Thursday, November 23, 2006


Emblematic Bad Faith

Above: 27 June 2006 . Insubstantial shoring at excavated side of deteriorated garden wall. Note also the lack of any shoring at other excavation walls and the butt ends of angle shoring being placed in mud .This garden wall moved two inches during this excavation and later construction process .

Drawings provided by Department of Buildings below : Viewed and copied on 25 September 2006. Note all dates and hand scribbled notes on these drawing s . These drawings and any later versions are all part of the public record on the construction project at 120 St. Marks PL . Anyone can view these drawings at the DOB . These drawings are a record of a "good faith" bargaining and co-ordinating process between the DOB and the team of Benjamin Shaoul with the purpose of producing a lawful and applicable set of plans for the construction at the 120 St. Marks place site .All previous self-certified plans for this project provided by the Shaoul architects have failed to unconditionally pass a DOB audit .

Above:28 August 2006 . Non- code steel frame construction extending the ground floor tothe rear wall at the rear lot line .
Above: 29 October 2006 . View from above of the completed and unpermitted building extension into the backyard up to the rear lot line . Note at the center bottom can just be seen a 2 inch separation between the red garden wall and the paved garden deck.
Above and below : 21 November 2006 . The DOB profile for 120 St Marks Place ( if it can indeed be believed ) shows that there is on this date a stop work order in effect for this building . The SWO probably only applies to the ground floor and basement since here they are the two areas that are in violation of the zoning resolutions , these areas having been extended to the rear lot line and also being two areas where there have to be serious questions concerning the means of egress from the rear fire escape and from the basement during emergencies such as fires .

Below it can be seen from the recently installed row of steel studs along the east wall and the steel furring strips on the joists above that work has been going on for some time on the ground floor during the stop work order .Nothing new here , look on this blog at other posts such as" A Stop Work Order that stops Nothing ". Considering that the row of steel studs and the furring strips are recent additions and that they extend back to the rear wall which is at the lot line it seems that the Shaoul team intends to ignore the zoning resolution and the drawings presented to the DOB in "good Faith", and maintain the rear wall at the lot line .

To summarize :
Above are some drawings provided by the Department of Buildings . These drawings are a part of the public record for the building at 120 St. Marks Place and they or any further permutaions of these drawings for this project should be available anytime to anyone at the DOB. These drawings were a part of an ongoing effort by the team of Benjamin Shaoul to cure violations and make lawful and applicable a set of plans that had failed a DOB audit . These plans were viewed and copied by me with a Canon 5D digital camera on 25 September 2006 and though they were not here presented in their entirety because of space limitations they are a relavent , representative and I believe sufficient- to- the- task selection . Also the drawings presented here are most likely not in their final form but they were then and now believed by me to be representative of the ongoing attempt at that time by the Shaoul team including their architects , duly noted on the drawing titles ,to produce a lawful and applicable set of plans for a building at 120 St. Marks Place . One would like to assume that all parties were then and now bargaining openly , truthfully and in good faith but the truth here may well be otherwise .

Note the pictures of construction activity extending the building volume into the backyard up to the lot line . Note also the dates of these pictures : the construction activity consisting of extending the building to the rear lot line is going on before and during the time of the dated drawings above from the supposed "good faith" bargaining and co-ordinating going on between the DOB and the Shaoul team. There are more dated pictures available concerning this ongoing construction activity .

Note also what is shown on the drawings ,details such as a 30 foot deep backyard, paved and drained garden ,a basement exit to backyard, fire escape exit to backyard and redwood fence all around at lot line .Note the dates of revisions ,most on 14 August 2006, and other dated notations and terms such as " under process of co-ordination" .

Note on the basement drawing that there is a sheeting or piling requirement where necessary along the excavation walls . In the picture from above of the unpermitted building extension to the lot line note that at the base of the red brick garden wall one can see a 2 inch separation between the wall and garden's paved surface ( more detailed pictures of this separation are available , space limitaions did not allow their presentation here ) . There were no piles or sheeting placed as per drawing at the excavated side of this garden wall , just some insubstantial shoring : the wall moved . Note that this excavation activity was occurring at or before the time of the dated drawings above produced by the the "good faith " bargaining and co-ordinating " with the DOB.

In short this building does not look like any set of plans and it probably never will yet people will soon be living in it . A good question to ask here is: will there be a legitimate certificate of occupancy issued for this building without a set of lawful , applicable and representative plans or will this mere detail also be ignored ?

How is the above possible with our DOB supposedly looking out for our interests ?Especially considering that there have been many ,many complaints concerning 120 St Marks place and many,many DOB inspectors at the site since March of 2006 when this project began .
There also have been many postings on several web sites such as curbed .com and Polis and articles in papers and magazines concerning 120 St. Marks Place .

I do not have an answer here but I do know from practical experience and from all the requests for help that I get from other concerned citizens with similar problems and situations that this case at 120 St Marks Place is simply emblematic of what is going on during this construction frenzy throughout our great city . Other developers and landlords are watching the Shaoul team and its ilk and learning from them .Some law firms , I am told , are now offering that they can help developers do what the Shaoul team has done at 120 St. Marks Place and neutralize or at least seriously diminish the DOB 's capacity to control unlawful and unsafe building activity . In short more and more developers are doing as the Shaoul team does... and that is walk all over the DOB and build whatever unlawful and unsafe building that they want to build without any significant hindrance or unfavorable consequence to them or their building .

In the case of the emblematic 120 St. Marks Place it appears to be more and more likely that should the Shaoul team choose in the future to deal in bad faith and ignore the law and safe construction practices it will get exactly the building that it wants with , yes , a few piddling fines and delays but still at minimal cost... and that should not be. Lest the reader be tempted to assume here that this claim might possibly be an emotionally inspired exageration of the truth or indeed even unfounded I recommend that he or she simply Google Benjamin Shaoul and Magnum Management and also that he or she search this blog exhaustively for the same two names . They might also find it fruitful to querry the office of Council person Rosie Mendez or the office of Borough President Scott Stringer concerning these two aforementioned names as well as the recent history of 120 St.Marks Place . And oh yes ...before I forget , try the Manhattan borough commisioner of the DOB .... he has been to see Shaoul team projects first hand ...with his own eyes .

There will perhaps be more on all of this later .

As always click on an image to enlarge it .Also Google Benjamin Shaoul and also explore this blog for more information concerning the activities at 120 St. Marks Place and other construction related issuses .

You really present a strong case of bad faith with your photos and words. I thought I saw ben shaoul today slouched behind the dark windows of a black range rover being driven to 120 St. Marks. He looked like he was in a dark mood maybe from a Thanksgiving food hangover or maybe he is just stuffed with bad faith.

Well done...
... and to think ..he's just a mere 28 or 29 years of age and such a dark mood .Interesting that you should notice that also anonymous .
Bob: The "New hideous soulless New York" is being built on "old" New York's infrastructure which will collapse and the people of New York will continue to have to pay as they do in so many ways before they are completely forced out as so many have been over the years.

Above ground shoddy work has caused deaths and injuries but wait until the consequences of below the surface strike. This over the top development, the massive wave city wide that aids and the abetts the developers turns a blind eye to safety of the people and accountablility and "poor" NYC is having a budgetary crisis but at least we can sigh with relieve that City Council gave themselves a much need raise...a priority....

I was looking at your photos again with a friend and it was pointed out to me where the car with the damaged sun roof from Ben Shaul's cheap and shoddy work, was parked where Jim and Jesse might have been sleeping.
Shaul is so cheap when it comes to his "improvements" that are "anything but" and yet he must be chauffered around like a young prince which is better than a rich landlord that poses like he is one of us, let us saying riding a bike.

A dark mood or joy are as compelling as a strong photo Bob.
You are correct ;as the city and our Mayor encourage developement NYC is crumbling . This is an issue that I have not touched on ,at least yet , that is seemingly purposely being hidden from the general public by our Mayor and his administration .If you have had some experience designing ,building and especially maintaining large structures and facilities you immediately see the many problems in all directions as you look around this city : it is old and tired....worn-out .This housing "boom" for the well- to- do crowd from out of town is a colossal misallocation of capital but it makes the Mayors friends rich and the city makes millions on the taxation of all the property transfer transactions .The increasing upscale commercial activity also produces revenue but it remains that we are already short of electricity,water and sewage capacity. Our bridges and road s are so numerous and so old that they are little more now than a money-pit from hell.And all that revenue very likely won't pay for all the repair ,replacement and increased capacities .
We, the people of New York will pay and pay. Some already have with their lives or with their homes because they stood in the way of rich men's or Columbia U./higher education --- ambitions. The Mayor will be out of office and although he kids himself he is very popular -- he is not rich enough to buy the amounts of votes/popularity it would take to win the Presidency of the United States and he has alienated more people than he realizes. More New Yorkers and those that love New York awake to this "New" Soulless hideous New York like a botched plastic surgery --the anesthetia has worn off and buildings like St. Ann's from 1847 are gone thanks to NYU's greed. Soulless structures built as cheaply and irresponsibly replace "old" New York but only "superifically" but of course not "infrastructures issues". "Paucity" = Poor City...the paucity of the rich developers and greedy has reached new heights exploiting NYC! When the city officers don't want to take resposibilty, they just cry budgetary crisis to us but it is a smoke screen to not make the developers or politicians take responsibility. Death toll of construction related deaths rise from this sea of construction workers and many injuries and more is to come fron "under the surface" . The City cries "budgetary crisis" yet City Council gives themselves a raise. The City cries budgetary crisis as they hand out permits like there is no tomorrow -- City Planning and DOB and it is for the rich developers & landlords that have the deepest pockets and most powerful connections and no conscious. The City says they are too poor to police them. If that is the case -- stop giving out permits until the City is confident they can assure us safety for now and the long term by making developers and landlords accountable rather than aiding and abetting them.

It looks like we suffered some kind of terrible earthquake or travesty of nature but it is purely man made -- by the richest most greedy developers with not an ounce of humanity unless there is a photo op and a tax deduction but believe me -- their opinion of themselves is that they are they greatest.
How can i get in touch with anyone who has had a bad experience. I am a tenant in a building where Ben Shaoul is harassing the tenants. We need help. Thank you.
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