In the February issue of Habitat we profiled a co-op board president, museum docent and neighborhood activist named Paul Groncki. One of his many endeavors is to fight an 11-story condo building Einhorn Development Group plans to erect abutting his co-op on a quiet block on West 16th Street in Chelsea. “Oh man, it’s a pain,” Groncki told Habitat. That ongoing fight has put Groncki back in the news.
The Save 16th Street Committee, of which Groncki is a member, has filed a petition in Manhattan Supreme Court asking the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) to hand over documents they believe could prove that Einhorn’s plans violate city statutes and codes, or show that the department improperly approved the project, DNAinfo reports.
“They’re building this monstrosity over the church,” Groncki said. “This is a really ugly building, and it’s not appropriate for the scale of the block.”
The church he’s referring to is the neighboring French Evangelical Church, which sold its lucrative air rights and an adjacent church building to Einhorn several years ago. Einhorn had originally filed plans to construct a six-story building at the site – roughly the same height as Groncki’s co-op – but added five additional stories to its plans by filing a “post-approval amendment” with the DOB, the committee’s petition says. The DOB issued a permit for the project this past October, records show, and construction started soon after.
“Since the additional stories are… evidently being added to the building in disregard of and/or in violation of applicable statutes and codes, and DOB may have [approved] the additional stories improperly, or not at all, [the committee] urgently requires production of the documents sought, so as to review and protest DOB’s improper approval (or lack thereof) through appropriate legal means,” the filing continues.
“We thought we were safe from development on the block,” Groncki says, “and then these guys snuck in.”
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