‘Finger’ may get amputated

The Brooklyn Paper

A notorious, half-built tower on North Eighth Street — which locals call “the Finger Building” because of how it resembles a middle digit flipping the bird — should get cut off at the knuckle at a public hearing next week, members of Community Board 1 say.

The board’s land-use committee has opposed owner Mendel Brach’s application to finish a 16-story tower in an area that was downzoned in 2005 to bar anything higher than 10 stories.

Brach’s project, between Berry Street and Bedford Avenue, was far enough along to change the plans or halt construction when the new zoning went into effect, according to the Department of Buildings.

But is remains unfinished thanks to legal challenges, several work stoppages by the city, and problems getting the right materials, according to Peter Geis, a lawyer for Brach’s development company.

That’s why he’ll ask the Board of Standards and Appeals for another 18 months to finish the 42-unit condo tower. But as far as CB1 is concerned, Brach had his chance to finish his project before the two-year deadline lapsed this summer.

“We really want the tower to stay the size it is now,” said CB1 member Evan Thies.

Thies and others don’t only have a problem with the design of the finger building, but also its designer.

The building’s architect is Robert Scarano, whose champions credit him with putting his unique aesthetic stamp on a wide swath of Brooklyn, but whose critics accuse him of playing fast-and-loose with building codes.

“Developers like to use Scarano because he is a master of circumventing city zoning laws,” said Williamsburg downzoning advocate Phil DePaolo.

As reported by The Brooklyn Paper last year, the Department of Buildings pulled Scarano’s right to self-certify his designs after accusing him of rubber-stamping 17 plans that were larger than current zoning law allows.

The agency also accused Scarano of negligence at a handful of job sites.

Board of Standards and Appeals public hearing on 144 N. Eighth St. (a.k.a. the “Finger Building”). BSA offices (40 Rector St., between Washington Street and the West Side Highway, in Manhattan, sixth floor), Oct. 16, 10 am. Call (212) 788-8547 for information.

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