360 Smith Developer Tries to Appease Carroll Gardens

At a neighborhood meeting last night, developer William Stein tried to win the hearts and minds of Carroll Gardeners—or, at least, their blessing for his 70-foot building at 360 Smith Street. Stein unveiled new renderings for the condo that doesn’t scale back its height (which has been the main sticking point for residents, and led to calls for a building moratorium on all new construction over 50 feet) but attempts to make the building more contextual. Per a tipster who was in attendance:

The rendering he presented would fit in better. More rhythm to the facade and would not fight with the brownstones around so much. It retains the plaza. Some people thought it was a bit “South Beach”. It reminded me a bit of a certain era of two-tone Art Deco Grand Concourse buildings in the Bronx. But with the most height and bulk in a sort of tower (well, only 70 feet) on the corner of Smith and 2nd…the height is staggered as it moves away from the corner.

Stein wouldn’t let photographs of the renderings to be taken because he said the design wasn’t yet final. According to Pardon Me for Asking’s report on the meeting, it was all very vague and Stein was a master of not committing himself to anything. Since Stein’s latest design still rises 70 feet, we’re betting that his dealings with the angry Carroll Gardenens crew are far from over.
Mr.Stein’s Show-And-Tell In Carroll Gardens [Pardon Me for Asking]
Calls for Reining in Development at Carroll Gardens Meeting [Brownstoner]

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  • What if the architect wasn’t Scarano? Would there still be an issue.

    Also, lets say this non-Scarano architect kept the buiding at 70 feet, but respected the neighborhood by using setbacks? would it be an issue then?

    And does any of this really matter? There were public forums for the horribly named “freedom tower,” and you see what a POS is planned to go up there.

    I’m just sayin’

    and while I’m at it, what’s up with people on the subway who ask for apologies. Today, a young man said to a Wall Streeter on the 2 train, “aren’t you going to apologize?”

    The Wall Streeter asked, “did I hit you? If I did, I’m sorry.”

    Then the other guy said, “I know it was an accident.”

    Well Jerkstore, if you knew it was an accident, why don’t you just drop it.


  • Just out of curiosty, how did the Carrol Gardens “neighborhood meeting” come to be? I live in Williamsburg, and as far as I can tell the only public meetings are the Community Board 1 meetings. Do these meetings actually have any legal reason for existing?

  • Thats just it, and it was part of Mr. Stein’s well-crafted and courage-of-conviction presentation. Who is the neighborhood. There were several people in that meeting who had apparently appointed themselves as representatives of the community. They think that because they cajoled 2,000 people into signing their vaguely worded and alarmist petition that therefor they could be the people self-designated as community representatives. There were finally a couple people there who realized that the downzoning has down sides as well.

    Mr. Stein directly spoke for his future customers (buyers and/or renters) as desirable neighbors in the community as well. Seventy feet is not a sky-scraper after all. That the neighbors have defined the issue as the “plaza” is good enough. Mr. Stein has made provisions for the plaza and blunted that spear point for the neighbors.

    There was also, as is common at public meetings, a substantial mentally ill constituency among the communicants. My wife put that group at about 10% but you have to factor in a larger group of people who just don’t know what the fuck they want. Basically it is straight ahead NIMBY, BANANA I’ve got mine fuck you.

  • Also, whats up with that yellow sign? Is that supposed to scare someone. Is it just me or does the 17 feet from 43 to 60 look a whole hell of a lot further than the 0 to 43 representation. I think whoever scaled this up is seeking to scare people who don’t have an eye for dimensioning

  • It’s definitely misleading, and is the product of rich people trying to keep out those less wealthy than themselves. These people are terrified they just might have to share their beautiful neighborhood with us poor saps who can’t afford anything but a unit in a multifamily building. I mean, who are we to DARE think they we too should live in a pretty neighborhood close to Manhattan?

    Fight zoning laws! They do nothing but serve the selfish rich!

  • I saw they emptied out the parking lot.

    Build it.

  • Do you really think 360 Smith is going to have reasonable prices? No way! It will not help you if you need a deal on a rental or condo. This was a working class neighborhood which now has more prosperous owners, but also many oldtimers hanging on and renters (since plenty of brownstones are divided into 3-4 apartments)– and there are also multifamily buildings mixed in. Since this neighborhood has become more desirable, there is a great deal of pressure to build as high as zoning allows on any available land. And parcels that have sat fallow are now being developed. I can’t afford to buy here; I rent. And I certainly can’t buy in the landmarked Cobble Hill or Brooklyn Heights. So what? I still appreciate the scale and beauty of those neighborhoods. There are both restrictions and hassles owning in a landmarked district–hats off to those who. (I don’t believe that most of Carroll Gardens can be landmarked anyway–but downzoning is not out of the question.) I personally think that 70 feet is not that outrageous on Smith and I am happy that the plaza will be preserved and the building is no longer going to be a Scarano shiny metallic wonder. (Anyway, that kind of building is becoming a cliche and will look comically dated in the future.) It IS true that there are people who will not be happy with anything over 50 feet. PS: The reason the neighborhood is “pretty” is that no one knocked down these “pretty” buildings so far.

  • I really think Carroll Gardens is the top area in Nyc along with Cobble Hill and brooklyn heights, i mean Park slope is wonderful to but these areas are closer to the city and i feel more desirable. Carroll Gardens should be Landmarked and left alone for us to appreciate.

  • 1- The current “plaza” is a dump.

    2- 70′ is the max height, 60′ is what you’ll really being seeing from the street.

    3- Smith is an arterial street that should have a slightly higher density than the interior blocks. The difference between a R6B and the proposed R6A development is barely .5 FAR.

    4- This development is right over a subway station; the perfect site for housing.

    5- Carroll Gardens is not special or superior to any other neighborhood in New York, so it should accept its fair share of appropriate development.

  • Isn’t the cana’s flusing tunnel about to be turned off for a couple of years to make repairs? CG all the way to Court will be particularly ripe especially during the warmer months and no one will want to live here. The smell of sulfur after a rainstorm…

    I think the point is being missed – I don’t think anyone is opposing development. What is being opposed is there seems to a school of thought amongst our electeds and some “community activists” of a certain bent that if you build the infrastructure will follow. Meanwhile, we have bursting water mains, raw sewage in the canal, popping electrical cables,dangerously crowded subway platform, a significant uptick in crime, and no strong middle or high school. And I don’t see how the existing elementary schools will be able to handle a large influx of children unless their parents make a leap of faith and send them to 32.

  • Absolutely no one was cajoled into signing the petition.
    And the signers and the creators of the petition are not the wealthy ones because the wealthy people have corporate lawyers and big bucks not grassroots tactics. And the wealthy do not drive quarter million dollar cars but the developer sure does.
    Evidently this petition must be working or the backlash would not be so obvious on this board today.
    The CGNA is legal like is any other neighborhood association. What the heck 11:09 talking about? Just form a neighborhood association and call a meeting for darn sake. Only you might want to skip the funeral home setting with the simultanoeus wake proceedings as that speaks reams as to one’s actual respect for people.

  • Carol Gardens 11:12,

    Downzoning will only make the neighborhood on a per square foot basis further and further out of your economic reach. Leave the laws alone let people add onto their buildings if they wish. No one is knocking down brownstones anyway, this is an empty lot above a transit stop.
    Even undesirable neighborhoods have pressure to build the max allowed by the zone. Why not? It is all part of the sale price of the land. One reason the CG neighborhood houses carry such a high price tag is that many of them, most of the three story and some of the four and five story have unused FAR that allows more buildable square feet in the price. If you look around at the buildings most added floors sixty years ago before the NIMBY people flocked to the “neighborhood” associations.
    Some people seek the downzoning as a way to pry open real estate in the manufacturing zones. When they do they forget all about the argument that the infrastructure is supposed to be in place before the development occurs. The transportation and civic infrastructure in Carrol Gardens is substantial and well developed compared to the rezoned manufacturing areas on 4th Ave, Red Hook, and next the Gowanus Canal where there are no subways or schools.
    The downzoning is just a way to go after the manufacturing areas. If anyone is really concerned about the working class, affordable housing and the tax base they will keep the R6 in place, develop along the transit lines and reserve space for manufacturing jobs in the M zones.

  • Many blocks of Carroll Gardens are just as far away from the subway as the blocks around the Gowanus, actually. Many blocks near the Gowanus are within walking distance of BOTH the R and the F. But yeah, Red Hook still has a serious transportation problem. I am way more concerned regarding the lack of infrastructure over near the Atlantic Yards, though. I am curious: what building are you talking about that added substantially to their height 60 years ago? From what I can see, the only buildings built to 70 feet around here are converted industrial buildings on the far side of Hoyt along the BQE. Seems to me you are NOT thinking of the working class first (you are quick to accuse others of being selfish) your main beef is that owners will not be able to maximize FAR, right?

  • Maximizing FAR is an open land issue, much more than an already built land issue, and a developer’s/real estate person’s way of thinking much more than an owner occupier’s way of thinking. People on these and other real estate boards/blogs thinking along these “FAR” terms will already have their applications into the DOB FAR AHEAD (!) of any actual downzoning or landmarking procedure in CG (which is still months away).. Anyone tossing all these square footage dollar and cents figures around here is not the typical homeowner/long-term occupier type, but rather an investor type of owner.

    This is happening in many places in Brooklyn, of course, not just CG. Many of the real estate and development people ‘screaming’ their math on these and other boards like it, are really just trying to use scare- tactics on the average Brooklyn homeowners about the supposed loss of their land value if the neighborhood is downzoned or landmarked to protect its character and history (which is the way the property value for homeowners is actually increased not decreased). But that is never how they paint the picture… Property values ebb and flow in CG and everywhere else:

    After 9-11 everything fell like crazy and it took several years for things to come to this over inflated state we find ourselves in today. All over Brooklyn, Brownstone landlords were desperate to find tenants right after 9-11, and were offering them all kinds of incentives like one month’s free rent or no fees up front in those days. Home sales also took a dive. The market exploded to what we have seen until just recently. These days, though it looks like the market is “correcting itself” and the artificial housing bubble is imploding once more.

    The same scare tactics on the typical home owners were probably used years ago in Carroll Gardens to scare homeowners away from pursuing a land marking status which would have prevented them from landing in this current day vulnerable state with hungry developers at their doors which has led to the call for the interim building moratorium while the facts are revealed to the public about both down zoning and land marking. This is an excellent idea for residents in neighborhoods all over Brooklyn with similar problems.

    No one expected the over-development insanity of Brooklyn that Markowitz and Bloomberg endorsed and facilitated to happen quite so fast ahead of AY. With all eyes on AY it took a while for neighborhoods to wake up to the truth that the same zealous over development was planned for everywhere! Now the truth is out and the truth is clear: No neighborhood in Brooklyn is safe from over-development!

    Brooklyn neighborhoods will need to be highly pro-active across the boroughs before they are run over. They will also need to demand action from often unenthusiastic legislators. But fight they must. For, in an already built neighborhood such as Carroll Gardens the “zoning” is not the thing that has the value! The quality of life is! The old world charm and historical buildings and front gardens make the value in CG; other things like the proximity to the Park make the Slope distinct. CG (and other parts of Brooklyn) is much more than a “zoning” or “development” site

    All neighborhoods not just CG need to fight to protect the character of their neighborhoods and fight to change the zoning and land marking if that applies. Otherwise Downtown Brooklyn will turn into one large sprawling suburb of mediocrity. Distinct and historical neighborhoods all over Brooklyn will lose their charm and uniqueness; they will be gone forever! And people will go back to living in Manhattan because there is nothing “special” about Brooklyn anymore.
    Brooklyn will just become another place, indistinguishable from Queens for example(no disrespect to Queens intended!).

    Brooklyn was never broke, so why fix it so bad?