Amid controversy, Scarano wisecracks and mulls retirement

By Amy Tennery | March 04, 2010 09:48PM

Retirement was on Robert Scarano’s mind tonight at the 90 North 5th Street condominium party, a mixer for Brooklyn’s real estate-inclined, for a building his firm designed.

Just hours after news broke that a judge had blocked Scarano, a Brooklyn architecture mainstay, from filing future construction plans to the Department of Buildings, Scarano was wisecracking about the situation and hinting that he may quit the business.

“What should I do? What do you think I should do?” Scarano asked this reporter. “Maybe I’m headed for retirement… it’s good to retire. Plenty of people would be happy.”

But Scarano wasn’t all jokes this evening at the Williamsburg building party to showcase model units. When asked about 145 Snediker Street, where an out of place lamppost was allegedly named in the complaints against him, Scarano said that he felt that complaint — and the overall criticism against him — was out of line.

“Kind of petty, right?” Scarano said. “It’s terrible. You can’t make light of that… I don’t think [the ruling] was just.”

But, regardless of his assertions, Scarano has long been a target of DOB scrutiny. Three construction workers died at projects he designed in 2005 and 2006 and DOB has turned a keen eye on Scarano’s plans over the last near-decade.

While he hasn’t yet decided whether to challenge the judge’s ruling blocking him from filing plans, Scarano said that a legal entanglement “would be expensive” and that “maybe [he’d] rather go eat out at restaurants.”

Even so, David Maundrell, president of aptsandlofts.com, which is marketing 90 North 5th Street, which recently garnered Federal Housing Administration financing approval, said he’s not too concerned about how the ensuing negative press will affect sales.

“We understand any situation with Bob [Scarano] can affect us… it is what it is,” Maundrell said, noting that the DOB long ago approved plans for 90 North 5th Street, which has not been named in the Scarano controversy. “For as many people who don’t like his designs there [are] 10 times as many who do.”

Not long ago, Scarano was credited as a major influence on the Brooklyn landscape, with hundreds of successful residential projects completed in the borough.

“His buildings were hot sellers,” Maundrell said.