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Tower takedown: Locals win fight against mondo condo

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An infamous Kimball Street building that Marine Park residents have dubbed “the Monstrosity” may finally be cut down to size now that the owners have filed for permits to demolish the three upper floors, giving hope to locals who have fought the developers for nearly a decade.

“I think anything that’s going to change the status quo is a step in the right direction,” said Michael Benjamin, whose 98-year-old father lives down the street from the building.

Soon after construction began, the condominium between avenues U and V towered an additional three stories over the zoning allowance, looming high above the other houses along the street. The neighbors of the over-built condos weren’t happy about having tower on their block — and weren’t shy about making that fact known, according to Community Board 18 district manager Dorothy Turano.

“It was a nightmare, that building,” said Turano. “The neighbors just kept complaining.”

In 2006, the Department of Buildings issued stop work order on the still-unfinished building, which the developers, the Kimball Group, tried to fight by applying for a zoning variance through the Board of Standards and Appeals.

In the application, the owners pleaded hardship, claiming that they had only built that high after receiving bad advice from their architect, and that they didn’t have the money to demolish their extra floors.

“They claimed ignorance, then claimed hardship, and tried to get a variance after the building was built,” said Turano. “But it was a self-fulfilling hardship. He created it himself.”

Fortunately for locals, the Board of Standards and Appeals, which is responsible for regulating zoning in the city, denied the Kimball Group the zoning variance it needed to complete the six-story condominium.

The Kimball Group — which did not return calls for comment — has gotten over fifty complaints from neighbors since 2002, and racked up over $36,000 in fines for violations — including crumbling fences and damage caused to nearby buildings during construction, according to the Department of Buildings’ website.

The property itself isn’t doing much better, and has deteriorated from neglect after construction stalled. And so far, the only residents to move into the condos have been a family of raccoons.

Meanwhile, the Kimball Group had been burning cash on legal fees fighting the city and the community.

“They tried so many times to get their variance, really spending a fortune fighting it,” said Turano.

Now, it seems that the Kimball Group has exhausted its options — or at least the funds necessary for keeping up the fight — and has decided that its better to lose the extra floors, than the entire property.

“There are no other options to him,” said Turano. “What’s he going to do, lose the building?”

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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