excavation site was inadequate and not installed in accordance to plans submitted to the agency, DOB spokesperson Caroline Sullivan said. A stop-work order was issued, presumably grinding the project to a halt. The stop-work order applied to all new building construction, except for remedial work needed to make the site safe, which included backfilling of the excavation site, Sullivan said. “To lift the stop-work order, the applicant needs to amend the plans and resubmit them to the Buildings Department for review,” she said. But workers at the construction company, Virginia Construction Incorporated, allegedly flouted the DOB decree, and continued working, prompting inspectors to again visit the site—and slap a $5,000 fine on the company, the city agency confirmed. On March 14, DOB inspectors—members of the agency’s Excavation’s and Audits Team—found workers toiling away, in blatant disregard of the stop work order, Sullivan said. The violation must be paid before the DOB decree is lifted, she said. In August 2007, the Buildings Department issued a permit to Virginia Construction to construct an eight-story, 115-unit dormitory that will hold 214 residents. The college has said the dorm would be completed by spring 2009. The project, developed by New Brooklyn Development for Brooklyn College, was first reported in this paper in October. The residence would be the first on-campus housing for the college, which is part of the City University of New York, a network of publicly financed schools. The property sits in an area where a building of this size may be constructed without any special public review. John Hamill, a spokesperson for Brooklyn College, said stop work orders are “common” in the course of a building’s construction. “This is strictly a deal between the builder and the city and has nothing to do with us,” he said. “Stop work orders don’t necessarily indicate a level of gravity or danger,” he added. The owner of the adjacent property, 13 Kenilworth, an entity listed as 11 Development Corporation, based on Jamaica Avenue in Queens, could not be reached at press time. At press time, New Brooklyn Construction did not return a call for comment. It lists its address in a suite at 114 MacDougal Street in Manhattan. At one time, the company hosted a website detailing the project, at www.farragutplace.com . In the fall, the website, which now states that it is under construction, said, “the buildings [sic] are designated by the city of New York as faculty/student residential apartment houses. This means that the individual apartments can be rented to students, teachers, professors and other faculty members such as doctors and nurses, and their families.” “This designation provides our company with a market advantage in reaching a tremendous group of people in the campus area who traditionally have had difficulty finding quality and affordable housing options,” the website stated. “An incentive from New York City for providing housing for students and faculty members is the advantage that provides with the opportunity to reach a stable group of tenants who are proud to return home to a beautiful, comfortable and safe living environment each day,” the site stated. Brooklyn College has told this paper that the relationship between the college and the developer would be contractual, where the college would supply the residents and the company would build and operate the facility. The college has said that the building would be only for students. The developer has already drawn criticism from Community Board 14. Florence Valentino, the co-chair of Community Board 14’s Education, Libraries and Cultural Affairs Committee, said her committee is worried about the impact of the project on the surrounding community. “We would like the project to be more transparent,” she said. Valentino lives near the proposed dorm, and she also works for Brooklyn College. She said the college only has “good intentions,” but the developer has left many in the community wondering. “I think the developer should present himself to the board. We would like the project to be more transparent.” Common in the course of builing any builidng.strictly a deal between the builder sna the city and has nothing to do with us…stop work doesn’t necessarily indicate a level of gravity or danger..

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