Monday, December 9, 2013

City: Knockdown Center investors "lack good character, honesty and integrity"

The Knockdown Center has a long way to go to clean up its act, but at least they're off to a slow start. The tarp covering the derelict scooter sitting outside their property has disappeared (but the scooter hasn't). Also now gone are 2 of the 3 illegal signs that were hanging on the fence.

Anyway, the posts I have authored about the Knockdown Center up to this point have been focused on the behavior that has gone on at the location and its physical condition. This time, I'm going to tell you about the main investors in the property - Tony and Gina Argento, who also happen to be owners of Broadway Stages in Greenpoint. Here's how certain elected officials feel about them:

From the Times Newsweekly:
City Council Member Helen Sears...vouched for [Tony] Argento as a “responsible” individual who “cares for the area.”
From the Daily News:
“I have known the owners for a long time. They also do good philanthropic work.” - Council Member Elizabeth Crowley
From Brooklyn USA:
But the glowing praise offered by Council Member Steve Levin takes the cake:

"When you talk about who gives back, between Tony and Gina and Paul, you're talking about 90% of what makes this community work sometimes."

Levin was speaking on behalf of Chris Olechowski, present Chair of CB1, Brooklyn at a fundraiser hosted by those lauded. (When Vito Lopez' proteges are praising someone, watch out!)

However, the Argentos are not as saintly as our elected representatives would like us to believe. Here's a dose of reality:

In case you don't have time to sift through the entire document, allow me to highlight the most relevant sections:

Somehow, caring for the area, doing good philanthropic work, being dedicated to Brooklyn's future and giving back 90% of what makes a community work seem to be lacking here. It's more like "see what you can get away with before getting caught, and then attempt damage control." It's what happened with Luna Lighting, and it's what's been happening at the Knockdown Center.

Speaking of which, just last Friday, the KDC received their blessing from the Dept of Buildings for a 5,000-person Place of Assembly as a gallery/exhibition hall, after supposedly having "withdrawn" the application.

CB5 was allegedly told that the reason for the initial rejection of their alteration permit was because KDC underestimated the cost of the work at $10,000. When questioned at a public hearing, KDC manager Tyler Myers stated that it was an "erroneous error" and would definitely be correct on the resubmitted paperwork. Owner David Sklar stated within the first 30 seconds of the below video that renovations would likely cost anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000:

Yet the second cost affadavit estimated the work at a paltry $25,000.

1) The Cost Affidavit requires the applicant to attest to the accuracy of the applicant’s estimate of the construction costs, which is the basis for the fees assessed by the DOB in connection with the application.
2) As the home renovation blog "Beating Upwind" states, "Normally [the Dept of Finance] is limited in how much they can jump your property taxes, but when you do substantial improvements that is the one time they’re allowed to bump the taxes up substantially – but only by the amount of improvements to the property."

Say no more.

Despite the ridiculous discrepancy between what the owner estimated his cost to be at the CB5 hearing and what was submitted on paper, DOB approved the application. I guess when the mayor schleps all the way to the rooftop of the main investors' place of business to hold press conferences, the Commissioner of DOB poses with them for photos, and local electeds are fawning over them, they're probably going to get what they ask for from DOB.

Keep in mind that these are people Liz Crowley considers to be "good friends" and is actively working to help them obtain a liquor license to open a 5,000-person capacity rave center across the street from her constituents' homes.


Anonymous said...

Great work exposing these people. The pols even more so than the dirtbags running the KDC.

Anonymous said...

Once again, better investigative reporting here than any of the weeklies or dailies, who probably were hoping to get ad revenue from this place.

Anonymous said...

Pic of Crowley is priceless. She's so fucking clueless and useless.

Anonymous said...

So these film people are creeps and they team up with the creeps at Roberta's to make money off drunken parties and Crowley thinks that's great. Warning to Maspeth: the trustafarian culture has no morals whatsoever. If they were the superior NYC denizens they claim to be or present themselves as, neither this place nor Roberta's would be in business because they wouldn't go anywhere near either.

Anonymous said...

So the BJ queen is fond of raves?

That gives dizzy Lizzy more opportunities to perform her inimitable style of lip service to partying men.

A dog that bites is a dog that bites, and a slut is always a slut. No matter how high she thinks she's climbed, you'll likely find Crowley on her knees somewhere.

Anonymous said...

And we all just thought this club would be a nuisance. Looks to have tax cheats associated with it as well.

Anonymous said...

Very flattering picture of Lizzie, however, you should have her squatting over a map of Queens. That would be more appropriate.

Anonymous said...

What's in it for her, Crowley?

Queens Crapper said...

She received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the Argentos.

Anonymous said...

The Department of Finance should NOT be using the DoB costs: DoF should not be taxing based on, say, paint and finishes, which the DoB wants reported. Imagine if every time you replaced your carpet you got hit dollar-for-dollar with an increase in assessed value! This is a problem that needs to be addressed... don't get me wrong: in NO WAY do I support these bozos.

Christina Wilkinson said...

This was noted by a friend of mine on Facebook:

"The applicant shows on the schedule B filed with the DoB to install 55 plumbing fixtures which the department estimates that each fixture installed will cost $2,000.00 each. That would be a total of $110,000 just for plumbing work. The applicant estimated that plumbing will only cost, for 55 fixtures, $19,000.00 and an additional $5,000.00 for as many emergency lights required (one @ 25' on center....that's a lot of lights for that size of building, at $1,000/each) with a total of $20k. That is crazy. The filing fee paid for was only $474.50 in lieu of SEVERAL THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS."