Brooklyn Heights

Is 172 Montague a sidewalk-eating monster?

June 25, 2014 By Matthew Taub Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn Brief
Will 172 Montague devour sidewalk space from pedestrians?
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A towering new development on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights has local residents concerned–but not for the usual reasons.

“Is the facade of the new building at 172 Montague, long hidden by scaffolding, now revealed to be taking more sidewalk than it should?” a reader asked.

Replacing the Eamon Doran buildings–a pair of formerly-adjacent two-story structures thathoused a bar and a gift cards store–the new development does not fall within either of the area’s landmarked districts, and even received additional air rights from the contiguous Remsen Street properties behind it, giving it the green light to shoot up into the sky. But protruding into the public sidewalk at its forefront is another matter, potentially blocking the flow of pedestrians in a crowded area.

The parcel for the planned 19-story property was bought by Bonjour Capital, designed by Daniel Goldner Architects, and is now in development by Cava Construction and Ferran Enterprises. CPEX Real Estate is already marketing retail space on the first floor, while rental units, once completed, will be listed above.

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local zoning map appears to list the property as falling under the Special Downtown Brooklyn District, which establishes special height and setback regulations that would presumably forbid the property from protruding as it now does. Those regulations include a requirement that many (but not all) properties be set back “10 feet from a ‘wide street’ line and at least 15 feet from a ‘narrow street’ line.”

However, the Department of Buildings, in an unrelated violation issued last month, mentioned that construction was occurring “on [the] property line,” presumably implying that the building existed within its proper bounds.

Furthermore, many buildings on Montague Street have basement vaults extending under a portion of the public sidewalk. Officially, Montague street property lines could extend out beyond the ‘front’ of the buildings. However, property records do not make clear where the building line ends and the public sidewalk officially begins.

Finally, the property owner could have received a “revocable consent on a sidewalk” from the Department of Transportation (DOT), allowing a protrusion onto the public sidewalk that might otherwise be impermissible.

“If you are talking about revocable consent for sidewalks, then it would fall under [the DOT’s] jurisdiction,” said Kelly Magee, Press Secretary for the Department of Buildings. “If you are talking about a construction site (such as a fence or equipment) obstructing the sidewalk, then a complaint should be made by calling 311 and the Department of Buildings will investigate.”

“We are looking into the matter and will have an answer for you shortly,” said Nicole Garcia, Press Secretary for the DOT.

A spokesperson for the property owner, Bonjour Capital, told us our inquiry would be best directed to the architect, Daniel Goldner Architects.

Brooklyn Brief has reached out to the architect, the general contractor, and the Borough President’s Office, and we are waiting to hear back.

We will update this story when we have more information. In the meantime, readers are encouraged to weigh in and can do so in the comments section, or by e-mailing us at [email protected].

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