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‘Monster’ Kimball Street developer fights to keep overgrown building

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Developers of a controversial Kimball Street condo project the city wants cut by two floors — and neighbors call an overgrown eyesore — is making a last ditch pitch to keep its out-of-scale project whole.

Attorneys for the Kimball Group, who own the long-blasted condo near Avenue V, petitioned the Board of Standards and Appeals this week to overturn the Department of Building’s order to tear down the building’s fifth and sixth stories — on the grounds that the developer cannot afford the $50,000 needed to remove the unsanctioned floors.

But, after five years of unaddressed complaints and nixed promises, community leaders have no sympathy for the developer’s plight.

“From day one, we tried working with them,” Community Board 18 District Manager Dorothy Turano said. “They gave us all kinds of promises, but they continued to do what they wanted to do.”

The city halted work on the project back in 2006, after residents complained that the Kimball Group broke zoning rules and built the illegal fifth and sixth floor.

Since that time, the building has remained half-built and in a state of disrepair, as the developer refused to tear down the two illegal floors.

In April, the Kimball Group asked the city to forgive its sins and allow it to complete the project, since it didn’t have the money to take the two floors down, but the city denied the request in December, ordering the developer to either shrink the building or sell the property.

The Kimball Group is now appealing the December decision — leaving block residents staring at the slowly decaying structure.

“[The condo] looks out of place,” said Stewie Hier, who owns a nearby condo building on Avenue V. “It doesn’t fit in with the neighborhood. I don’t know what they were thinking, it looks like a monster.”

The Kimball Group told members of CB 18 that its architects were to blame for designing a building that shattered local zoning limits, according to Turano.

But Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park) says the building owner’s excuses have begun to fall on deaf ears.

“This exactly analogues to someone who committed murder, but is asking for sympathy on the grounds that they’re an orphan,” said Fidler. “This is not the only [appeal] the [Kimball Group] made, and we asked them to deny each and every one of them.”

State Sen. Marty Golden’s office hopes that the city will deny the appeal, bringing an end to the long-standing feud between the developer and the community.

“[The Board of Standards and Appeals] should bring a conclusion to this that rightly upholds the zoning of the Marine Park area,” Golden (R–Marine Park) spokesman John Quaglione said.

Yet others feel that this hearing may just be another step in a long string of appeals filed by the condo owners — regardless of the board’s ruling.

“I would like to think this is the end, but every time we think it’s done they file another application,” Fidler said. “It’s like that movie “Carrie” — just when you think it’s over a bloody hand comes up from the grave, but sooner or later this movie is going to be over. They probably could have removed the extra story of this building for the amount they’ve spent on lawyers avoiding it.”

Calls to the Kimball Group were not returned.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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