No parking at Riverside Garage?

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.

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  • Suzy

    If anybody sticks a fork in the back yard, the whole street along with the BQE, numerous buildings and homes will collapse. This needs to be officially over. End of story.

  • bklyn20

    Pinnacle et al never bothered to get a permit from the D.O.B. before they sent their watercolor sketches to Landmarks. There seem to be no actual plans filed anywhere, and Landmarks should not rule on projects that have not first been approved by the appropriate agencies.

    I believe the DOB is no longer allowing architects to self-certify their plans — but in this case there weren’t even any plans at all! Appeal THAT, Mr. (not my) Slumlord!

  • alex

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad this the garage was rejected for safety/historical reasons, but I find it ironic that a cited reason was to save the garden for the sake of the residents. No one goes back there because it’s a mess, and after this ruling Pinnacle has even less incentive to fix it up. Too bad.

  • william

    Dear Alex, Pinnacle is still under DHCR orders to restore the courtyard in order to raise rents. They are Ordered to Restore the Courtyard by removing the asphalt, curbing, and are supposed to replant grass, bushes, and new small trees that were removed in 1991, and they are outlaws for not doing so. They raise rents away – illegally. The whole push behind this is to MAKE the landlord take care of the courtyard – not turn it into a dangerous parking lot, which has already cost a tenant child’s life in 1995. She fell from the roof of 24 Joralemon Street into the courtyard, because the former LL locked the tenants out of the courtyard – for car parking.

  • Doug Biviano

    Congratulations on your victory Chairman William Ringler and Riverside Tenants!

    It was great to meet you all at your meeting last night. As promised, I will be there to support you in this fight for your affordable housing and to protect our historic architecture, mature trees and open spaces. As a member of the community, I have personally wandered in your courtyard several times over the years so I truly appreciate the magnificent and precious canopy of these trees in this special space. I hope you don’t mind…

    Feel free to reach out to me anytime.

    Doug Biviano

  • Cranberry Beret

    Bklyn20, the DOB won’t review an application to do work on a landmark property until it’s been approved by LPC.

  • Amanda Trees

    When I learned about the DHCR Decision I was joyful – for many reasons. For one thing – these beautiful, huge trees are currently in full bloom, hovering gently and proudly around us each and every day. It’s too painful to look at them and think they could be destroyed – as they breathe their protective benefits to us surrounding us with their message of green, bold, true life.

    Nothing new and temporary, growing in 3-4′ of soil would ever be what these trees are here. If new ones even survived above an inferno of cars, pavements, motion and gasses.

    We can’t be naive and assume there will not be continual fights to still try and destroy our treasure trove of giant trees, but now we can at least breathe deeply a moment along with the very souls of these trees, and say “Thank You!” to the powers that be, allowing more hope, more time for us to live happily with what was placed here for us so long ago by the dreams and work of Alfred T. White, original architect – and God – I do believe there is a God. There must be.

    And people with the courage to stick together and fight for the things most dear.

  • bklyn20

    I think the d.o.b. must weigh in. Even if not, they were missing multiple permits — hence (thankfully) the decision.

  • Publius

    A rare defeat for Super Lobbyist.