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DOB smacks Scarano - Local reaction to charges aimed at controversial architect

It’s about time.

That’s how City Councilmember Bill de Blasio responded this week to the announcement that the Department of Buildings had filed new charges against controversial architect Robert Scarano.

“Scarano is the worst example of an architect who continues to build in this city despite his long history of violating zoning and building codes and practicing unsafe construction,” de Blasio said.

The administrative charges leveled at Scarano allege that he made false or misleading statements on applications submitted to the DOB in connection with two develops in the borough.

“We will not tolerate anyone who knowingly attempts to mislead the Department with false documents,” Acting Buildings Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri said.

De Blasio has been leading the charge to have the State Department of Education revoke Scarano’s license. Earlier this year pressure from both the community and the councilman’s office convinced developer William Stein to replace Scarano as architect for his Oliver House project at 360 Smith Street.

“Once again, I am calling on the State to revoke Scarano’s license,” de Blasio said. “What more do we need to know about his record of lies to determine that he should not be permitted to operate in our city?”

Calls to Scarano’s offices for comment were not returned at press time.

Local activist and chair of Community Board 7’s Building & Construction Committee Aaron Brashear has had problems with Scarano developments in his neighborhood of Greenwood Heights going back at least to 2006. But he doesn’t think that the answer to the city’s construction woes rest with the conviction of one architect.

“To me it seems, he is being a bit of a scapegoat,” Brashear told the Courier. This week. “There seems to be culpability on both sides. Scarano is accused of breaking the law and I believe he has done so. He exploited loopholes in the buildings code. However, it seems to me that someone should have red flagged this. No one caught him.”

The administrative charges aimed at Scarano are in connection with documents he filed with the DOB in 2000 and 2002 for two apartment houses in Greenpoint.

The architect is alleged to have improperly divided a zoning lot into two smaller lots for two new buildings at 158 Freeman Street and 1037 Manhattan Avenue.

For Brashear, the Bloomberg administration’s mentality of “build, build, build” is really behind the rise of architects like Scarano who are sought out for their ability to build big and build quickly.

“There are plenty of Scarano juniors out there that will learn from his successes and mistakes,” Brashear warned.

LiMandri insisted that the DOB isn’t going to tolerate anyone attempting to mislead the city with false documents.

“Flouting building and zoning regulations undermines the quality of life for all New Yorkers, and we will continue to identify and hold accountable individuals who abuse the rules,” he said.

If the charges stick, Scarano could lose his ability to file documents with the Buildings Department. The architect can respond to the charges and present a defense to an administrative law judge at the Office of Administrative Tribunals and Hearings.

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