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Surveying Bushwick Brooklyn and Ridgewood Queens

The story of 1209 Dekalb Ave

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A reader writes:

What is that new massive building at 1209 Dekalb?  We’ve been watching it go up for a while.

1209 Dekalb Avenue is a large 44,950 square foot site near Bushwick Ave, across the street from Bushwick Leaders High School and once home of the Paddock Cork Company.

In 2006 New Jersey real estate investors Eli Weinstein and Michael Gindi formed Bushwick Enterprise Group, purchased the property for $8.3 million, and filed applications to demolish the industrial buildings on the site and construct a new five-story residential building.  Work began in 2008 but stopped shortly after demolition.

A 2010 federal criminal complaint alleged that Weinstein was engaged in a Ponzi scheme involving the Dekalb Avenue site and other properties, with losses of at least $200 million.  According to Businessweek, Weistein solicited investments for properties that were “fraudulently obtained, pledged to other victims […] or were in foreclosure proceedings” and included one victim who invested $5.4 million for property in a town in Georgia that does not exist.

The purchase of 1209 Dekalb Avenue was financed through Builders Bank of Chicago, which required that Bushwick Enterprise Group provide a $2 million equity contribution towards the purchase price and forbid additional mortages on the property.  Weinstein however arranged a $2 million second mortgage financed by the sellers and provided falsified records to the bank.  Builders Bank discovered this fact after B.E.G. stopped making mortgage payments; foreclosure proceedings began shortly thereafter (Weinstein meanwhile used the property in a scheme which netted $4.8 million from a victim in the United Kingdom).

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(Photo: Bing)

For several years the property was one of many on the City’s list of stalled construction sites, but in 2012 it was purchased by Read Property Group of Borough Park (via 1209 Dekalb Holdings LLC) for $6 million.  Construction has since restarted with a different contractor, but DOB records indicate the original architect - Kutnicki Bernstein - is still on board.

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(Rendering: Kutnicki Bernstein Architects)

A rendering on KBA’s website shows the building clad in glass and metallic rainscreen; DOB records indicate 126 dwelling units, a cellar gym and lounge, common rooftop space, and off-street parking for 64 vehicles (although the site is along the B38 route and close to the JMZ, the current R6 zoning requires one parking space for every two dwelling units).  The new building application predates the 2009 zoning changes requiring bicycle parking and no such parking is shown.

The architect and current owner did not respond to emails inquiring as to the expected completion date and whether the building will be rentals or condos. 

Weinstein pled guilty in January to charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  An alleged co-conspirator remains a fugitive.

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