03 May 2011

Carroll Street F Subway Station Taking Shape

It's been a couple years now that we've had to suffer the closure of the main entrance of the Carroll Street F line subway station, while zoning-regulation-and-public-decency-flouting developer Billy Stein has erected 360 Carroll Street, aka Oliver House, to please his selfish, penthousian desires.

Well, the towering eyesore is nearly done, and the refurbished subway entrance looks ripe to open. Note the old-fashioned, globular subway lamp above. (Saved from the previous design?)

The south entrance of the Carroll Street stop was noted for its tree-filled outdoor plaza, from which straphangers would watch the elevated track for oncoming, Manhattan-bound trains. The new plaza, too, has trees. Three. The same trees? I don't know. But they're well along in growth.

There's also this vaguely Asian, decorative garden along the western wall leading up to the entrance. The old entrance didn't have anything like that. Not bad.

And here's the entrance itself. A bit antiseptic. I like the complementary orange and green ladders. But I don't suppose they're permanent.

Most of all, though, I love the lamps. Will they light up at night? I sure hope so.


Anonymous said...

The fact that this building went through official channels and was approved by an official body is a process prescribed by the zoning code, and therefore, means it complies with zoning.

Time to stop crying over spilled milk, or downzoning once the horse has left the barn, or choose your own cliche.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Anon, you obviously don't know the history of the underhanded waythis building came to be, or you wouldn't make such a statement.

Anonymous said...

There was nothing "underhanded" about how this building was built.

Now there were certainly allegations of "underhanded" behaviror by neighborhood NIMBYs, but those claims were unfounded.

Only in the mind of an NYC NIMBY would a 7-floor building on top of a subway station be considered "towering" or "inappropriate".

My advice is find the next "evil developer" to complain about, if it makes you feel better. I'm sure the brownstone developers were the good and moral ones, right?

Brooks of Sheffield said...

First of all, Stein's 70-foot building was completely out of character with the neighborhood. Common respect for his surroundings and neighbors should have stopped him from building it.

But leave that aside. The height of the building was in violation of a "narrow streets" zoning amendment which dictates that structures on certain Carroll Gardens streets (including 360's) not exceed 55 feet in height. Stein could have proceeded if he had completed 50% of his foundation, but he had not. Stein argued that his foundation was complete because the subway tunnel under the building acted as a foundation! Pure sophistry. He also pleaded hardship to the Board of Standards and Appeals, all the while feeding Bill DeBlasio with $35,000 of lobbying money. He got his way in the end, of course. Power, money and influence will do that. And final injury: the Carroll Street subway stop—a public property—had to be closed down for two years so Stein could complete his private construction.

If that's not enough to call Stein underhanded and unscrupulous, than I don't know what is. I don't expect you to agree. Your use of the hackneyed term NIMBY betrays the breadth of your imagination.

Btw, this is the last "Anonymous" comment of yours I'll post. If you want to respond, you'll have to attach a name.

wh said...

It's also a G train stop ! DON'T FORGET THE G TRAIN!!!

Also I'm sure the lamp will light up.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Who could forget the G?

John_Halfz said...

This is tough, Brooks. I went to school for preservation (originally). I love Carroll Street. The garden apartments are stunning.

However, New York's survival as a just and equitable place is going to be predicated on development. Specifically, building up. (Let's leave aside for a moment, that the thuggish development cartel process that created this particular building is NOT the way to achieve this goal).

"Narrow street" or "historic district" protection should not be extended to every formerly working class block in NYC that's attained a critical mass of millionaires. We need to be respectful of our history, and to preserve buildings that help to interpret New York's history and almost-infinite cultural narratives.

If we want New York to continue to evolve into Paris, an exclusive inner city, inaccessible to most, that's fine. To avoid this outcome, New York needs to develop new housing, and lots of it. Not the formula-based BS wherein 3X-(0.8Y)*sqrtZ apartments have to be developed for residents earning 80% AMI. Just more housing units. Preferably vertically oriented, and preferably in close proximity to CBD and transit.

The development process now is so seedy that it's tempting to blame the cartel for destroying NY, for knocking down the Coke grocery store signs, for closing down Ste. Honore Patisserie. Developers bribe, borrow, and steal their way into concessions and tax deals inaccessible to most people. This is not the hallmark of "open government."

Two solutions: a massive simplification of the city's zoning. Setback and height regulations should take into account context and history, but be primarily based on the tenet that density is desirable. Second, a retrenchment of the museumification of New York City by rich people. Landmarking is great. Historic districts are great (and add to the tax revenue stream through increased property values). But the current state of affairs is out of balance. A current visitor might reasonably think that Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Bay Ridge, etc. all developed as exclusive outer borough suburbs instead of, as in most cases (not BK hts), working class neighborhoods supported by industry and the construction of the Gowanus.

What's really needed is design and construction standards.