DOB, DOI File Charges Against Scarano

DOB, DOI File Charges Against Scarano

On June 12, the Department of Buildings (DOB) and the Department of Investigation (DOI) filed charges against Robert Scarano, principal of Scarano Architects, for violations at two adjacent Brooklyn building sites. According to a statement released by DOB, “Scarano has been charged with knowingly or negligently filing false or misleading documents with the Buildings Department and displaying negligence, incompetence or lack of knowledge with regard to building and zoning regulations.”

Scarano is being cited for violations on two new buildings, 158 Freeman Street and 1037 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint. DOB and DOI allege that Scarano improperly divided the lot, resulting in two non-compliant buildings. “My sense is that DOB was watching and waiting. This isn’t the first time he’s run into trouble,” said Jake Maguire, communications director for City Councilman David Yassky, who represents the district where the buildings are located. Indeed, the architect is perhaps best known for his Finger Building in Williamsburg, whose contentious history brought him unfavorable attention from local officials.

“We will not tolerate anyone who knowingly attempts to mislead the Department with false documents. Our Special Enforcement Team is identifying repeat offenders and building cases against them. Flouting building and zoning regulations undermines the quality of life for all New Yorkers,” said acting DOB commissioner Robert LiMandri in a statement. Further signaling a broad-based crackdown, in the statement DOI Commissioner Gill Hearn added, “DOI will continue to work with the Department of Buildings to root out licensed professionals whose word cannot be relied on to protect the public safety and the integrity of the City’s Building Code.”

“The charges against me are unfounded and will be dropped as all previous charges against me have been," Scarano told AN. "DOB is looking to transfer the blame.”

While the charges will likely affect Scarano directly, they also reflect poorly on the self-certification process. “The sad fact is that without sufficient examiners, self-certification is essential,” said Rick Bell, executive director of AIA New York. “The potential is there for any good thing to be abused.”

The investigation comes at a time when DOB has been under significant scrutiny for recent construction accidents, forcing former Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster to step down.

“Everyone at Buildings and at the City is there to guarantee public safety. Simultaneously they must keep the city from grinding to a halt,” said Bell. “The balance between using limited resources to continue the economic prosperity of the city while ensuring public safety is paramount.”