Temporary Restraining Order Halts Cement Work at PLG Tower at 626 Flatbush

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Early Friday morning, a group of opponents to the 23-story tower Hudson Companies plans for 626 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens spontaneously blockaded some cement trucks that had arrived to pour the building’s foundation, according to a protestor who was present and sent us these photos. The protesters prevented the cement trucks from entering the site for about an hour or more, until the police arrived. One person was arrested.

Later that morning, at a previously scheduled hearing at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against the pouring of the foundation while a court case concerning an environmental review of the project is proceeding.

A rally against the project is planned for this Friday, June 6, at City Hall.

While the lawsuit is likely to be dismissed, said Hudson Companies principal David Kramer, in any case the as-of-right project will proceed even if litigation requires modifying the financing. “While some neighbors might be unhappy that a new, 23-story building is being developed next to them, there’s no reason to demonize Hudson in all their inflammatory comments,” he said. “We’re very proud of this development, which will offer new housing, new affordable housing, new retail stores for Flatbush Avenue and new community facility space for nonprofit use.”

The Prospect Park East Network (PPEN) contends Hudson could put up a shorter building with the same square footage but a different foundation on the existing lot.

To see the press release issued by the Prospect Park East Network about the temporary restraining order and rally, Hudson’s full response, and more photos of the protest and the site Friday morning, click through to the jump.

The press release issued by Prospect Park East Network:

Dear Neighbors,

Residents of Prospect Lefferts Gardens won a major victory on Friday, May 30, when the New York State Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order stopping Hudson Companies from pouring cement for the foundation of their proposed luxury tower development at 626 Flatbush Avenue. The order is designed to prevent Hudson from getting a building “footprint” set in stone before the judge can make a decision on a filing for a preliminary injunction against the building project. Prospect Park East Network (PPEN), Flatbush Tenant Coalition, Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association (PLGNA), and individual plaintiffs are demanding inclusion of more affordable units and down-scaling of the building’s height to be more appropriate to our low-rise neighborhood. The TRO wouldn’t have happened without an active, vocal, engaged community, and now is the time to keep the pressure on! Together we can win. We will take our case to City Hall with a rally on Friday, June 6, from 1-2 pm (details below–a printer-friendly copy of the flier is attached). Come out if you can, and please spread the word!

In Solidarity,
The Prospect Park East Network (PPEN) Rally Committee

RALLY TO TELL OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS: WE WANT A TEMPORARY HALT TO OUT-OF-SCALE HIGH-RISE CONSTRUCTION IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD!

Friday, June 6, from 1-2 pm
The steps of City Hall, lower Manhattan
Featured speakers include City Council Member Mathieu Eugene

By subway, take the 2, 3 to Park Place; 4, 5 to Brooklyn Bridge; Q to Canal St. and transfer to R to City Hall

We support retaining and expanding PLG’s existing affordable housing. Luxury towers don’t help!
We are the only neighborhood bordering Prospect Park without building height limits. A temporary halt will allow needed time for sensible rezoning.
At our April 7 Town Hall with Borough President Eric Adams, over 500 residents of Prospect Lefferts Gardens came out to demand responsible, low-rise development. Taking our case to City Hall is our next big step.

LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD! BECOME PART OF THE PROCESS, NOT ITS VICTIM

Sponsored by Prospect Park East Network (PPEN), Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association (PLGNA), and Flatbush Tenant Coalition. For more information or to sign our online petition, visit www.ppen.org.

Hudson’s comment on Friday’s events:

1) Construction work other than concrete is continuing.
2) The lawsuit involves a very narrow question of whether a public agency undertook the environmental review required by State procedures before issuing bonds. Our project continues to be an as-of-right, legal project for which we’ve already pulled a building permit. This project will get developed, whether as currently financed or with any modifications required by the litigation.
3) Curiously, we had scheduled to meet with the plaintiffs last week, and they cancelled the meeting.
4) While some neighbors might be unhappy that a new, 23-story building is being developed next to them, there’s no reason to demonize Hudson in all their inflammatory comments. We’re very proud of this development, which will offer new housing, new affordable housing, new retail stores for Flatbush Avenue and new community facility space for nonprofit use.
5) While the lawsuit is unwelcome and in our view totally unwarranted, we have every confidence that the Court will recognize that the environmental review of the project was lawful and in accordance with clear precedents and will dismiss the lawsuit.

NY1 and The Real Deal also had stories about the developments.

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40 Comment

  • Lately Brooklyn judges are forgetting to rule by the book of law. When powerful community groups are the ones influencing Judges decisions rather than the law, its very worrying. Its a politicians job to listen to the people. Its a judges job to rule by existing zoning laws etc.

  • Having lived in the Patio Gardens apartment complex, I can personally testify that the views were spectacular and to limit height restrictions would squander the vast potential of that particular stretch of Flatbush avenue. The east side of Flatbush avenue beyond the avenue itself is full of gorgeous homes and the people are waiting for this part of Flatbush avenue to start offering better amenities. What a misguided protest.

  • NIMBYs – throw the book at them.

  • As of right means as of right. I would be against this development if I lived there. But tough luck. The law is the law.

  • Why was the TRO from a Manhattan court?

    • As this is not a lawsuit just against the developers. They are suing “NYS Housing Finance Agency” for granting a 72 mill loan to finance this project. They claim the state has a legal obligation to do an environmental contingency report before granting a loan to developer.

    • Oh right! It’s surprising that the case is still pending almost 6 months later, as isn’t the gist of the claim that the Housing Finance Agency did no EIS? Normally environmental claims focus on the inadequacy of the environmental impact statement, or procedural faults in conducting it or deliberating the EIS. It should be a straight question of law whether an EIS was required or not.

      One commenter back in December indicated that the EIS claim had merit, so if it did, it’s interesting that the State or Hudson Companies are not expediting the decision to either get clarity, line up an appeal, or move on and just get the EIS done..

      • Cant agree more! No clarity on that. Why is this a grey area?What is the legal requirement of HFA before lending for such a project? DO they have to obtain an environmental impact report or not…. In the past Ive seen similar projects do that but that doesn’t mean its the law.

  • Bob Marvin

    I have friends on both sides of this issue and won’t comment on the merits of this suit, but it appears that Hudson was in the wrong here for starting to pour the foundation while the law suit was pending and also for starting to pour the concrete at 6 AM, much earlier than is permissible.

  • Montrose Morris

    I also have friends against this building, and I think, as per all such issues, that the concerns are much more complicated than simple “I don’t want this in my backyard.” They have legit and worthy concerns about the project. It will change this part of Flatbush forever, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. I fail to see how a gigantic tower, higher than anything for miles around, benefits anyone except the developers and those living in the building. The claims that “this is for Flatbush and PLG” don’t cut it. The great views enjoyed by those in Patio Gardens are from buildings nowhere near this high, and they were the tallest buildings around for years. Just because the park lies so tantalizingly close doesn’t mean that a developer should be able to cast a massive shadow over the buildings between his building and the park, not to mention the park itself, so a few people can claim an overpriced park view. By that reasoning, we should allow 100 story buildings as far away as Nostrand Avenue, so people there can have park views too. Build the building, help the economic development of PLG, but scale it down. It doesn’t need to be that tall in order to be profitable or popular.

  • As @ suburbanguy and the Hudson Company’s Kramer note, this project is as of right. It will be built, although a succesful lawsuit may force a change in financing. What the lawsuit wont do, is change the zoning for this lot or the neighborhood after the fact. If the community wants a change in zoning, it better lobby the deBlasio administration and the Department of City Planning. It would help if the elected officials there were not so ineffective (especially CM Eugene; nice guy but clueless). But deBlasio has made it clear he is all in favor of “density” to allow for more affordable housing. So this apartment building seems to fit well with the new Administration’s push. Protests are not going to change that, either.

    @Montrose Morris – perhaps the developer “shouldn’t” be able to build this high, but in fact the zoning resolution says he may.

    • Bob Marvin

      “If the community wants a change in zoning, it better lobby the deBlasio administration and the Department of City Planning”

      The community has been seeking zoning changes for years; IMO the most important aspect of the opposition to this development may be to focus attention on those changes, whether or not thia building goes up.

  • PPEN should be careful what it wishes for. In case it hasn’t noticed, the trend has been to upzone areas, not downzoned them.

    ….increased revenue from real estate is also quite handy in paying for public services.

    I’m not sure what made PPEN believe this a democracy.

    • We’ll see about de Blasio, but during the Bloomberg years about five times as many tax lots were downzoned as were upzoned. You just didn’t hear about the downzonings because no one was getting outraged over them.

  • Rank Stranger

    Zoning is zoning. Riddle me this: Say someone found an empty lot zoned residential and bought it to build themselves a house on. They design a house that follows every single local code and zoning ordinance imaginable. Some neighbor across the street sues them and protests because they want the lot to be a park, not a house. Do you think the neighbor has a case? Would it even be worth arguing about on Brownstoner?

  • And to justify their out-scale, inappropriate construction, Hudson Companies plays the all-important developers trump card “affordable housing”. The magic words that justify anything. You can basically murder your mother in broad daylight if you claim it will benefit affordable housing. I doubt if any apartments in their luxury park view tower will be affordable.

    • Bob Marvin

      Not affordable, but “affordable” which, in developer/City bureaucracy doublespeak means a hair below market rate.

      • $500-900 monthly rents is a hair below market rate? PLG must be the cheapest hood in town.

        • Bob Marvin

          Do you have any reliable data to substantiate your claim that this would be the cost of the “afordable” apartments at 626 Flatbush?

          • I’m sorry, what is your “reliable data” proving your claim? There is plenty of information in the public record about the what the rents will be at this project. Go look it up before you confidently tell everyone that the affordable housing isn’t really affordable. In fact a certain neighborhood blogger opposed to the project did a post about the rents on his blog — you could start there.

    • Rank Stranger

      It’s not out of scale or inappropriate as the Zoning Resolution has allowed it for 50 years. It just so happens the neighborhood was not worth creating something like this until now.

  • the two patio gardens buildings are 17 stories each. so not so far off from 23 floors. the building is not on the park, it is on flatbush ave. the lots on ocean avenue and the subway help mitigate the immense shadow the building will create at sunrise over the park.. Central Park East and West dont seem to have killed off Central Park too badly.