Updated Thursday at 4:50 pm
BHB just got word that the state Division of Housing & Community Renewal has rejected the landlord’s proposal to build a garage at the Riverside Apartments at the westernmost end of Joralemon Street.
Ken Fisher, the attorney for landlord Pinnacle Group, told BHB, “While we are disappointed, this is only the first level of administrative review at DHCR and we are confident that eventually our Landmarks Commission-approved project will move forward and will meet the needs of both area residents for parking as well as the tenants.”
The Pinnacle Group will file an appeal with the state “shortly,” Fisher said.
We now have the state’s full decision, in which rent administrator Lilia Albano ruled that the landlord’s proposal for a green roof on top of the 100-car underground garage would not adequately replace the courtyard and thus return proper building services to its tenants. It also noted that the trees once saved by the 1950s construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway would be demolished, thus affecting noise and sight reduction by tenants who overlook the busy roadway.
“It is found that the proposal set forth by the owner to modify services would in fact result in further reduction of services to the tenants,” Albano wrote. “This proposal is in direct conflict with the intended use of this area and the increase in vehicular traffic would be a further negative impact on this service.”
Here’s a PDF copy of the decision.
Riverside Tenants Association Chairman William Ringler said he’s happy with the decision, and confident the landlord’s appeal will be rejected, as it is a rare occurrence that decisions in favor of tenants are overturned.
“This decision is good for all city rent-regulated tenants who have garden areas that the owners may want to remove for the owner’s profit. It is also good for tree preservationists, and ecologically-minded citizens,” he said.
Ringler vowed to keep fighting Pinnacle Group against the proposal, but noted that the tenant’s organization is in debt $11,000 to its legal counsel. “If there’s some Daddy Warbucks out there who would like to send us a few bucks, we could really use it,” he said. If interested, Ringler said to send donations to:
Riverside Tenants Association
Brooklyn GPO, Box 6841
Brooklyn, NY 11202-6841
He added, “Our primary legal representative for this DHCR action was Jon Lilienthal of Collins Dobkin Miller, we were also helped by attorney Joel Kupferman of the NY Environmental Law & Justice Project, and pro-bono counsel Frank Ciaccio. They all did a wonderful job.”
Pinnacle filed its decisions with DHCR to recognize their designs as a “restoration of services,” parallel to its application to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. In its decision, DHCR determined that the proposal did not fit that criteria. In November, LPC ultimately approved the project.