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As legal case regarding B15 site finally moves ahead, school opening looks no earlier than 2021

Looking at B15 site from Dean Street. 497 Dean is on right.
A recent judicial decision in the dispute involving the developers of the 27-story B15 (aka 664 Pacific) site, which is slated for market-rate rentals and a school, suggests that the project may finally move forward, though likely at a cost higher than anticipated to developer Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP).

However, given that pre-construction activities won't start until 2017, at the earliest, and the projected time for pre-construction and construction is four years, that suggests that--unless construction goes faster than expected--the promised middle school won't arrive until 2021, rather than 2018 or 2019, as once projected. The school has been dubbed by backers as M.S. OneBrooklyn.

The background

As described by Supreme Court Justice Sylvia Ash in her 12/5/16 decision (bottom), the developer must demolish an existing structure on site, which will take two weeks, and require excavation to a depth lower than the foundations of the neighboring 497 Dean, a four-story apartment building.

As of June 2016, the "anticipated completion" of the
664 Pacific project was "4th quarter of 2018"
The developer's plan shows a vertical 'secant pile wall' abutting and supporting 497 Dean, supported by diagonal threaded bars known as tie backs. Excavation and foundation construction should take about 12 months. Also, certain portions of 497 Dean's foundation may require waterproofing because it will be exposed.

The developer estimates that construction will take approximately 36 months, so it seeks an order granting entry for 48 months.

The dispute

GFCP says it has offered to work jointly to develop safety plans but 497 Dean refused access. But 497 Dean says that GFCP has not adequately prepared for the excavation and foundation work, and says GFCP has refused to reply to its engineer's report and has withheld crucial details regarding the length and invasiveness of its project.

So 497 Dean asked that GFCP's petition be dismissed or, in the alternative, that it gets a monthly license fee and payment for its engineering and legal fees. GFCP  says 497 Dean was unreasonable, because it barred GFCP from access to conduct a pre-construction survey. And it objects to a temporary license fee.

The resolution

On 6/1/16, the court ordered 497 Dean to allow GFCP to conduct an onsite pre-construction survey. "Based on the papers submitted, this Court is inclined to grant Developer a license" to enter the premises, Ash wrote, given that 497 Dean does not dispute that access is needed or that a four-year period is unreasonable.

Also, GFCP is no longer considering "underpinning" to excavate the foundation of 497 Dean, which the court said could be considered a permanent encroachment.

However, to address the issues raised by 497 Dean, regarding purported inaccurate information, the Court ordered the parties to appear in a conference to address those issues and set forth license parameters. The Court also must determine "what remaining deficiencies, if any, exist with regards to Developer's petition."

Though the decision to award a license fee is discretionary, the judge said, fees are warranted when the license "will entail substantial interference" with the adjacent property for a long period.

However, given that neither party has submitted sufficient information for the judge to assess "what would constitute reasonable licenses fees and/or costs," that issue will be addressed at the conference, which is set for 1/10/17.

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