Scarano caves to Gardeners

The Brooklyn Paper
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Controversial DUMBO-based designer Robert Scarano has scrapped a plan to erect a flashy, steel-skinned building on Smith Street and Second Place in favor of a brick edifice with a green roof and “gigantic apartments perfect for families,” he told The Stoop this week.

The change of heart came after some brownstone-loving Carroll Gardeners — and the blogs and pols that cater to them — started a campaign against the metal-clad condo, which was to replace a parking lot and a popular, open-air newsstand above the F-train entrance at Second Place.

“I know what they’re saying out there,” Scarano said. “But now we’ve studied the area, and the building is going to be less modern.”

The sports-car-driving architect made his aesthetic kowtow public after the residents of the neighborhood approached local Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Carroll Gardens) to stop the Jetsons-esque building.

DeBlasio said he still planned to petition the developer to shrink the 70-foot, eight-story building.

“We will try every legal and political strategy possible to stop this project from happening [the way Scarano originally planned],” DeBlasio said.

But no matter what is built on the site, it will be sure to garner attention because of its prominent location above the south entrance to the Carroll Street station.

During construction, the entrance will be closed. But when the building is done, the entry will be incorporated into it, according to the MTA.

The newsstand that is now on the site may not reopen after construction, according to its owner Bibil Sengarta.

“Everyone I see now will see the building instead,” said Sengarta.

Scarano has designed hundreds of residential buildings in the city, many in a signature style that involves large glass windows, geometric lines and a healthy appreciation for metallic shine. He gained a reputation as a rule-breaker last year when the city investigated him for building condos that were larger than zoning code allowed. As a result, he was stripped of his right to certify his own designs.

The architect told The Stoop that the new design for 360 Smith St. would “mimic the [area’s] brownstone vernacular, instead of its industrial vernacular.” Translating from the architecturese, that means Scarano will use more plain old red brick and less metal on the exterior of the building.

So far, neighbors aren’t convinced. They say the building will still loom over two- and three-story buildings on the block, creating shadows and taking up the open space that gives the area its small town feel.

“That building is still too tall for this street and that’s it,” said Alberta McCourt, who lives on Second Street near Smith Street in a three-story home she once shared with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Frank McCourt.

McCourt wasn’t afraid to invoke her 76-year-old celebrity ex-husband in her fight against the proposed building.

“He is a country boy,” she said. “And he liked it over here because it felt a little like the country.”

Updated 4:29 pm, July 9, 2018
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