Group appeals decision in favor of Giles Place development

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The Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association lost a seven-year battle in August with a developer trying to build a 63-unit building at 3333 Giles Place.

But the fight is not over.

FIPNA has now appealed the Board of Standards and Appeals’ decision that developer GRA V LLC has the right to build because a substantial amount of construction was finished in relation to the entire project. Despite the fact that zoning for that street was changed to only allow one- and two-story buildings in 2004, the BSA decided GRA V LLC had a vested right to continue constructing a five-story building with a two-story parking garage. 

FIPNA contends that the developer exaggerated its losses to the Board of Standards and Appeals and that part of the constructed foundation, which was used to determine the vested right, needs to be torn down and rebuilt because its set too close to the street based on the Department of Buildings’ old and new zoning regulations.

Attorney Dan Padernacht, who represents FIPNA and is also a resident who sits on Community Board 8, said the infraction should have prevented the BSA from ever ruling in favor of the developer.

“How can you give them common law vested rights if they’re telling you they have to rip up this foundation?” he said.

The conflict began in 2004, when the developer hastily poured part of the building’s foundation in order to, members of FIPNA believe, finish construction before new zoning regulations initiated by Community Board 8 went into effect.

Construction screeched to a halt when FIPNA contended that the building was set too close to the street, violating old and new zoning regulations, and the BSA agreed. But the unfinished foundation sat behind blue plywood fence for years while the developer regrouped. 

In 2009, the developer argued to the Department of Buildings that based on the amount of money it had already poured into the project — it claimed it sunk $475,000 into the building, which would cost a total of $8.6 million — it had a vested right to remedy the zoning infraction. 

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