25 September 2008

Billy Stein's 360 Smith Defense Takes Absurdish Turn

It seems there is nothing developer Billy Stein will not try to keep his precious Oliver House, aka 360 Smith, just the way it is: 70-feet high and completely unlike everything in the surrounding Carroll Gardens neighborhood.

Stein was stopped in his tracks by the recent "narrow streets" zoning amendment which dictates that structures on certain CG streets (including 360's) not exceed 55 feet in height. Stein could have proceeded with his nasty monstrosity if he had completed 50% of his foundation, but the DOB decreed he had finished but 20%. Stein pleaded his case at an Aug. 28 Community Board 6 Public Land Use Meeting, where he was about as popular as a porcupine as a balloon convention. He was turned down. The board's recommendation was then passed on to the Board of Standards and Appeals, which reviewed the case yesterday.

Stein doesn't really speak at these meetings. He always talks through a legal mouthpiece. The lucky puppets this time were Deirdre Carson and structural engineer Neil Wexler of Wexler Associates. And they were a hoot, by all accounts!

Wexler argument to the board was that the foundation is already completed. That's right! It's done! What foundation, you may ask. Why, the subway tunnel itself, the one that lies below 360 Smith! The tunnel will help support the building and is thus its built-in foundation, handily built by the City a century ago.

Are you laughing yet? Isn't it just amazing when corporate types start telling, off-the-wall crazy lies? You just can't believe your ears.

Wacky Wexler—who has been described to me as looking like he didn't believe the words that were coming out of his mouth, even as he was saying them—also said that the building had two foundations: one being the ready-made subway tunnel; the second being the pile foundation that Stein was actually building.

The board was furnished with a mountain of evidence and materials from the community groups opposing 360, causing the body to schedule another hearing on the matter for Oct. 28, where anything might happen. Anything, that is, other than Stein actually backing down or ever acknowledging that there's absolutely no reason for him to press on in his idiot quest except greed, conceit, arrogance and thorough pigheaded stubbornness.

(Thanks to Pardon Me for Asking for the picture.)

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